As Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne last week was criticizing the condition in which Cerberus left Chrysler Group, he had his manufacturing guru, Stefan Ketter, inspecting Chrysler assembly plants in North America. Marchionne is also CEO of Chrysler.
Ketter, 50, made half-day tours of at least five Chrysler plants last week. He interviewed plant managers, union leaders and line workers to assess how well the plants were implementing Fiat's quality and manufacturing system, said Bill Parker, president of UAW Local 1700 in suburban Detroit.
The local represents hourly workers at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. The plant makes the Chrysler Sebring, a convertible version of the mid-sized sedan and the Dodge Avenger sedan.
"He spent significant time off the official tour, seeing what he wanted to see," Parker said.
At the Frankfurt auto show, Ketter's boss, Marchionne, promised that Chrysler would catch up quickly with competitors after slipping during the two-year ownership by Cerberus Cap-ital Management.
The Brazil-born Ketter joined Fiat in 2004 after heading quality and service for Volkswagen of America. Fiat took operating control of Chrysler after the U.S. automaker emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy this spring.