Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chrysler CEO: We can meet job-cutting goals

Bob Nardelli says company will not upset the United Auto Workers; introduces deal to fix price of gas for new customers.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chrysler LLC Chairman and Executive Bob Nardelli said Monday the automaker should be able to meet its job-cutting goals without antagonizing the United Auto Workers.

Chrysler also announced an offer that caps the price of gasoline at $2.99 a gallon for three years for people who buy or lease new vehicles from Wednesday through June 2. The offer is based on 12,000 miles of driving per year at the vehicle's rated fuel economy.

Customers will get a card for buying gas that is linked to their own charge account, Chrysler said. The customer will be billed $2.99 a gallon, and Chrysler will pay the rest.

Actual savings depend on what happens to gas prices over the next three years, but based on the $3.61 a gallon average price reported Monday by AAA, someone buying a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser, which gets an estimated 21 miles per gallon in city driving, would save $355 a year.

"It's a way to give (customers) peace of mind," Steven Landry, executive vice president for North American sales, said in a conference call Monday evening. "We want to get everybody through these challenging times."

As part of the efforts to trim the payroll, Nardelli said Chrysler will try to move workers currently in jobs banks into openings created at factories where large numbers of workers took buyouts or early retirement packages.

Workers in jobs banks get most of their pay while on layoff.

The company is working to reach its job-cutting goals through means other than layoffs, Nardelli said.

He said Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda and his management team have not missed a target, "and I'm confident that they'll be able to achieve that ... objective in a very cooperative way."

Chrysler announced in November plans to cut up to 11,000 jobs, including 8,000 to 10,000 hourly and 1,000 salaried positions.

Speaking to reporters at an event held to honor Chrysler employees who have served in the military, Nardelli called proposals by presidential candidates for a holiday on the federal gasoline tax a short-term solution.

"If you look at the bigger picture -- from an energy standpoint, from an environmental standpoint and from an economic standpoint -- one would certainly suggest trying to encourage consumers to be more cognizant of not only miles per gallon but the number of miles they're driving," he said.

The former CEO of The Home Depot Inc. (HD, Fortune 500) also recommended that the federal government create an incentive for people to buy domestically produced cars such as hybrids Chrysler plans to launch later this year. To top of page

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