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Interview | How is the former Aston Martin CEO faring after his forced departure?
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Interview | How is the former Aston Martin CEO faring after his forced departure?

28-05-2021 11:00
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GPblog.com

For many years, Andy Palmer held the position of CEO at Aston Martin, but in May 2020, his six-year tenure at the brand came to an end. He soon went back to work, again in the electric vehicle industry. GPblog.com contacted Palmer to find out how the 57-year-old Briton is faring at the moment.

Aston Martin back on the map

Palmer has an impressive track record. He worked for Nissan for 23 years in various positions. He was the Chief Planning Officer, a member of the Nissan Executive Committee, and was also involved in product planning, marketing, sales and IT leadership. In addition, Palmer launched the successful electric Nissan Leaf. He moved to Aston Martin in 2014, where he found the company to be in dire straits. In the six years he has been in the UK, a lot has changed.

"My time at Aston Martin was wonderful most of the time. I believe that I left, especially the project portfolio, in a much better condition than I found. Obviously, there were issues around the share price, but the condition or the market capitalisation of the company was much higher than when I took over. I’m happy with that," says Palmer.

In the early 2020s, Aston Martin was taken over by Lawrence Stroll and there was no place for Palmer. The top man left and for the first time in years he sat at home for several weeks without any commitments. He used the time to reflect.

Palmer's next step

"The first few weeks were ones of reflection. I always try to look forward and not look back. I was thinking back on my role as the sort of father, the initiator of the Nissan Leaf. I was thinking about what I would do differently from Leaf. I found a lot of the things I learnt at Aston, would’ve been relevant towards what I would have done better with Nissan Leaf. Particularly around light weights and low drag. I began to think, I should somehow find a way to take my learnings from Aston and Nissan and pick it up with some theme.”

Palmer wanted to continue his work, so he went back to work in the electric car industry. No need to apply, the offers flooded in when it was announced he was leaving Aston Martin. “I can sort of pick things that I can do. Ultimately, I haven’t decided to pick just one single thing. There are so many things to do, I think about moving forward with a multiple job portfolio, so whether it’s working as vice chairman of “Switch” which is a bus and van EV company, whether it’s vice chairman of InoBat which is basically a battery company, or chairman of Hilo which is a scooter EV company, or whether it’s commentating in Government or on TV with BBC Question Time. The theme that is consistent throughout is the promotion of net-zero. “

When Palmer started at Aston Martin in 2014, things did not initially look good for the company. However, Palmer put the work in, although profits did drop again towards the end of his tenure. "We were investing like hell in bringing the DBX (SUV car) in the market which was there to stabilise the company, that’s where the money was going. As a CEO you have to work with what you have, so the money I had was the money I had. I didn’t have any shareholders injecting more money in so there’s no point in complaining about it”, he says of having to work with limited resources. "The key was to make sure we could get the DBX. The hypothesis was that we wouldn’t. History now tells us we got to the DBX at the end of my tenure."

Palmer isn't pointing fingers

It was a small success for Palmer, but he was eventually able to pack up his things not long after when Stroll's consortium took over by investing hundreds of millions in Aston Martin. Palmer was replaced by Tobias Moers, who came over from Mercedes-AMG. Palmer does not want to point the finger. "All I would say is, I sleep very well knowing what I did at Aston," he said.

Palmer is still full of energy, so he doesn't want to know anything about it for now. He is enjoying his current job immensely. "I’m 57, so I hope I’ve got a runway in front of me. 10 years something like that. I’m not going to stop. In the time of reflection, I thought about retirement briefly. But on reflection, I felt I still had something to add with my 41 years in the auto business which is always changing and thought my niche should be in the net-zero area.”

By: Corwin Kunst

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