Here are the highest earning CEOs of the automotive industry

The position of CEO or CEO of any large company, commonly known by its acronym in English (CEO), is normally associated with a fairly high salary. Running a company with tens of thousands of employees and billion-dollar billings comes with great responsibility, but also great rewards. Automotive is one of the world’s largest manufacturing industries, so it’s not surprising to see million-dollar salaries among top executives. However, even in these spheres, the salary disparity between the highest-paid CEOs is very high.

In general, all the big bosses of the automobile companies have very high salaries. However, in most cases, they get more money from compensation and bonuses than from their base salary. The better they manage the company economically and financially, the higher the compensation will be at the end of the year.

All companies have established incentive and compensation programs for objectives especially young startups, probably motivated by their greater need to grow in all senses. Particularly striking is the case of RJ Scaringe, CEO of Rivian, who has much greater powers than the CEOs of larger and more solvent companies. Although he is not the only one. 

Who are the highest-paid CEOs in the automotive industry? If you are thinking of Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen Group, or Mercedes-Benz, I am sorry to say that they are far from the highest paid, despite running the biggest car companies in the world. However, the following list includes several leaders of some of the largest groups today.

Carlos Tavares, Stellantis

Carlos Tavares

Stellantis closed the 2022 financial year with record profits of 16.8 billion euros and the highest profit margin in its history (13%). Its general director, the Portuguese Carlos Tavares (64), was the architect of this successful task, not without a certain cost in jobs (some 2,000 jobs in Italy). 

As a reward for the good results of the company, Tavares pocketed 23.4 million euros last year. 91.4% of that salary (21,444,661 euros) corresponds to variable remuneration, which includes bonuses, shares, and long-term payments.

Mary Barra, General Motors

Mary Barra

Mary Barra‘s base salary as CEO of General Motors is $2.1 million a year, or $175,000 a month. Not bad at all, but the real rewards from it are much higher. Specifically, Barra received 29 million dollars in 2022, about 26.3 million euros in exchange.

According to the financial reports of General Motors (the largest American automobile manufacturer), Barra received some 6.3 million dollars in bonuses, 4.9 million in options, and the equivalent of 14.6 million dollars in shares of the company, in addition to 1.1 million in the concept of “other payments”. 

Peter Rawlinson, Lucid Motors

Peter Rawlinson

Rawlinson‘s career in electric cars began a long time ago, as he worked at Tesla as chief engineer of the Model S. The Briton is now  CEO and CTO of Lucid Motors, one of the new companies dedicated exclusively to electric cars and also one of the best paid.

Although the Lucid Air is one of the most technologically advanced electric cars, its sales volume is not particularly significant (barely 2,800 cars in the first half of 2023) and the company’s accounts are still in the red. Last year it had losses of more than $1.3 billion. Even so, the prizes are bulky.

According to Lucid’s filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Rawlinson’s base salary is $575,000 per year. However, in 2021 she received a compensation worth 575 million dollars, one of the largest salary packages in the automobile industry, sponsored by the disproportionate listing of the company on the stock market at that time.

Rawlinson took home, in addition to base salary, a $2.4 million bonus, $6.6 million in preferred stock, and $556 million in common stock. Soon after, the company’s share price fell by almost 70%. Last year, after poor results, Rawlinson got no stock compensation, although he did get a cash incentive of 100% of his base salary.

RJ Scaringe, Rivian Automotive

RJ Scaringe

As with Lucid Motors and Tesla, Rivian’s CEO’s compensation was largely based on company stock. So, when they were at their peak, back in 2021, Scaringe took home a salary of nearly $2.3 billion that year.  It included a base salary of $650,000, $126,197 in incentives, and $2,288,594,284 in company stock. The number hardly makes sense when we talk about such a young company.

When Rivian’s share value dropped from $172 to just $13, Scaringe’s fortune fell from about $3.4 billion in 2021 to about $600 million by the end of 2022. Born in 1983, he is also the youngest CEO of Rivian. those present here.

Elon Musk, Tesla

Elon Musk

Elon Musk does not have a fixed salary at Tesla, or so it is often said. He does have a token base salary of $1, but the magic happens with compensation depending on how the company does.

Those add-ons depend on various goals, such as Tesla’s market capitalization and company profits. In 2017, when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy and disappearance, the board of directors led by Musk established ambitious incentives and prizes for the company’s CEO if he managed to revive it and take it on the right track. Given the situation of Tesla in the year 2022, and by the incentives set, Elon Musk is entitled to $56 billion of remuneration. 

Elenor Kling

A tech lover and generally a car enthusiast who likes to do a lot of research and share knowledge.

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