Robert Lane has a career in the automotive industry in Australia and China spanning 35 years and is one of the most knowledgeable Australians in the Chinese automotive industry.
Starting his career at Lane's Motors in retail sales under Toyota and Mitsubishi franchises, he studied dealer training in Detroit, Michigan at the Chrysler Dealer Training School and in Stuttgart, Germany with Mercedes-Benz, followed by business administration at Mt. Eliza Business School. He was then appointed a divisional Dealer Principal at Automobiles Dandenong and Neal's Trucks with responsibility for the sales of Mitsubishi, Leyland and Daihatsu trucks as well as Rover, Range Rover, Peugeot, Renault and Daihatsu passenger cars.
Automobiles Dandenong became the region's top performing Daihatsu dealer and Robert was appointed as Dealer Development Manager at Southern Daihatsu-the regional distributor for Daihatsu vehicles in Victoria, Tasmania and the Southern Riverina.
Robert was then appointed as assistant to the Group General Manager of the ASX listed Lanes Group in 1984 and joined the board as an executive director with franchises Mercedes Benz (distribution and retail), Toyota, Daihatsu cars and trucks (distribution and retail) Chrysler, Mitsubishi cars and trucks, Renault-Peugeot, Range Rover, Rover and Triumph. After leaving Lanes in 1985 Robert helped the acquisition of Andersons Toyota in Glen Waverley, Victoria.
In 1987 Robert was appointed Dealer Principal of Andersons Toyota with responsibility for turnover of $80 million per annum and 75 staff. Under his management the company grew to be a Top 20 Toyota dealer nationally. The company changed its name to Lane Toyota and was awarded Toyota Sales Dealer of the Year in 1987, Dealer of the Year in 1989 and the Service Dealer of the Year in 1991.
During this time, Robert set up the Victorian arm of an automotive finance division, National Fleet Services as part of a national chain of Toyota dealers whose role was to grow the operating lease business and developed a risk management strategy that protected the asset and the residual risk.
He moved into business development with Manheim Fowles with the objective of setting up and managing the international trade division, where vehicles were purchased in Japan and sold in England.
In 2005 Robert decided the future of new automotive technologies and development opportunities lay in China, and relocated to Shanghai.
Over the following four years he consulted to both the local and multinational manufacturers including Shanghai GM, Ford China and Guangzhou Honda. Recognising the need for a formal education program across dealership networks in China, Robert wrote a comprehensive ‘Dealer Development and Training Manual' with 120 modules which was used as the basis for delivering training to factory clients.
During this period Robert formed AutoHub Pty Ltd, as a vehicle to start researching and analysing the domestic Chinese manufacturers for their capabilities and plans for future model development.