new dodge logo.jpgOn October 5, 2009, Chrysler Corporation issued a press release announcing a handful of new corporate positions throughout Chrysler Group LLC, as well as the introduction of the new Dodge RAM brand.  The previous CEO/President positions of the Dodge and Chrysler brand, held by Michael Accavitti (left to pursue other interests) and Peter Fong (“personal reasons”) respectively were suddenly vacated when the two left the company.  The top position in the Chrysler brand has been filled by Olivier Francois, who is the acting CEO of Lancia, and has been a member of the Fiat management team for almost 5 years.

    The announcement of the new head of the Dodge brand, came with an interesting twist.  Chrysler Group LLC has decided to split the Dodge brand into the Dodge cars brand – which will contain all of the cars, crossovers, and the minivans; and the new Dodge RAM brand. 

    The Dodge RAM will offer the Dodge Ram pickups and the commercial vehicles previously offered from Dodge.  The press release fails to mention where the Dodge Dakota will land, and with no mention of the mid sized pickup, the future of the model could be up in the air, although we can assume for now that it will fall under the Dodge RAM brand.  Hopefully Chrysler will have more information soon as to the exact model layout of the Dodge RAM and Dodge car brands.  The creation of this new group includes a new CEO, and Fred Diaz Jr. will take that position, previously having run the Denver Business Center.  The Dodge car group will be headed by long time Chrysler designer Ralph Gilles.

    This decision to split the cars and trucks is similar to a Fiat
    corporate split headed by Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, and
    that split helped to stabilize the then-struggling European auto
    giant.  Mr. Marchionne hopes that this split of the Dodge brand will
    allow for a better focus on improving the Dodge Car brand, as Dodge’s
    cars (as well as Chrysler’s) have been suffering in sales.  The Dodge
    trucks, on the other hand, are among the best selling on the market,
    and this new Dodge RAM brand will offer Chrysler Group a chance to show
    positive numbers during these difficult times for automakers.  There is
    also the concern of the new CAFÉ laws looming over the industry, and
    there could be some benefit to Chrysler to have the less fuel efficient
    trucks separated from the cars to improve the overall efficiency rating
    of the brand. 

    The downside to this new corporate layout is
    that some analysts say that this could be a way of Dodge liquidating
    assets associated with the poorer selling models, specifically the
    Dodge cars.  For the time being, this appears to be an attempt to help
    get the entire company back on track, and the next few months promise
    to be interesting, as the new Chrysler Group LLC front office decide
    which models need to go in order to get the company back on its feet.

    and stay tuned to the Detroit Autos Examiner for the latest news on the
    changes made within the Chrysler Group as they happen!

    The Press Release from Chrysler Group LLC:
    Chrysler Group LLC Announces New Appointments   Auburn Hills, Mich., Oct 5, 2009  –  
    Chrysler Group LLC today announces brand and commercial organization changes.

    brand-focused strategy has been refined further with the unbundling of
    the Dodge Brand which now consists of the Dodge Ram Brand and the Dodge
    Car Brand organizations. This reorganization will allow us to protect
    and develop the unique nature of the product offerings within the Dodge
    Brand,” Mr. Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Chrysler Group
    LLC said.

    Fred Diaz Jr. is appointed President and CEO, Dodge
    Ram Brand with profit and loss responsibility for the Dodge Ram product
    portfolio. Mr. Diaz will also be the lead executive for the Sales
    organization in the United States. He was previously the Director of
    the Denver Business Center. Mr. Diaz has been with the Company since
    1989 in positions of increasing responsibility. The Company will
    announce Mr. Diaz’s replacement with a separate announcement.

    Gilles is appointed President and CEO, Dodge Car Brand with profit and
    loss responsibility for the Dodge Car product portfolio. Mr. Gilles
    will continue to lead the Product Design organization of Chrysler Group
    which he joined in 1992.

    Olivier Francois is appointed
    President and CEO, Chrysler Brand, with profit and loss responsibility
    for the Chrysler product portfolio. Mr. Francois joins the Company from
    Fiat Group Automobiles where he serves as head of the Lancia Brand, a
    position he retains. Mr. Francois will also be the lead executive for
    the Marketing organization with responsibility to coordinate worldwide
    marketing strategies, brand development and advertising for the
    Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge Car and Dodge Ram brands. He will continue to
    lead these functions within Fiat Group Automobiles. Mr. Francois joined
    Fiat in 2005.

    Michael Manley will continue as the President
    and CEO, Jeep Brand with profit and loss responsibility for the Jeep
    Brand product portfolio. Mr. Manley will also be the lead executive for
    the international activities of the Company outside of NAFTA and will
    be responsible for implementing the co-operation agreements for
    distribution of Chrysler Group products through Fiat’s international
    distribution network. Mr. Manley has been with Chrysler since 1998.

    Veltri joins the Management Team as Head of Product Planning. Mr.
    Veltri started with the Company in 1988. His career has included
    positions in product planning, marketing, business strategy, and
    finance. He served most recently as Product Planning Lead and Head of
    Truck/SUV Planning.

    Peter Fong, head of the Chrysler Brand has
    resigned for personal reasons. Michael Accavitti, head of the Dodge
    Brand has resigned to pursue other interest