Jim Press never owned a Toyota, wants to form gang with Chrysler dealers

When the former CEO of Toyota North America (a successful venture, wouldn't you say?) talks, people tend to listen. Press recorded an internal interview that's hosted over at Chrysler's media-only Firehouse blog, which reveals some interesting sides to the man that many hope will be integral in Chrysler's turnaround.
Most media outlets are focusing on his revelation that despite decades on the Toyota payroll, he never once owned a Toyota or Lexus. Currently he owns only a Yamaha motorcycle. That's going to be impractical during a Detroit winter, so he plans to be driving a Chrysler product very soon.

Press also makes the strange comment that if he were to ever participate in a bar room brawl, he'd pick Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealers to have his back. We're not sure if Press is expecting fisticuffs at the Firehouse this January, but he seems to be preparing a posse early.

That's just ancillary information, though. We want to hear about what Press is going to do to fix Chrysler, and surprisingly he indicated that a lot of what needs to be done is not in his power to do. Press makes the good point that Chrysler dealers are closer to the customer, and near-term changes have to start with them. His priority appears to be empowering them to make those changes.

[Source: Chrysler]

Press also reveals that he thinks Chrysler's product portfolio is strong, or in his words, "The bones of our products are really strong." He goes on to say, "They're emotional, they're fun, they're exciting. They have an appeal that other products don't have." We think he's hit the nail on the head, as Chrysler's been most healthy when it's blazing its own path, offering exciting designs that, while polarizing, were at least talked about. Hopefully with Press sharing the helm, Chrysler will return to those days sooner rather than later.

You can click here to listen to his 17-minute interview, or visit the consumer version of Chrysler's blog to read the first blog post authored by Jim Press. We sense another blogtastic exec in the making. Watch out, Bob!

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