Aston Martin Sees CEO Swap
Aston Martin Lagonda will be seeing new leadership. Tobias Moers will be surrendering his role as chief executive to make way for former Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa.
While the formal announcement was made on Wednesday, rumors about Moers getting the boot had been circulating ever since Aston Martin Racing head Otmar Szafnauer left the company in January after repeatedly butting heads with executive chairman Lawrence Stroll. Szafnauer was said to have resigned, however, reports suggested that the Canadian financier was displeased with his performance. At the time, there were claims that Moers’ head was next on the chopping block.
As with the company’s former racing boss, Moers was said to have resigned. But it’s incredibly common for the industry to establish a rosier narrative to make it seem as though everything is hunky-dory. Don’t forget that Carlos Ghosn also “resigned” before it was revealed that a corporate coup and some financial shenanigans had taken place within the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance. Notices of CEOs quitting can mean everything from an amicable departure to someone being physically dragged from the premises against their will.
We don’t have anything that would suggest the latter at this juncture. But there’s been plenty of speculation that Stroll wanted to replace Moers, with Car Magazine confirming reports that the two were bickering about how to manage the business. Moers was reportedly seeking to develop a German tech base for Aston Martin, moving R&D out of Gaydon while getting cozier with Mercedes-Benz — which holds a 20-percent stake in the British automaker. The outlet said Stroll was more interested in being buddies with the Italians and even predicted ex-Ferrari chief Amedeo Felisa coming to replace Moers. Though he didn’t get much of an introduction when the time came.
From Aston Martin:
Mr Amedeo Felisa joined Aston Martin Lagonda in May 2022 as Chief Executive Officer, having previously served as a non-Executive Director of AML, Felisa is appointed an Executive Director of Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc.
Felisa has spent his entire career in automotive and engineering with over 26 years in leadership roles at Ferrari, including eight as CEO, guiding the Italian-based global luxury automotive OEM through its turnaround and growth phase as the engineering and product-development force behind every new model.
Felisa holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Milan Politecnico University.
At 76, Felisa has already fallen under criticism for being too old to run the company. But it’s not as if things were going swimmingly under Tobias Moers. The automaker reported a pre-tax loss of £111 million ($138.8 million) for the first quarter, expanding on its £42-million ($52.5-millon) loss from a year earlier. The business has also undergone numerous management shakeups during the now-ex CEO’s brief tenure. However, it may not be fair to attribute those failings to Moers directly, as he joined the company during the particularly rough 2020 with a stated desire to streamline operations and focus on tech.
Stroll spoke well of him, saying that he helped “deliver our future strategy, with a particular focus on technology advancements, and our in-house engineering capabilities, as we move towards electrification.”
While there could be some bad blood bubbling beneath the surface, my guess is that Moers’ prior relationship with Daimler and reported desire for Aston to get even further intertwined with Mercedes-Benz simply wasn’t something Stroll was interested in. Though, beyond ensuring his son always has a racing team to drive for, it’s not all that clear what his grand vision for the company entails.
Copying the Germans seems like it probably would have been a mistake. But aping the Italians doesn’t seem any wiser. Aston Martin needs its own strategy and to figure out a way to tap into its unique Britishness in a manner that resonates with customers. But speculating on what needs to be done is a lot easier than actually coming up with a winning plan. Here’s hoping CEO Felisa will have something concrete for us soon.
[Images: Aston Martin]
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