Land Rover’s new boss, Thierry

Land Rover’s new boss, Thierry Bollore, has a mountain to climb

Land Rover has not only got a new Defender – but a new CEO as well.

Land Rover’s new boss, Thierry

Land Rover has chosen its first new CEO in more than a decade.

The British luxury all-terrain vehicle brand, which forms the JLR company with traditional sportscar marque Jaguar, is navigating a particularly difficult time.

After being recapitalised by India’s Tata back in 2008 and consolidated  in 2013, JLR has enjoyed a stellar run of revenue growth and new products. With adequate funding, provided by Tata, talented designers and engineers and Land Rover and Jaguar were able to execute their ideas without constraint and the market reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

Challenging times

In the last year, things have gone awry. Land Rover has been under severe pressure to launch its second-generation Defender, a project which has consumed a lot of time and resources. Worsening the situation, is the challenge of launching an iconic follow-up vehicle, during one of the worst health and economic crisis in living memory.

Engine technology has been another issue for Land Rover. Its customers have always preferred diesel power, for robust off-road use at low speeds and the ability to eke out superior range on a tank of fuel – when adventuring.

Regulations are limiting the viability of diesel in many of Land Rover’s strongest markets and have forced the company to embark on an expensive petrol-hybridization drive.


All of these problems have forced JLR to seek new leadership. The company’s German CEO Ralph Speth was regarded as a miracle worker by employees and British industry experts, but his tenure is now at its end.

JLR has announced that Speth will be replaced by a Frenchman, Thierry Bollore. This is a move that will no doubt rankle senior executives in the British automotive industry, where a domestic leadership candidate has once again been overseen, in favour of a continental European.

Bollore was until recently the CEO of French automotive giant Renault and has extensive experience, having started his career at Michelin tyres. He faces massive challenges to ensure a return to profitability for the iconic Land Rover and Jaguar brands.

Although the presence of new Defender is an excellent addition to the Land Rover product portfolio, it is launching into a very uncertain economic climate, which could stall initial revenue and profit expectations. These are all issues that Bollore will have to deal with.