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Absolute power

2 months ago

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Writer:

Ben Oliver | Journalist

Date:

12 February 2024

Once, it was easy to identify who decided what cars we got to drive and how much we paid for them. It was the leaders of the big car makers, the politicians whose governments regulated, subsidised and sometimes owned those car makers, and the trade unionists who decided whether the cars got built at all.

But this industry is being remade – or undone – like never before, and it is today harder than ever to spot who’s really calling the shots. The people who exercise real power and influence over today’s car industry aren’t always the most prominent, and never those who describe themselves as influencers.

A couple of important caveats. First, trying to map the modern car industry in 1500 words will start as many arguments as it settles: please see this as a personal view based on 25-odd years of reporting this stuff. Second, this is about personal power and influence: the ability to have an idea and get it done, rather than the status that comes with a job at the top of a big corporation.

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