Guess who’s the auto industry’s most revered CEO? Hint: He lost $6.7 billion last year

We love you, yeah, yeah - picture courtesy fantanistazone.com

From reading the press, one would think that Alan Mulally has the auto industry’s highest employee approval rating. Not so. Philippe Varin, CEO of French basked case PSA Peugeot Citroen is right at the top with 100% approval. He shares the spot with Suzuki’s octogenarian CEO Osamu Suzuki, Tata’s Tata, and a man who is largely unknown in the West, with Xu Ping, chief of China’s #2 automaker Donfeng. Let’s take a closer look.

Most loved auto CEOs
OEM CEO Approval OICA Rank
PSA Philippe Varin 100% 8
Suzuki Osamu Suzuki 100% 9
Tata Ratan N. Tata 100% 16
Dongfeng Xu Ping 100% 18
Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn 94% 3
Ford Alan R. Mulally 94% 5
Toyota Akio Toyoda 91% 1
Chrysler Sergio Marchionne 89% 11
Nissan Carlos Ghosn 88% 6
Daimler Dieter Zetsche 87% 12
Hyundai Kim Eok-Jo 85% 4
BMW Norbert Reithofer 85% 14
Fiat Sergio Marchionne 81% 13
GM Daniel F. Akerson 79% 2
Honda Takanobu Ito 70% 7
Renault Carlos Ghosn 68% 10
Mazda Takashi Yamanouchi 67% 17
Mitsubishi Osamu Masuko 67% 19
SAIC Liu Jian Not rated 15
Changan Xu Liu Ping Not rated 20
Data: Glassdoor.com

Here are the CEOs of the world’s top 20 automakers as ranked by the automaker association OICA, and their employee approval rating according to Glassdoor.com . Glassdoor has received a lot of cred recently, having been used by media from the Washington Post, through the Houston Press, all the way to ValueWalk as the arbiter of CEO popularity.

That Osamu Suzuki has a high percentage is no surprise. He has cult status in Japan, and definitely in Suzuki’s hometown Hamamatsu. That he shares the spot with Varin is mildly surprising. PSA lost $6.7 billion in 2012, it is looking at massive plant closures , and a possible link-up with China’s Dongfeng. Which has a CEO who is likewise popular, allegedly.

Getting to China’s largest carmaker SAIC, we enter the twilight zone, literally. Glassdoor thinks its (unrated) CEO is Liu Jian. Actually, he was chief of SAIC’s joint venture with Volkswagen, and he died in 2010, when his Tiguan collided with a dump truck, supposedly at 220 km/h. His chief of PR perished with him, which possibly explains something.

Glassdoor is one of the many crowdsourced rating sites that supposedly reflect what the people really think. Like all crowdsourced sites, they are open to massive cheating. Vote seven time when only 4 have voted, and you own the ballot. If hundreds or thousands have voted your CEO into obscurity, no problem: Use a botnet, or rather, employ one of the many “reputation management” companies (which soon will have no other choice than using a botnet) and the chief’s ratings will soar while those of the competition will go to the toilet. Do we really need to show you how? Ok, we will. Give us a few days.