It’s no secret that Aston Martin is in financial difficulty. It entered 2020 in a sufficiently difficult form to require a major restructuring, making the following years more about survival than growth. Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll said he remains committed to saving the company and reviving his late Formula 1 team on several occasions since then. But he is clearly waging an uphill battle.
Despite having hit a few sales targets after spending most of 2020 at a standstill, Aston Martin continues to face product delays and is losing talent faster than it can replace them. Part of that has been attributed (enough or not) to CEO Tobias Moers, who took over from Andy Palmer in August 2020. But it looks like Moers could be leaving the company as well if the latest reports are to be believed.
Under Tobias’ leadership, the company lost its CFO (Peter Freedman), director of special operations (David King), director of supply chain (Kris Elston), senior executive for vehicle attributes ( Matt Becker), its general manager (Carl Elston), model quality manager (Stuart Jeff), and many more. Aston Martin also confirmed on Wednesday that F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer had hiked while saying his position would be “managed within the management team until a replacement is appointed” .
Coach has since reported that the CEO will likely be the next to exit, citing anonymous sources inside the company as saying she had previously interviewed a replacement.
When questioned, Aston Martin said he couldn’t comment on the speculation and left it there. But the simple fact that he cannot confirm the continued employment of his own CEO is quite revealing.
A source said Coach that more than half of the company’s management team had left since Moers took over as head of the company, suggesting his practical leadership style had led to significant tensions. That a substantial number of staff have left is confirmed by research on LinkedIn, but the exact percentages could not be verified by Coach.
Shortly after taking over the role, Moers described Aston’s position as “worse than I thought, about as bad as it could be”. He clashed several times with his teams while trying to impose his vision of the future of the company.
Although Aston’s financial results have been more positive of late – with revenue nearly tripling year-over-year in 2021, mostly driven by sales of the DBX SUV developed under Palmer’s leadership, and which accounted for more than half of sales – substantial loan repayments remain hampered its financial performance last year.
Although it was not a bed of roses. Aston Martin reported a pre-tax loss of 97.9million pounds (US $ 130million) in the third quarter in November and no one really expects the annual balance sheet (expected in February) to be much better. The company’s stock price has also collapsed since 2019, with a secondary drop in May 2020 that made the stock borderline in value if you bought it early.
Is it all because Moers is the CEO? Considering that many financial issues predate his arrival, probably not. But senior executives often become sacrificial lambs for businesses that don’t perform well, and it seems some of the decisions he’s made since arriving on board haven’t gone well.
In an attempt to turn the tide, Moers immediately opted to ditch the new V6 engine that Aston was developing and move some of the planned EVs to the relaunched Lagonda brand, which would go all-electric. But plans for Lagonda have been repeatedly pushed back to the point where most people wonder if it’s actually going to resurface.
Instead of the V6, Moers decided to build on his former position as CEO of Mercedes-AMG by asking the Germans to supply Aston with hybrid engines for several upcoming models. He rationalized the decision by suggesting that the V6 the company originally had in development wouldn’t be Euro 7-compliant, potentially opening the company up to emissions fines it couldn’t afford.
“We shouldn’t be investing money in this. Instead, we should invest in electrification, batteries and expanding our portfolio. The intention is to be a stand-alone company, although always with a partnership, ”he said in May.
We’re reluctant to jump on the bandwagon and blame Moers for the series of departures. But the Valkyrie hypercar’s prolonged production delay appears to be at odds with its credo of keeping it simple – as most of the setbacks have been attributed to the model’s overwhelming complexity. The limited street variant of the carbon-fiber automobile will feature a 6.5-liter V12 hybrid powertrain capable of around 1,000 horsepower before the electric motors even come into play. , production is to be capped at 150 units, with even the most basic examples supposedly retailing for several million dollars each.
There’s also a track-focused AMR Pro that’s supposed to surpass the standard version’s 1,160 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque. But it will be capped at just 25 units and is expected to retail for close to $ 4 million, assuming the Valkyrie is actually made.
As for Moers, we can’t say anything definitive until the automaker is ready to confirm or deny something. But Mr Stroll suggested Aston Martin was not actively looking for a new CEO – which is exactly what Nissan did before canning Carlos Ghosn and Ford before getting rid of Mark Fields.
We will try to keep you posted.
[Images: Aston Martin]
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