BREAKING! Jim Press Leaves Toyota, Takes Vice-Chairman Seat at Chrysler!

Chrysler's just announced that joining Bob Nardelli at "The New Chrysler" will be none other than Jim Press, who up until today was President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota North America and the token 'merican on the Toyota board of directors. He'll be filling the slot of vice chairman. We're stunned like deer in the headlights of an oncoming four-door Jeep Wrangler with an optional roof light bar on this one. We don't even have anything funny to say — we're just that flabbergasted. The only thing we're wondering is how much money they offered Press to run the show over there. Full press release on Press below the jump.

Chairman and CEO Robert L. Nardelli teams former Toyota chief With Vice Chairman and President Thomas W. LaSorda "World-class supply and demand leaders" Joins Nardelli and LaSorda in new Office of the Chairman and On Board of Directors of Chrysler LLC Press to run North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts September 6, 2007AUBURN HILLS, MICH. - Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli today announced the appointment of James Press as Vice Chairman and President. Press, who was President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motors in North America Inc. and a Director of the parent company, will now be responsible for North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts for Chrysler LLC. "Tom LaSorda and I are thrilled that one of the most successful executives in the history of the auto industry has joined our leadership team at the New Chrysler," said Nardelli. "Our top team now consists of a world-class 'supply' leader in Tom and an equally world-class 'demand' leader in Jim."

"I've known Jim for many years and know that he will hit the ground sprinting," said LaSorda. "I look forward to partnering with him and Bob as part of the Office of the Chairman."

Press joins LaSorda as a Vice Chairman and President, reporting to Nardelli. LaSorda's responsibilities will continue to include Manufacturing, Procurement and Supply, Employee Relations and Global Business Development and Alliances.

"I am grateful for the support and opportunities I received during my three-plus decades at Toyota," said Press. "I relish this new opportunity with the Chrysler team to be a part of the resurgence of a true American icon here and around the world. Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body. This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler."

Press joins Chrysler after 37 years with Toyota, where he most recently served as the first non-Japanese President of Toyota Motor North America Inc., responsible for sales, engineering and the company's 15 manufacturing plants with 41,000 employees in North America. He was also the first non-Japanese executive selected to the Board of Directors of Toyota Motor Corporation.

During his tenure at Toyota, the company grew from an upstart new company selling 100,000 vehicles per year to the second largest auto company in the United States.

Press becomes a member of the Chrysler LLC Board of Directors and the Board of Managers of Cerberus Operations and Advisory Co. (COAC), LLC. Press joins LaSorda as Vice Chairman of COAC.

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Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., produces Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge and Mopar® brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2006 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside of North America were the highest in a decade with an increase of 15 percent over 2005. On the heels of the company's record product launch year (Chrysler launched 10 all-new vehicles in 2006), the company plans to extend that streak with eight all-new products in 2007. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Jeep Commander and Dodge Charger. The Chrysler Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, gave $23.6 million in grants in 2006. Chrysler is a unit of Cerberus Capital Management.