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BEIRUT — Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault head who fled Japan where he was facing trial, is launching a university business program in Lebanon, a nation mired in a deep economic crisis blamed on years of misrule, mismanagement and corruption.
Nine months after his dramatic escape to Beirut from Tokyo, the Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), a private university north of the Lebanese capital.
Ghosn, credited with turning round the Japanese and French automakers before he faced charges in Japan of financial wrongdoing that he denies, plans programs to coach executives, offer technology training and help startups to create jobs.
Ghosn has found refuge in Lebanon, where the economy is collapsing under debts amassed since the 1975-1990 civil war. A devastating blast in Beirut on Aug. 4 compounded the country’s woes.
“Obviously I am not interested in politics but I will dedicate time and effort into supporting Lebanon during this difficult period,” he told Reuters before the formal launch of his new university program.
At Tuesday’s news conference to announce the program, he said: “This is about creating jobs, employment and entrepreneurs to allow society to take its role in the reconstruction of the country.”
He said Lebanon’s challenge was “the restoration of confidence” and not a lack of assets, saying the state owned infrastructure, land and hydrocarbon resources. Now it needs to execute a recovery plan, he said.
“If you bring back trust, money will come,” he said. “You can have an excellent plan for Lebanon but if you don’t execute it you are not even at starting point.”
Ghosn, who was approached by USEK in the weeks after arriving in Lebanon at the end of December, said the business program aims to offer practical help. He will help supervise.
Drawing on his experience, the focus for the executive program would be turning around companies in trouble, corporations struggling with a troubled environment and how to “make yourself invaluable” in a company.
Ghosn said several international executives had agreed to give pro bono courses, such as Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bolloré, who also was CEO of Renault, and venture capitalist Raymond Debbane.
The short courses, expected to start in March, would be open to 15 to 20 senior executives in Lebanon and the Middle East.
“The role model is my experience, what I think are the basic needs of a top executive in a very competitive environment,” he said, adding that, when he was in charge, Nissan’s executive training program in Japan had been open to other companies.
The second USEK program, subsidized by the executive program, would train people on new technologies, such as computer-assisted design and artificial intelligence.
Ghosn said Lebanon’s jewelery exporters were among those who would benefit from software to help with designs.
The third program would act as an incubator for startups, and he aimed to invest in two projects. “I am mainly interested in projects that have environmental impact,” he said, citing the example of a project to turn sewage into fertilizer.
He said was persuaded to work with USEK by the president of the Maronite Christian institution, Fr. Talal Hachem, and his young team.
Ghosn said he picked USEK, rather than a bigger Lebanese university, because he liked working with an institution that attracted a broad range of students, not just the wealthy.
“These students need help more than anybody else. This is the class that has been smashed by the situation today,” he told Reuters. “I’m going to help build the economy by helping to solve problems that every Lebanese is facing today.”
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The VW Golf GTI has always been one of the staples of the hot hatch segment and the time has come to find out if the new eighth-generation model is up to the task.
VW has resisted the horsepower wars in the hot hatch segment, opting instead for further refinement of the Golf GTI’s oily bits. It’s safe to say that the headline figures fail to impress among the current crop of hot hatches, with the sportiest Golf offering 242 HP (245 PS) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque out of its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
That’s the updated Evo4 version of the familiar EA888 TSI unit as used in previous Golf GTIs and comes paired to a standard six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the latter being the only one available during the initial launch phase.
The revised engine now offers its maximum torque on a wider rev band, namely between 1,600 and 4,300 rpm. The updates include new fuel injectors, a higher injection pressure and smaller improvements in areas like internal friction and acoustic, in addition to the necessary petrol particulate filter and a bigger catalytic converter to comply with the latest emissions in Europe.
The new Golf GTI is capable of a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.3 seconds when fitted with the DSG ‘box and tops out at an electronically limited 155 mph (250 km/h).
Driving enthusiasts will be mostly interested in the chassis. Upfront there’s a new lighter aluminum subframe, five percent stiffer springs and new dampers, in addition to reconfigured wishbone bearings and buffer stops. At the rear, there are 15 percent stiffer springs together with new dampers.
Moreover, VW has added the new Vehicle Dynamics Manager, which controls the ESP, the electronic limited-slip differential and the optional active DCC dampers with much greater precision and adjustability.
In the video that follows, Top Gear tests it in order to find out if there’s a great hot hatch underneath the high-tech skin of the new VW Golf GTI.
Ford is recalling automatic-transmission 2020 Mustang models due to a defect that could result in fracturing of the brake-pedal bracket, possibly causing the bracket to snap. The recall affects 38,005 cars, according to a notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Sept. 23.
First spotted by Roadshow, the defect is due to a change in material for the brake-pedal bracket. A switch was made from nylon to polypropylene with “insufficient design margins,” Ford documents submitted to the NHTSA show. This was only done for automatic-transmission cars; manual-transmission 2020 Mustangs are unaffected. The bracket in question was introduced into production on March 4, 2019 and taken out of production on Aug. 13, 2020, so only cars built during that time span are affected.
During “sudden stopping,” the bracket could snap, making it harder for the driver to brake, according to the recall notice. In the accompanying documents, Ford said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the defect.
2020 Ford Mustang 2.3 High Performance Package
The recall is expected to begin Nov. 16. Owners of affected cars will be notified by Ford, and dealerships will replace the pedal-bracket assembly free of charge.
Owners can also contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s reference number for this recall is 20S52.
This is the third recall for the 2020 Mustang, with the other two announced in May. One was due to the “transmission not in park” warning message and associated chime being shorter than intended on 2019-’20 Mustangs, as well as some 2019 Expedition models. The 2020 Mustang was also recalled for an improperly calibrated forward-facing camera, which could impact driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. That recall affected just 24 cars, however.