CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT JAGUAR AND LAND ROVER

NEWS ANALYSIS: Expect most Ford-bred executives to stay put

O’Driscoll: Likely to remain at Jag
LOS ANGELES — You usually can count on some executive bloodletting when a company changes hands. But as Tata takes control of Jaguar and Land Rover, don't look for much management disruption.

Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata says the Indian company knows what it doesn't know. And it sure doesn't know the luxury-vehicle market or the European and American markets.

Tata needs guidance, and that should be great relief to the managers at Jaguar and Land Rover.

When BMW bought Land Rover in 1994, the German automaker seemingly moved half of Munich to the British Midlands, forcing out many longtime Land Rover sales and manufacturing managers. BMW was going to teach the Brits how to assemble a vehicle properly.

The day after BMW sold Land Rover to Ford in 2000, the Germans packed up and left. Then Ford moved in its own cadre of execs, again at the expense of Land Rover lifers. Same thing happened when Ford took over Jaguar.

But Tata likely will allow the existing executives, with rare exceptions, to stay on.

Polites: Will stay as brands’ CEO
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Geoff Polites will stay put. The Australian was once head of marketing for Ford of Europe and used to run Ford of Australia.

Land Rover managing director Phil Popham and Jaguar Land Rover product development boss Al Kammerer have pledged to remain on the job. And it's a fair bet that Jaguar managing director Mike O'Driscoll will keep his job.

O'Driscoll is a native of Coventry, England, Jaguar's hometown. He has spent most of his career with the British brand.

"I think 99.9 percent of the people are going to want to stay on," said Ian Callum, Jaguar chief designer, who will stick around.

Of course, Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally may want some franchise players to come back to Dearborn. They may be allowed to keep their Jaguar or Land Rover jobs for the ownership transition but then go back to Ford. That will be detailed in the fine print of the Tata deal.

But given the scads of white-collar layoffs at Ford, don't expect many openings to be created for Premier Automotive Group transplants.

The relocation of Jaguar and Land Rover's U.S. headquarters away from California may cause some disruption. Jaguar and Land Rover already have distribution and parts offices in New Jersey. Both brands likely will follow Volvo's lead in vacating Ford's PAG headquarters in Irvine and consolidating in New Jersey. That could happen this year or could drag out to next summer.

Given the sour real estate market in Southern California, many employees might prefer to stay put — and find work elsewhere — rather than suffer a devastating investment loss on the sale of their home by moving East. 

You can reach Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com

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