LOS ANGELES - E.C. Mueller, the No. 2 Infiniti Division executive with responsibility for sales and marketing, left the company July 11 for a brand marketing post at Intel Corp. in Hillsboro, Ore.
Mueller, 41, was technically a lower-level manager, but he was in charge of the I30, Q45 and QX4 introductions and also was involved in marketing Infiniti's Indy Racing League program.
Only Daryl Kenningham, 33, who came aboard last month as director of Infiniti marketing, is higher on the Infiniti flagpole. Kenningham previously worked in Nissan's overseas department in Japan.
Kenningham is the top executive with responsibilities just for Infiniti. All other high-level Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. executives split their time between Infiniti and Nissan divisions.
Mueller joined Nissan in December 1988 and moved to Infiniti in 1992. He became a model-line manager in June 1994. Victor Polich, currently model line manager for the Q45, will take over Mueller's QX4 responsibilities. Infiniti is interviewing for Mueller's replacement to handle the I30.
In the past year, three vice presidents, four senior directors and several other model-line managers have left Nissan's U.S. sales organization.
In addition, 460 of Nissan's 2,500 employees accepted voluntary retirement and separation deals in March. Nissan then terminated 57 more employees. The result left gaping holes in the marketing, remarketing, information systems and human resources departments, as well as on regional staffs. Nissan has rehired some of those people, either as full-time employees or as consultants.
Infiniti sales were up 16 percent through June, due to the QX4's addition to the lineup and the launch of the revamped Q45.