Mr. Nardelli said Friday that the automaker’s new board would meet in October to review an overhaul plan created in February, when Chrysler was still part of DaimlerChrysler, and to make revisions to guide the company through 2010.
Chrysler was sold Aug. 3 to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, which hired Mr. Nardelli, the former chief executive at Home Depot.
“We’re going to look hard at the next three years financially, and we’re going to put a plan in place to meet that requirement,” Mr. Nardelli said. That is in addition to a plan that calls for Chrysler to cut 13,000 jobs and close an assembly plant in Newark, Del.
He said the company would devise a 10-year plan for new products; the usual planning cycle for auto companies is five years.
In recent weeks, auto companies and Wall Street analysts have reduced their forecasts for auto sales because of a combination of factors, including high gas prices, consumer uncertainty and the crisis facing mortgage lenders.
As the former head of Home Depot, the home improvement retailer, Mr. Nardelli said, he can see a connection between housing woes and the automobile market. He said Chrysler was trying to anticipate what might await the industry, whose sales this year are expected to be the worst since 1998.
“There is a direct coupling there,” Mr. Nardelli said in a speech to the Automotive Press Association, “and some negative spill from housing into the auto industry.”
Mr. Nardelli’s speech was a coming-out of sorts for the executive, who joined Chrysler on Aug. 6. He told the audience that Chrysler, which is no longer public and does not have to report financial data, would nonetheless continue to announce information like production schedules and sales.
“We have no intention of creating a bunker mentality,” Mr. Nardelli said.
Mr. Nardelli, a former executive at General Electric who left Home Depot in January, drew on many familiar phrases from his G.E. days to outline what he planned to do at Chrysler. Along with focusing on consumer satisfaction, quality, the environment and global operations, Mr. Nardelli said he wanted the company to rethink the way it approached the car market.
“We hear a lot about right-sizing the business; I think we have to right-size the revenue,” Mr. Nardelli said. “We have to make the right decisions about our brands. We can’t just have emotional attachment to some of the brands and the products that are out there.”
On Thursday, Chrysler said it hired James E. Press, the head of Toyota’s North American operations, as its co-president. He will serve alongside Thomas W. LaSorda, who was Chrysler’s chief executive before Mr. Nardelli arrived. Mr. Press will oversee sales and marketing, as well as dealers, and Mr. LaSorda will focus on operations.
Mr. Nardelli said that Chrysler did not plan to eliminate the Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep brands but that it would review its lineup. He also said the company intended to “monetize assets that have been sitting there.” Chrysler is said to be looking for a buyer for its Mopar performance parts unit and the Chrysler Transport division, which delivers supplies to factories. He did not give any specifics about what might be sold but said, “There is quite a long list.”
Mr. Nardelli said he wanted Chrysler’s problems to be addressed in the near term, so that the company could take a longer-term view of the car market. Some analysts have criticized the turnaround plan at Ford, presented in January 2006, in which the company does not promise to be profitable in North America before 2009. Ford also has yet to announce all the factories it plans to shut under the program, called “the way forward.”
“To look out beyond three years financially and put any effort into a five-year plan, you’re kind of kidding yourself,” Mr. Nardelli said.
Mr. Nardelli, who not only became the chief executive but also fills a new position as chairman, reiterated that Mr. LaSorda would remain at the company. His demotion from chief executive to president and Mr. Press’s appointment have given rise to speculation that Mr. LaSorda might leave. Mr. Nardelli, however, said that he had begun holding lunchtime meetings on Mondays with Mr. LaSorda and that Mr. Press would join them once he comes to Chrysler on Sept. 17.
“I want to dispel any of the rumors or the notions about Tom,” Mr. Nardelli said, adding he felt fortunate to have Mr. LaSorda, known for his manufacturing expertise, and Mr. Press, an expert on relationships with dealers, on either side of him. “Any one of those guys could be running a corporation,” Mr. Nardelli said.
A number of car companies, including Ford Motor and Chrysler, have tried such a shared management structure in the past. They generally dissolve when one of the executives departs or a new leader is named.
As Mr. Nardelli left after his speech, he was thronged by reporters, photographers and camera crews, who followed him to an elevator in the Detroit Athletic Club. Mr. Nardelli’s experience echoed that of Alan R. Mulally, who joined Ford a year ago from the Boeing Company and received a similar reception when he came to town.
Mr. Nardelli stressed that he was on a “vertical learning curve” at the company, where he has already had a hectic schedule, traveling to visit operations from Toledo, Ohio, to Toluca, Mexico. He has met with senior management, dealers, suppliers, leaders of the United Automobile Workers union and the Canadian Auto Workers union, and union leaders in Mexico.
He noted that he had similar experiences at Home Depot and G.E., however, and he seemed enthusiastic. “There’s something magical about Chrysler,” he said, “its legacy and the opportunity it presents.”
Chrysler Hires Chief for Asia
HONG KONG, Sept. 7 — Chrysler has named Philip F. Murtaugh, perhaps the best-known auto executive in China, to be its chief executive for operations in Asia.
Mr. Murtaugh, who is still followed by crowds of Chinese reporters at public appearances, spent nearly a decade building General Motors into the second-largest automaker in China. He resigned in March 2005, when a corporate reorganization took away much of his autonomy.
He has spent the last year as executive vice president of G.M.’s main joint-venture partner in China, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, overseeing that company’s effort to build its own domestic brand.