James E. Press
No. 1 James E. Press (President, North America Operations): Toyota
One of the most visible figures in the US auto industry, and the first non-Japanese member of Toyota’s Board of Directors, James E. Press, resigned from the position of North American President on September 14, 2007, after 37 years of service. Press will leverage his knowledge and experience as the Vice Chairman and President of Chrysler, focusing his efforts on growing Toyota’s direct competitor. During his career with Toyota, Press was heralded for his ability to connect the then fledgling Japanese car maker with the US market and recreate Toyota’s global image. His close ties with US dealers spurred Toyota’s growing market share, which hit 16% in March 2007, surpassing GM to be America’s number one auto supplier . If Press is able to work his magic at Chrysler, he may just become the king of the car industry, having driven twice down the road less traveled.