Srinivasan will continue to be actively involved in running the company and retain the post of managing director, and his son Sudarshan Venu will continue as the joint managing director.
“TVS Motor Company has global aspirations. To do that we need an aspirational mentor to the company who has got the capability, track record, maturity, experience – and Ralf brings all that,” Srinivasan told ET on Wednesday evening, soon after the stock exchanges were notified. The automotive industry veteran will don the hat of a mentor and coach for TVS Motor in areas of management as well as technology, he said.
While a third of Chennai-based automaker’s revenue presently comes from exports, it is mostly from low-margin entry-level products exported to neighbouring countries and African and Latin American countries.
The company wants to improve its export mix to include more premium products, including electric vehicles, Srinivasan said. It also wants its recently-acquired premium motorcycle brand Norton to add up to 15% of the company’s global revenues, he said.
“The step forward is in the space of connected, digital, electric vehicles and there we have just taken baby steps with iQube,” Srinivasan said.
“That needs to accelerate and for that Ralf will be an extraordinary mentor,” he said of Speth, whom he considers a close friend.
The two men go back a long way, having known each other since their early days at the University of Warwick to being together on the board of Tata Sons. “We have a long relationship going back many, many years,” Srinivasan said.
Speth retired as the CEO of the British carmaker after 10 years of being at the helm of the company. He continues to be a vice-chairman on the board of JLR as well as Tata Motors in non-executive positions. This will not lead to a conflict of interest, Srinivasan said.
TVS Motor also appointed Kuok Meng Xiong of the famed Kuok Group as an independent director.
Meng Xiong, Srinivasan said, will provide the company “a window to the East.”