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Stellantis executive departures have dealers concerned

Credit: Stellantis

Following the departure of four high-profile executives at Stellantis North America, some dealers are growing concerned about the company’s direction.

Recent departures include those of Jeep North America Head Jim Morrison, who retired earlier this month, and Dodge Ram CEO and 32-year company veteran Tim Kuniskis, who also retired in May. Additionally, Jason Stoicevich left after just two months as the Vice President of the company’s U.S. Retail Sales program, while Richard Schwarzwald resigned as the Chief Customer Experience Officer, citing “personal reasons.”

The auto conglomerate, which formed as a merger between Fiat Chrysler and the French PSA Group in 2021, is now facing some skepticism from dealership owners as the North American market remains an important one for the multinational company.

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“What concerns me is that the people that know how to sell cars in the United States are leaving,” said David Kelleher, a Pennsylvania-based dealer and Stellantis National Dealer Council former chairman (via Automotive News). “That is no cut on some of the people that are coming into the roles behind them. But we lost some executives that were very, very special that really could do things to really make a company succeed. It’s concerning that these people are all choosing to leave.”

Stellantis has already appointed replacements for the positions, most of whom are also seasoned veterans within the industry. However, the automaker also faces the possibility of having a sixth consecutive year of declining U.S. automotive sales, amidst a challenging path to electrification. Considering these factors, the departures have raised additional questions from dealers.

Kelleher has also highlighted some restructuring at the company’s U.S. business centers, which recently downgraded from nine locations to just six. As for the reasoning behind the reduction, Stellantis said that it was strengthening dealer support, though Kelleher points out that it cost the jobs of three business directors.

“Not only did you forcibly let people go that have talent and experience, other people with immense talent and experience are choosing to leave,” he added. “So it begs the question: What’s causing that? I’m not going to speculate as to the motives, but they’re all coming on top of each other.”

According to Sam Fiorani, AutoForecast Solutions VP of global vehicle forecasting, high turnover rates are not uncommon following major mergers.

“More than a few people have realized the glass ceiling they’re under and are likely taking their experience elsewhere where they can go further,” Fiorani said.

He adds that there “are so many people within Stellantis now, that a lot of people will feel squeezed out.”

“Whether or not they go under their own decision or the corporate decision, you’ve got to see some of these people leaving. And the smarter ones who don’t see a potential next step within the company have to find that next step somewhere else.”

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Stellantis executive departures have dealers concerned
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