Sir Ralf Speth, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, has decided to retire at the end of his contract term in September 2020. He will, however, maintain ties with the carmaker by becoming non-executive Vice-Chairman.
Sir Ralf Speth, who was appointed JLR’s CEO in early February 2010, has overseen many advances at the Tata Motors-owned British carmaker in the past decade. Speth has over 32 years of experience, most of it in the European auto industry.
German-born engineer Speth has been in charge of Jaguar Land Rover since 2010, when Tata Motors bought the company from Ford. During the past decade, he has helped the firm to grow substantially, leading an expansion of its model range and a major push into new markets. The firm has opened production plants in China, the US and Slovakia, and widely expanded the company’s line-up, including ground-breaking models such as the electric Jaguar I-Pace.
But Jaguar Land Rover has struggled in recent years, with falling demand for diesel engines and a dip in sales in China leading to a series of major losses. That prompted the firm to launch a £2.5 billion cost-cutting drive, including a number of job losses, which helped the firm to return to profit last year.
Commenting on the announcement, N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, said: "I want to thank Ralf for his passion and commitment over the last 10 years. Ralf developed Jaguar Land Rover from a niche UK-centric manufacturer to a respected, technological leading, global premium company. I am delighted that Ralf has agreed to maintain his relationship with JLR by becoming non-executive Vice-Chairman. Ralf will also remain on the board of Tata Sons. A search committee has been formed which will work with me to identify a suitable successor in the coming months.”
Sir Ralf Speth said: "I feel very honoured to have worked with so many dedicated and creative people, both inside and outside of JLR. We have elevated Jaguar and Land Rover. I want to say thank you for all their support and commitment. We offer our customers multi-award-winning products and will continue to surprise with the best pipeline of new, innovative products we have ever had. Personally, I am looking forward to new and exciting challenges".
JLR sales in 2019
December 2019 sales for JLR at 52,814 vehicles were 1.3% up on the previous year. Retail sales were boosted by China (up 26.3% year-on-year), a sixth successive month of double-digit growth. This offset lower sales in North America (-1.1%), UK (-2.9%), Europe (-5.3%) and in Overseas markets (-7.6%).
For the quarter to December 2019, retail sales were 141,222, down 2.3% year-on-year, reflecting similar market and model trends. Sales were up in China (24.3%) and North America (1.1%), but were offset by lower sales in the UK (-11.9%), Europe (-10.1%) and overseas markets (-11.5%).
For the calendar year 2019, Jaguar Land Rover retail sales were 557,706, down 5.9% compared to 2018. This reflects the currently more challenging industry conditions across markets with sales down in China (-13.5%), Overseas Regions (-14.2%), Europe (-4.9%) and the UK (-1.7%). However, the double-digit sales growth in China over the last six months has been encouraging, as has been the record sales achieved in North America (up 1.8%). Sales of the newer Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace and I-Pace as well as the established Range Rover Sport were up for the year, while sales of other vehicles were impacted by the generally weak market conditions and model changeover in the case of the new refreshed Discovery Sport.