TVS Motor revvs up global ambitions with ex-JLR CEO Ralf Speth on board

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on March 25, 2021

Ralf Speth   -  The Hindu

In Jan 2023, Speth to take over from Venu Srinivasan, who will become Chairman Emeritus

To give wings to its global ambitions, TVS Motor Company has brought on board Ralf Speth, former CEO of Jaguar Land Rover.

He will guide the company as it navigates the challenges of expanding geographically and shifting gears technologically to future power trains. Speth, who built Jaguar Land Rover into a global brand, will become Chairman of TVS Motor Company effective January 2023, when the present chairman, Venu Srinivasan, will become Chairman-Emeritus.

Speth began his career with BMW and rose to a senior position when still quite young. He worked for Premier Auto Group and chemical giant Linde before his 11-year stint as the CEO of JLR. This is hailed as the glorious period for the British marquee, making it one of the most respected luxury brands in the world.

“It is a momentous occasion as we are requesting somebody as important and prestigious as Sir Ralf to join our board. It is really a privilege and honour to have him with us,” Venu Srinivasan told BusinessLine.

Products for the world

Srinivasan said that TVS Motor has global aspirations and needs to develop products across electric and connected digital segments. “We need a global leader to build such products, guide the company and make it more agile and more purposeful. He will be a key mentor to the management,” he said, adding “Speth will play a vital role in the transformation of the company.”

With Speth on board, TVS Motor aims to grow the share of international revenue from 33 per cent now to 50 per cent in five years. In international business, 10-15 per cent would be contributed by premium bikes such as Norton, planned new premium electric products and premium scooters.

Also, along with Norton, TVS Motor is investing in a slew of electric vehicles. A more premium Apaches will be launched. The combination of electric vehicles, Apache and Norton is to create the platform for global growth. The company has been hiring global talent including a CEO and a Chief Technical Officer for Norton apart from a strategy head from Deloitte in Singapore for its global business. This team will be guided by Speth.

Over the past few years, TVS Motor has been ramping up its international presence. The Norton acquisition, a year ago, is expected to give the company a play in the 500cc plus segment, while it has amped it up in the sub-500cc segment with its BMW alliance.

An industry analyst said TVS Motor’s international business, mostly confined to emerging markets till now, can grow in advanced markets such as the EU, the US, Japan and Korea with the combination of Speth’s expertise and iconic Norton brand.

The company also announced the appointment of Kuok Meng Xiong, founder of venture firm K3 Venture, as an independent director.

Published on March 24, 2021

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