He has been CEO since 2010 and has helped shape Jaguar Land Rover during its modern era under the ownership of India's Tata Motors.
Under Speth, JLR saw a stream of investments in product development and manufacturing. In the Speth era, JLR:
- Introduced the F-Type, Jaguar's first true sports car since the 1960s.
- Took the Range Rover brand into a new segment with the compact Evoque, which propelled Rover to record global sales.
- Beat bigger rivals to market with battery-powered crossovers with the Jaguar I-Pace, which has garnered a number of industry awards.
- Approved an all-new version of the iconic Land Rover Defender SUV, which is launching now.
- Became a global automaker by opening plants in China, Eastern Europe and South America.
- Began building its own engines again.
But despite Speth's achievements, the luxury automaker has continued to struggle with quality — something his successor will now have to face.
Quality problems are a legacy that predated Speth, a former BMW executive. The issue goes back to Jaguar and Land Rover's ownership by British Leyland in the 1960s, and later under Ford ownership, before their 2008 sale to Tata.
But under Speth, fast-growing Jaguar Land Rover made little improvement in its quality ratings. Quality concerns hampered the company's growth in China, where angry consumers were so frustrated with their vehicles in 2018 that they protested in front of the company's headquarters in Shanghai.
Two years ago, JLR installed Nigel Blenkinsop as director of quality and automotive safety. JLR began making gains last year in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, but is still far behind on dependability, according to Power. Neither Jaguar nor Land Rover is close to the industry's top tier, although that ranking is true of all European brands, according to Power.
Ford used the slogan "Quality is Job 1" from 1981 to 1998 to reassure the public of its product quality. For Speth's successor, a relentless focus on improving quality might require giving Blenkinsop whatever resources he needs to make sure that Jaguar and Land Rovers brake but don't break.