IT'S ALL NEW AGAIN - Tom, left, and Tim Fuller, here showing off the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited at the H.W. Hunter Dodge Chrysler Jeep showroom in the Lancaster Auto Center, will have a "New Chrysler Premiere Event" from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.
KELLY LACEFIELD/Valley Press
LANCASTER - Back under American ownership for the first time in nine years, Chrysler will stage gala premieres at its dealerships to show off its 2008 models.
Now owned by Cerberus Capital Management, which bought a majority interest from Germany-based DaimlerChrysler, Chrysler is opening its showrooms Wednesday for the "New Chrysler Premiere Event" and giving away 15 new cars nationwide.
"This is kind of a way to introduce the new Chrysler. We have the new ownership with Cerberus ... a new attitude, a new American way of doing things," said Tom Fuller, who with his brother Tim runs H.W. Hunter Dodge Chrysler Jeep, which their grandfather founded 53 years ago.
The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Hunter Dodge, 1130 Auto Mall Drive. Hors d'oeuvres will be served and visitors can tour the dealership, Fuller said. Invitations were mailed to past customers, he said, but anyone is welcome to attend.
Visitors that night can sign up to win 15 new vehicles that Chrysler is giving away nationwide: a Crossfire, Aspen, 300C, Pacifica, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Commander, Liberty, Ram Mega Cab, Nitro, Durango, Magnum, Dakota Crew Cab, Charger or Caliber.
The first day of the new company, under the majority ownership of New York-based Cerberus, was Aug. 6. Chrysler had rallies for employees at its Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters and its assembly plants and also launched a national corporate advertising campaign with the theme, "The New Chrysler: Get Ready for the Next Hundred Years."
The "Pentastar logo" - which adorns the company headquarters and was the corporate symbol of the company from 1962 to 1998 - has been revived as part of The New Chrysler company logo.
"This is an incredibly important time for The New Chrysler. and we want to make sure that people know the product milestones and innovations that have made this company what it is today, and where we are going in the future," Steven Landry, executive vice president, North America Sales and Marketing, Service and Parts, said at the Aug. 6 kickoff.
According to the deal announced in May, a Cerberus affiliate acquired 80.1% equity interest in the new company, called Chrysler Holding LLC, while DaimlerChrysler AG retained 19.9% and dropped "Chrysler" from its name. Daimler bought Chrysler in 1998.
The new company is the first major North American auto manufacturer to become privately owned in more than half a century, Chrysler officials said.
With the new ownership, Home Depot executive Bob Nardelli was named chairman and CEO of Chrysler LLC, and Tom LaSorda was appointed vice chairman and president. LaSorda had served as president and CEO of the Chrysler Group, a business unit of DaimlerChrysler.
Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour, who worked for Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler for 23 years, left the company.
The new board consists of 11 members, including Nardelli, La-Sorda, representatives of Cerberus and Daimler, and independent directors.
Prior to joining Chrysler, Nardelli served as chairman, president and CEO of The Home Depot beginning in 2000. During his tenure The Home Depot doubled sales as well as the number of store operations and moved into Mexico and China.
Chrysler produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Mopar brand vehicles and products. The company sold 2.7 million vehicles in 2006.
Established in 1992, Cerberus Capital Management is a private investment firm with approximately $26 billion under management in funds and accounts. Cerberus is headquartered in New York City, with affiliate or advisory offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Baarn, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka and Taipei.