FCA's Friendly Giant Given Keys to Alfa Romeo, Maserati
Human redwood and former Canadian junior hockey star Reid Bigland adds yet another set of responsibilities to his resume thanks to an executive shuffle at FCA.
Bigland replaces Harald Wester as CEO of both Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands effective immediately, though Wester retains his Chief Technology Officer position with the group. Both men will continue to sit on the Group Executive Council, which has increasingly insulated Sergio Marchionne from regional brand operations.
Bigland counts Head of U.S. Sales and Chief Executive of FCA Canada as his other continuing roles with the company. In the past, Bigland has been head of the Alfa Romeo brand in North America, and global head of Ram and Dodge brands.
“I am thankful for the work Harald has carried out in the last few years establishing a sound technical framework for our two premium brands and which has culminated in the recent launch of the Maserati Levante and the Alfa Romeo Giulia,” said group CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement announcing the shuffle.
FCA poses the change as the next phase in Marchionne’s plan to rekindle a relationship between American buyers and FCA’s Italian luxury brands.
“It is time now for our efforts to be directed towards the global commercial expansion of these two brands, and I can think of no one better than Reid to fulfill that mission. Reid has an extraordinary record of growing sales and market share in the US and Canada over the last 7 years at FCA, including leading the growth and positioning of the Ram and Dodge brands for part of that time.”
Both brands have new models in the wings, but they’ve been plagued with setbacks. The Alfa Romeo Giulia, initially expected to hit dealer lots this year, won’t arrive until early 2017, reports Automotive News. FCA hopes the Levante, Maserati’s first SUV, will lift that brand’s profitability amid sales drops in the United States and Europe.
The shuffle comes seven months after similar executive moves left former Fiat North American chief Jason Stoicevich on the outside looking in. Stoicevich left the company shortly after the October shuffle.
Analysts expect Marchionne, 63, to retire in the next couple years. With this latest move, Bigland rises yet again as a possible successor, competing for Marchionne’s soon-to-be-vacated seat with Mike Manley, head of Ram and Jeep, and Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands.
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