Cordes to Chrysler: Come to Papa
Sure there's a little, shall we say, turmoil in its Chrysler group. And, yes, there is some shareholder unrest. But the takeover of the former Chrysler Corp. was 'the right and adequate choice' and a rational decision, maintains Eckhard Cordes, the DaimlerChrysler AG board member recently named to replace Dieter Zetsche as head of the company's commercial truck unit. Speaking Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Automotive News Europe e-Business Conference in Strasbourg, France, Cordes compared the decision to merge with Chrysler to that of having children. 'I'm serious,' said Cordes, who was a key player in engineering the 1998 deal. 'It was a rational decision. Like, OK, I want to have children. A rational decision. You are delighted the little boy is looking good. And all of a sudden, some problems. But as in normal life, you have to overcome difficulties. And that's what we are dedicated to do.'
MELTING POT - The notion that the Germans were invading hung ominously in the air when more than 400 DaimlerChrysler senior managers gathered in an Auburn Hills, Mich., auditorium Nov. 20 to hear from Dieter Zetsche, their new boss. Zetsche, dispatched by Stuttgart to be the new CEO at struggling Chrysler group, moved quickly to clear the air. He reminded the somber crowd that newly deposed President Jim Holden was Canadian, former Chrysler Vice Chairman Bob Lutz was born in Switzerland and former Executive Vice President Francois Castaing was French. And, by the way, Zetsche told the brightening group, he was born in Turkey, not Germany.
THE VUE FROM SPRING HILL - Saturn named its new sport-utility the Vue last Thursday, kicking off General Motors' campaign to introduce the vehicle to the U.S. market. In the next year, Saturn will display the 2002 Vue at auto shows, conduct a direct-mail campaign and herald it on the Internet. Saturn has not said when the Vue will arrive in showrooms or how much it will cost. Models will include a 138-hp four-cylinder engine or a 181-hp V-6. It will be available with automatic all-wheel drive and full independent suspension.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS - Because Bill Clinton is a Democrat, few car dealers would cozy up to his administration. Yet the Little Rock, Ark., building that will serve as the archives for the $125 million Clinton Presidential Library is actually a renovated car dealership, formerly Balch Motor Co. Instead of shiny new Oldsmobiles and Mazdas, though, the building will house millions of records and photographs and thousands of artifacts. The National Archives, which will run the library, hopes to open the collection to the public by 2003.