Infiniti President Christian Meunier has been recruited to become global president of Jeep for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles effective immediately, FCA said Tuesday.
Meunier, a former executive with Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Land Rover in North America and Europe, fills a critical Jeep post that has been empty in recent months.
"I am delighted to add Christian to the leadership team we're building to drive FCA forward,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said. “He brings additional world-class strength and experience to an already-proven bench, and I look forward to the continuation of the Jeep brand's growth under his stewardship."
Meunier, a gregarious Frenchman with a reputation for speaking bluntly, was named global head of Nissan’s premium brand in January, but had resisted moving to Infiniti's corporate headquarters in Hong Kong. Instead, he has been living in Nashville and commuting to Hong Kong several times a month.
"I'm excited to join the team at FCA,” Meunier said in a statement from FCA. “The company is one I've admired from afar; and, Jeep is a brand that anyone would be privileged to be a part of."
Shortly before the announcement, Infiniti said Tuesday that Meunier had left his job "for personal reasons." His departure from Infiniti leaves an unclear succession there.
Nissan’s chief quality officer, Christian Vandenhende, will take over as Infiniti chief until a replacement is named. Vandenhende wears multiple hats. In addition to being responsible for quality and customer satisfaction at Nissan, he oversees the management committees for North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
Mike Colleran, Infiniti global division vice president, will continue in his recently appointed role overseeing all sales regions, in addition to acting as deputy chairman, reporting to Vandenhende.
The change comes as Infiniti faces a sales slide in the U.S., its biggest market. The brand’s global sales fell 5.2 percent last year to 233,445. U.S. sales, meanwhile, slid 2.7 percent last year to 149,280 vehicles.
In March Infiniti said it will exit western Europe early next year as it restructures its global operations and turns its attention to sales in China and the United States.
Infiniti is also behind in the electrification race. Infiniti will get its first EV in 2021, and expects electrified models to account for half of its global sales by 2025.
Its competitors have a head start there. BMW anticipates having 25 electrified vehicles in its lineup by 2025, with a dozen of those being full electric. Mercedes, meanwhile, expects to electrify its model portfolio by 2022.
Meunier previously was Infiniti’s vice president of global marketing and sales operations. Before that, he led Nissan operations in the U.S. and Canada.