Mitsubishi Motors Corp. names Rolf Eckrodt as its new president and CEO, a move seen as strengthening DaimlerChrysler AG’s grip on the Japanese auto maker.

Eckrodt, a German and DaimlerChrysler appointee, has served as chief operating officer. Current President Takashi Sonobe will become chairman as part of the shakeup, scheduled to take effect June 25.

Sonobe says in a release that he wanted a change in the top ranks in order to expedite the MMC’s turnaround program, although the decision is widely believed to have been DaimlerChrysler’s. The German auto maker says it has no plans to further boost its controlling 37.3% stake in MMC.

Under Eckrodt’s tenure, which began January 2001, the auto maker has achieved breakeven for the fiscal year ending March 31 and has targeted profits for the upcoming year. Eckrodt, who currently only oversees the car division, now will be responsible for MMC’s truck and bus units as well.

He will be the third non-Japanese executive at the helm of a once-ailing Japanese auto maker; Renault SA appointee Carlos Ghosn is CEO of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and former Ford Motor Co. executive Mark Fields runs Mazda Motor Corp.