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New boss for FCA in Australia

Next step: Kevin Flynn is relocating from Mumbai to Melbourne and, according to FCA, “will bring a new perspective to the Australian market” where the company has struggled in recent years.

Flynn leads FCA Australia after successful stint in India as Zanlunghi returns to US

1 Aug 2019

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has turned to a highly credentialled international auto executive, current FCA India president and managing director Kevin Flynn, to lead the Australian operations of the Italian-American group that spans a broad range of brands including Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Chrysler and Abarth.


A Brit with more than three decades’ industry experience, Mr Flynn has spent almost four years in charge of FCA India.


He was appointed in January 2015 to take full control of the company’s operations in the burgeoning market on the subcontinent, which included launching the Jeep brand and overseeing a manufacturing and export strategy for right-hand-drive countries – Australia among them – starting with the new-generation Compass.


He replaces Steve Zanlunghi, who had overseen the Australian operations for three years and for the past 18 months was also responsible for the Jeep brand across the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China.


This made him responsible for all aspects of the US SUV brand’s regional operations including sales, marketing, finance, product planning and the manufacturing program run by Mr Flynn out of Mumbai.


Mr Zanlunghi, who has spent his entire career with Chrysler and affiliate companies, is now returning to North America to take up a new role within FCA.


The job is being kept under wraps for the time being, but it is sure to be a significant move orchestrated by FCA chief executive Mike Manley, the former head of Jeep worldwide who took the reins of the entire company a year ago when the late Sergio Marchionne became gravely ill.


Mr Manley is in the midst of executing a wide-ranging five-year plan he developed soon after becoming CEO, and although the proposed merger with Renault failed, FCA this week presented a strong set of second-quarter results and delivered a positive outlook for the rest of the year.


A spokesperson for FCA Australia said Mr Flynn officially started in the new role today, August 1, and would be relocating to Melbourne over the next few weeks.


He will not have responsibility for the Jeep brand across Asia-Pacific, with this position also still to be officially assigned.


In a statement, FCA Asia-Pacific chief financial officer Cesar Michelutti described Mr Flynn as “a strong leader, motivated by dealer relationships and consumer insights”.


“With his extensive international automotive industry experience and broad skillset, Kevin will bring a new perspective to the Australian market,” Mr Michelutti said.


The job in India was Mr Flynn’s first assignment with FCA. He spent the previous four years as managing director of the Jaguar and Land Rover business in South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa, having moved to the Johannesburg/Pretoria area two years earlier as general manager of Lexus in South Africa.


Prior to that, Mr Flynn was working as chief executive co-ordinator for Lexus Germany (2002-07), and earlier in his career spent four years as general manager of Lexus GB (1990-94) based in London.


He also has experience working with Porsche and BMW in the UK, both in OEM and retail sides of the business.


FCA clearly has high hopes that Mr Flynn will continue Mr Zanlunghi’s work in turning the fortunes around for the company in Australia, particularly the volume-selling Jeep brand which has lost favour with consumers in dramatic style over the past few years – from a height of more than 30,000 sales in 2014 to just 7326 last year.


This has been compounded further this year with a 28 per cent reduction in the first half – to just 2940 units – while Alfa Romeo has also taken a hit (448, -31.8%).


Fiat/Abarth and Fiat Professional are down 9.8 and 16 per cent to 568 and 467 sales respectively, while the company has found 175 buyers of the one model left in the Chrysler stable, the 300 large car (+20.7%).

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