Automotive News January 25 Issue Features Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne, a Look at the Latest Toyota Recall and a Story on the Cadillac Arbitration Situation

Jan 22, 2010, 17:34 ET from Automotive News

DETROIT, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Three major stories are included in the upcoming January 25 issue of Automotive News.

On page one, Reporter Bradford Wernle goes behind the scenes with Chrysler's brand management leadership team to discover what it takes to lead a car company of the future. The story is entitled:  "The Marchionne Way: Work long, talk strong, never whine."

The first few paragraphs of the 1200-word story read:

DETROIT — In a brightly lit, nondescript conference room inside the Detroit auto show, Sergio Marchionne and his four Chrysler vehicle brand chiefs are talking about advertising strategy with reporters. Abruptly, the boss interrupts himself.

Marchionne takes a long look down the table and reminds Chrysler brand CEO Olivier Francois that he hasn't changed the typefaces on some auto show marketing materials.

"Tomorrow," says Francois quickly.

"About a day too late," says Marchionne. He smiles as he says it, and clearly he has an easy familiarity with Francois and his other brand bosses. Yet it's also clear that he never stops prodding them to do better.

No detail, no matter how small, escapes Marchionne's notice. Chrysler's Italian-Canadian CEO is a workaholic micromanager who knows the minutiae of his subordinates' areas of responsibility as well as they themselves do.

His relentless, combative style may be just the medicine Chrysler needs to rebuild. But his approach risks alienating allies, such as dealers, and burning out close associates along the way.

In a second story, "Another Recall, Another Blow to Toyota," Hans Greimel and Kathy Jackson team up to look at the latest quality gaffe at Toyota. The story is 720 words.

The first few paragraphs of the story read:

The recall of 2.3 million Toyota vehicles last week to correct sticking accelerator pedals showed that the spreading controversy over unintended accelerations — initially dismissed by the company as merely a floor mat issue — may have roots in a more serious design flaw.

The latest move further sullies the company's reputation for top-notch quality and effective response to safety problems. It follows a year in which Toyota recalled more vehicles than any other automaker in the United States.

The announcement follows the recall last fall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles, whose owners were told that floor mats could entrap the accelerator pedal, causing unintended acceleration.

As recently as this month, Toyota officials said floor mat entrapment was the cause of several deadly cases of unintended acceleration.

During the Detroit auto show, Toyota North America President Yoshi Inaba said a new brake override system and reshaping the pedals on all of the recalled vehicles "absolutely" should resolve the problem of unintended acceleration.

Finally, Washington Reporter Neil Roland delves into the Cadillac dealership arbitration situation with a 780-word story that begins with:  

WASHINGTON — General Motors Co.'s apparent strategy to bring Cadillac's dealership network more in line with its foreign competitors could be undermined by the arbitration process.

Cadillac dealerships will file a disproportionate share of GM's arbitration claims because most were targeted for elimination as a result of their small-town location rather than their performance, dealer lawyers said.

As the midnight Jan. 25 filing deadline loomed for rejected dealerships, hundreds of Cadillac showrooms prepared to give notice of their intent to seek reinstatement, the lawyers said.

If arbitrators rule in favor of many Cadillac dealerships, it would leave GM with far more small-town showrooms than it wants.

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