In a surprise move, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. has gone outside the company to recruit a new chief to head up its most important brand: Jeep.
FCA announced it has tapped Christian Meunier to serve as Global President of the Jeep brand.
Meunier joins FCA with broad background in the global automotive experience. In his most recent post before joining FCA, he was Chairman and Global President for Infiniti Motor Co. Ltd. at Nissan.
“I am delighted to add Christian to the leadership team we’re building to drive FCA forward,” said Mike Manley, chief executive officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
(Fiat Chrysler to open new Jeep plant, add 6,500 jobs. Click Here for the story.)
“He brings additional world-class strength and experience to an already proven bench, and I look forward to the continuation of the Jeep brand’s growth under his stewardship,” Manley said.
Prior to his current role, Meunier held various global roles at Nissan, including Division Vice President of Infiniti Global Sales, Marketing and Operations; Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations for Nissan North America; Chairman Nissan Canada and President of Canada and Brazil. In addition, he has held key sales and marketing positions at Ford, Land Rover and Mercedes Benz in Europe and in the U.S.
“I’m excited to join the team at FCA,” said Meunier. “The company is one I’ve admired from afar and Jeep is a brand that anyone would be privileged to be a part of.”
Meunier leaves the Nissan Group at a time when the company has been riven by the shake up that followed the ouster of long-time Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who was accused of financial impropriety.
(Click Here for more about Manley adding two new executives.)
The charges remain largely unproven but have led to Ghosn’s arrest by Japanese authorities and he remains under arrest while awaiting trial in Tokyo.
The Jeep brand has been the key factor in the growth of FCA’s profitability and the reduction of the company’s debt in recent years despite the weakness of other brands such as Fiat and Chrysler. Nevertheless, there are signs that Jeep may be losing some of its forward momentum as sales slipping in the first four months of 2019.
However, Jeep is expected to get a boost in the next few months as sales of the new Jeep Gladiator ramp up in the next few months.
In addition, Michael Dunne, a widely respected expert on the Chinese automaker, noted that Jeep has never quite caught on in the world’s largest market even as China’s consumers, like their American counterparts, demonstrate a distinct preference for utility vehicles.
(For more on FCA’s aggressive product plan for the next five years, Click Here.)
Promoting Jeep sales in China will be one of Meunier’s chief tasks at FCA.