Luke Ottaway's picture

Nissan’s electric vehicle plans will go on without Andy Palmer

Andy Palmer has been one of the most reliably pro-EV executives in the auto industry, but his departure doesn’t mean Nissan will change its electrification strategy.

To those following the electric vehicle industry, the name Andy Palmer has become synonymous with Nissan’s plug-in vehicle plans. One of the automotive sector’s strongest EV proponents, Palmer was a reliable source for good information and optimism for all things with a plug, from Nissan’s EV charging infrastructure efforts to the next-generation LEAF and upcoming all-electric Infiniti LE.

Now Palmer is leaving his post as Chief Planning Officer at Nissan (and temporary Infiniti boss) for his home country and the British niche automaker Aston Martin, Bloomberg reports. Palmer will be the CEO at Aston Martin, which sold 4,200 vehicles in 2013, and will attempt to navigate the company through difficult waters ahead.

“It’s a bit of a risky move,” said Ashvin Chotai, managing director of research company Intelligence Automotive Asia. “Aston Martin is a fairly small player [facing] a lot of challenges...if he turns it around, the rewards are big.”

Philippe Klein, an executive VP at Renault, will take over Palmer’s old CPO post at Nissan.

What are the implications?

The move isn’t all doom and gloom for Nissan’s electric vehicle program, although the loss of a great executive like Palmer can’t be counted as a positive. It should be noted, however, that Palmer had quite a few responsibilities as CPO other than head spokesman and cheerleader for the LEAF – in reality, Palmer was effectively in charge of marketing as well as product planning, and the LEAF is not Nissan’s only vehicle.

Nissan also still has Carlos Ghosn at the helm, and he will keep the company’s EV plans on course. Nissan has repeatedly indicated that it is and will continue to be the world leader in electric vehicles, and that won’t change with the loss of Palmer.

In the end, Palmer made a career move that he felt he couldn’t pass up. Being the head man and returning to his native UK no doubt outweighed his loyalty to Nissan, regardless of the success he enjoyed there. The LEAF will continue to open people's eyes to the benefits of electric vehicles in Mr. Palmer's absence, partly thanks to the groundwork he laid.


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Comments

Klein has a long history with Renault-Nissan and a solid engineering and product development background. So he's a good choice to fill Palmer's shoes. He was, in his old job, basically doing at Reanult what Palmer did for Nissan (sans the EV touting and TV time). Beatrice Foucher, head of EV development at Renault, was one of Klein's most important appointees and remains a constant face for Renault's EV program. I don't think Klein will fill Palmer's role of being "out there" all the time, but he is obviously totally on board with Ghosn's plug-in plans.
I wonder if Mr Palmer has twigged that EV + AM (+ 1/2 Tesla?) = world supercar domination? MW