AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO

AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO

AutoNation Inc. has announced the appointment of the former head of Fiat Chrysler, Mike Manley, as its next chief executive. The move seeks to tap into the expertise of an auto-industry veteran to navigate the nation’s largest publicly traded car-dealership chain through the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Taking the Helm: Mike Manley to Assume CEO Role on November 1

AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO
AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO

On November 1, Mike Manley, who currently serves as the head of Americas for Stellantis NV, will officially become the new CEO of AutoNation, succeeding Mike Jackson. After leading AutoNation for over two decades, Mr. Jackson will retire on the same day. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Jackson stood out in the often reserved automotive industry for his outspoken personality and his willingness to publicly challenge automakers.

Navigating Amidst Industry Shifts: The Challenge Ahead

Mr. Manley’s appointment comes at a critical juncture as the U.S. dealership model faces increasing pressure. Lockdowns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated the shift to digital sales, compelling more customers to explore cars online and complete their vehicle purchases remotely.

AutoNation’s Growth Plans Amidst Chip Shortages

AutoNation is proactively responding to the industry’s changing landscape and embracing digital sales. The company plans to open 130 used-car stores nationwide by 2026. These locations will function more like delivery centers, allowing customers to conveniently pick up cars purchased online.

AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO
AutoNation Appoints Auto Veteran Mike Manley as New CEO

Record Earnings Amidst Supply Challenges

Despite the shortage of vehicles caused by semiconductor chip limitations, AutoNation reported record earnings per share of $4.83 and gross profit per vehicle of $2,342 in the second quarter. These figures represent the highest-ever for the dealership chain. The scarcity of supply has led to higher demand, resulting in customers being willing to pay a premium to secure the vehicles they desire.

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Mr. Jackson’s Retirement and Leadership Challenges

Mr. Jackson’s decision to retire from AutoNation had been anticipated for some time. In 2019, he initially stepped down as CEO and brought in an auto-industry outsider to take the helm. However, that replacement resigned just months later. Following this, Cheryl Miller, a longtime AutoNation executive, assumed the position of CEO but had to step down due to medical reasons at the onset of the pandemic. Consequently, Mr. Jackson returned to lead the company and was committed to steering it through the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Manley’s Vast Experience and Market Insight

Mike Manley brings a wealth of experience to AutoNation. As a 57-year-old Brit, he played a pivotal role in negotiating the merger between Fiat Chrysler and Group PSA, which resulted in the creation of Stellantis, the auto industry’s largest tie-up in decades. His experience, particularly in the U.S. market, was instrumental in making the merger a resounding success.

Mr. Manley’s Legacy at Fiat Chrysler

Prior to joining AutoNation, Mr. Manley held prominent positions within Fiat Chrysler. He successfully led the Jeep brand, one of the company’s most popular brands, and played a crucial role as a key lieutenant to his predecessor, Sergio Marchionne. Under his leadership, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram truck brand gained prominence, and Jeep’s global presence expanded significantly, leading to impressive profits and operating margin growth in North America.

AutoNation’s Optimism and Manley’s Arrival

AutoNation's Optimism and Manley's Arrival
AutoNation’s Optimism and Manley’s Arrival

AutoNation Chairman, Rick Burdick, expressed optimism about the appointment of Mike Manley, as it brings comprehensive auto experience to the company. With over 300 locations across the U.S., AutoNation is keen to leverage Manley’s expertise to navigate the ever-changing automotive landscape successfully.

Conclusion

As AutoNation welcomes Mike Manley as its new CEO, the company is poised to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. With an industry veteran at the helm, AutoNation is well-positioned to thrive in a world where digital sales and customer expectations continue to evolve. The legacy left by outgoing CEO Mike Jackson provides a strong foundation for the company’s future growth, and Mr. Manley’s vast experience and market insight are expected to steer AutoNation towards continued success in the dynamic automotive landscape.

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