Odell added responsibility for the Middle East and Africa to his duties as chairman and chief executive of European operations, but he hasn't had time for much sightseeing. After Ford (Fortune 500) announced plans in October to close its big plant in Genk, Belgium, unions put up a blockade and wouldn't allow the shipment of finished cars for three months. If Ford is to maintain its aggressive schedule of capacity reduction, Odell can expect to spend the year putting out similar brushfires. ,
A look at what's in store for the world's automakers this year will tell a lot about what to expect for cars down the road.