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  1. Hardware
July 27, 2015

Top 5 CEOs in the smart car driving seat

From V2V communication to automated driving, these are the top five women and men building the smart fleet of tomorrow.

By Joao Lima

In 2020, 20% of the world’s cars will be dubbed as smart connected cars, a total of 250 million vehicles, according to Gartner.

Dr John Bates, CMO at Software AG, said: "The next step for cars is smart cities and smart road networks. When all cars communicate with smart roads and smart cities, it will be possible to optimise the whole system. With prototype projects starting now, self-driving cars will evolve to become mainstream in ten years, along with prototype smart cities."

CBR lists the five main CEOs that are driving the smart car industry.

1. Mary T. Barra, GM

Mary T. Barra, 53, made history on January 15, 2014, by becoming the first female CEO of a major global car manufacturer company – General Motors.

From Michigan, US, Forbes magazine named her one of the "World’s 100 Most Powerful Women" and Fortune magazine placed her second on the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" rank in 2014.

In 1988 she received a GM fellowship and joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she graduated with a Masters in Business Administration in 1990. Before being appointed GM’s CEO, she served as the company’s senior VP of Global Product Development and executive VP of Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain.

Since taking the office, Barra’s GM has announced several developments in the smart car space. In September 2014, the CEO herself announced a collaboration project with Michigan’s Department of Transportation, Ford Motor, and a University of Michigan consortium to deploy 120 miles of technology-enabled highways around Detroit.

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With the vision to smarten up cars, the automaker unveiled its 2017 Cadillac CTS, which will feature self-driving technology as well as V2V communication to allow the car to receive, analyse and send data to other cars and roads.

2. Harald Krüger, BMW

Harald Krüger, 59, was born in Germany’s state of Baden-Württemberg and is the current CEO of BMW AG and also holds the title of Chairman of the Supervisory Board since May this year.

He graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, joining the BMW Group in 1992. He has been a member of the Board of Management since December 2008.

With Krüger, BMW is introducing emerging technologies like the MINI Augmented Vision augmented reality eyewear designed to give drivers information about the surroundings while their eyes remain fixed on the road.

The company has also taken on board Accenture’s Business Integration Platform for its ConnectedDrive solution to provide product management, ordering and contract management capabilities, and customer management.

BMW said it expects to have a wide range of partial self-driving vehicles on the road in the next five years.

3. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen AG

Martin Winterkorn, 68, serves as Volkswagen AG’s CEO since January 2010. He was born in Leonberg, Germany and in 1973 he concluded his studies in metallurgy and metal physics at the University of Stuttgart.

In 1977 received his doctorate from the Max-Planck-Institute for Metal Research and Metal Physics. That same year Winterkorn got his first job as a specialist assistant in the research division of Process Engineering at Robert Bosch GmbH. He made his debut at Volkswagen in 1993, when Winterkorn became Head of "Group Quality Assurance".

Under Winterkorn’s leadership, Volkswagen has developed and released several smart car solutions with the latest showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas last January. The automaker unveiled the Golf R Touch, which boosts proximity sensors and gesture-based controls powered by a special 3D camera installed in the roof console.

The car also includes a 12.3in touch screen display where the driver can obtain real time information about the vehicle.

Recently, Volkswagen partnered with Huawei to connect cars to smartphones through a series of apps that allow drivers to use GPS navigation systems, play music, send and receive messages, and make phone calls while on the road.

4. Rupert Stadler, Audi

Professor Rupert Stadler, 53, was born in Titting, Bavaria, and has been Audi’s CEO since January 2007. Stadler studied Business Management, majoring in Corporate Planning and Controllership and Finance, Banking and Investment, at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences.

He got his first job at Philips Kommunikation Industrie AG in Nuremberg, and joined Audi in 1990 in the Sales and Marketing team, becoming an Audi Board Member in January 2003.

Audi has plans to equip its cars with different smart technologies, including the "Traffic Light Assist" which tells the driver at what distance they are until the next red signal allowing them to stop in time. On July 22, Audi, BMW and Daimler agreed to pay $2.7 billion to acquire Nokia’s mapping service Here.

The firm has also partnered with Huawei, which will equip Audi’s vehicles with LTE modules to support 2G, 3G and 4G networks, in addition to TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE standards. Cars will be enabled to reach download speeds of up to 100Mbps, enhancing data transfers on the road.

5. Elon Reeve Musk, Tesla

Elon Reeve Musk, 44, from Pretoria, South Africa, has been the CEO of Tesla Motors since October 2008 after first joining the company’s board of directors as a chairman in 2004.

He has a Bachelor of Arts and Science from the University of Pennsylvania and is also Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX as well as founder and chairman of SolarCity.

Under Musk’s leadership, Tesla has become one of the greenest car manufacturers in the world. Tesla’s IoT fleet includes a suspension system that is linked to the GPS allowing the car to intelligently know when to lower or raise the suspension.

Tesla’s S model offers an autopilot system that uses a forward-looking camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors with real time traffic updates that allow the car to drive itself through traffic. The vehicle also includes a 17in touch screen that displays real time data from all sensors around the car and information from the driver’s paired mobile phone.

Tesla has also entered an Nvidia collaboration to install Nvidia’s Tegra X1 development kit which includes a powerful graphics processor to enable the car to perceive the environment around itself.

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