General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, Toyota's Jim Lentz honored by Free Press for being champions in a crisis


As the curtain rises on the 2013 North American International Auto Show, the Detroit Free Press Automotive Leadership Awards is honoring two top executives for guiding their companies through crisis onto firmer ground: General Motors CEO Dan Akerson and Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA.

The two are co-winners in the executive leadership category in the second year for the awards. The Free Press also is honoring accomplishments in eight other categories. Today’s business section showcases the winners, chosen by a panel of seven independent judges.

Akerson’s team has generated profits in North America and China that more than offset ongoing losses in Europe. GM shares have risen 42% since Sept. 1, and the company is on its way to shedding all government ownership by April 2014. Tonight, Chevrolet will unveil its seventh-generation Corvette. And completely redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMS Sierra pickups go on sale this summer. On Tuesday, Cadillac will show the ELR, its first extended-range electric car.

Under Lentz, Toyota fought through a gauntlet of regulatory, legal and quality challenges. Last month, the company agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits by current and former Toyota owners over recalls because of suspected risks of unintended acceleration. Government regulators found that no defect in Toyota’s engine electronic caused the problem.

Toyota battled back from a disastrous 2011 when a devastating earthquake and tsunami disrupted automakers’ supply chains for months, forcing deep production cuts in Japan and North America.

2013 Automotive Leader Awards

AWARD WINNERS: Dan Akerson | Jim Lentz | Green Award | Retail Award | Engineering and Technology Award | Design Award | Community Service Award | Supplier Award | Up and Coming Award | Advertising Award | Complete coverage

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