September 6, 2007 - 9:25 am EST UPDATED: 9/5/07 10:03 a.m. EST
In his new job, Press has the same title as Tom LaSorda. Chrysler said LaSorda will be responsible for manufacturing and suppliers, while Press will be responsible for sales and marketing, product strategy and service and parts. Both will report to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli.
Press worked for Toyota for 37 years.
Press will leave as president and chief operating officer of Toyota North America and a director of the Japanese automaker on Friday, Sept. 14.
Press is the second high-ranking Toyota executive to defect to Chrysler in the last month. In late August, Lexus division vice president of marketing Debra Wahl Meyer, joined Chrysler as the company's chief marketing officer.
Press joins Chrysler after 37 years with Toyota and two months after DaimlerChrysler AG sold a majority stake in the carmaker to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in a $7.4-billion deal.
"Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body," Press said in a statement. "This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler."
Meanwhile, Toyota named Shigeru Hayakawa to replace Press as president of its North American operations.
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PRESS RELEASE: Press leaves Toyota for Chrysler
Chairman and CEO Robert L. Nardelli teams former Toyota chief With Vice Chairman and President Thomas W. LaSorda
"World-class supply and demand leaders"
Joins Nardelli and LaSorda in new Office of the Chairman and On Board of Directors of Chrysler LLC
Press to run North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts
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 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."
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.