Another surprise executive departure on the sceptred isle: Rolls-Royce design chief Giles Taylor has left the car company and the parent BMW Group. Rolls-Royce's 52-word statement on Taylor's sudden exit said only that Taylor departed "to pursue alternative business interests." The news comes three days after Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales abruptly quit to become CEO of an English classic car restorer. Taylor leaves less than a month after Rolls-Royce introduced its brand-redefining Cullinan SUV, and before the auto show season where he would have been expected to lead the discussion on the Cullinan's genesis and detailing.

According to his LinkedIn page, Taylor began his career with five years as an exterior designer at Peugeot, then graduated to a 14-year stint as chief designer at Jaguar; among other projects, he led the interior design of the 2003 Jaguar XJ before becoming chief exterior designer of the 2009 XJ. He moved from Coventry to Cheshire in 2011, becoming head of exterior design at Rolls-Royce. Just one year into the job, former director of design Ian Cameron left the company, and Taylor took over in 2012. His tenure has included the creation of retail products like the new Phantom and Dawn, one-offs like the Sweptail, concepts like the Next 100, and even a bespoke Paddington Bear.

Rolls-Royce says it will announce a new designer "in due course." If the automaker looks in-house, it could tap Pavle Trpinac, now a senior exterior designer credited with the lines on the Wraith and the latest Phantom.

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