Aston Martin gets new CEO as Renault-Nissan departures continue image

Aston Martin just hired former senior Nissan executive Andy Palmer as its new CEO, ending its long search for someone to fill that position.

The carmaker stated that Palmer, 51, will take over as chief executive “after he completes a transition period from his current employer.” Aston Martin has been without a CEO for 9 months as it is struggling to stay competitive with bigger premium rivals and fund investments in vehicle and engine technologies.

Aston Martin’s board said that Palmer’s background and experience, which includes leading Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand, will be “instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward”. The move adds to an exodus of Renault-Nissan executives that began last year with second-in-command, Carlos Tavares. Like Palmer, Tavares was regarded as a potential future leader but now is the chief executive officer of the French rival PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Nissan’s Infiniti division has since then lost its CEO, Johan de Nysschen, as well as Europe chief Fintan Knight, an Audi and Lamborghini veteran.

“A number of very capable guys are leaving Nissan. The situation doesn’t really seem to be encouraging.” said Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan.

Managing director of researcher Intelligence Automotive Asia, Ashvin Chotai, said that “There’s a core management team at Nissan and Andy Palmer was a very crucial part of it. He had a lot of responsibilities and a lot of functions under his umbrella. To lose somebody like him is a big blow to Nissan.”

Palmer’s replacement will have to face the challenge of helping Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s CEO, to lift Nissan’s operating-profit margin to 8 % in sales and also to increase the global market share 8% by March 2017. Nissan is also targeting its Infiniti unit to capture 10% of the world’s premium-car market by the end of the decade.

By Gabriela Florea