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Struggling Fiat brand in U.S. gets new top executive

The Fiat 500
The Fiat 500

Chrysler is shaking up its fledgling Fiat North America division. The brand is replacing Laura Soave with Timothy Kuniskis.

Sales of the brand’s only car, the Fiat 500, have been far below expectations. 

This year, Fiat had hoped to sell 50,000 of its minicars in the U.S., but it has sold only about 16,000. 

The departure of Soave is not a surprise.  Last week during a press conference, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Soave was head of the brand “for the time being.”   

Marchionne blames lagging sales of the Fiat 500 mainly on a very slow launch of Fiat 500 dealerships, rather than on the car. 

Chrysler had planned to have 130 dealerships open for business by now, but it only has about 60.    

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.