It’s no secret that Aston Martin is in financial trouble. It went into 2020 in rough enough shape to require extensive restructuring, making the subsequent years more about survival than growth. Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll has said he remains committed to saving the company and reviving its defunct Formula One team on more than one occasion since then. But he is clearly fighting an uphill battle.
Despite having achieved a few sales targets after spending most of 2020 shut down, Aston Martin continues facing product delays and is losing talent faster than it can replace it. Some of this has been attributed (fairly or not) to CEO Tobias Moers, who took over for Andy Palmer in August of 2020. But it looks like Moers may be leaving the company as well if the latest reports are to be believed.
Unvaccinated workers from General Motors’ CAMI Assembly Plant have been removed from the facility and forced into unpaid leave. The automaker had a deadline set for December 12th to have all employees vaccinated, with Unifor previously having urged the company to postpone the date. The Western world has seen a surge of citizens protesting vaccine mandates this year, with Canadian unions conducting more than a few of their own. Though several organizers have said they’re operating independently due to a shared belief that Unifor was offering insufficient support to members and was effectively siding with automakers.
McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt will be stepping down after spending eight years at his post. The supercar manufacturer has stated that it’s already in search of his replacement, though that will be just one of several issues it needs to square away.
While Flewitt oversaw the brand’s impressive global expansion efforts and push to integrate new technologies needed for a broader product lineup, McLaren is still reeling from work stoppages done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial concerns have since encouraged the company to scale back its involvement in Formula One so it could prioritize its own survival, saving jobs wherever possible.
Starting a car brand has to be among the more foolhardy endeavors one can embark upon. The industry is saturated with giant, multinational companies that don’t want competition and a regulatory environment that requires a ludicrous amount of wealth and plenty of time to overcome. Despite this, we’ve seen countless electric vehicle startups attempting to accrete into something profitable over the last few years. But even the winners have found themselves wholly dependent upon government-backed. carbon-credit schemes or blank-check firms designed to guarantee their IPOs are astronomically high — often before they’ve shown a functional prototype.
This makes distinguishing a company with potential from those that are dead on arrival incredibly difficult. Though it’s getting easier to see which side of the fence Lordstown Motors will be occupying after a particularly grim string of months. One of its prototypes spontaneously combusted during testing last March, at roughly the same time Hindenburg Research was accusing it of fraud. More recently, the business lost CEO Steve Burns and confessed that it was in desperate need of money to start production.
Volkswagen Group is moving Porsche CEO Oliver Blume over to the core brand, necessitating a broader employment shift within the company to ensure other nameplates aren’t left without leadership. German outlet Auto Motor und Sport indicated earlier in the week that a management shakeup was afoot that would see Blume take over the VW brand in order for group head Herbert Diess to focus on managing the bigger picture.
Blume is rumored to have been tapped to help the company address rampant issues with its upcoming electric vehicles. If you’ll recall, VW has struggled with software issues and production holdups for some time. Last we checked, VW’s plan was to launch the ID.3 with less-than-ideal computer code that it intends to fix later.
Sounds like a bad one.
On Friday, Ford Motor Co. announced Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr’s daughter would immediately join Rivian’s board of directors. In 2019, the automaker dumped $500 million into the electric vehicle startup with aims to build a new Lincoln product using its “skateboard” platform. That plan was scrapped earlier this week, leaving us wondering what that meant for the partnership.
The Blue Oval has since reaffirmed its commitment to use Rivian’s hardware on another project, and now has this marriage of state (or whatever the more tepid modern equivalent would be) with Mr. Ford’s daughter.
Alexandra Ford English has a fairly brief professional history within the automotive industry. She’s been with Ford since 2017, moving from an MBA intern to working within the automaker’s mobility program. She was made director of autonomous vehicles that same year and was later promoted to director of corporate strategy in February of 2020.
Following a nearly six-month search for new leadership, the American Center for Mobility (ACM) has named Reuben Sarkar as its new CEO. The Michigan-based facility has been without a chief executive since Michael Noblett left in November of 2019, leaving COO Mark Chaput in charge while the company hunted for a replacement.
It found one with Sarkar. He’s positioned to assume his new role at the historic site (Willow Run) that manufactured B-24 bombers in World War II before transitioning to GM vehicles and eventually the testing of autonomous cars, in early May. But this isn’t one of those cushy CEO positions where one can sit back and enjoy a sizable annual bonus. Intellectual property conflicts, legal hazards, and a longer-than-presumed development timelines have stagnated the self-driving industry. Mr. Sarkar is going to have his work cut out for him — though we’re sure he’ll still be well paid.
Ralf Speth, the longtime CEO of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is stepping down. Parent company Tata Motors confirmed the move, saying Speth would continue serving as a non-executive vice chairman on the board holding company and advisor to JLR.
At 64, Speth is easing into retirement after having led the company for the last ten years. He’s scheduled to leave his post in September, having spent the brunt of his tenure expanding the company’s global footprint.
Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons holding company, said a search committee has been formed will work closely with him to identify a suitable successor in the coming months. But news of Speth’s prospective replacement followed closely after the retirement announcement.
In an effort to reduce expenses and lower its headcount, an embattled Nissan is offering buyouts to its U.S. employees.
It’s rumored that Nissan plans to eliminate thousands of white-collar jobs and shutter several global factories as part of its effort to improve the company balance sheet. Going into 2020 weak and not expecting to make any money, the automaker is turning its focus to restructuring for at least the next 24 months.
“To adapt to current business needs and improve efficiencies, Nissan will offer voluntary separation packages to eligible U.S.-based employees,” the company said in a statement.
Gerald Kariem has been unanimously selected by the UAW’s executive board to become its new vice president and director of the Ford department. Kariem, 63, has been a board member himself for almost ten years and currently oversees Region 1D. His placement frees up Rory Gamble to handle more presidential duties (Gamble having taken on the top role in November after former UAW President Gary Jones resigned amid a federal corruption investigation).
“Gerald brings a wealth of leadership in contract implementation, and he will be able to pick up on the recently ratified Ford contract,” Gamble said in a statement. “His experience in implementing the merger of Regions 1C and 1D and building teamwork through his leadership will be invaluable as we implement reforms within the UAW.”
The Board of Directors of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has elected Michael “Mike” Manley, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as its new leader. Tapped to replace PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares as chairman on January 1st, Manley is currently engaging in some mobility related foreplay to get us hot and bothered.
“As an industry we want to take the lead in transforming mobility in a way that puts the consumer first, but also enables us to remain globally competitive and resilient,” Manley said in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, the ACEA’s stated priorities for the coming year revolve around “developing a pathway for the transition to carbon-neutral road transport, while ensuring the economic sustainability of the European auto sector.” Presumably, those are goals shared by the English businessman who’ll be taking the reins in 2020 — but he’ll have to manage environmental progress with market realities while doing so.
Renault’s board of directors met today to decide the fate of CEO Thierry Bolloré. Though we should say ex-CEO, because they fired him.
As the most recent executive to become subject to the management shakeup that’s bent on removing anyone within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with ties to defamed founder Carlos Ghosn, Bolloré called the board’s decision surprising ( it wasn’t). Speaking with France’s Les Échos, he contended that he was more concerned with the wellbeing of Renault than corporate politics and expressed fears that the alliance could be falling apart as Japan aggressively seeks to remove more Ghosn-era hires.
“I appeal to the highest level of the State shareholder, guarantor of the rules of good governance, not to destabilize Renault, flagship of our French industry,” he said. “This coup is very disturbing, it is very important to understand the ins and outs of what is happening in Japan.”
General Motors is moving Cadillac marketing chief Deborah Wahl up the food chain by appointing her as its global chief marketing officer — a position which has sat unfilled since 2012.
The previous CMO, Joel Ewanick, was removed by former CEO Dan Akerson over a costly Chevrolet-Manchester United sponsorship deal blew up in his face. Officially, General Motors said Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee” and left the position vacant, distributing its duties among other other employees — primarily Chevrolet’s now-retired CMO Tim Mahoney.
Wahl, 56, joined Cadillac in 2018, helping the brand further distance itself from the botched “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign. However, we’re not yet certain its freshened marketing materials are truly a cut from a different cloth. Several of the new spots carry over the same vague messaging, just with a bit more focus on product. Then again, perhaps the highbrow content is simply going over our heads.
With Harald Krüger out, BMW needs a new CEO — one that can effectively transition the company into becoming and electrified automotive dreamscape. Krüger presumably wasn’t interested in taking that path. While that hardly makes him a monster, plenty of people felt that his reluctance to spend ludicrous amounts of money on developing EVs was tanking the company’s share price and making him look like a fool. Not us, though. Bending to investors every whim and chasing down trends with minimal foresight seems like top-tier dipshittery. But that’s the nature of the industry right now, for better or worse.
However, in the short term, it pays to promote electrification and Krüger’s measured strategy of gradually introducing more EVs via a flexible architecture was often seen as too conservative. Perhaps that’s the correct assertion and some new blood is in order at BMW if it’s to correct its course. But who do you pick?
Volkswagen Group’s supervisory board has postponed a decision on the future of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, who has been in jail since June due to his presumed connection with the automaker’s diesel malfeasance. Despite having scheduled a Monday meeting to assess Stadler’s role within the company and how best to end it, the board found itself unable to come to a conclusion by Friday.
That does not mean the imprisoned CEO will be getting a pardon from the company, however. Stadler’s representatives and VW simply failed to negotiate a solution that would see Stadler step down from his role as Audi CEO and as a VW Group management board member, sources close to the situation told Automotive News Europe.