Jeep CEO Christian Meunier has stepped down after three years in the role, during which time the SUV brand has undergone one of the most dramatic transformations in its 80-year history.
Before being named as CEO in January 2021, when Jeep became part of the 14-brand Stellantis empire, Meunier had already been global president of the Jeep brand for two years. Prior to that, he was at Nissan, where he spent time as SUV marketing boss, sales vice president and ultimately global president of the Infiniti luxury marque.
A brief Stellantis statement said Meunier was leaving to "take a long break to focus on personal interests", without giving any further details.
His replacement has been named as Antonio Filosa, previously chief operating officer of Stellantis South America, who assumes the Jeep top job on 1 November.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares thanked Meunier for his contribution to "making Stellantis the leading company it is today". He added: "The circumstances of life must make us accept the personal decisions of our colleagues, as they illustrate their human qualities, beyond their business acumen."
During Meunier's time as boss, Jeep has launched crucial new models, including the Gladiator pick-up, new Jeep Grand Cherokee – its largest and most luxurious model yet – and the Jeep Avenger crossover, Jeep's first European-designed model and the current European Car of the Year.
It has also expanded its hybrid offering with new e-Hybrid and 4xe versions of its core SUVs, helping it to achieve market-leading PHEV sales in North America. More recently, the brand has given details of a pair of large new electric SUVs – the Recon and Wagoneer S – and publicly experimented with the use of autonomous driving technology in off-road environments.
However, Jeep sales in 2022 were down 13% on the previous year, at 1.1 million - the brand's lowest point since 2014, and in the first half of this year the company's sales dropped another 12%. Stellantis has not implied that Meunier's departure is related to the downturn.
In a recent interview with Autocar, Meunier admitted that Jeep had "screwed up twice" with its efforts to crack the UK market, where it held a "virtually non-existent" 0.3% stake of the SUV segment.
He pledged to leverage the firm's increasingly electrified line-up to boost its presence in the UK, telling Autocar: "British people enjoy driving. So I think the Jeep brand can resonate in the UK."
In a lengthy post on social media, Meunier said his departure is "the end of a beautiful story with Jeep and the start of a new chapter. A new step focused on personal projects and interests".
He added: "Throughout my leadership I remained fiercely protective of the brand as we worked to boost its image with electrification and technology. One of my proudest achievements with the team was both developing and launching '4xe' – the Jeep brand’s answer to electrification."