Current head of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, Harald Wester, will be replaced by Reig Bigland two weeks after the new Giulia luxury sedan started sales after a six month-delay.
Marchionne stated that Bigland, who is the current chief of Fiat Chrysler sales in the U.S., will take on the new role while Wester remains the chief technology officer of the Fiat Chrysler brand. Wester joined the Fiat brand in 2004 and was named head of Maserati in 2008 and of Alfa Romeo in 2010.
The Alfa Romeo brand revival was a big part of Marchionne’s strategy to double the automaker’s profit by 2018. However it was delayed after Fiat postponed in January the completion of its Alfa models by two years because of weak auto markets in China and Brazil. The company also gave up on the goal of increasing sales four times as much.
According to an Italian labor union, Maserati has temporarily laid off workers at its Turin plant in Aprile because of a slow demand.
Vincenzo Longo, a strategist at the IG Group in Milan explained that “The new structure could be a sign of Marchionne’s strong commitment to pursue Alfa and Maserati’s revamp globally. Still, it looks like Wester could be a victim of Alfa Romeo delays.”
FCA is looking for the Giulia Model to compete directly with the units from the BMW 3-Series. Marchionne stated at the Giulia sedan presentation that took place on the 10th of May that it was not easy to launch it and that it would be followed by a first sport-utility vehicle from the brand set to be produced later this year and followed by a third model production in 2017. Due to final touches and software calibration issues, the sales of the Giulia model were scheduled to debut at the end of 2015, but witnessed a delay of six months.