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Premier Automotive Group's British brands will merge this week as part of a radical restructuring at Ford's luxury-car division. Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin will be governed by a board of directors as part the reorganization, sources say.

An "operating committee" of Premier Automotive Group executives, formed October 31, will be reconstituted as a board of directors later this week. The names of the board members will be disclosed then. Executive reassignments under the new corporate structure for the British brands will be made in December, a source said.

Several Premier Automotive Group study teams formed in early October will report to the British board. The teams are examining how to combine the three brands' engineering, platforms, powertrains, design, manufacturing, distribution, sales, marketing and back-shop areas.

The study teams will make their suggestions to the board in December, a source said.

One Premier Automotive Group source said the move would not eliminate the individuality of the brands. But insiders say that former Jaguar Managing Director Jonathan Browning's recent departure was related to his belief that reporting to the new board would weaken the carefully nurtured Jaguar brand.

Bob Dover, who had been chairman of Land Rover, has added the Jaguar presidency, and is expected to get a similar title at Aston Martin, a source said.

Both Dover and Volvo Car President Hans-Olov Olsson were elevated to Ford Motor Co. vice presidents.

Under the Ford restructuring, Ford Chief Technical Officer Richard Parry-Jones will be the top product development executive for Premier Automotive Group and will be based in England. Parry-Jones will report to Premier Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle.

Reitzle says he will stay at Ford even though Jacques Nasser, the man who created Premier Automotive Group and hired Reitzle to run it, has been fired. Ford has pledged to pay Reitzle a $5 million (5.7 million euros) bonus if he stays with the company until 2006.

"What we are seeing are key steps leading to a structure other than the one they have with Premier Automotive Group. The building blocks are being put in place," said industry analyst Karl Ludvigsen in London. "It makes terrific sense to make Premier Automotive Group a single business unit with three brands."

Volvo's role in a reshaped Premier Automotive Group is unclear. Volvo's future product lineup has more in common with Ford of Europe than it does with the three British brands.

But Volvo product development boss Hans Gustavsson is expected to be appointed executive director of "commonality programs" at Premier. He will report to Parry-Jones.

Combining engineering operations

Meanwhile, Reitzle said recently that Lincoln would be part of Ford's restructuring in North America. If Lincoln is folded back into North American Operations it would leave the three British brands and Sweden's Volvo as Premier Automotive Group members.

On the operations side, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin will combine their engineering operations at Land Rover's Gaydon, England, headquarters. In addition, the three brands' design teams will work from the same styling studio in London, called Ingeni.

Reitzle said the three companies will share as many functions as possible without compromising brand integrity. The committee will start by aligning powertrain strategies more closely and by combining vehicle-testing operations, he said.

Said Reitzle: “We want to bring together all the things you don’t want to duplicate.”
Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin operations have already been combined in North America and Japan. Several executives have control over disciplines for all three brands.

Ford Motor Co. also is undergoing a massive restructuring, laying off thousands of white-collar workers in America. Although Premier Automotive Group is expected to be a major contributor to Ford's turnaround, Ford is looking at ways to consolidate white-collar headcount at the British brands as well, a source said. Putting Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin under one corporate structure will help.

Ford to invest £9billion in its Premier Automotive Group
Ford is to invest around £9billion in its Premier Automotive Group (PAG) brands - Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln - over the next five years, according to a report in a recent issue of Independent. This will involve the complete replacement of the current Land Rover range within five years (and the launch of the 'baby' Range Rover, to fit in the line-up between the Discovery and current Range Rover) and a series of new Jaguars. The development of the latest Range Rover has already cost £1billion.
Potential buyers of any PAG models will be pleased to know that PAG President Wolfgang Reitzle has stated that improvements in quality of PAG products are paramount, especially for Land Rover models, and that such improvements are a necessary outcome of the investment.


courtesy of
Land Rover Chronicle Magazine
 
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