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Jeep’s New Leader Is Coming from . . . Infiniti?

Jeep has a new chief, although it'd be even better if it were a new Chief.

Before he succeeded the late Sergio Marchionne as Fiat Chrysler’s CEO last year, Michael Manley led Jeep to nearly 1.6 million in worldwide sales in 2018 to help make it one of the world’s most valued auto brands. Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday named Christian Meunier as Manley’s successor as Jeep’s global president.

From January of this year to a few weeks ago, Meunier was president of Nissan’s Infiniti marque, making his sudden departure from that job a bit reminiscent of Johann de Nysschen’s move as chief of Infiniti to chief of Cadillac in 2014. The comparison ends there, as Meunier “had various global roles” at Nissan for years, while de Nysschen’s short tenure heading Infiniti followed a long period as Audi’s North American chief.

Meunier has also held “key sales and marketing positions” at Ford Motor Company, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz throughout his career. His experience with premium and luxury brands will come in handy at Jeep, where he’ll have the unenviable task of continuing its thriving growth in SUV-happy North American and European markets while maintaining the marque’s reputation for offering a full lineup of true off-roaders. The brand is also preparing to enter a more premium space with the new Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer.

Under Manley, who also was the Ram brand’s chief, Jeep has added both the Gladiator and the Renegade and cut the Patriot, while its Grand Cherokee has become a premium SUV powerhouse. Jeep’s calendar-year 2018 U.S. sales of more than 973,000 units topped total U.S. sales for Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, or Volkswagen, as well as, according to Automotive News, more than Infiniti globally.

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