Mike Manley took over the reins of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles just before Death of Sergio Marchionne in 2018 and orchestrated a merger with Groupe PSA intended to bring long-term stability to the company.

Now Manley, 57, who had become Head of the Americas for the merged company, Stellantis, Go ahead. He will become CEO of AutoNation, America’s largest dealer group, effective November 1.

The move marks a return to Manley’s retail roots after two decades on the manufacturer’s side. Manley spent 14 years in the dealership world and was working for Lex Autosales when it was acquired by DaimlerChrysler UK in 2000.

Dealers will remember Manley for maintaining FCA after Marchionne’s death and guiding Jeep’s growth as it grew into a global player with over a million sales per year. Many relied on him to ensure leadership stability after the merger and to defend their interests among the former PSA executives who now hold many senior positions at Stellantis.

Although Manley has retail experience, he has taken a hands-off approach with dealerships. He left the interactions at board meetings to the company’s U.S. sales chief Jeff Kommor and Kommor’s predecessor, Reid Bigland.

Dave Kelleher, chairman of the Stellantis National Dealer Council, said it had been about seven years since he saw Manley conversing with dealers in a meeting. Kelleher said Manley has a lot to do internationally.

“I thought he was running like he was going to be for the long haul from what we saw, but I’m surprised he made the switch to retail,” Kelleher said. “I will say that for a long time dealers trusted Mike as a leader because of his influences in retail and he knew the retail business. But recently I can’t say we have felt he fully understood all of the challenges we face in everyday retailing. “

Kelleher said that “Manley’s responsibility from Sergio to make Jeep a dominant international brand was an important mission and one that Mike accomplished wonderfully.”

Doug Wilson, owner of Collierville Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Tennessee, said Manley handled the abrupt transition after Marchionne’s death well. He wasn’t surprised to see Manley leave after completing the merger.

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