Naming the controversial former CEO of Home Depot Bob Nardelli Chrysler LLC's new chairman and CEO is an indication that business as those at Chrysler have known it is over, according to Edmunds'

"Despite all of its claims of patience, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has sent the clear message that it intends to move quickly - and likely ruthlessly - to turn Chrysler around. In fact, Nardelli's compensation requires it. At Chrysler, Nardelli will draw no salary. His compensation will be directly linked to the equity performance of the carmaker," noted editor Michelle Krebs.

"Even as Chrysler may go through some turmoil on the corporate level, there will be an improvement in the consumer experience for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep owners," added Edmunds' consumer advice editor Philip Reed. "Internally, cutbacks may be made, but Nardelli, who has a retail, customer-focused background, has acknowledged that they must prioritise keeping customers happy as they rebuild the company."

Krebs said that, with the first private equity firm owning a car company, business will not be as usual, and neither will those who will run the business. Ford had already gone outside the industry, recruiting former Boeing executive Alan Mulally to run the troubled automaker.

"Cerberus obviously found Nardelli attractive because of his capability in expanding a business and his cost-slashing expertise," Krebs said.

But she noted that Nardelli left Home Depot under pressure with a controversial $US210m severance bonus and a declining stock price and that this was among other compensation packages that created shareholder backlash over such excess.

At Chrysler, Nardelli reportedly will draw no salary - his compensation will be directly linked to the equity performance of the car maker. He refused to discuss the terms and length of his contract at a press conference on Monday, saying only that his pay is tied to performance.

That, Krebs said, is a further indication that Cerberus - and Nardelli - will waste no time in turning things around.

Nardelli, who started his career as a manufacturing engineer, was skimpy on specifics of what he'll do at Chrysler during a news conference yesterday, prompting one seasoned journalist to quip: "He gives new meaning to dodge."

His responses were sprinkled with the words "speed," "lean" and "laser-focus" on customers' demands around the globe and execution of Chrysler's recovery and transformation plan.

Tom LaSorda, who had been Chrysler chairman and CEO but is now demoted to the newly created post of vice chairman and president, said: "We need to perform at even higher levels and with increased discipline. We need to grow in emerging markets. We need strategic alliances to help achieve goals. And we need great design to lead product development."

Krebs said Nardelli's appointment was as much of a shock because it had been widely believed that former Chrysler COO and Volkswagen executive Wolfgang Bernhard would take the top job.

He was offered the post of non-executive chairman but declined, supposedly due to personal and family reasons, but Krebs said the post of a non-executive chairman obviously didn't sit well with Bernhard, who likes to be firmly in control.

"Again, passing over Bernhard should not have been surprising. He has ruffled lots of feathers at Chrysler, Daimler (which will retain nearly 20% of Chrysler and still be involved in projects), and Volkswagen.

"Further, why would Cerberus tap the same folks to run the New Chrysler that got the old one in the state it is in today?" Krebs asked.

After COO and product development chief Eric Ridenourwas ousted in the takeover, LaSorda reportedly said he was in charge of model development and had been making product decisions.

The question now, Krebs said, is 'How long for LaSorda?' "

"The buzz has been and continues to be how long will LaSorda last. Supposedly he was the man - CEO. Now he has been displaced. He's clearly responsible for the day-to-day operations of the automaker until Nardelli learns the auto business. And he's in charge of the incredibly challenging contract talks with the United Auto Workers union."

Nardelli, who called LaSorda "Tommy" during the press conference as if they were old chums, said LaSorda had "responsibility and authority" in the operational realm.

And LaSorda will serve on Chrysler's board and as vice chairman of a Cerberus operating group.

That, Krebs suggested, looks like a way to ease him out of Chrysler. LaSorda likely will be kept on throughout the current labour talks, since he is popular with the union, having been from a union activist family. But once that contract is signed, the bet is he'll be brushed aside completely with a nice buyout package, she added.

She also expects changes in the design and product development staffs "as Chrysler must develop better, home-run products and do it faster".

She said top designer Trevor Creed has long been rumoured to be out, though Chrysler insisted on Monday he's still in charge of design. But the hot, young designer of the 300, Ralph Guilles, likely is 'the anointed one' for that post. And Tom Gale, former Chrysler design chief, will remain as an advisor to Cerberus on Chrysler.

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