The new German management at the Chrysler group wasted little time making a statement last week. As new CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped in, three top U.S. executives were fired.
The mood at the headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., was described as solemn. Moreover, rumors were flying that more DaimlerChrysler AG managers were coming from Germany to oversee further cost-cutting and restructuring. The Chrysler group posted an operating loss of $512 million in the third quarter; more red ink is expected in the fourth quarter and 2001.
DaimlerChrysler said that a broad restructuring of the Chrysler group will be announced after Jan. 1.
A roundup of last week's Chrysler group developments:
Ted Cunningham, executive vice president, global sales and marketing, Chrysler brands
Kathy Oswald, senior vice president and chief administrative officer
Tony Cervone, vice president of communications
New Chrysler group executives
Dieter Zetsche took over as CEO; former head of DaimlerChrysler's Commercial Vehicles Division
Wolfgang Bernhard took over as COO; production expert ran Mercedes-AMG, a performance brand
Ken Levy was named vice president of communications; he formerly worked for GM in Zurich
Still on board
The company said Chairman Juergen Schrempp and CEO Zetsche told Chrysler group employees that two top American executives are staying: Tom Sidlik, executive vice president for Chrysler procurement; and Gary Valade, executive vice president for global procurement. Sources in Stuttgart told Automotive News two weeks ago that the two will leave.
Quotes from employees
'The mood is solemn. People are afraid to be honest.'
'It's like watching a house burn down. Everybody's disappointed. (Monday) was a difficult day for us.'
Three assembly plants will close this week to reduce inventories
Bramalea, Ontario - Dodge Intrepid; Chrysler Concorde, 300M and LHS
Jefferson North, Detroit - Jeep Grand Cherokee
Toledo, Ohio - Jeep Cherokee, Wrangler