At VW, Wilhite steered the "Drivers Wanted" campaign, which ushered in Volkswagen's New Beetle and other products that significantly bolstered the German automaker's U.S. sales.
He left VW after nine years at the end of 1998 to return to his native San Diego. At the time, he said he wanted to bring balance back into his life.
Wilhite, 55, will oversee marketing at Nissan and Infiniti, which have seven new vehicles heading to the U.S. market in the next three years. He will work out of Nissan's U.S. headquarters in Gardena, Calif.
Wilhite's appointment lifts marketing responsibilities from Jack Collins. Collins, who was vice president of marketing and product planning, now is vice president of product planning.
Both Wilhite and Collins report to Jed Connelly, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing. The changes are effective today, Dec. 3.