End of the Road For Ford’s Premier Automotive Group?

Will the last one leaving Irvine please turn out the lights?

By Kevin Miller


When Ford hailed the opening of the headquarters for its Premier Automotive Group (PAG) on November 14, 2001, in Irvine, California, the facility served as North American headquarters for Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin. It also served as global headquarters for Lincoln Mercury. The idea was that putting the facility in Southern California would put those brands where they could be immersed in the latest trends and styles, thereby becoming more in-tune with what trendy, affluent vehicle shoppers were looking for.

The press release accompanying the opening of the Irvine facility featured the words of Dr. Wolfgange Reitzle, who was at the time the president of Premier Automotive Group: “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.”

Not only was the new location trendy, but the new building was very green, with “sustainable” design features including a natural gas fuel cell (to provide 25 percent of the building’s power and hot water), 35 Electric Vehicle stations powered by building’s main source, and a “green” roof on the Product Development Wing, with rooftop landscaping used to create home to more than 30 categories of vegetation.

Now, just over seven years later, the Premier Automotive Group headquarters- and PAG itself- has lost its luster. Lincoln Mercury was ousted from PAG in 2002 in order to let the group focus on its European brands. Aston Martin was sold in March, 2007. Final word on the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors is iminent. And late last week, Volvo announced it is relocating its North American headquarters to Rockleigh, NJ, which was Volvo’s home from 1964 until the move to California in 2001. During the time Volvo’s headquarters was relocated to Irvine, Rockleigh was maintained as the headquarters for the company’s customer care, parts, and service operation.

With the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover, Volvo will become the only remaining Premier Automotive Group member. Last week’s announcement that Doug Speck has replaced Anne Bélec as CEO of Volvo Cars North America shows that Volvo is committed to getting a fresh start in their reclaimed New Jersey home, which could be seen as a symbolic gesture if Ford moves away from a corporate structure including a separate Group for its Premier Automobiles. My advice to Mr. Speck: a C30R, a V70R, an S80R, and a C30 D5. And don’t forget to turn out the lights when you leave Irvine.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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  1. Yeah, not much of a ‘group’ anymore, when it only has a single member.

    Does Ford still call it PAG? If so, I’m betting that name goes away in the coming days, or Ford risks looking ridiculous after Jaguar & Land Rover are gone.

  2. You know, I remember the “cross-country” road trip they did when Volvo made the big move from NJ to CA.

    They ran a couple dozen V70 Cross Country (haha!) vehicles, and everyone from the NA President on down the ladder drove in a pack, like camels in the desert.

    Perhaps with the advent of steady $4.00/gal. gasoline, this time it might be cheaper to fly.

  3. Ford does still actually refer to it as Premier Automotive Group, or did as recently as January 13, 2008, in a press release for the Land Rover LRX Hybrid Concept, where they stated the following:

    Land Rover North America is part of Ford Motor Company’s Premier Automotive Group with headquarters in Irvine, California. Land Rover established operations in the U.S. in 1986, and now imports and distributes Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, LR3 and LR2 vehicles manufactured by Land Rover in Solihull and Halewood, England. Land Rover’s worldwide operations are wholly owned by Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan.

    I haven’t seen similar statements on recent Volvo releases, however.

  4. It’s a nice piece of real estate. Maybe Ford can make some money from the aprecciation in real estate values…oh, never mind.

  5. Ford should move the whole damn company out of Detroit and get rid of the Detroit mindset once and for all.

  6. Ford is the incredible shrinking car company.

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