The move to Irvine, CA is now official for Ford Motor Company’s five luxury brands as Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, group vice president, Ford Motor Company and president, Premier Automotive Group led the dedication ceremonies for the new headquarters on Friday, November 9.
The facility houses the North American headquarters for Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, as well as the global headquarters for Lincoln Mercury. The move is just the latest in a series of relocations for several automotive companies. Mazda and Kia both have their headuarters in Irvine and several others have design studios or sales and distribution facilities in the upscale California city. In fact, Irvine officials like to consider their city as being “Motor City West.” Although, some officials may be a bit more ambitious in their thinking as one Irvine city offical remarked to the crowd on Friday, “We like to think of Detroit as being Irvine East!”
PAG officials expect the move will enable the company to take advantage of southern California’s culture that is conducive for forward-thinking automotive designs. The luxury division also hopes to establish a beachhead in what is the largest automotive market in the world. "California offers a trend-setting, diverse and consumer-focused culture and is the ideal location to plan the growth of our premium brands. The area between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific comprises the largest luxury vehicle market in the world and it makes terrific sense for us to be at the epicenter,” Dr. Reitzle told the 800 employees and reporters gathered for the event.
Before the festivities on Friday, Ford announced some management changes at PAG on Thursday afternoon. Richard Parry-Jones, group vice president and chief technical officer for Ford, will relocate from Dearborn, MI to London and take on the additional responsibilities of leading product development for PAG. He will report to both Dr. Reitzle and Nick Scheele, Ford’s COO. Jan Klug, vice president, Global Marketing will also report to Dr. Reitzle. Bob Dover, formerly president of Land Rover, was named vice president of Jaguar and Land Rover and will be responsible for the operations of both companies.
The changes were announced amid speculation of PAG’s future now that the person responsible for its creation, Jac Nasser, has been forced out. The reassignment of Mr. Jones, however, is considered by many analysts to reveal Ford’s recognition of PAG’s importance to its own survival. Victor Doolan, PAG’s director of North American operations, told journalists on Friday that Thursday’s announcement certainly indicated that Ford was committed to the PAG strategy.