Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chrysler shuffles development execs again - Mike, you will be missed

For the second time in two months, Chrysler LLC has announced changes to the ranks of top executives overseeing vehicle development.The latest shakeup comes with the departure of Michael Donoughe, the Chrysler vice president who had been leading the efforts to come up with future product in the midsize car segment.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, said late Tuesday that Donoughe left in a dispute with senior managers.

David Barnas, a Chrysler spokesman, declined to talk about why Donoughe left other than to say: "Chrysler denies that the departure had anything to do with a clash with management."

In late January, Chrysler announced a reorganization of its product development and said that Donoughe would lead future midsize car development, calling it "an important vehicle category worldwide."

His job on the so-called Project D is believed to have begun last fall after Bob Nardelli took over as Chrysler's chief executive. Previously, Donoughe had overseen key vehicles such as the Dodge Ram and Jeep Wrangler.

Chrysler's current lineup of midsize cars -- the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger -- has struggled and the company is trying to better compete.

With Donoughe's departure, Chrysler has turned to Mark Chernoby to lead development of a new midsize car as vice president and chief engineer for Chrysler's future midsize product team.

Chernoby had been vice president of core components, processes and international engineering. James Issner replaces Chernoby in that role. Issner had been vice president of advance vehicle engineering.

Lou Rhodes, who is president of Chrysler's ENVI -- an effort to bring electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies to market -- will take on the additional title of vice president of advance vehicle engineering.

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