12. Juli 2020

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One of the most interesting, influential and outspoken auto executives has left us as Lee Iacocca has passed away at the age of 94.
Iacocca’s life is the stuff of legend and can hardly be summed up in a few paragraphs. That being said, he began his career at Ford in 1946. While he was initially involved in engineering, he transitioned to sales and marketing which would become one of his better known attributes.
He moved up the ranks at Ford and was eventually named president in 1970. Along the way, he influenced and supported a number of different vehicles including the very first Mustang. However, his time at the top was short lived as he clashed with Henry Ford II.
After Iacocca was fired in 1978, he joined Chrysler which was struggling and seemed destined for bankruptcy. The executive secured loan guarantees to keep the company afloat and then embarked a string of highly successful projects including the creation of what would become the first minivan. Thanks to K-cars and minivans, Chrysler pulled itself back from the brink and acquired AMC and its popular Jeep brand in the late 1980’s.
Iacocca left Chrysler in 1992, but held a string of positions in the following years. Outside of the auto industry, he’s probably best known for writing several books including Where Have All the Leaders Gone? and Iacocca: An Autobiography.
Iacocca’s death is being felt across the industry, most notably at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In a statement, the company said Iacocca “played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force. He was one of the great leaders of our company and the auto industry as a whole.” The automaker went on to say “Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today – one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit.”
FCA’s sentiments were echoed by Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford who said “Lee Iacocca was truly bigger than life and he left an indelible mark on Ford, the auto industry and our country.” Ford went on to say Iacocca “played a central role in the creation of [the] Mustang” and note who he personally always appreciated “how encouraging he [Iacocca] was to me at the beginning of my career.”
GM CEO Mary Barra also paid tribute with a short statement saying “Lee Iacocca loved America, the auto industry and the people who make it run – from the shop floor to the showroom. He will be missed by all.”
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