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If Ralph V. Gilles were an off-road vehicle, he would be “Trail Rated,” a badge of honor bestowed on Jeep 4x4s that meet stringent requirements and perform under challenging conditions. Gilles, 36, was recently promoted to vice president of Jeep/Truck and Component Design for DaimlerChrysler Corp.’s Chrysler Group, making him the youngest vice president at the automaker. Named to BLACK ENTERPRISE’S Top Designers list in May 2005, Gilles previously served as director and lead designer of the 2005 Chrysler 300C — Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year. Based on automotive awards won within the initial year of model introduction, Gilles’ 300C model has been called the most awarded new car ever.
“It’s easy to create a very expensive exotic vehicle or luxury car. It is more challenging to do it at accessible prices,” he says.
In this new position, Gilles will have broader influence with senior management. In addition, as head of the component studio, he will direct design of electronics, speedometers, and switches.
Gilles says, “I want to take Chrysler to the point where we are irreproachable and help create a truly world-class company.”