Juergen Schrempp, architect of one of the auto industry's boldest mergers, announced plans to step down as chief executive of
Thursday. He will be succeeded by Dieter Zetsche, head of the company's Chrysler Group unit.
The resignation comes three years prior to the expiration of Schrempp's contract in 2008 but follows by just one year a movement among the No. 5 automaker's directors to replace him over the company's troubled investment in Mitsubishi Motors. Schrempp, who guided the merger of Chrysler with Germany's Daimler in 1998, will give up his post on Dec. 31.
"The supervisory board and Prof. Schrempp are in full agreement that the end of the year 2005 is the optimal time for a change in the leadership of the company," DaimlerChrysler said in a release. "The decisions of the supervisory board have been made unanimously after a thorough process."
Shares of DaimlerChrysler surged in early U.S. trading, recently adding $4.21, or 9.6%, to $48.18. Simultaneous with the executive shake-up, the company reported a stronger-than-expected 28% gain in second-quarter earnings, reflecting strength at Mercedes. The company said it expects to sell more cars this year than it did in 2004.
Zetsche will be succeeded at Chrysler Group by Tom LaSorda, now its chief operating officer. Eric Ridenour was named to replace LaSorda.