This just in: Effective immediately, Roberto Ronchi is replacing Karl-Heinz Kalbfell as head of Maserati. Kalbfell had spent most of his career with BMW before making the jump to their Rolls-Royce brand in 2004. He left that position less than 4 months later in October 2004 to become head of Alfa Romeo. He went through several titles with the Fiat group over the next year or so before landing at Maserati as CEO last September.

The company seems to have been caught off guard by Kalbfell's departure as they were already arranging interviews with him for next week's Paris Motor Show. A Fiat spokesman told Automotive News Europe that Kalbfell wasn't fired but decided to leave to pursue other interests. He added that Kalbfell will stay with Maserati for two months to help with the switchover.

Roberto Ronchi, meanwhile, is moving into this position from within Fiat where he has overseen dealer network development and fleet sales. Since moving out of consumer goods marketing for Seagram's and Bayer, he has been with Fiat since 2002 when he became Maserati's sales director.

Although Maserati sales are expected to remain around 5,500 this year, the addition of a new 4-seat coupe and a true auto gearbox for the Quattroporte in the next two years have things looking up. Sales were expected to climb to 8,500 units by 2008, bringing Maserati into the black for the first time since Fiat acquired them in 2000.


[Source: Automotive News]