Fiat group executive Luca De Meo is joining Volkswagen as group head of marketing, industry sources have said.

They told a European auto trade paper it wasn’t clear if De Meo was heading for the VW job currently held by Detlef Wittig.

A VW spokeswoman told just-auto no announcement had been made.

De Meo, responsible for the Alfa Romeo and Abarth brands and head of group marketing, last night announced his resignation from Fiat.

“I am grateful to Fiat for the unique professional and personal experience it has given me”, he said in a statement.

“However, at 41, I feel the need to take a new professional path. The memory of seven marvellous, unforgettable years which have enabled me to grow, through the various difficult and stimulating challenges, will always remain with me.”

De Meo is widely credited within the industry for turning around Fiat, including the modern day reincantaion of the famous 1960s-era entry-level 500 model, built in Poland by a joint venture with Ford, and the sporty Abarth brand.

Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said: “I wish to thank Luca De Meo for his excellent contribution over the past few years.

“From a personal point of view, I am disappointed by his choice even though I understand a young, bright and capable person such as Luca wanting to seek out new opportunities. I wish him the very best for the future, both personally and professionally.”