Having Failed to Transform Chrysler Into Toyota, Jim Press Is Leaving

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Anonymous sources tell the Wall Street Journal that former Toyota executive and current Chrysler Deputy CEO Jim Press will leave the Pentastar by the end of November. Press, who currently serves as a special adviser to Sergio Marchionne tells the WSJ ,”I don’t think anything has been released about management changes,” echoing Chrysler’s official “no comment.”

Press was hired away from Toyota two years ago to much acclaim. “This is quite a coup for Chrysler,” said industry analyst Jim Hall at the time. “Press understands automotive sales better than 98 percent of people involved in the business. More significantly, he has real product savvy, something that Chrysler desperately needs.” Ironically, one of Press’ highest-profile roles in his two-year Auburn Hills sojourn came when he was grilled by Congress about Chrysler’s dealer cull. Now that he’s looking for work again, will Press get the same awestruck praise as he did after leaving Toyota? Don’t count on it.

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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Aug 22, 2009

    Press probably didn't see the complete meltdown coming...and in fairness, neither did his old employer, Toyota, or any other automaker, for that matter. I think when the history of this is written, it'll be written as a perfect storm - some of the stuff was foreseeable, while other crises, such as the collapse of the financial markets, wasn't. What I wonder is this: what, exactly, did Chrysler have up its sleeves that sucked a guy like Press in, and is ANY of it going to survive after the Fiat takeover? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • John Horner John Horner on Aug 22, 2009

    Press may have been no better or worse at what he did than 100 other managers, but he was smart enough to follow his boss Max Jamiesson from Ford to Toyota in 1970. http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2006-01-23-press_x.htm I also suspect that his long career in a consensus building culture did not prepare him for dealing with the sharks at Cerberus.

  • Lug Nuts Lug Nuts on Aug 22, 2009

    Some companies are beyond saving no matter who they hire. And for too potential buyers, Chrysler's image is permanently tarnished by utter garbage product from past decades.

  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Aug 22, 2009

    I don't know what Press did or didn't do at Chrysler, but his move there seeems entirely greedy to me. He thought he could make a difference and didn't see the writing on the wall with Cerberus? I don't buy it. Sure we're an almost purely cynical bunch but we called that debacle from the beginning. I think Press was in it for the money. He certainly didn't stand up and take the reigns when he got to Chrysler. Even if that wasn't his assigned role, he had the stature to institute major change there. In the end, I feel safe in speculating that I don't know what he did or didn't do because nothing he did was significant enough to report. Mullaly, on the other hand, was in the news right away for the major changes he was instituting at Ford.