Aston Martin appoints Nissan’s Andy Palmer as new CEO

Published: 02 September 2014

Nissan product chief Andy Palmer, 51, has been appointed chief executive office of Aston Martin.

A corporate spokeswoman at Aston Martin confirmed the news to CAR magazine ahead of an official announcement at 10.00am today.

‘We are delighted he’s joining us,’ she said. ‘It’s been worth the wait.’ No start date has been set yet, while Nissan and Aston lawyers sort through contractual details.

Nissan said Palmer had ‘accepted a position at another company,’ triggering a wider reshuffle in the boardrooms of the Renault-Nissan alliance. He will be replaced by his opposite number at Renault, Philippe Klein.

Who is Aston Martin’s new CEO?

Andy Palmer started his career as an apprentice at a UK automotive supplier and joined Austin Rover in 1986. But most of his career has been spent at Nissan, where he’s worked since 1991.

He started in the UK at the European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire as general manager of vehicle design.

But he quickly rose up the tree and moved to Japan in 2002 after a stint as deputy managing director of Nissan Engineering in Europe.

Until 2014 he was chief planning officer, responsible for global product, corporate planning and sales and marketing. Click here to read a CAR magazine interview with Palmer in 2011; he went on to become acting head of Infiniti.

He has several ace cards up his sleeve, according to those on CAR magazine who know him well. Palmer is a proper, died-in-the-wool car enthusiast, for starters. He is one of the most senior Brits working in the industry and it’ll be easier for him to assimilate at Aston as a British leader, we’d wager. And if he can bring a little Japanese precision and manufacturing quality to a low-volume manufacturer…

Andy Palmer’s to-do list at Aston Martin

Palmer joins at a pivotal time for Aston Martin. Since the departure of Ulrich Bez, who stepped down at the end of 2013 when he turned 70, the company has been seeking a leader with the vision to take the low-volume specialist British manufacturer forwards.

The shareholder board of Aston Martin said: ‘We’re delighted that Andy will join us as our new CEO at this important time at Aston Martin. Andy’s wealth of experience on the global automotive stage in marketing and sales, engineering and technology, and luxury and brand management will be instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward through its most significant and ambitious period of investment to date.’

These are the current pressing issues Palmer faces in his new role as CEO:

Relaunching the sports car range The new DB9 and Vantage ranges are in urgent need of fresh impetus
Finalising the AMG alliance Aston has struck a supply deal for engines and electrical architectures. But could it lead to closer collaboration?
Launching the Lagonda Positioning the new luxury brand correctly. Why keep it Middle East only?
Keeping the VH architecture relevant It’s an ageing platform, but kept fresh by continual evolution
Stabilising sales Aston sales yo-yo at the mercy of economic winds. Palmer needs to keep the product plan in sync with global demand

Click here to read our scoop on the next generation of Aston Martin sports cars.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet