Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A look at Chrysler's changes

Since last August when Cerberus Capital Management took majority control of Chrysler, the Auburn Hills company has undergone sweeping changes as the first privately held, major U.S. automaker in more than 50 years. The company:

• Installed a new top management team, including naming former Home Depot Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli as Chrysler's chief executive.

• Announced plans in November to cut as many as 12,000 jobs, on top of 13,000 planned for elimination over the next three years.

• Changed employee and retiree benefits, such as eliminating company-sponsored life insurance plans for 14,000 white-collar retirees while also giving them a onetime pension payment that could be used to help pay premiums on new policies.

• Signed a new 4-year labor agreement with the UAW that shifts retiree health care obligations for union members off the company books to an independent trust at a savings for the automaker.

• Cut four products, including the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler Pacifica, and announced plans to cut more.

• Began a beefed-up effort to consolidate its franchise dealer network.

• Saw its U.S. market share slip. After holding steady at 12.9% in 2007, its share in the first quarter of 2008 has fallen to 12.7%, down from 13.8% in the first three months of 2007.

By Tim Higgins

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