FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has announced its fourth president and CEO in just over three years, following confirmation that Pat Dougherty has been appointed head of aftersales for the Asia-Pacific region, based in Shanghai, China.
Taking on the role of president and CEO of FCA Australia from the start of August is Australian national Steve Zanlunghi who moves across from his role as FCA UK managing director and head of the Jeep brand for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Mr Zanlunghi started his career with Chrysler in 1997 working in the call centre in New York and Auburn Hills, Michigan before rising to positions including dealer operations manager in Hawaii and San Francisco.
In 2006 he took the role of national sales operations manager for Chrysler in the United States and rose to regional managing director for the mid-Atlantic region in early 2010.
Two years later he shifted to Turin, Italy for a brief stint heading up sales and commercial operations for Western Europe, but soon headed for the UK once he landed the role of CEO and managing director for Fiat Group Automobiles UK and chairman of Fiat Group Ireland.
He took responsibility for the Jeep brand in EMEA in early 2015 and according to the company “developed the EMEA regional Jeep brand strategy, including product, sales, marketing and network development, while maintaining his responsibility for the UK and Irish markets”.
FCA Asia Pacific chief operating officer and global head of the Jeep and Ram brands Mike Manley praised Mr Zanlunghi and highlighted his knowledge of the Australian market.
“I’m delighted to be making this announcement, as it further strengthens our APAC team and sees one of our senior executives appointed to lead a key market for us,” he said. “Steve is not only a capable leader, but he also has a good understanding of the Australian marketplace.”
Mr Zanlunghi was born in New York but is an Australian national with his mother originating from Melbourne. He spent some time at school in Melbourne and has regularly returned to Australia.
Mr Dougherty headed up the Australian operation for about 20 months from late 2014, taking over during a tumultuous period following the resignation of former boss Veronica Johns who had replaced Clyde Campbell 18 months earlier in May 2013.
Both Mr Campbell and Ms Johns are now the focus of a lawsuit filed by FCA Australia that alleges the pair misused company funds during their time at the helm of the Italian-American car-maker.
A directions and interlocutory hearing is set for this Friday in the Federal Court of Melbourne ahead of the commencement of the trial in late September.
Late last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigated customer complaints against FCA Australia relating to vehicle faults and how the company handled the complaints.
Highlighting his earlier commitment to improve the areas of customer and aftersales service, Mr Dougherty has overseen a number of strategies to lift FCA Australia’s service levels by increasing staff numbers at the customer call centre and introducing dealership measures to help streamline servicing.
Further measures to improve aftersales service levels under Mr Dougherty’s watch included doubling the size of FCA Australia’s parts warehouse and adopting 24-hour operation, doubling the number of dealer support staff, creating a dedicated Resolutions Team to resolve complex issues and hiring Stephane Lemari earlier this year as the company’s new aftersales director.
Mr Dougherty will officially start his new role in Shanghai from September 1 and joins a new-look executive leadership team in FCA’s regional headquarters. There will be a handover period between the top executives in Australia through August.
Sales of FCA Australia’s brands – Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo and Fiat – are down by between 50 and 63 per cent so far this year compared with the same period last year, with only the Fiat Professional light-commercial arm in positive territory, up 10.3 per cent year on year.
By Tim Nicholson