Audi names former Lancia boss to head Italy operations
TURIN -- Audi has appointed Fabrizio Longo to run its Italian operations. Longo, 50, is the former boss of Fiat's near-premium Lancia brand. He was also a mentor to Luca De Meo, Audi's marketing and sales boss, when they worked at the Italian carmaker.
Longo starts his new job Feb. 1. He will succeed Michael Frisch, who is moving to Skoda's headquarters in Mlada Boleslav to head western Europe sales for the Czech automaker. Both Audi and Skoda are subsidiaries of the Volkswagen Group.
Longo joined Fiat in 1987. Later he served as Lancia boss and then the brand's vice president of sales in Europe. He moved to Italian motorcycle maker Aprilia in 2005 as head of global sales. A year later, he became head of sales at Toyota Italy and then moved to BMW Italy, He join Hyundai Italy in April 2011, resigning from his post as the brand's chief operating officer in the country on Jan. 4.
Hyundai Italy has not yet appointed a new COO. Currently the company Chairman and CEO, Seong Nam Kim, also runs daily operations.
Fabrizio Longo moves from Hyundai to Audi Italy.
Under Longo, Hyundai's market share in Italy grew to 3.1 percent last year from 2.3 percent in early 2011. In 2012, Hyundai sales rose 2.5 percent to 43,448 units in an Italian market that declined 20 percent to 1.4 million units, a level not seen since 1979.
In 2002, De Meo joined Lancia from Toyota Europe and Longo was his boss at the brand. In 2009, De Meo, 45, left Fiat Group to become global head of marketing at VW brand. In June 2010, he was promoted to VW Group head of marketing and in September 2012 became a member of the board of management, with responsibility for marketing and sales at Audi.
In his new role at Audi, Longo will be tasked with strengthening the carmaker's lead in Italy over rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Audi sales in Italy
Last year, Audi boosted Italian sales 3.5 percent to 60,578 units, according to data from the country's Transport Ministry. Mercedes sold 50,983 units in Italy while BMW's volume was 50,666 vehicles. Both brands increase full-year sales 3 percent compared with 2011.
Audi's growth in Italy contributed to the automaker's record global sales of 1.45 million vehicles last year.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at email@example.com.