Martin Leach's long tenure in the auto industry included the CEO position at Ford of Europe until an acrimonious split led to his departure in 2003, just as Automobile named him Man of the Year. After a short stint as the head of Maserati he's been busy with various projects, resurfacing last year with Hong Kong's Hybrid Tech Holdings during that company's unsuccessful attempt to buy Fisker Automotive's assets. Now he's still in the electric vehicle world but with a fresh mission, developing a new EV for a company "based mainly in China and California."

Leach spoke to Reuters about the initiative, but wouldn't name the company behind it. All he would say is that it isn't Apple, and "it is not a company with a background in the car industry." The job is putting out an EV, but Leach said that down the road he could see autonomous vehicles being part of the company's future. He's been called "a product-development genius," with success in US light trucks, European commercial vehicles, and the Mazda RX-8.

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