Dodge Ram to stand alone in Chrysler shakeup

Automaker also says two brand-level executives are leaving the company.

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by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

Chrysler Group has created a new truck-only Dodge Ram division.

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NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler Group has split its Dodge brand into an auto and a Ram truck unit, and said two recently appointed brand-level chief executives are leaving the company.

"The brand-focused strategy has been refined further with the unbundling of the Dodge brand which now consists of the Dodge Ram brand and the Dodge car brand organizations," Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said in statement Monday. "This reorganization will allow us to protect and develop the unique nature of the product offerings within the Dodge Brand."

Under the management structure put in place by Marchionne after Chrysler exited bankruptcy in June, each division of Chrysler has its own president and CEO who is responsible for the individual business results of that unit. Each of those executives also has an additional company-wide responsibility, such as sales or marketing.

Chrysler's lead designer, Ralph Gilles, has now been appointed president and CEO of the Dodge car brand. He will continue to lead product design for the automaker. Gilles joined Chrysler in 1992 and helped design many of the carmakers' most iconic products, including the Chrysler 300 sedan.

Fred Diaz, Jr. has been named president and CEO of the Dodge Ram brand. He will also head the sales department at Chrysler Group. Diaz had been head of Chrysler Group's Denver business center.

Marchionne created a similar management structure at the carmaker Fiat, which he also leads. Fiat now owns a 20% stake in the new Chrysler Group as part of a bankruptcy restructuring deal.

Two Chrysler brand CEOs are leaving the company as part of the reorganization. Peter Fong, who had been in charge of the Chrysler brand as well as sales for all the brands, "has resigned for personal reasons." Dodge brand CEO Mike Accavitti has left the company "to pursue other interests," the company said in an announcement.

In his role as head of Chrysler, Fong is being replaced by Olivier Francois. He also works for Fiat as head of the Italian automaker's Lancia luxury brand and he will retain that job.

In addition to heading the Chrysler and Lancia brands, Francois will also be responsible for worldwide marketing for all the Chrysler Group vehicle brands as well as for all of Fiat's brands.

Chrysler Group also appointed Joseph Veltri as head of product planning. To top of page

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