DETROIT -- Tim Kuniskis, Fiat's new boss in North America, is an old hand at Chrysler with a tough new assignment: Rescue the disappointing relaunch of the Fiat brand.
Kuniskis, 44, who was assigned to shore up Fiat marketing this summer in addition to his duties as marketing director for the Chrysler brand, replaces Laura Soave, 39, who left the company last week after just 20 months on the job.
Chrysler didn't give reasons for Soave's departure, saying only that she "will pursue other interests."
Kuniskis (pronounced ku-NISS-kiss) inherits a restless dealer body heavily invested in bricks-and-mortar sales "salons" and getting much less revenue than Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne had projected from the franchise's single model, the tiny Fiat 500.
Under Marchionne, Chrysler Group has shown a willingness to change executives quickly.
The Dodge brand, for example, is on its third CEO since Fiat took over control of Chrysler Group in June 2009. Michael Accavitti was replaced in Oct. 2009 by Ralph Gilles, who is also Chrysler's head of design. Then on Sept. 1, Reid Bigland, president of Chrysler Canada, took over as Dodge brand CEO from Gilles, who was reassigned as CEO of the SRT performance brand.
And former Chrysler brand boss Peter Fong departed in October 2009, to be replaced by Olivier Francois, who took over control of the Fiat brand globally this year.