Manley Shakes Up FCA Ranks; Bigland Heads Back to Ram

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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manley shakes up fca ranks bigland heads back to ram

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley just can’t keep his hands off the Jeep brand. In his first management reorganization since assuming the top position in July, Manley placed the responsibility for key FCA brands in trustworthy hands, though the CEO seems reluctant to part ways with his beloved Jeep.

Prior to becoming CEO, Manley headed up both the Jeep and Ram divisions. Now, Tim Kuniskis will add the Jeep North America file to his responsibilities, maintaining his grip on the Alfa Romeo brand. Given that there was no mention in Manley’s letter to employees of who’ll oversee Jeep’s global operations, it is assumed the chief executive will continue nurturing FCA’s most valuable asset on the world stage.

Meanwhile, another trusted officer, Reid Bigland, returns to a brand he knows well. Bigland previously headed the Ram brand from 2013 to 2014, and did so quite successfully. Manley credits Bigland’s leadership for a 50 percent sales increase at the automaker’s second most valuable brand.

“With the new Ram Light Duty Truck nearing full production and the new Ram Heavy Duty planned to come to market in mid-2019, Reid has the right products and the skills to take Ram to the next level,” Manley told employees on Monday morning. “Reid will maintain his roles leading our Canadian operations and U.S. sales.”

After a less-than-perfect launch of the 2019 Ram 1500, Bigland doesn’t want a repeat performance with the HD model. There’s also a midsize Ram in the works.

With Kuniskis now overseeing Jeep’s all-important North American operations, Harald Wester steps in to take Maserati off his hands. The longtime executive, who remains the automaker’s chief technology officer, now commands the title of chief operating officer of the Italian luxury marque. Steve Beahm maintains control of the Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat Brands in North America, though he adds North American head of Mopar to his resume.

Globally, Mopar becomes Pietro Gorlier’s responsibility, but the exec now finds himself in command of FCA’s European operations. Gorlier previously served as head of parts division Magneti Marelli — a unit currently in the process of being spun off. FCA wants $7 billion for it.

“He is an experienced operator globally, and as a second generation employee whose father worked for Fiat in Italy, Pietro brings a deep respect and knowledge of our operations in Europe,” Manley wrote.

Ermanno Ferrari, former head of Magneti Marelli’s lighting division, now dons Gorlier’s CEO cap. Elsewhere in the upper ranks, Scott Garberding moves from head of global quality to global chief manufacturing officer, with Richard Schwarzwald replacing him in his former role. There’s also new quality chiefs for Latin America (Geraldo Barra) and North America (Mark Champine).

Warning of pressures ahead, Manley used his morning email to both rally and reassure the troops.

“The next five years will continue to be extremely challenging for our industry, with tougher regulations, intense competition and probably slower industry growth around the world,” Manley wrote. “Nevertheless, with a laser focus on execution and a continued flexibility that allows us to adjust as circumstances change – something that has become one of our most unique characteristics and strengths – we have a clear line of sight to achieving our five-year ambitions.”

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • R Henry R Henry on Oct 01, 2018

    "laser focus on execution" Golly, I NEVER heard a CEO speak like this. This will fire up the stock holders!

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