Lee Iacocca, feisty as ever, says Daimler “screwed Chrysler royally” during their nine years together, and now “Chrysler's fate will ultimately depend on the kind of hands-on leadership” Cerberus, Chrysler's new owner, brings to the table.

More industry observations from the 82-year-old former CEO of Chrysler Corp and president of Ford Motor Co. are in his new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

From the book, here are some of his opinions on a variety of topics:

What's Got to Go

“GM, in particular, is saddled with an unwieldy breadth of market. Does every brand really need a minivan, a big SUV, a two-door coupe, a four-door sedan and a convertible? That's just plain crazy. It confuses the customers, kills the dealers and plays havoc with assembly plants….”

“Take the three or so least profitable brands and give them a year to break even. If they can't get into the black, drop them.”

“I give GM high marks for dropping Oldsmobile a couple of years ago.”

“I've never understood why Ford needed to acquire nameplates like Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin and Land Rover…. Off the top, Jaguar has got to go. Ford has poured over $5 billion into Jaguar, and it's still in the red…”

“Finally…and this is the hardest — you need to evaluate whether Mercury can be profitable and have some identity in the market.”

Couple of Home Runs

“We hit two out the ball park — the Mustang at Ford and the minivan at Chrysler… These vehicles were built for lifestyles… The best situation in the world is when dealers are beating down your doors for a car because their customers are beating down their doors for a car. You don't just roll them off the line and hope you can find a way to get rid of them.”

A Few Favorite People

  • Charlie Beacham, Iacocca's first boss when he started his career as a Ford zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, PA. “Charlie impressed upon me that selling cars was all about the dealers. It was a lesson I never forgot.”
  • G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., CEO of General Motors, for fending off a merger with Renault-Nissan. “That would have solved exactly none of GM's problems.”
  • Walter Reuther, UAW pioneer. “One of the clear leaders of the 20th century.”

Worst Decisions

Naming Robert Eaton his successor as Chrysler CEO. “He just didn't get it. Never did. That was my mistake. I can't even blame the board. They trusted me. Eaton was my call, and I screwed up.”

In 1995, Iacocca joined billionaire financier Kirk Kerkorian in trying to take over Chrysler. “The deal never got off the ground. What it did was trigger a panic in Eaton. He became obsessed with warding off any future takeover bids…. Instead of thinking it through, Eaton plunged headlong into a merger with Daimler-Benz.”