Renault's former European sales boss, Marie-Christine Caubet, will lead Volkswagen's French operations. In other management changes, Ludwig Willisch is the new head of BMW's European sales region, Audi executive Gary Savage will take over Citroen's U.K. sales operation and Tata Motors' Ravi Kant is retiring.
Former Renault exec Caubet joins VW; BMW has new sales head for Europe; Tata's Ravi Kant retires
PARIS -- Volkswagen has hired Renault's former European sales boss, Marie-Christine Caubet, to take over its French operations.
Caubet will replace VW's current France boss Daniel Coppens on July 1.
Caubet, 58, left Renault in July 2008 after a 35-year career in the French carmaker's marketing and sales divisions.
At the time, Renault said Caubet had decided to leave "to devote more time to her personal interests."
In reality, Caubet's departure was part of a wider sales management reorganization as the French carmaker reacted to the beginning of the crisis in Europe, which has traditionally been Renault's strongest market.
As president of VW France, Caubet will assume responsibility for the German carmaker's French operations and compete head-on with her former colleagues at Renault.
VW and its subsidiary brands -- Audi, Seat and Skoda -- had combined sales of 244,859 passenger cars in France last year.
The VW group's 11.9 percent market share placed it fourth in the French market, behind market leaders Renault, Peugeot and Citroen.
Lawrence J. Speer
BMW veteran executive Ludwig Willisch is the new head of BMW's European sales region.
Previously, Willisch, 52, was president of BMW M GmbH, the German premium brand's in-house tuning division.
His new post covers sales of BMW and Mini cars in European countries outside Germany. With sales of 517,000 vehicles in 2008, the region accounts for 39 percent of the BMW group's total global retail volume.
Under Willisch's leadership, sales of BMW M GmbH products increased by 50 percent last year to more than 24,000 units.
Willisch's post at BMW M has gone to Kay Segler. Segler, 54, was head of BMW's Mini brand for four years before taking charge of the 100 BMW global markets where BMW distributes its cars through local importers.
BMW said Marco Saltalamacchia, the carmaker's European sales boss since 2007, will move to a new, as yet undisclosed, role at the carmaker.
PARIS -- Citroen has recruited Gary Savage, a top Audi executive, to boost its slowing sales in the U.K.
Savage, currently Audi's head of marketing and brand development in Russia, will become managing director of Citroen's U.K. operations starting on June 16.
Savage, 47, replaces Xavier Duchemin, who headed Citroen's U.K. operations before accepting a promotion last April to run the French carmaker's global marketing and communications.
Savage will have to improve Citroen's slowing sales in the U.K., where the brand has been hurt by the overall sales downturn and a weak British pound.
Last year, Citroen's U.K. new-car sales were down nearly 17 percent to 81,237 units, according to the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Similarly, the French carmaker saw its market share drop to 3.81 percent from 4.07 percent in 2007.
Lawrence J. Speer
Auto industry veteran Len Hunt has joined Al-Futtaim Automotive, one of Middle East's leading car distributors.
Hunt, an Englishman who has headed VW, Audi and Kia in the U.S., is tasked with boosting the Dubai-based company's car sales in the expanding region.
He has been appointed automotive group director at Al-Futtaim, which imports brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Honda and Volvo.
Hunt joined Kia Motors America in October 2005 as Chief Operating Officer but left the Korean carmaker in February last year barely two months after he was promoted to be CEO of Kia's North American operations.
Before moving to Kia, Hunt was with Volkswagen of America. He also led Audi of America from 1999 to 2004. Hunt spent five years with Audi of Britain after 15 years with Jaguar.
Ravi Kant, managing director of Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, will retire June 1.
Kant will be succeeded by Prakash Telang, currently head of Tata's commercial vehicle strategic business unit.
Telang, 61, is a veteran Tata executive who joined the company in 1972. He is also on the board of the company's joint venture with Fiat, Fiat India Automobiles Pvt. Ltd., and played a significant role in Tata's recent cost-reduction drive.
Kant joined Tata Motors in 2000 as head of the company's commercial vehicle business unit and was promoted to managing director in 2005.
He will retire on his 65th birthday in line with company policy, Tata said. Kant will be retained by the company's board as non-executive vice chairman.