Erik Jonnaert, 55, will be the new secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) succeeding Ivan Holdac, 67, who is retiring in the autumn after 12 years in the post.

Belgian Jonnaert is a graduate of Harvard Law School who started his career with the Linklaters law firm. He subsequently joined Procter & Gamble (P&G), where he gained over 25 years of global experience in public affairs, regulatory affairs, communications and stakeholder relations. His last role was vice president for external relations in Asia.

Jonnaert said: "It is a great honour to have been given this opportunity to represent what is one of the strategically most important industries in Europe in these challenging times."

ACEA president Sergio Marchionne, who is CEO of Fiat and Chrysler Group, said: "We are delighted to welcome Jonnaert to the industry and to ACEA. We are confident that he will build upon the exceptional work of Hodac who has steered ACEA smoothly for many years, shaping it into one of Brussels' most respected associations."

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