There have been mutterings on the industry grapevine that change was coming to the top of JLR, but today’s news that CEO David Smith is leaving still comes as a surprise.

Smith was the linkman between JLR and Tata Motors during the 2008 sell-off and made such a good impression on the Indian team that he jumped straight to the top of the list when a new CEO was needed.

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Officially the reasons for his departure are “confidential between the two parties”, whatever truth that really masks, and company insiders are keeping to that line, although persistent rumours that former Opel exec Carl-Peter Forster was being sounded-out for some high ranking job at JLR can’t have helped.

Smith gave the impression of being a finance man at heart rather than a car guy - even though he joined Ford in 1983. That’s not a bad thing, of course, JLR has always needed a strong hand on the purse strings.