Chrysler has declined to comment on US media reports that deputy chief executive Jim Press will leave by the end of the year.


“Chrysler Group is not commenting on rumour or speculation,” corporate communications chief Shawn Morgan told just-auto on Thursday.


The Detroit News had reported earlier that Press was expected to leave the recently restructured Chrysler by year’s end, as a management shake-up continued under new chief executive Sergio Marchionne, also the head if new partner Fiat, and a man known for ushering in a new team to turn around struggling companies.


Press’ departure would mark the end of the “old guard from the old Chrysler”, the Motown paper noted.


Press was a vice chairman of Chrysler LLC before it filed for bankruptcy and was given the title of deputy CEO at the new, post-bankruptcy automaker created in an alliance with Fiat on 10 June.


The deputy CEO position was designed to be transitional to help the new CEO, The Detroit News said, without citing sources.


With Press’ help, Marchionne created a team of 23 executives reporting directly to him.


Under the ‘old’ Chrysler regime, Press was part of a three-man office of the chairman that included then-chairman Robert Nardelli and then-vice chairman Tom LaSorda. When Chrysler exited bankruptcy and formed a new automaker in alliance with Fiat, Nardelli stepped down as chairman and left. LaSorda announced his retirement when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 30 April.


That left only Press to provide continuity, the Detroit News said, noting that Marchionne had announced early on that Press had new duties as a special adviser.


Marchionne “shuffles management almost on a continual basis,” analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting told the Detroit News.


He oversaw the successful turnaround of Fiat after four previous CEOs failed and has flattened Fiat’s management structure and replaced many senior officials with hard-working and enthusiastic younger ones, who had the respect of their peers, the report said.


The paper said there now was evidence of that at Chrysler with the promotion of junior executives such as Peter Fong to head Chrysler sales, a leap from previous duties heading the mid-Atlantic Business Center.


Phillippi told the Detroit News he was surprised Press was leaving. Now that Press has a better sense of the new automaker’s prospects and products, the outgoing executive “may be less sanguine about Chrysler going forward,” Phillippi said.


Recruited by Nardelli, Press, previously Toyota Motor North America president and a Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) senior managing director, resigned from the Japanese automaker in September 2007 to become vice chairman and president at Chrysler.


He was initially in charge of North American sales, international sales, global marketing, product strategy, and service and parts while LaSorda headed manufacturing, purchasing, labour and global business development and alliances.


Press joined Toyota Motor Sales in 1970. As he left in 2007, Press said: “Toyota has been the centrepiece of my life. This was the most difficult decision I have made, but I am truly looking forward to an exciting new chapter in my career.”


Press jumps Toyota ship for Chrysler