Abruptly and unexpectedly, Carlos Zarlenga has left General Motors and his position as President and CEO of GM South America. On the afternoon of August 25th, the automaker announced that the top executive of its South American subsidiary decided to leave the company to seek other opportunities, right in the middle of one of the biggest crises that GM has experienced in the region.
The surprise resignation of Carlos Zarlenga forced GM to initiate a leadership transition in its South American operations, very severely affected by the global semiconductor shortage that paralyzed the strategic GM Gravataí plant for more than five months, and caused the loss of Chevrolet’s sales leadership in Brazil. While Zarlenga’s successor is being named, GM South America CFO Roberto Martin takes over the division on an interim basis.
“Carlos has been an engine of change not only in our business, but also in the automotive industry in South America. Under his leadership, GM is making a historic investment to offer leading vehicles in the global market and to continue building on the basis of Chevrolet’s 100 successful years in the region,” said President of GM International, Steve Kiefer, in a statement. “On behalf of the company, I thank Carlos for his contribution to General Motors, who has built a solid foundation for Chevrolet’s sustainable success in South America,” he added.
In the position of President and CEO of GM South America since April 1st, 2019, Carlos Zarlenga assumed a leadership position in the region, under strong pressure from the parent company to end the operating losses of the South American division. Previously, the executive held other important positions as Chief Financial Officer at GM South America (2013-2017) and President of the now-defunct GM Mercosur (2017-2019).
During his eight years of work in Brazil, Carlos Zarlenga was able to successfully execute the 2014-to-2019 investment plan with which the renewal of the company’s product portfolio was completed and made Chevrolet the best-selling brand in Brazil since the 2015 calendar year. In addition, it managed to obtain tax incentives from the state of São Paulo and turned the crisis into an ambitious $2.7 billion investment program through 2024.
The Argentine Carlos Zarlenga thus ends a solid nine-year career within GM, where he began in 2012 as Financial Director of the company in South Korea. The automaker is expected to appoint a new GM South America president in the coming days, who will take over the reins of the company in a highly challenging environment.