Chrysler UK head quits after takeover

Chrysler’s UK managing director Peter Lambert is stepping down following the marque’s takeover by private equity company Cerberus Capital Management.

It is not known whether Lambert, who was promoted to managing director from a marketing role last year (MW June 8, 2006), has a job to go to. He will be replaced in the interim by former UK chief Simon Elliott – who has been running Chrysler in China – until a full-time successor is found.

Following the completion of the Cerberus deal, a new company, Chrysler LLC, has been established, prompting a restructure in the UK.

Chrysler UK will manage the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, while Mercedes-Benz Cars (Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, Smart and Maybach) and Commercial Vehicles (Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi Fuso) will be operated by the new Mercedes-Benz UK group.

DaimlerChrysler Financial Services UK will become Mercedes-Benz Financial Services UK from next year as part of the changes, but will continue to operate as the exclusive financial services partner of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.

Wilfried Steffen will remain president and chief executive of the renamed Mercedes-Benz UK and the two new companies say they will not be making redundancies.

Chrysler is still looking for a UK marketing director following the departure of Steve Gray last month (MW October 4). It appointed Lexus marketer Deborah Meyer as its first chief marketing officer in the summer (MW August 23) and Toyota’s Jim Press as vice-chairman and president responsible for global marketing, product strategy and service a month later (MWSeptember 13).

Chrysler’s sales in the UK were down more than 18% on last year for the first ten months of 2007, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Dodge’s sales were up almost 60% for the same period, while Jeep’s remained steady, up 0.67%.

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