Many gearheads know Ralph Gilles as that guy who would entertain the crowd with smokey burnouts at Mopar car shows, but Dodge and Chrysler owners know him as the rock star behind the company’s then SRT division – the boss of the design team that created the 2014 SRT Viper. When the announcement came that Gilles would become Vice President of Product Design and CEO of the Motorsports Division while SRT was folded back into Dodge, many felt cheated – like the lead guitarist was being asked to sit out the next few concerts.
The Mopar community got to know Gilles personally at the many events across the country that he attended, such as Spring Festival of LXs. He is more than just “that guy”, though, he is a friend to his many fans around the country – he is simply “Ralph”.
Gilles began his career with Chrysler design in 1992; he received an Executive MBA from Michigan State university, as well as attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He was instrumental in the Chrysler 300C concept, beginning his long career with Chrysler designing instrument panels. He was later the lead designer of the Charger and Magnum vehicles, and became President and CEO of the Dodge Car Brand in 2009.
But many of us know him as that humble guy that always gives ample credit to his co-workers, never taking the spotlight for himself – even when he is on center stage. To some, he is simply the burnout king, the guy who casually races a Charger SRT8 around Willow Springs while he talks to the camera.
Wednesday, it was announced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that Gilles would lead global design operations, replacing the retiring Lorenzo Ramaciotti who will continue as a special adviser to Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA. Ramaciotti began his career in 1972 with Pininfarina and retired in 2005. He became Group Chief of Design at FCA in 2007.
Gilles will retain his current responsibilities with the North American division, a company spokesperson stated. With his strong background in design and his impeccable leadership skills, we are eager to see what awaits while Gilles takes his skills global for the company. We wish Ralph much success in his new role with FCA, which became effective immediately upon the announcement from FCA.