Interior design always seemed to be an afterthought at Chrysler, and it showed. That's why 10 years ago, design chief Ralph Gilles created a team that specialized solely on interior styling.
To head the new unit, he chose Klaus Busse -- an affable, 6-foot-7-inch German designer who had come to Chrysler from Daimler and chose to stay in Detroit when his countrymen sold Chrysler to Cerberus in 2007.
Since then, the interiors of Chryslers, Jeeps, Dodges and Rams have gone from among the worst in the industry to repeated award winners. In 2013, Busse won the first Automotive News All-Star award presented to an interior designer.
Last week, Busse, 45, revealed that he was heading back to Europe, where he will head both interior and exterior design for Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Abarth. He'll still work for his friend Gilles, albeit at Fiat's Centro Stile in Turin.
Busse, who started his career in Stuttgart with a pair of Daimler internships, said in 2012: "It wasn't Chrysler that gave up on Mercedes. It was Mercedes that gave up on Chrysler."
He added: "I felt like I just had put in three years of my life here at Chrysler, and worked on all this new product, and I wanted to see it come to market. I wanted to be part of this underdog turnaround."