In the automotive world, there’s very rarely such a thing as a surprise story. So when it happens, it leaves those who comment on it a little dazed.
And so it is with the surprise news that Andy Palmer, Nissan’s Executive Vice President and one of the auto industry’s most vocal supporters of electric cars, has left the Japanese automaker to become CEO of niche-market yet loss-making prestige British automaker Aston Martin.
Announced this morning, Palmer will assume the position of Aston Martin CEO with immediate effect, marking the end of Aston Martin’s nine-month stint without a leader.
Palmer, who joined Nissan in 1991 as business administration manager at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Europe, has held many positions within the company, first working in Nissan’s Technical Centre Europe before moving to Japan in 2002 to become Program Director for Light Commercial Vehicles at the company.
More recently in 2009, Palmer was appointed Senior Vice President of the company before taking up a position as Executive Vice President in 2011.
In his most recent role at the company — Nissan’s Chief Planning Officer — Palmer was responsible for global product planning, global program management and communications. This included not only helping lay the path for future Nissan vehicles, but also for Nissan’s growing electric vehicle program, including its LEAF electric car and e-NV200 electric van. Earlier this year, when Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti lost its brand boss Johan de Nysschen, Palmer assumed responsibility for Infiniti’s lineup too.
De Nysschen, a known EV skeptic, had put on hold plans for any electrified Infiniti models when he joined the brand back in 2011, but shortly after his departure, Palmer confirmed that Infiniti’s plans for electric cars weren’t dead at all.
Like Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, Andy Palmer is a known, vocal fan of electric cars. As well as supporting Nissan’s ZEOD race car project, Palmer famously stood up against electric car skeptics in 2011, calling claims that electric cars were more dirty than gasoline cars ‘bullshit.’
Since the launch of the Nissan LEAF in 2011, Palmer has actively engaged with LEAF owners, most noticeably answering questions and concerns from owners in hot U.S. states surrounding premature battery ageing at specially-convened Nissan LEAF town hall meetings.
He also took part in an Interview with EV advocate and Transport Evolved regular Chelsea Sexton surrounding the issue and it was his candor and willingness to publicly engage on electric car issues which made him a far more recognisable public figure to electric car fans than most auto industry executives.
A month ago, Nissan offered Transport Evolved an interview slot for this week with Andy Palmer to talk about Nissan’s current and future electric and self-driving car plans. Late last week, we were told his schedule had changed and thus the interview would need to be moved back a few weeks, but no mention was made of his impending departure.
Of course, there are two questions which remain unanswered. Firstly, what will Nissan and Infiniti’s electric car future be like without Andy Palmer on board? And secondly, does this mean we should expect an all-electric Aston Martin — perhaps even as James Bond’s new car — some time soon?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below, and join us in wishing Andy all the best at Aston Martin.
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