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Zetsche confident in recovery plan

From FREE PRESS BUSINESS | March 07,2007

DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche expressed confidence in the Chrysler Group's recovery plan and ability to return to profit in an interview at the auto show here early Tuesday morning, adding that the UAW's refusal to discuss health care concessions last year was one of the factors leading the automaker to consider selling its U.S. unit.

"DaimlerChrysler management and myself are totally confident in the success" of Chrysler's plan to return to profit by reducing its workforce and production capacity, Zetsche said.

"I know very well the tremendous skills of Chrysler's employees," said Zetsche, who ran Chrysler for more than five years. "I am very confident."

DaimlerChrysler considered selling some of its other business units last year, but those ideas never got far enough to go public, as Zetsche did February 14 when he said the company was considering "all options," including a sale, for Chrysler.

The process went further with Chrysler because of the company's "deteriorating position" in the second and third quarters of 2006, and because of "the stance the union took, saying, ‘What we grant GM and Ford, we will not grant Chrysler,'" to reduce health-care costs, Zetsche said.

"We are investigating all options, including the status quo" of Chrysler remaining part of DaimlerChrysler, Zetsche said Tuesday.

Zetsche also said uncertainty about Chrysler's future reduced the company's sales last month.

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