Seemingly always in motion, Fiat Chrysler’s Mike Manley might finally get a few hour’s sleep each night as he finds himself at the center of a management shake-up at the Euro-American automaker.
Manley will no longer oversee FCA’s Chinese and Asia-Pacific operations, it was announced on Wednesday. But what might seem, at first glance, to be a bit of a demotion is, at closer inspection, a recognition that Manley was simply too spread out to handle some of his more critical assignments.
That includes overseeing the development and sales of some of the automaker’s most profitable product lines: the Jeep and Ram brands. Both have been gaining ground amidst the current shift from cars to light trucks.
The hard-charging Manley played an equally critical role in cracking open the Chinese market which FCA had largely been locked out of. It now produces Jeeps there and is rapidly gaining market share in what is the world’s largest automotive market.
But that means the nature of the assignment changes, and FCA appears to have recognized that by bringing in two full-time executives to oversee the region.
Paul Alcala, a 29-year veteran of FCA, becomes the Chief Operating Officer of the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China. Alcala had been overseeing sales and manufacturing as part of FCA’s joint venture with local Chinese maker Guangzhou Automotive Group, or GAC.
(That’s the Chinese carmaker that is showing off some of its products at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week.)
(FCA’s Marchionne races to answer product questions. For more, Click Here.)
As for China, responsibility now goes to Daphne Zheng, the new chief operating officer for that huge market. An eight-year FCA veteran, she most recently served as Managing Director of Sales with the GAC joint venture.
“Mike has established a strong foundation for growth” in the region, said FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. “These leadership appointments…will ensure he can now focus his efforts on our growth plans for both the Jeep and Ram brands, in both the USA, but more importantly, in international markets.”
Jeep has been FCA’s fastest-growing brand, and sales are expected to top 2 million soon, more than double the numbers of just five years ago.
(Click Here for more about FCA’s Jeep manufacturing plans.)
Both Ram and Jeep are in critical modes as they prepare to update or replace key models while also expanding their production footprints.
Ram has a new version of the big 1500 pickup coming and it is taking over the former Chrysler 200 factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan to handle anticipated demand.
Jeep has an even more ambitious growth plan. That includes its own new pickup, the replacement for the compact Compass SUV, a Wrangler replacement and the new full-size Grand Wagoneer. It also will get a complete remake of its factory in Toledo.
(FCA touts 2,000 new jobs. For more, Click Here.)
So, it seems, Manley may not be getting much more sleep for the foreseeable future.