March 4, 2020 / 3:42 PM / 3 months ago

Fiat Chrysler's U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland who sued company steps down

FILE PHOTO: Ram CEO Reid Bigland speaks during the company's presentation at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

(Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) said on Wednesday its U.S. sales chief, Reid Bigland, is leaving the company to pursue other interests.

Bigland, who has been with Fiat Chrysler for 22 years, sued the company last year, claiming it withheld 90% of his 2018 compensation because he cooperated with a regulatory probe into its sales practices.

Over a five-year period from 2012 to 2016, Fiat Chrysler's U.S. unit used a series of fraudulent moves to falsely report new vehicle sales and tout a "streak" of uninterrupted monthly year-over-year sales growth, when it had actually ended in September 2013. (reut.rs/2uT5c2h)

In July 2016, the company revised more than five years of monthly U.S. vehicle sales figures to reflect a new reporting method, amid an investigation by federal authorities including the U.S. Justice Department.

Bigland’s departure comes amidst Fiat Chrysler’s talks with France’s Peugeot SA (PEUP.PA) for a $50 billion merger that would create the world’s fourth-largest automaker.

Fiat Chrysler has plans to meet tighter emissions regulations in Europe with new hybrid gasoline-electric versions of several Jeep models, with plans to shift eventually to more pure-electric models beyond 2025.

Bigland will leave the company on April 3, Fiat Chrysler said. (bit.ly/2IgGlsc)

Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta

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