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Despite recently renewing his contract with Chrysler, it's looking more and more like Tom LaSorda's days at the automaker are numbered. This morning, Chrysler Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli revealed that Jim Press would be joining the company as Vice Chairman and President, the same title LaSorda has on his recently-updated business cards. Until today, Press had been none other than President and COO of Toyota North America, quietly leading the Japanese automaker's charge in the U.S. for more market share.

Press will be in charge of North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts ,while LaSorda is still responsible for manufacturing, purchasing, labor and Global Business Development and Alliances.

The full press release is after the jump.

[Source: Chrysler]
September 6, 2007AUBURN HILLS, MICH. Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli today announced the appointment of James Press as Vice Chairman and President. Press, who was President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motors in North America Inc. and a Director of the parent company, will now be responsible for North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts for Chrysler LLC.
"Tom LaSorda and I are thrilled that one of the most successful executives in the history of the auto industry has joined our leadership team at the New Chrysler," said Nardelli. "Our top team now consists of a world-class 'supply' leader in Tom and an equally world-class 'demand' leader in Jim."
"I've known Jim for many years and know that he will hit the ground sprinting," said LaSorda. "I look forward to partnering with him and Bob as part of the Office of the Chairman."
Press joins LaSorda as a Vice Chairman and President, reporting to Nardelli. LaSorda's responsibilities will continue to include Manufacturing, Procurement and Supply, Employee Relations and Global Business Development and Alliances.
"I am grateful for the support and opportunities I received during my three-plus decades at Toyota," said Press. "I relish this new opportunity with the Chrysler team to be a part of the resurgence of a true American icon here and around the world. Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body. This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler."
- 2 -
Press joins Chrysler after 37 years with Toyota, where he most recently served as the first non-Japanese President of Toyota Motor North America Inc., responsible for sales, engineering and the company's 15 manufacturing plants with 41,000 employees in North America. He was also the first non-Japanese executive selected to the Board of Directors of Toyota Motor Corporation.
During his tenure at Toyota, the company grew from an upstart new company selling 100,000 vehicles per year to the second largest auto company in the United States.
Press becomes a member of the Chrysler LLC Board of Directors and the Board of Managers of Cerberus Operations and Advisory Co. (COAC), LLC. Press joins LaSorda as Vice Chairman of COAC.


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  • 48 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow...this is huge! Press was the first non-Japanese appointed to the Toyota board.
        • 7 Years Ago
        And i wonder if he will be the last.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What Press and all of the new hires, along with Nardelli, need to do is immediately look at every current and future model Chrysler has. Make changes to everything that is not too far along and set a timetable for changing everything currently in production that needs help (Caliber, Sebring Sedan, etc..) They need to start being leaders in making technology available across more lines of production (diesels, dual clutch transmissions, multi-speed automatics).

      But one of the most important areas Press can help in is repairing the dealer to factory relationship. Joe Eberhardt practically ruined it with the sales banks of the last two years or so. He killed the bottom lines of a large chunk of dealers by blowing up their floor plan interest charges. Chrysler needs to be partners with their dealers and not adversaries. We were able to spot problems early on but they were never fixed because the factory did not want to listen to us. We also made them aware that there would be potential problems selling certain models that we just didn't need (Magnum, Compass).

      There should be a direct line between Auburn Hills and the dealer network to help identify issues before it's too late. Dealer councils do not work because they only meet 4 times a year.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lou Holtz retired from Notre Dame only to return to college football as the head coach of a virtually unknown football school, Sout Carolina. When asked why he said that he thought he was tired of football when he left Notre Dame, what he realized is that after building Notre Dame into a powerhouse he spent the last of his years there maintaining it. What Lou realized is that growing and building a team was more enjoyable and rewarding then maintaining one. He went to South Carolina to build a program.

      Jim Press may be looking forward to the challenge of making Chrysler a contender. When he came to Toyota they were nobodies. It may be about money but somehow I think there is more then a little ego involved.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think you're right on. Nice anecdote btw.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't care what they pay him, the contract should force Press to drive a Sebring to work every day.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Given Japan's legendary racism, it's probably wise of Jim Press to leave ToyMoCo. Regardless of his talent and considerable contribution over three decades, he would always be regarded as gai-jin, someone to be loathed and despised for not being Japanese. I applaud Press' move to an American company. Welcome home.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Right, Japanese companies HATE gaijin and will never have them as CEOs, big companies like Sony and Nissan. Right.

        Can't believe you Toyota haters all the sudden welcome the man responsible for the bloated American Toyotas y'all love to loath with an open arm. He's the guy who give the okay the Camry! The Tundra! The entire friggin Lexus line! Is that all forgotten now? What, just because he's white? You domestic lovers calling anyone else racist is just beyond funny. Watch Jim Press TOYOTA-NIZED all your Chyrsler crap and make boring, best-selling appliances out of them. HA!

        "Welcome home brother, since you ain't no race traitor no'mo, we'll forget all about the Highlander."
      • 7 Years Ago
      To Mike Huber: Press has chosen a superior automaker.
      To Doug: Be afraid. Watch what Chrysler will do to Toyota's designs on the American car market.
      To sk: Those rumors sound like liberal bs to me.
      To J. Crew: If you would take the time to actually check out and compare, you would realize that Chrysler designs and engineering are superior to Toyota's.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How much do you have to offer one of the most successful executives at one of the most successful companies in the history of auto making to come to your floundering (sorry Chrysler) company? I mean, Chrysler is a complete wild card right now. Cast off from D-C, bought by a conglomerate of 'investors', hiring a complete auto outsider beancounter. I wasn't sure about Nardelli, but he must be doing something right to win Press over. This really is absolutely amazing.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, I just got on here to look up some information about Chrysler. I worked for the company for 10 years from 1998 - 2008. Why is it that no body wants to speak the truth. I know the truth, I was there in Auburn Hills when Bob Eaton sold the company out to Daimler. First of all, CEO's need to change to CLO's (Chief Lying Officers). These people are worse than Lawyers and Politicians. The famous words from the sell out was a "Merger of Equals." Yeah, right, it was a total takeover for CASH$$$$. Bob Eaton got his share of $160,000,000 and over the next five years, Daimler drained 7 billion out of the Chrysler company.
      I think I need to right a book about all the crap that has happened to the "American Auto Business."
      • 7 Years Ago
      >>> This is definitely a major coup for Chrysler. Although on the surface it may appear that things don't bode well for Tom LaSorda, its possible the company may be planning to utilize his talents in another capacity. Even with the arrival of Jim Press, LaSorda deserves the opportunity to show what he can do under the leadership of the new company. Hopefully, these two gentlemen will be able to forge a working relationship that will not only bolster their individual careers, but help return Chrysler as a premiere player in the industry.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sorry for the double post, something's up with my computer or the website.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So why did press leave Toyota? Was it for money? After being at Toyota 37 years, probably not... He left because he was tired of being a token President. The Japanese are very racist to outsiders.

      Toyota wanted to look more American so they put Press at the top position and gave him a voiceless position on the BoD. The Japs just made him window dressing and Press was tired of being the fool, so when the offer presented it self he left them to 1) run a company the way he believes he can, and 2) to make a statement to Toyota that he was sick of the way way he was treated.

      Bid win for Chrysler, Big loss for Toyota
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can see that some import fan boys are having a tough time with this.

      I love it.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah its a shame that the guy who decided to remove any interesting cars that toyota had and gave a thumbs up to some of the most boring cars on the road is gone.
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