New Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is wasting no time restructuring the troubled auto maker and reaching out to employees. Within an hour of signing the papers officially creating a new Chrysler that is on the verge of being out of bankruptcy and in an alliance with Fiat, Marchionne sent an e-mail to Chrysler employees.
Marchionne wrote, "Chrysler will be back—strong and competitive and a rewarding place to work." He says over the next several months Fiat will begin transferring technology to Chrysler plants.
That technology, primarily focused on smaller, fuel efficient cars, is the Fiat's "payment" for a 20% stake in Chrysler. It is also the lynchpin for making Chrysler more competitive.
The new CEO told Chrysler employees."...today is a day for optimism. Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles will once again roll out of our plants, into our dealers’ showrooms, and soon thereafter onto America’s roads and highways. We have much to look forward to. But we must also not forget what we have learned. The past few years have offered several painful lessons on what it will take to survive in the modern-day automotive industry. The alliance is a bold first step to implement those lessons we’ve learned, but it is only a first step. Now we must prove we can make it work."
To make Chrysler work again, Marchionne announced the executives who will be running the Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep brands. This is is the start of "flattening" Chrysler's leadership structure so the three brands can be more responsive and quicker to make the product and marketing changes needed to thrive.
The people running these brands are coming from within Chrysler. Previous CEO Bob Nardelli is gone. Ex-Chrysler President Tom LaSorda left the day Chrysler went bankrupt. Former high level executives Frank Klegon and Steve Landry have retired. Former Chrysler President Jim Press remains with company as Deputy CEO and Special Advisor, reporting to Mr. Marchionne.
Make no mistake, Mr. Marchionne is taking control of Chrysler and moving fast to change the ailing auto maker.
He ended his e-mail greeting to employees by drawing on his experience at Fiat. He wrote: "Five years ago, I stepped into a very similar situation at Fiat. It was perceived by many as a failing, lethargic automaker that produced low-quality cars and was stymied by endless bureaucracies. But most of the people capable of remaking Fiat had been there all the time. Through hard work and tough choices, we have remade Fiat into a profitable company that produces some of the most popular, reliable and environmentally friendly cars in the world. We created a far more efficient company while investing heavily in our technologies and platforms. And, importantly, we created a culture where everyone is expected to lead. We can and will accomplish the same results here. The people who will lead that charge are for the most part already at Chrysler. We plan to bring that same drive and commitment to innovation to Chrysler as we look to make it one of the driving forces again in our industry. I am confident that we can get there together."
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