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


PRESS RELEASE:

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.