FRANCOIS CASTAING:
 
Francois Castaing




 
 
 
 
 
is a longtime automotive leader. He serves on the boards of TRW, Amerigon, Durakon Industries, NextEnergy, and FIRST. He also is chairman of the University Cultural Center Association; chairman emeritus of the French American Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Chapter; and member of the United States National Academy of Engineering. Castaing has chaired the New Detroit Science Center Board of Trustees since 1998. Under his leadership, a $29.2 million capital campaign for the expansion and renovation of the center was launched, a drive that now stands at $28 million. Named a fellow of SAE, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, Castaing was an executive with American Motors, Renault, and DaimlerChrysler. He moved to Detroit in 1980 to help lead the union between American Motors and Renault. When Chrysler acquired American Motors in 1987, he joined Chrysler, where he pioneered an innovative way to design automobiles by organizing design, engineering, manufacturing, finance, purchasing, and marketing in ďplatform teams.Ē In 1993, Castaing founded USCAR with General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., and helped form the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles with the U.S. government. In 1994, Castaing became the head of Chrysler Powertrain Operations and in 1996 served as executive vice president for Chrysler International Operations. He was technical advisor to the chairman from 1997 to 2000, when he retired from Chrysler.


WHERE BORN: "South of France, in Marseille."

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: "It would be hard to say one or two. The individuals who inspire me are people who do something with their lives, like build a bridge or start the car industry in the early 1900s Ė all kinds of entrepreneurs. I admire people who, through their engineering skills, created something that most people take for granted, such as the highway system in the United States, clean drinking water, the telephone, electricity. Unsung engineers who created innovation. Some Iíve met and some Iíve read about. And early on, my mother and father who helped me and pushed me into a good education."

LAST BOOK READ: "Iím reading Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years by Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer."

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: "I was born with the urge and gift of leading people to do things together. I believe that we are living a short life on this planet and we are here to do something good for it and for society, to make a difference. Iím very tenacious, I donít give up."

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: "I left the [auto] industry but Iím still interested in it. Itís a complicated business that involves a lot of people directly and indirectly. Itís in the midst of restructuring and so on, and I hope that re-energized leadership is about to emerge in the Big Three. I hope that the people who emerge to lead are car people and that they know what cars are all about."

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: "I admire all the gadgets technology has given us, from the telephone to computers, but Iím not as obsessed with that as some others. Iím obsessed with the automobile. Some people take it for granted. Weíd be lost without them."

FAVORITE PLACE: "Iíve been lucky to have been around the world to many places but my favorite is where I can be with my family and good friends. If I were on a beautiful island in the Pacific by myself, I would not really enjoy that."

FAVORITE HOBBIES: "Driving vintage old cars. I have the time and energy to compete in vintage racing events now, and I love that."

FAVORITE FOOD: "I like food from everywhere in the world. Thereíre so many different things. I donít have one specific favorite; all of them from Nigeria to China to France and Germany."

MY HIDDEN TALENT: "Iím an open person, so people would know what Iím able to do. I donít really keep to myself."

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: "I will let people decide what Iíve done right. I want to be remembered for the things I did do right, though."