Reid Bigland has resigned his post as the CEO of Ram Trucks, effective at the start of April. While a major auto CEO leaving is always somewhat newsworthy, Bigland’s departure comes with extra drama. He filed a federal whistleblower suit over Ram’s sales reporting practices. That complaint has led to a government investigation, which Bigland is fully cooperating with. Like we said, extra drama.
“Reid Bigland, whose name had been among those floated as possible candidates to replace Sergio Marchionne as CEO in the years before Marchionne died, plans to leave the company “to pursue interests outside of FCA” April 3, according to a news release.
“Bigland had wide-ranging responsibilities at the Italian-American automaker, not only leading Ram but also as head of U.S. sales and FCA Canada. Ram has grown to become one of FCA’s two most important brands along with Jeep, and last year, Ram beat the Chevy Silverado to take the No. 2 spot in U.S. sales behind the Ford F-Series.”
Bigland has been with the company for 22 years, working his way up. While in charge, he saw Ram become its own brand, separating from their original Dodge overlord. The lineup of Ram trucks maintained steady sales and robust market share, climbing to become the second-best selling line up trucks.
A Messy Divorce
However, the marriage between Bigland and Ram was crumbling. Last year, he filed a lawsuit against his own company. Using federal whistleblower laws, Bigland kicked off an investigation over the shady sales reporting practices by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It turns out that FCA was misleading investors about new car sales numbers for years.
He went on to accuse the company of retaliating against him by withholding most of his 2018 compensation. He alleges that FCA planned to use his paycheck to pay any expected fines that resulted from the federal investigation.
The lawsuit was originally dismissed. For a while, there was a threat it would be re-filed. Instead, the case was settled out of court.
“Reid is leaving on his own accord but agreed to remain on for several months. Throughout this difficult process, Reid’s commitment to FCA and his responsibilities never wavered. That can be seen in his phenomenal results. Reid has had an outstanding 22-year run with the company. He looks forward to taking some time off before moving on to other ventures,” said Deborah Gordon, Bigland’s attorney.
Meanwhile, FCA agreed to pay $40 million in response to charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.