Peugeot North America CEO Larry Dominique has been named the North America head of Alfa Romeo in a move that adds fresh uncertainty to the French brand's planned return to the United States.
The switch, announced Friday, is part of a global reorganization of the Italian marque. Alfa and Peugeot are now part of Stellantis, the company created by the January merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group.
Dominique, 58, has been leading Peugeot's planned U.S. return for four years. Part of his charge has been to create a distribution channel that would shun expensive stores and emphasize the use of technology to offload some consumer-facing services such as scheduling vehicle delivery and pickup.
A replacement for Dominique wasn’t named, the latest in a line of signals pointing to the end of Peugeot's U.S. comeback efforts.
Two days before the merger, then-Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato told journalists: “We can’t not take into account that in the coming days Peugeot will be part of this new world. I imagine in the coming months due to the new strategy we will have to adapt and reconsider all elements, including this one.”
Imparato has since taken over as global CEO of Alfa Romeo.
Spokespersons in the U.S. and Europe declined to comment Friday on the future of Peugeot in the U.S.
Carlos Tavares, the former PSA chief who now leads Stellantis, had no U.S. presence when he hired Dominique as his North American leader in 2017. But PSA's December 2019 agreement to unite with FCA changed everything. With the merger, Tavares now holds 12 percent of the U.S. market with a stable of brands including Jeep, Dodge and Ram.
Tavares had also indicated before the merger that the plan could shift. At the same time, he praised Dominique's efforts, including his plan for an asset-light distribution model.
"This is something that, most probably, we are going to use, not specifically in the U.S. market, but maybe in another region of the world," Tavares told Automotive News. "But I think that innovative thinking of that project has been very helpful."
Most recently, the goal was for a Peugeot launch in the U.S. and Canada around 2023. Peugeot left the U.S. in 1991.
Now, Dominique will take the helm of a brand that has been showing signs of life in the U.S. Alfa Romeo's sales grew 1.6 percent in a market that fell 14 percent last year, but volumes are low for the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover. Two new crossovers are soon expected to boost the Alfa lineup. Alfa sold just over 16,000 cars in the U.S. last year, making it one of the industry's smallest players.
Before joining PSA, Dominique was president of ALG, a company that provides the industry with vehicle valuations. He had also spent 22 years at Nissan and Infiniti, where he was vice president for product planning and strategy for Nissan Americas. During a portion of his tenure there, Tavares was chairman of Nissan North America.
Dominique's background is in electrical engineering. He began his career in engineering roles, first at General Motors and then at Chrysler.
Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this report.