June 11, 2009

New Chrysler Group takes first steps

Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group LLC Sergio Marchionne told 4,000 employees in Detroit Thursday the new company would see quick changes.

Marchionne, also the CEO of Fiat SpA of Italy, said the company that emerged from Chrysler LLC's bankruptcy plan, would continue with four divisions, including Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Mopar, the company's parts division, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

The head of each division would report directly to Marchionne, the newspaper said.

Marchionne named former company Vice Chairman Jim Press as a deputy CEO to serve as a special adviser. Fiat Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer will assume the same responsibilities. Former Chrysler CFO Ron Kolka was assigned the task of liquidating the assets Chrysler left behind in bankruptcy court.

We intend to build on Chrysler's culture of innovation and Fiat's complementary technology and expertise to expand Chrysler's product portfolio both in North America and overseas, Marchionne said.

Industry analyst Jim Hall at 2953 Analytics said the concept dividing profit responsibilities among each brand was a sound idea.

For a time, the company will focus on profitable Dodge Rams and minivans. In about two years it will roll out Fiat 500s, which Hall said would be called the 500 in the United States.