Andy PalmerAndy Palmer is to leave Nissan Motor Corp with immediate effect, the company has announced – and, following rumours, Aston Martin has now confirmed Palmer is to become its new CEO.

51 year old Palmer, long tipped as a possible successor to Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, joined Nissan back in 1995. His departure is thus considered a complete surprise, one that was not tipped or expected by industry insiders.

The move to Aston Martin is even more surprising, although the firm has long been without a chief since charismatic boss Dr Ulrich Bez stepped back more than a year ago; for months, the official line from the firm has been that it was waiting to attract the right person for the job.

With Palmer, it most certainly will have the right person.

It is not clear how Palmer has been tempted to Aston Martin. But, as Daimler slowly increases its holding in the firm (it recently upped it to a 5% share), it seems the promise of further integration with the Stuttgart giant may have lured the car enthusiast Brit.

Palmer, one of the most powerful Brits in the global car industry, was this year named in the Queen’s New Years Honours List, becoming a Companion of The Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG). His duties at Nissan included responsibility of the Infiniti brand which, after years of focus on the US, has more recently begun to emerge as an enthusiast-led alternative to BMW. 

Palmer was also a driving force behind Nissan’s ambitious electric car programme.

UPDATE: 2 September, 10:05am

Aston Martin confirmed in a statement that it will “appoint Andrew Palmer as its new Chief Executive Officer to lead the company into its next phase of technology and product creation”.

Palmer will “assume operational responsibility for all aspects of the business”. He will begin work at Aston Martin following a transitional period from Nissan; the firm has not stated how long this will be.

A statement from the shareholder board of Aston Martin said: “We’re delighted that Andy will join us as our new CEO at this important time at Aston Martin. 

“Andy’s wealth of experience on the global automotive stage in marketing and sales, engineering and technology, and luxury and brand management will be instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward through its most significant and ambitious period of investment to date.”