VW picks FCA, Kia veteran Saad Chehab to run U.S. marketing

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Volkswagen has hired one of the creative marketing minds that moved Chrysler past its bankruptcy, and elevated Maserati in the U.S., to become the German brand’s new chief marketing officer as it tries hard to move fully past its diesel emissions scandal.

Saad Chehab — vice president, marketing communications for Kia Motors America from April 2017 until he resigned June 26, and former head of the Chrysler brand with FCA — will take over as chief marketing officer for the Volkswagen brand in the U.S. effective Monday, Aug. 19, Volkswagen of America announced today.

In addition, VW said Derrick Hatami, executive vice president for sales and marketing for the VW brand, and Jim Zabel, senior vice president of VW brand marketing, are departing the company, effective today. Hatami’s duties will be handled on an interim basis by Werner Eichhorn, chief sales and marketing officer for the VW brand in North America.

In his new role, Chehab, who also previously worked at Ford, will be responsible for repositioning the Volkswagen brand away from its 2015 diesel emissions crisis and toward a future product line that is expected to ultimately field at least four battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. beginning in 2020. He will also be focused on building Volkswagen’s brand as the German automaker seeks a return to a 5 percent U.S. market share that it hasn’t enjoyed since the early 1970s.

Chehab, 52, will report to both Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh and Jochen Sengpiehl, chief marketing officer for Volkswagen AG.

In today’s statement, Keogh said Chehab is “an accomplished, creative, thoughtful and passionate person, and the work, from Chrysler to Maserati to Kia, reflects it. We’ve built a powerful brand platform at VW, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Saad can take full advantage of it.”

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