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Cold Weather Doesn’t Dim Nissan’s Expectations

Maker’s sales heat up despite Polar Vortex, and should keep building, says senior exec.

by on Feb.27, 2014

Nissan's Fred Diaz during a Detroit appearance.

It’s been a cold month in Hell, Michigan and much of the rest of country this winter, and February is looking to deliver another big chill to the auto industry, February sales likely to echo the unexpected cool-down experienced last month.

But the impact is likely to be short-lived, suggested Fred Diaz, the new Nissan division boss, during an appearance at the Automotive Press Association on Thursday.  “I’m not a believer you lose sales for good” because of bad weather, he said. “You only delay sales” that the industry will likely regain once the weather warms up.

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On the downside, the Nissan executive – who joined the company a year ago after spending a quarter-century with Chrysler – said the auto industry likely needs to prepare for a slowdown in the pace of its recovery since the end of the Great Recession.  Since bottoming out in 2010, U.S. auto sales have been growing at better than double-digit annual rates, but Diaz cautioned that level of “growth is unsustainable. We’re already seeing signs it will level off.”

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Chrysler Shakes Up Brand Management Team

Maker moves fast after Diaz defects to Nissan.

by on Apr.15, 2013

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and new Ram Truck boss Reid Bigland.

After unexpectedly losing one of its top brand bosses to Nissan, the Chrysler Group is shaking up its executive lineup, putting new managers in charge at its Ram, Dodge and Fiat brands.

The quick switch following the loss of Ram chief Fred Diaz, appears designed to maintain momentum at a maker that has posted three years of month-over-month sales gains. But while Chrysler might be showing off the “depth of our talent pool,” the shake-up also reveals how a handful of top executives are each being asked to handle multiple assignments in an unusual lean corporate structure.

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“These appointments are part of the Chrysler Group’s strategy to continuously reinforce its leadership ranks as we continue on our path to achieve our business targets,” declared Sergio Marchionne, chairman and chief executive officer of Chrysler Group LLC, in a statement issued Monday morning.

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Diaz Defection Good News for Nissan, But Big Trouble for Chrysler

Are further defections facing Chrysler’s overworked management team?

by on Apr.15, 2013

Fred Diaz is shown here during the recent launch of the new Ram 1500 pickup.

Chrysler is scrambling to fill a big hole left in its senior management ranks following the unexpected defection of Fred Diaz, who had been running its fast-growing Ram truck brand. A 24-year Chrysler veteran, Diaz now becomes the new head of sales and marketing for the Nissan Brand in the U.S.

Considered one of the most influential Hispanic business leaders in the U.S., Diaz was one of a small cadre of close confidantes to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and helped the Ram brand generate a steady stream of month-over-month sales gains that outpaced the overall U.S. automotive recovery.

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Nissan now hopes that magic can rub off as it sets its sights on achieving a record 10% share of the U.S. market. The Japanese maker also hopes Diaz can help it finally pick up some traction in the light truck market when it launches an all-new version of the Titan pickup a little more than a year from now.

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“Heaven and Earth” Move in New Ram 1500 Campaign

Truck maker putting increased emphasis on Latino buyers with new Ram 1500.

by on Oct.08, 2012

A scene from the new Ram 1500 ad campaign.

Chrysler’s Ram truck brand hopes to pry free normally loyal Ford and Chevrolet pickup buyers with a cinematic new ad campaign marking the launch of the newly updated Ram 1500 truck. Perhaps appropriately, the spots have been dubbed “Heaven and Earth,” suggesting the lengths Ram will go to in a bid to win over new buyers.

The campaign, which features the gravelly voice of Western actor Sam Elliott, will make its debut this coming weekend and marks the continuing ramp-up in spending by Chrysler’s truck brand – which was spun off from Dodge three years ago.

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The multimedia campaign will also spotlight the rapidly expanding Hispanic community which accounts for a disproportionate share of pickup purchases in the U.S. market, officials noted. The campaign will feature singer Juanes, a 17-time Latin Grammy winner.

“With this truck launch we literally swing for the fences,” said Fred Diaz, the head of the Ram division as well as president of Chrysler’s Mexican operations.

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Dodge Delivers New Ram 1500, adds V-6 option.

Lighter and as much as 20% more fuel-efficient.

by on Apr.06, 2012

Ram boss Fred Diaz with the new 1500 pickup.

There’s plenty of talk about small cars at the New York Auto Show, this week, no surprise considering fuel prices are rapidly approaching record levels. But Chrysler’s Ram division is betting even truckers want some good news on the fuel front – and is offering a new option with the new Ram 1500 pickup.

The maker pulled the wraps off a truck that is not only lighter but also will offer a new V-6 powertrain option that could boost fuel economy by as much as 20% over the pickup’s previous base engine.

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The Ram 1500 unveiled at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center did not undergo the sort of dramatic styling changes of some previous generations.  But while it might look familiar that doesn’t mean the Chrysler brand simply stuck to the old formula.

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Have Chrysler Sales Finally Bottomed Out?

Maker seeing a bit of a turnaround, exec says.

by on Mar.25, 2010

Have Chrysler sales begun a much-needed turnaround?

The most troubled of the Detroit Three automakers has been steadily losing ground, since last year’s reemergence from bankruptcy, even as the rest of the industry begins to rebound from 2009’s devastating sales slump.  But a senior Chrysler official says there’s a glimmer of a silver lining to the cloud hanging over the company’s headquarters, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Retail sales for March are so far running 51% ahead of February’s, said Fred Diaz, who heads the new Ram truck division as well as overseeing sales for Chrysler overall.  But there is a downside, Diaz cautioned, during a meeting to outline the brand’s new ad campaign, overall Chrysler sales will still be down 12% compared to year-ago levels.

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Diaz downplayed that part of the story, however, noting that in spring 2009, as the maker was heading into bankruptcy, it was dumping hefty incentives onto the market hoping to prop up tumbling demand.  “We were buying the market,” the Detroit Free Press quotes the executive, noting that giveaways in March 2009 were running as high as $8,000 on some Chrysler products.

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