Luca de Meo was charting a course to rise to the top of the Fiat group, but if reports emanating from Europe are accurate, he's changed directions as the promising young auto executive has reportedly left Fiat to become the new head of marketing for the Volkswagen group.

De Meo took his biggest step up the Fiat ladder when group CEO Sergio Marchionne handed over the reins of the Fiat auto division to him. De Meo then took on the additional task of re-launching the Abarth performance sub-brand before switching from the Fiat division to assume the leadership of Alfa Romeo as well as marketing for the entire group, including its automotive, agricultural and commercial divisions. Poaching Marchionne's protégé is undoubtedly a huge coup for Volkswagen, whose leaders are evidently banking on De Meo's talent for marketing small, cheap cars – having masterminded the 500's success and most recently formulated the plan for Fiat's new budget-oriented division – to imbue the up! project with success while giving the entire Volkswagen automotive empire and the 100 new projects on which it is reportedly working a youthful Latin flair.

De Meo joins a roster of Italians who've recently come to VW, Europe's largest automaker, and another list of talented young executives who've left Fiat, Europe's third largest (after PSA Peugeot-Citroen). Alfa's longtime marketing director and Fiat group veteran Sergio Cravero is tipped to take over as CEO of Alfa Romeo, Maserati CEO and group chief technical officer Harald J. Wester will assume responsibility for Abarth while the group's marketing role will be split into several different jobs. No word yet on what effect this will have on Volkswagen's current sales and marketing director Detlef Wittig, however.

[Source: Automotive News Europe - Sub. Req.]