► Pressure mounts on Aston Martin CEO
► Financial Times reports Andy Palmer out
► AMG chief Tobias Moers tipped to succeed
The weekend papers had been full of reports citing the Financial Times story that Andy Palmer will be ousted from Aston Martin this week, and now statements from Daimler and Aston Martin have confirmed the news. The announcement brings to an end a six-year leadership stint that revolutionised the British sports car maker.
The FT claims that Mercedes-AMG chief Tobias Moers was appointed as CEO at a board meeting on Tuesday, cementing the close ties between Aston Martin and Daimler, which already supplies V8 engines and electrical systems to Gaydon. In a statement released today, Aston Martin confirmed: ‘Aston Martin Lagonda is pleased to announce the appointment of Tobias Moers, as Chief Executive Officer. Tobias, 54, will take over from Andy Palmer and will formally join on 1 August 2020.’
Palmer was appointed president and group CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda back in September 2014, after a glittering product career at Nissan, where he was closely linked to the genesis of the successful Qashqai family crossover and Leaf electric cars.
What went wrong for Andy Palmer at Aston Martin?
Life at Aston has proved more treacherous than at the Japanese car-making giant, with Aston’s small production volumes at odds with the ever-expanding product range that Palmer oversaw.
Like most sports car brands, Aston Martin has focused on core models – the Vantage (above) and DB11 ranges, in coupe and Volante drophead forms – but with a dizzying spread of spin-off models, such as rebodied Zagatos, racier AMRs, dramatically upgraded Superleggeras and, of course, the Valkyrie hypercar. Critics warned that every extra model stretched R&D budgets, diluted focus and added complexity – not to mention accruing more debt.
The move into SUVs with the new DBX was a commercially wise move, but Aston Martin is late to the 4×4 party, trailing sporty crossovers from Porsche, Maserati, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini – and bean counters questioned the need to build a separate factory in Wales.
But it is the listing of Aston on the London stock exchange that has surely sparked change at the top. Shares in the car maker have collapsed by 90% since the initial offering in 2018, leaving investors flummoxed and it announced a £120 million loss in the first quarter, as sales dried up and the coronavirus hit. It can be no coincidence that the rumoured management shake-up comes soon after Canadian billionaire Lance Stroll bought a 20% stake in Aston earlier this year.
A boardroom shake-up is already underway: chief financial officer Mark Wilson and chairman Penny Hughes left in April 2020.
Daimler already owns 5% of Aston Martin and parachuting a Mercedes-Benz lifer into the role will surely only bring the two brands closer together.
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