VW parts ways with U.S. sales chief

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NEW ORLEANS -- Volkswagen of America has disclosed the departure of another top executive: Frank Trivieri, who had been the VW brand's executive vice president of sales in the U.S. since 2011.

Trivieri, 51, leaves Volkswagen after a year in which the brand's U.S. sales declined 7 percent in a market that gained 8 percent -- and relationships with American dealers grew strained.

Dealers did not take well to a reworked stair-step bonus program that Trivieri put in place in 2013, which made dealers' ability to earn money on new-car sales more dependent on whether they hit their sales targets.

Volkswagen disclosed Trivieri's impending departure in a letter to dealers ahead of the National Automobile Dealers Convention at the weekend.

"Prior to our meetings at [NADA], we would like to inform you that Frank Trivieri, Executive Vice President of Sales, has elected to leave Volkswagen of America effective January 31, 2014," VW said in the letter to dealers.

A copy of the letter, signed by VW of America COO Mark McNabb, was obtained by Automotive News.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Frank for his passion, dedication, commitment and for the numerous contributions he has made to the Volkswagen brand over the past 2.5 years."

Trivieri is a former GM Canada sales boss.

Trivieri came to Volkswagen from General Motors, where he was most recently the automaker's Canadian sales chief. He was brought on by former Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning, a fellow GM veteran.

Browning was replaced this month by Michael Horn, previously Volkswagen Group's global head of aftersales.

A replacement for Trivieri was not immediately announced.

Asked for comment, a Volkswagen spokesman confirmed Trivieri's departure but declined to comment further, aside from saying: "He will be missed by all of us who interacted with him on a regular basis."

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com.

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