Jaguar Land Rover CEO Sir Ralf Speth set to step down

Announcement on Speth's departure expected this morning, along with JLR’s return to profit

Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Sir Ralf Speth is expected to announce that he’s stepping down from his role at the helm of the UK’s biggest car maker.

An emergency board meeting is expected to be held early this morning, which will ratify the decision, with Speth expected to take a senior role on the board of JLR parent company Tata Motors and step down in September this year.

• UK car, van and engine production figures plummet

Former BMW executive Speth joined Ford’s Premier Automotive Group in 2007, which then owned Jaguar and Land Rover. When Ford sold the British companies to Indian conglomerate Tata, Speth moved with the businesses and became CEO in 2010. 

In his ten years as CEO, Speth has had a rollercoaster ride with the business. Massive investment in product saw huge profits, especially across the Range Rover business, with a sales boom in China and across the US contributing to JLR’s boost in fortunes. This led to big increases in the workforce and investment in factories in the UK and overseas.

However, with sales of diesel-engined vehicles slumping, on which JLR relied in many markets, plus a slow-down in the Chinese market, JLR went into the red and huge rounds of redundancies and cost savings were implemented.

Only recently have Jaguar sales picked up thanks to the eventual launch of the E- and F-Pace SUVs, while the all-electric I-Pace – winner of Auto Express Car of the Year in 2018 and World Car of the Year in 2019 – has put JLR on the electrification map.

Return to profit

JLR’s 3rd Quarter 2019 results are expected to show the company returning to profit, which is the perfect backdrop for Speth to make his announcement. However, rumours are circulating about continuing cuts, with question marks hanging over Jaguar’s continued involvement in Formula E and the JLR-owned creative agency Spark 44. 

Speth has been a long-time supporter of British industry and innovation, and has often spoken passionately about the need to encourage young people into the automotive industry. He was rewarded for his work in the automotive sector in 2015, by being appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. This was made Substantive last year, allowing him to use the title of Sir.

An announcement on Speth’s replacement is not due for a while, although current FCA CEO and former Jeep boss Mike Manley, like Speth an Auto Express Hall of Fame recipient, has been linked with the job.

Read the full 2019 Auto Express Brit List here…