• Dec 5th 2006 at 4:10PM
  • 5
The Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda announced today that Joe Eberhardt is stepping down as the company's Executive Vice President-Global Sales, Marketing and Service. Eberhardt is reportedly returning to the retail side of the business within the Mercedes-Benz dealer network in the United States. His exact position and new role in the company on the retail side of things was not explained, however.
The first reaction to this from our sources was that Eberhardt's exit is a demotion. As Executive VP of Global Sales, Marketing and Service, Eberhardt has been accussed by his own dealer network of pressuring them to take on excess inventory the company mistakenly built that's been sitting on lots for month. News of Eberhardt leaving comes just a day after The Chrysler Group announced unprecedented dealer cash incentives to sell the company's remaining 2006 inventory, a move perhaps that Eberhardt was not willing to make (our speculation). In a press release, however, Chrysler states that Eberhardt had been talking about going back into retail for some time. Having worked in retail though, we can't understand why anybody would want to go back in once they've gotten out.

Check out The Chrysler Group's official statement after the jump, as well as our own pictoral exposé on why it's cool to be Chrysler's Executive Vice President-Global Sales, Marketing and Service.

[Source: The Chrysler Group]

Eberhardt with Eva Mendes

Eberhardt with Angie Harmon

Eberhardt with Richard Petty, Kasey Kahne, Dieter Zetsche and Eric Ridenour

Eberhardt with David Spade and a really tired Jason Vines


Chrysler Group's Eberhardt to Return to Automotive Retailing

Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda today announced that Joe Eberhardt, Executive Vice President-Global Sales, Marketing and Service, will be leaving the company in order to return to automotive retailing within the Mercedes-Benz network in the United States. The Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents of Sales, Marketing, International and Service will report directly to LaSorda until further notice.

"Joe brought a much-needed discipline to our sales, marketing and service organizations when he arrived in the summer of 2003," said LaSorda. "Being back in the retail world is something he has talked about for some time now, and having a proven track record in that arena, makes it a natural."

Eberhardt joined Mercedes-Benz in Germany in 1982 as a student in a work-study program. In the early 1990s, he left the corporate environment and became General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Manhattan, turning it into one of the most successful dealerships in the country.

He returned to Mercedes-Benz in 1995 and, in 1999, was named President and CEO of DaimlerChrysler UK Ltd., where Eberhardt more than doubled sales and improved dealer profitability in a stagnant market.
"Joe's deep understanding of the automotive industry and his proven leadership will continue to serve the Company well as he moves back to the retail side," said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler/ Head of Mercedes Car Group.

Eberhardt was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 26, 1963. He received his BA and MS degrees in Germany, and earned his Masters of Business Administration degree at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business in 1992.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      let me grab my tinfoil hat kt lmao, if we only knew what you know..
      • 8 Years Ago
      Its nice to see someone who is incompetent get demoted instead of promoted. It seems if they really suck they get bumped up the chain instead of down or let go. Jay Mays is the perfect example of someone who should be out of job yet he gets bumped up higher.
      Good ridence to incompetence. Maybe the rest of the Chrysler senior managers get the ax too. God knows they need it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey Aaron.....where did hear this before????

      And no. I do not work for this newpaper or any other media. I just follow the auto industry...it's really easy!

      Let me know if you want that self-help CD.


      Chrysler's Eberhardt out; more moves likely
      The Detroit News 12/06/06
      by Christine Tierney
      (Copyright 2006)


      Chrysler Group's embattled sales chief Joe Eberhardt stepped down Tuesday as the automaker moved to defuse tensions with its dealers and prepare a new restructuring to reverse deep losses.

      In recent months, as demand for Chrysler vehicles slumped, Eberhardt, 43, became a lightning rod for dealers' complaints about his brusque style and increased pressure to order more cars and trucks than they could sell.

      "Do I think this will help?" said Southfield dealer Dan Frost, referring to Eberhardt's departure. "Yes. His removal shows that upper management understands what the middle management and dealer body are looking for from the corporation."

      But several dealers said Chrysler needs to tackle the underlying cause of the problem, which is that it builds too many vehicles.

      Even as the Auburn Hills automaker badgered dealers to take up more vehicles, its U.S. sales fell 8 percent in the first 11 months of 2006, putting Chrysler in fourth place in the U.S. market after Toyota Motor Corp.

      In the third quarter, Chrysler lost $1.5 billion, prompting renewed calls from DaimlerChrysler's German investors for a sale or spinoff of the U.S. division acquired in 1998.

      DaimlerChrysler officials in Germany said no options have been ruled out.

      Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is under intense pressure to produce a plan by the end of the year to restore the U.S. automaker's profitability. His own future is on the line, as he and his team try to pare costs by $1,000 per vehicle.

      A Bernhard comeback?

      The climate of uncertainty in Auburn Hills has fueled rumors that DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche might bring back Wolfgang Bernhard, his former No. 2 at Chrysler.

      Bernhard now heads Volkswagen AG's VW division, but German media speculate he is unhappy there following the recent departure of CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder.

      A source at DaimlerChrysler said no discussions had taken place between Zetsche and Bernhard, but some company officials say the subject is likely to come up between the two executives, who remain on good terms.

      "We always stayed in contact," Zetsche said last month in Beijing. If Bernhard were to leave VW, "first he'd have to collect his thoughts before making any plans," Zetsche said. He declined to say any more.

      Zetsche and Bernhard restructured Chrysler together earlier in the decade, but industry analysts and dealers say their plan did not reduce the company's U.S. production capacity sufficiently.

      Chrysler did not close any U.S. vehicle assembly plants, whereas General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are making big cuts in their North American capacity as part of their restructuring plans.

      "Joe might have been blamed for some things that weren't his fault," said Frost, president of Southfield Chrysler. "But he wasn't the best man in terms of bringing people into the corral. Joe needs to work on his people skills a bit."

      Martin "Hoot" McInerney, a large Metro Detroit-area dealer, said Eberhardt was a poor fit for the job, and said it was essential for Chrysler to find a strong leader and salesperson to replace him. "The right person can make a huge difference in that position."

      Some dealers and sales managers at Chrysler regret the departure of Gary Dilts, a senior vice president of sales who reported to Eberhardt.

      Raymond Fisher, former vice president of sales, service and parts, also left this year as Chrysler's sales performance weakened.

      Chrysler sells mostly pickups, SUVs and minivans, and the recent gas price volatility undercut demand for such vehicles. Chrysler also struggled in model introductions earlier this year, but has now launched most of the 10 new vehicles coming out in '06.

      At the Los Angeles auto show last week, Eberhardt said many factors, including rising interest rates, led to a sudden slump in demand. "We could not have responded quickly enough," he said. "A lot of these things have been out of our control."

      Some dealers said Eberhardt reached out more to them in recent weeks as the extent of their frustration became evident.

      The Detroit News reported Saturday that Chrysler was offering cash bonuses to dealer
      • 8 Years Ago
      "...he first reaction to this from our sources was that Eberhardt's exit is a demotion. As Executive VP of Global Sales, Marketing and Service, Eberhardt has been accussed by his own dealer network of pressuring them to take on excess inventory the company mistakenly built that's been sitting on lots for month. ..."

      My Dad owns a mazda dealership, it happens all the time, can't get enough of what you need and too much of stuff that doesn't sell ie automatic rx-8's and miatas in december-february...
      • 8 Years Ago
      "...Eberhardt has been accussed by his own dealer network of pressuring them to take on excess inventory the company *mistakenly* built that's been sitting on lots for month."

      Oh, it was no mistake. They knew exactly what they were doing. It was all to fool "the Street" and everyone else into thinking things were going strong.

      The worst part about it is those idiot analyst believed them! Anybody else in the industry saw it coming almost a year ago.

      Sales of the trendy 300 started to wane a little over a year after hitting the streets. But you wouldn't know it because they kept building them and dumping them into fleets. However, PU/SUV's aren't as easily "dumped" into fleets. So, the solution to that was store'em until you can sell'em. But whatever you do DON'T cut production! That would make too much sense (and rumors would start).

      Again, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There's more to come.