Chrysler added Toyota's top American executive to its ranks on Thursday, hiring James Press as its new vice-Chairman and President in a bid to steer the newly private, but struggling company as it attempts a comeback.
Press, who spent 37 years at Toyota, rose to become the first non-Japanese to be placed on the company's Board of Directors. He will report to new Chief Executive Bob Nardelli, the former head of Home Depot.
After Chrysler's nine years as an unsuccessful unit of DaimlerChrysler, new private equity owner Cerberus Capital Management agreed to buy a majority stake in the firm at a steep discount in April. In August, after the sale closed, it appointed Nardelli as the new chief.
Press is the second top executive recently hired away from Toyota. Last month, Chrysler hired Deborah Wahl - a former vice president of Toyota's Lexus unit â€“ as Chief Marketing officer.
Chrysler said that Press will be responsible for North American sales, international sales, global marketing, product strategy service and parts
He will be working with pre-Cerberus CEO Tom LaSorda, who is currently Chryslerâ€™s Vice Chairman and President in charge of manufacturing, procurement and supply, employee relations and global business development and alliances.
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.
After expressing gratitude for his time at Toyota, Press said he looked forward to being a part of the resurgence of Chrysler, calling it a 'true American icon.'
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, he said.