Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

LAS VEGAS – Tom LaSorda’s term at the helm of Chrysler Group’s sales and marketing operations is nearing an end.

“I’m going to keep it for, probably, a couple more months,” says LaSorda, who also is president and CEO.

And he “definitely will not go outside (Chrysler)” for a successor to Joe Eberhardt, who left the post in December after a rift developed between the auto maker and its dealer body.

Dealers were saddled with a glut of poorly equipped vehicles after Chrysler overscheduled production during second-half 2006. The result left dealers disgruntled and forced the auto maker to stockpile vehicles for which there were no orders.

To formally make amends, LaSorda will be delivering a clear message when he meets Sunday with his retailers here at the 2007 National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention: “Trust us. We’ll back you guys up.”

Since December, he has been on a whirlwind tour of U.S. dealerships in a bid to restore their faith in Chrysler.

“We had a great, great January,” LaSorda adds. “We committed (to dealers) that we’d get sales moving. We’ve got some momentum building.”

Chrysler sales were up last month by about 1,100 units to 156,308 on the heels of a full-year decline in 2006 of 7%.

Says Steven Landry, vice-president-sales and field operations: “The whole dealer thing is about credibility and trust. And we’ll get that through our actions.”

emayne@wardsauto.com