David Smith to depart JLR

Posted on 25 Jan 2010 by The Manufacturer

Jaguar Land Rover's chief executive David Smith is expected to step down from the top job at the UK carmaker.

The Financial Times reported CEO Smith’s departure, which was announced today (Monday) in an internal staff memo seen by the newspaper. Smith has been with the car company, owned by India’s Tata Motors, since 2000, when he joined as finance director.

The memo reportedly said: “Jaguar Land Rover is today announcing the departure of David Smith as chief executive officer. The company would like to thank David for his efforts in the role and for his service to Jaguar and Land Rover over many years.

“Ravi Kant, director of Jaguar Land Rover Ltd will assist with the handover of David’s duties and assume day to day responsibilities of the CEO until David’s permanent successor is announced.”

The Manufacturer interviewed David Smith in the October 2008 issue on the changing fortunes of the iconic British company. He is a regular speaker at industry events including the annual CBI Manufacturing Dinner and a strong advocate of investment in apprenticeships and training even through the recession. Under his stewardship, the loss-making company has made several big innovations and programmes.

These include working as a key partner on the low carbon Jaguar Limo Green hybrid car, which uses regenerative braking to reduce fuel consumption, and launching the latest Jaguar model, the XJ, in July 2009 which is currently in production in Castle Bromwich with first deliveries expected soon. This model has a 50% recycled material content and was the first model to be owned by Tata Motors.

He also approved the recruitment of 600 new graduates in the design and development division and more manufacturing apprentices in late 2008.

The search is now on to find a replacement for Smith.