AUBURN 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 North America and a director of the parent company, now will 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," Nardelli said. "Our top team now consists of a world-class 'supply' leader in Tom (LaSorda) and an equally world-class 'demand' leader in Jim (Press)."
"I've known Jim for many years and know that he will hit the ground sprinting," LaSorda said. "I look forward to partnering with him and Bob (Nardelli) 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."
Press joins Chrysler after 37 years with Toyota, where he most recently served as the first non-Japanese president of Toyota Motor North America, 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.
Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Mopar brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2006 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside North America were the highest in a decade with an increase of 15 percent more than 2005.
On the heels of the company's record product launch year, the company plans to extend that streak with eight all-new products in 2007. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Jeep Commander and Dodge Charger. The Chrysler Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, gave $23.6 million in grants in 2006. Chrysler is a unit of Cerberus Capital Management.