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LaSorda/Chrysler Opens Up

Thursday, 19 Apr 2007 | 9:29 AM ET

Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is finally ready to talk. I'd say free to talk, but he's limited with what he can say about negotiations to sell Chrysler, so it's not total freedom. Still LaSorda is done staying completely out of the public eye. His message: Chrysler is not standing still.

Yesterday in Detroit, I talked with LaSorda after he announced a $1.7 billion investment in a new V-6 engine plant and two other facilities. It's a significant investment. A sign Chrysler is committed to the turn around LaSorda is overseeing.

But the announcement of the investment is overshadowed, in large part, by questions about who might buy Chrysler. Will private equity take over the automaker and break it up?

From talking with LaSorda you get the sense that he's more at ease with Chrysler's future. While UAW president Ron Gettlefinger says he would prefer to have Daimler hang on to Chrysler, there's a very strong chance the company will be sold. Whether it's private equity or parts supplier Magna, LaSorda is hoping the new owner buys in to vision for turning around Chrysler. That means shifting more towards cars, and relying less on trucks and SUV's.

Getting out and touting the turnaround is probably the smartest thing for LaSorda to do. Chrysler has some serious strengths he is leveraging for the company, and Chrysler is not going away. So why not get out in the public and tell the world, "we're coming back!"

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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