Review of American Drive

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) chairman, CEO and co-founder Richard E. Dauch spent 48 years in the automotive industry as a manufacturing executive at Chevrolet, Chrysler and Volkswagen. Writing with historian Hank H. Cox, Dauch sums up his leadership philosophy by opening his combined memoir and leadership guide with a quote from football coach Vince Lombardi: “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” Lombardi was a renowned reductivist who cared only about winning and effort, and those are Dauch’s touchstones, too. Throughout his extraordinary career, Dauch – as Lombardi urged his players – gave 110%. He achieved great things at major auto manufacturing companies and his own firm. He spearheaded Chrysler’s 1980s turnaround and brought new manufacturing procedures to Volkswagen. Dauch believes that his company’s success demonstrates that American workers and plants can compete with any company on the planet. And he shows remarkable faith in the reader’s fascination with the daily nuts and bolts of manufacturing, which he reports in either exacting or excruciating detail, depending on how enthralled you are with the subject. Dauch’s blunt writing and his insider’s saga of every manufacturing process he ever pursued will interest manufacturers, industrial start-ups, anyone in the car industry and manufacturing investors.

About the Authors

American Axle & Manufacturing chair, CEO and co-founder Richard E. Dauch was a manufacturing executive at Chevrolet, Chrysler and Volkswagen during his 48 years in the auto industry. Dauch co-authored Passion for Manufacturing with Dr. Jack Troyanovich. Historian Hank H. Cox wrote Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862 and Conversations with the Devil.


American Drive is mainly the story of how Dauch co-created, developed and later rescued AAM. As he teaches readers how to lead, Dauch takes you through each phase of AAM’s evolution. He covers its initial launch and recounts how he built AAM’s culture, his embrace of lean manufacturing, and the voyage of taking AAM public and then global.

Dauch’s experiences include working in the auto industry as Detroit’s classic but wasteful manufacturing culture crumbled. He survived a crippling United Auto Workers (UAW) strike and still has no patience with unions, particularly that one. And he recalls how he worked through AAM’s near collapse and miraculous recovery, which he credits to his “Restructure, Resize and Recover” program.

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