Newly appointed Fiat Chrysler Australia boss Steve Zanlunghi is looking to improve the automaker’s image in the region, a task that he knew he’d have to face before he officially started with the automaker.
Zanlunghi moved into the leadership role at FCA Australia in August , replacing Pat Dougherty – who is now in charge of FCA’s China operations. Dougherty left FCA Australia following a tumultuous two years that saw him uncover a multi-million fraud scandal in which top executives were using company funds to support their lavish lifestyles.
While the scandal likely affected FCA’s credibility in Australia, it’s certainly not as strong of a factor as its reliability record. In 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched an investigation against the automaker after receiving complaints regarding faults with new vehicles and how the company handled them. FCA subsequently launched a “consumer redress program,” to help tackle the issue.
Now, Zanlunghi is determined to turn around the company’s image and improve its internal workings. He said the automaker had been “been working on plans,” to help boost its perception since before he started in the summer, but he’s hoping to expand on the changes the previous management had made.
“I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into,” he told Australia’s CarAdvice.
“This market has its challenges, I won’t shy away from that. We have work to do here with customer perception.”
“The previous administration and Pat Dougherty had started some good initiatives and I’m continuing on them as we speak.”
First on Zanlunghi’s agenda will be reviving Jeep sales in the region. The automaker had recently launched a lighthearted campaign entitled “You Bought A Jeep?” that poked fun at the automaker’s reputation in Australia, but Zanlunghi wasn’t a fan of the ads and had them axed. Australian Jeep sales have dipped more than 50% on a year-to-date basis so far in 2016, but with the brand making a global expansion and strong prospects like the 2017 Jeep Compass coming, Zanlunghi has chosen a good time to try and turn things around.