James Bond carmaker finds new CEO from German Black Forest

Christoph Rauwald

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc’s new chief executive officer grew up far away from the glitzy luxury resorts featured in James Bond films, but a different leading man might just help reverse the fortunes of the cash-strapped manufacturer best known for making 007’s vehicle of choice.

Tobias Moers, a German engineer from the rural Black Forest region, has been spearheading growth at Daimler AG’s Mercedes-AMG performance division for the past seven years, expanding the unit’s product line and about quadrupling vehicle sales.

Tobias Moers speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in this Jan. 9, 2017, file photo.

Now Moers is assuming the hot seat at Britain’s iconic carmaker, which has tried to emulate the success of Italian peer Ferrari NV yet lost more than 90% since going public in 2018. Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll threw the manufacturer a fresh lifeline with a sizable cash injection in March, but the coronavirus crisis that has shuttered showrooms and dampened consumer demand is complicating recovery efforts.

Moers, a 54-year-old father of two who worked at one of Germany’s first electric-car startups, signaled he’d be fit for the job as far back as a year ago.

“My ambition is to take on more responsibility, I’m a strategist,” Moers told German newspaper Die Welt, which called him Daimler’s “hidden champion” in a story published in February 2019. “I know how the big picture works, and have the view for the essentials.”

Aston Martin shares surged on Tuesday following the announcement that Moers would take over from Andy Palmer in August. Moers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Aston Martin's DBX sits on an all-new platform designed exclusively for our SUV. Like Aston Martin's other production sports and GT cars, DBX has double wishbone front suspension combined with a multi-link rear axle, as well as electronic adaptive damping for every wheel.

Mercedes-AMG, based near Stuttgart, has proved to be fertile ground for bigger careers at Daimler. Moers’s predecessors at the unit include current CEO Ola Kallenius, the manufacturer’s China head Hubertus Troska and former management board member Wolfgang Bernhard.

Moers successfully added hybrid versions and compact cars like the pocket rocket GLA 45 to Mercedes-AMG’s lineup since taking over at the unit in late 2013. But one of his landmark projects, the Mercedes Project ONE hybrid supercar inspired by Formula 1 technology, faced delays.

Moers’s appointment should nevertheless boost confidence in the company ahead of the key rollout of the new DBX SUV in July, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean.

The appointment “helps solidify Aston’s relationship with Mercedes,” Dean said.