Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV new CEO Mike Manley is filling holes in the Italian-American automaker's leadership team left by the death of legendary CEO Sergio Marchionne earlier this year.

Manley has named his replacements at Jeep and Ram, FCA's two most profitable brands.

Heading up Jeep North America is Tim Kuniskis, who currently leads Alfa Romeo and Maserati.  Prior to taking over FCA's Italian luxury brands earlier this year, Kuniskis led the Dodge brand and was instrumental in bringing the Hellcat Challenger and Charger to market.

Reid Bigland, who currently serves as head of U.S. sales and Canadian operations, will return to the Ram brand after four years. Bigland, who will keep his U.S. sales and Canadian operations roles, is taking over FCA's crucial truck brand as the completely redesigned 1500 nears full production. The Ram Heavy Duty is planned to come to market in mid-2019. Ram fell under Manley's leadership in 2015.

"Today’s announcements further align our leadership structure to the achievement of the targets set out in our five-year plan," Manley said in a letter to employees. "These appointments ensure that we will maintain our focus on the highest degree of execution and excellence in each of our regions and across our functional groups."

The executive appointments come about two months after CEO Sergio Marchionne died, accelerating Manley's succession to the chief executive role and leaving holes in FCA's leadership.

According to Stephanie Brinley, an automotive analyst for research firm IHS Markit, "The appointments made today align with what these executives are good at, but more importantly these weren't panicked choices. We're seeing stability and a strong, deep bench."

In his letter, Manley said the appointments were made "with the sure knowledge that we have the depth and breadth of talent and skills we need to meet our objective of becoming one of the world’s most profitable automakers."

He cited challenges with tougher industry regulations, intense competition and slower industry growth around the world. But he said the realignment of roles will allow the company "continued flexibility that allows us to adjust as circumstances change."

Kuniskis will retain his responsibilities for Alfa while Chief Technology Officer Harald Wester takes over as Chief Operating Officer of Maserati. Wester will maintain his technology leadership role as Maserati is slated to undergo an electrification push in the next five years. 

Pietro Gorlier replaces Alfredo Altavilla as Chief Operating Officer of FCA's European division. Altavilla, a protégé of Marchionne, quit in July when he failed to succeed his mentor.

Other executive changes announced today include:

  • Scott Garberding named Global Chief Manufacturing Officer
  • Richard Schwarzwald is named Global Head of Quality.
  • Ermanno Ferrari is named CEO of Magneti Marelli
  • Steve Beahm will lead Mopar North America, while continuing in his role as Head of the Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat Brands in North America.

Twitter: @noranaughton

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