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DC's top troubleshooter heads Chrysler revamp

Dieter Zetsche, tipped as the successor to DaimlerChrysler boss Jurgen Schrempp, this week started to tackle the task of resolving Chrysler's problems.

He leads a team of troubleshooters installed by DaimlerChrysler chairman Jurgen Schrempp at Chrysler HQ in Auburn Hills, Michigan. There are mounting worries within the DC group over Chrysler's falling US sales and plunging share prices.

In the third quarter Chrysler lost £348m, its first period deficit for nine years, and it is expected to issue a profit warning for the final three months.

In the UK, where Chrysler is combined with Jeep, the subsidiary is doing better than last year. Up to the end of October, registrations totalled 14,194 (0.73% of the market), almost 17% higher than in the corresponding stage of last year.

Chrysler president Jim Holden quit after 13 months and the remaining American members of the US board are expected to follow him.

His predecessor, Thomas Stallkamp, president at the time of the merger in May 1998, was fired by Mr Schrempp. The decision to axe Mr Holden as well is seen as a firm message that Daimler is taking full charge of its American division.

Mr Zetsche, who was head of DC's commercial vehicle operations, has been tested in two previous group re-organisation roles, at Mercedes-Benz and Smart.

He will be joined by Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Mercedes-Benz's performance subsidiary AMG, as chief operating officer. He helped to develop the current S-class.

Mr Berhard's role will be to cut production costs. Chrysler is to spend £24bn on developing new products over the next four years, which is £8bn less than planned.

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