Mazda has appointed Masahiro Moro as president and chief executive for Mazda North American Operations to replace Jim O'Sullivan, who is retiring from the company.

Moro steps into the role from his current role as managing executive officer of global parent Mazda Motor Corp. He assumes the new role leading North American operations on Jan. 1.

O'Sullivan is retiring after 13 years leading the company. He had also held the title of managing executive officer for Mazda Motor Corp. O'Sullivan had been the longest serving U.S. senior executive among vehicle manufacturers.

O'Sullivan has been credited with "strong leadership" in driving U.S. Mazda sales and building up the brand in the U.S. and Mexico, said Masamichi Kogai, Mazda Motor's president and chief executive.

"With a focus on creating a strong relationship with dealers, he built the sales network we have today in the U.S. and Mexico and led MNAO to increase both sales and profitability and raise the image of the Mazda brand," Kogai said.

In his previous role, Moro workes out of the company's headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan. He was was responsible for global sales, marketing and customer innovation. Earlier, Moro served as vice president of marketing at Mazda Motor Europe, as well as its vice president of product marketing.

Moro joined Mazda in 1983 and has worked in various sales and marketing roles, including two years as general manager of global marketing division, before joining the European operation in March of 2004. Moro served as director of Mazda Australia from May 25, 2012 to July 31, 2013.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet