David Smith, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover has left the company for reasons that JLR and parent firm Tata refuse to elaborate upon beyond telling the Beeb that Smith’s departure is “not linked to the recent breakdown of talks with unions over pay and pensions.” Since the sale to Tata, Jaguar has been negotiating a two-tier wage system and pension reform with workers at its four British plants, but talks stumbled to a halt just days ago. So, that’s definitely not why Smith left suddenly.
Tata plans on closing at least one of its West Midlands plants, and has already turned down British state aid as “too onerous.” Unsurprisingly, one of Tata’s JLR directors (and former Tata CEO) Ravi Kant is stepping in to take over day-to-day leadership duties. With the new management now fully in charge of JLR (and doubtless tasked with right-sizing JLR into line with its falling sales), things are going to be a bit topsy-turvy in Goodwood for a while. Jaguar has long cherished its relative freedom, and Jag’s Ian Callum had only good things about the marque’s relations with its corporate overlords when I interviewed him last fall. Kant’s assumption of power represents the return of corporate management at JLR… just as a new, smaller and long-rumored Jaguar roadster was confirmed for production. This could be interesting.