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Mercedes-Benz names Canada boss Psillakis to head U.S. unit

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ATLANTA — Mercedes-Benz has named its new Canadian boss Dimitris Psillakis CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. Starting Jan. 1, Psillakis will oversee both the U.S. and Canada markets.

Psillakis replaces Nicholas Speeks who abruptly went on a leave of absence in August and never returned. Daimler said Thursday that Speeks left the company to pursue other opportunities.

Psillakis, 53, a Daimler veteran and Greek native, took over the Canada operations just last month. He will have to steer Mercedes through a treacherous post-pandemic downturn that’s still buffeting the North American industry.

J.D. Power’s outlook for 2020 U.S. retail sales is 11.3 million to 12.5 million — a plunge of 1 million to 2 million sales from its pre-virus forecast of 13.4 million.

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Psillakis must also take on an increasingly tough competitor in BMW. Last year, Munich-based BMW snatched the U.S. sales crown from Mercedes, upsetting Mercedes’ three-year run at the top of the charts.

Drew Slaven, Mercedes-Benz USA vice president of marketing, will continue to fill in as interim CEO through the rest of the year.

Speeks, 61, an outspoken Englishman, took over as MBUSA CEO last fall. The executive had steered Mercedes-Benz sales in China for more than six years. Under his stewardship, Mercedes China grew at a 20 percent annual rate, significantly outpacing the industry and the premium market.

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Speeks also previously ran Mercedes-Benz Japan and has worked for the company in Dubai, Vietnam and Germany.

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