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Chrysler Brand Chief Chehab Leaves To Head Maserati Marketing : News

Saad Chehab, head of the Chrysler and Lancia brands, will give up those positions to become the chief marketing officer of Fiat S.p.A.'s Maserati luxury brand, Chrysler said today.

Al Gardner, 49, who has been head of Chrysler Group's southeast business center in Florida, will take over as head of the Chrysler brand, the company said in a statement.

Also, Peter Grady, 53, head of Chrysler's dealer network and fleet, will add extra responsibilities as head of U.S. operations for the Maserati brand, the company said.

Chehab, 46, has been head of the Chrysler and Lancia brands since 2011 and before that was director of advertising and brand marketing for Chrysler Group.

The moves are effective immediately.

A former director of creative services for Ford, Chehab was lured to Chrysler after a meeting with Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

In his new job, Chehab will be based in Detroit, but will also work in New York and Europe.

Maserati is a small brand globally, but growing. At the end of September, it had booked about 22,500 orders in 2013 for its four-vehicle lineup. The automaker's previous sales record was 9,000 vehicles, set it 2008. In 2012, the brand sold 6,300 cars worldwide.

Maserati has said it aims to sell 50,000 vehicles globally in 2015. The brand has 71 dealers in the United States and 5 in Canada.

Gardner was appointed head of Chrysler's Southeast business center in Feb. 2010. The Southeast business center is headquartered in Orlando and includes Florida, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. He has worked at Chrysler since 1986, when he started as a district manager trainee. Since then, he has worked in a number of positions in the company's dealer network operations.

Super Bowl spots
Chehab, a 2012 Automotive News All-Star, was widely credited as the creative force behind Chrysler's highly successful Super Bowl commercials in 2011 and 2012 featuring Eminem and Clint Eastwood. Chehab was born in Lebanon.

As head of Chrysler brand, Chehab has embraced the "Imported from Detroit" tag line and used it to promote special editions of Chrysler vehicles. In March, Chehab introduced a Chrysler 200 special edition designed with Detroit-based outerwear maker Carhartt Inc.

Chehab and Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer for all of Fiat S.p.A.'s global brands, have had a strained relationship at times and have clashed privately and publicly, according to industry sources. In his new role, Chehab will report directly to Harald Wester, global CEO of the Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

This spring, Chehab told journalists at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit that he wanted to expand the "Imported from Detroit" marketing theme, which he considered edgy and successful.

But a few weeks later, Francois told Forbes that the theme had been played out and that it was time to refocus the Chrysler brand as an import fighter.

"If Chrysler wants to make sense in the same showroom, it must bring a different flavor and style," Francois told Forbes.

In a subsequent interview with Automotive News, Francois walked back the statement and reaffirmed the brand's "Imported from Detroit" marketing theme.

More global Maserati
Marchionne has said he sees a greater role for the luxury Maserati brand globally. He is investing more than $1.3 billion to expand its product range to six models, including the mid-sized Ghibli sedan and the Levante SUV, based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In April, Chrysler executive Robert Graczyk was named CEO of Maserati's North American division, replacing Mark McNabb, who left to become COO of Volkswagen of America.

In other executive changes, Chrysler:

• named Steve Beahm, 50, senior vice president of supply chain management, effective Jan. 1. Beahm, who joined Chrysler in 1987, previously was vice president of U.S. sales operations.

• said Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis, 46, would assume responsibility for Chrysler Group's fleet operations from Grady, effective immediately. Kuniskis will continue to oversee the Dodge brand.

• said Robert Graczyk, 50, who had been president and CEO of Maserati North America, will become head of sales for Australia. He has worked at Chrysler since 1986.

• appointed Jeffrey Kommor, 52, vice president of U.S. sales operations, effective Jan. 1. Kommer, who has worked at Chrysler since 1985, has been director of the automaker's northeast business center.

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Sources : Chrysler Brand Chief Chehab Leaves To Head Maserati Marketing Photo | Chrysler Brand Chief Chehab Leaves To Head Maserati Marketing Article


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