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ASTON Martin’s former president and chief executive Andy Palmer has been appointed non-executive chairman of UK bus manufacturer Optare.

Dr Palmer left Aston Martin in May after the struggling British sports-luxury car-maker, backed by a consortium of new investors led by recently appointed executive chairman Lawrence Stroll, turned to former Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers to steer it through its financial difficulties.

Dr Palmer has been a non-executive director of Optare’s parent company, Indian commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland, since 2015.

He takes over from John Fickling, who for personal reasons has stepped down as chairman after 10 years in the role.

In a statement, Dr Palmer said: “I am excited to be joining Optare at a pivotal moment in its development.

“We have ambitious plans to leverage the company’s technological leadership in building a global zero-emissions solution platform that will bring long-term value to all stakeholders.”

Ashok Leyland chairman Dheeraj Hinduja thanked Mr Fickling for his “support and guidance” over the past decade, and said Mr Palmer would “help guide in our mission to become a global leader in this (EV) segment”.

“The next phase of Optare’s growth is centred on expanding our electric vehicles business in the UK and many new markets,” Mr Hinduja said.

“With his impressive wealth of experience and innovative approach, I am confident that under Andy’s chairmanship we will see Optare moving to a higher growth trajectory soon.”

Dr Palmer was appointed chief executive of Aston Martin in 2014 after moving from Nissan.

He joined the company when it was close to bankruptcy and instigated changes including the development of Aston Martin’s first SUV, the DBX, now in production in Wales.

Aston Martin is undergoing a change of emphasis under Mr Stroll, who plans for the car-maker to be restructured to save $A18 million a year. This includes a reduction of its workforce of some 500 employees.

By Neil Dowling

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