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Ram brand created, Gilles to lead Dodge cars and Fong leaves in Chrysler shakeup

Mon, 05 Oct 2009

Chrysler Group has created a new brand called Ram for its trucks and named its top designer, Ralph Gilles, as CEO of Dodge cars.

The new structure overhauls a setup announced in June as the automaker emerged from bankruptcy in an alliance with Fiat S.p.A. Michael Accavitti, who had led the Dodge brand, has "resigned to pursue other interests," the company said in a statement.

Fred Diaz is president and CEO of the Ram brand.

Olivier Francois is CEO of the Chrysler brand, replacing Peter Fong, who has "resigned for personal reasons," the company said.

"This reorganization will allow us to protect and develop the unique nature of the product offerings within the Dodge Brand," Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.

Michael Manley continues as CEO of Jeep. Gilles, 39, will also remain in charge of Chrysler design, and Francois will also retain his position as head of Fiat's Lancia brand.

Accavitti had worked for Chrysler for more than two decades. In 1987, he was a manufacturing engineer in the Chrysler-Maserati joint venture that produced the Chrysler TC sporty car. After that, he worked in Chrysler manufacturing, overseas in Southeast Asia and in product development and marketing. Before heading Dodge, he was Chrysler LLC's director of brand marketing.

Fong spent nine years as a U.S. Navy pilot before joining Lincoln Mercury in 1987 as a parts and service zone manager. He worked in Ford Motor Co.'s sales and marketing operations until he joined Chrysler last year. Before heading the Chrysler brand, he was director of Chrysler's mid-Atlantic business center.

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