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Chrysler’s Chehab leaving for Maserati

by David Zatz on

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette scooped the world today, with the story that Chrysler/Lancia CEO Saad Chehab is going to switch to being the worldwide chief marketing officer of Maserati, another Fiat brand.

Chrysler confirmed the changes in an official announcement released this morning.

Maserati’s latest cars, the Quattroporte and Ghibli, have been highly successful compared to past Maseratis, setting a new all-time U.S. sales record recently, and the brand is set to launch a new SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Quattroporte and Ghibli are both loosely based on the Chrysler 300C, but have some major differences, particularly the engines, front suspension, sheet metal, and interiors.

Mr. Vellequette wrote that Chehab, who is credited with the “Imported From Chrysler” campaigns that resurrected the hopes and sales of the Chrysler brand, had been recruited from Ford. His position as chief of the Chrysler brand will be taken over by Al Gardner, head of the Chrysler Group southeast business center, according to the respected trade magazine.  Peter Grady, head of the Chrysler dealer network and fleet sales, will take on U.S. operations as President and CEO of Maserati North America. His fleet duties will be assumed by Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis.

Chehab had been promoted to running Chrysler/Lancia in 2011, from a position running advertising and marketing for Chrysler Group as a whole. He will still be based in Detroit, but will commute to New York and Italy. Maserati’s public goal is to sell 50,000 cars in 2015. According to Mr. Vellequette’s article, Mr. Chehab and Fiat/Chrysler Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois have had a “strained relationship;” Chehab will now report to Harald Wester, Maserati/Alfa Romeo chief. One particular argument highlighted by Automotive News was over expanding “Imported from Detroit,” as Mr. Chehab thought wise, or dropping it entirely and focusing Chrysler on fighting imports, as Mr. Francois desires.

For more, see Automotive News’ article and our Saad Chehab interview in which he talked about positioning the Chrysler brand.

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