Peter Fong, head of the Chrysler brand, and Michael Accavitti, head of the Dodge brand, have left the company, the automaker said yesterday. Fong will be replaced by Olivier Francois, reports Dow Jones. The Dodge brand will be broken into two positions with Fred Diaz Jr. serving as CEO of the Dodge RAM brand and Ralph Gilles as CEO of the Dodge car brand. Michael Manley will continue as CEO of the Jeep brand.
The internal change is particularly surprising since Fong and Accavitti were named to the newly created brand CEO positions in June shortly after the majority of Chrysler’s assets were turned over to Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne. Accavitti and Fong represented Chrysler at the Frankfurt Auto Show, were they talked briefly with the media about future plans for the auto maker.
It is unknown if their talks with the media played a role in their departure. Marchionne traditionally keeps a tight rein on his executives. He is slated to publicly release details of Chrysler’s five-year survival plan in November.
“This is part of the continuous process of strengthening the management team of the company,” Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said Monday while declining to specifically address Accavitti and Fong’s departures. “This confirms the focus on the brands.”
In addition, Joseph Veltri was named head of product planning. Veltri started with the Chrysler in 1988 and has worked in such positions as product planning, marketing, business strategy and finance. He served most recently as product planning lead and head of truck/sport-utility vehicle planning.
The changes also mean the introduction of yet another Fiat executive into the Chrysler ranks. Francois was formerly with Fiat Group Automobiles where he serves as head of the Lancia Brand, a position he retains. Francois will also be the lead executive for the marketing organization with responsibility to coordinate worldwide marketing.
Marchionne named Pietro Gorlier to the CEO of Chrysler’s Mopa parts group and Richard Palmer was named chief financial officer. Both men were formerly with Fiat.