Formica takes charge of an auto division that's in trouble. Due to poor sales at Fiat, the four-brand Fiat Group Automobiles has struggled since the end of car scrapping incentives. Last year and for part of this year, those subsidies encouraged car buyers in Europe's biggest markets to trade in their old models for small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient cars such as the Fiat 500, Panda and Punto.
Without the government-funded discounts, Fiat Group Automobiles sales in Europe declined 13.7 percent to 735,353 units in the January-August period, according to industry association ACEA. By comparison, the total European market fell just 3.0 percent during the same periond.
Fiat Group Automobiles's volume decline had been severe this summer. Sales were down 20.4 percent in June, 31.1 percent in July and 23.8 percent in August, ACEA data shows.
It will take Formica time to reverse the trend because he inherits the same problem Sistino dealt with: a lack of new products.
Fiat brand's newest model, the 500 minicar, has been on the market for three years.
The Panda, Europe's best-selling minicar, was launched in March 2003 and won't be replaced until late 2011. That means the Panda will have an 8-year product cycle when most automakers typically replace a model every six years.
Fiat expected better sales results from its No. 1 seller in Europe, the Grande Punto/Punto Evo subcompact, which got a new interior as part of a mid-cycle update in September 2009, but Punto sales in Europe were down 16.9 percent to 182,450 units after eight months according to UK-based market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Started with Ford
Formica, who was born in Venice, has an MBA from the Bocconi University in Milan and a degree in economics from the University of Siena.
He started his automotive career in 1989 as a sales zone manager for Ford in Italy. He moved to Ford of Europe headquarters in Cologne, Germany, as marketing manager for small cars in 1992. Two years later he returned to Italy as general sales manager. From 1997 to 1998, he was marketing director at Ford of Britain, a post he held until 1999 when he was promoted to chairman and managing director of Ford of Italy.
Formica joined Toyota Europe in 2002. He was promoted to senior vice president for sales, marketing, product planning and communications in April 2008.
He has been the face of Toyota Europe as the division underwent its most extensive recall campaign ever in Europe. Formica apologized to Toyota's European customers over the recall during the Geneva auto show in March. Toyota has recalled nearly 2 million cars in Europe and more than 12 million worldwide to address safety issues. Due in part to the recall, Toyota's European sales were down 14.4 percent to 407,438 units after eight months, ACEA data shows.
During his eight years at Toyota, Formica created and implemented the so-called Toyota Retail System.
TRS uses a series of interconnected processes aimed at improving dealer operations. The program was launched in the Czech Republic in 2006 and has been rolled out Europewide since then. TRS was modeled after the renowned and much-copied Toyota Production System, which is a disciplined problem-solving tool that stresses quality and efficiency.