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Chrysler In Crisis

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CBS
At the auto show in Detroit, troubled Chrysler introduced a new Jeep and a new president, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

He is Dieter Zetsche, the German engineer sent from Daimler-Chrysler's Stuttgart headquarters to save a company in crisis.

"We are in quite some serious trouble, there's no question," Zetsche told CBS News.

How serious? Chrysler lost $1.7 billion in the last half of last year. Sweeping layoffs are reportedly imminent.

And Zetsche says Chrysler workers should be uneasy. "I think nobody who can think would feel comfortable in a company which is losing a lot of money," he told a recent press conference.

Before its merger with Daimler-Benz two years ago, Chrysler was Detroit's most profitable motor company. But the slowing economy and tougher foreign competition have stalled sales.

"Obviously, there's a kind of a trend, and obviously we have to turn around this trend pretty soon," he said.

What Zetsche has planned is a sweeping 26 percent cutback in production in this first quarter.

He's also putting pressure on the unions.

"I'm seeking all kinds of improvements which we can get to the bottom line of this company," he said.

For Daimler-Chrysler, the stakes are high. Two thirds of all mergers fail, and Zetsche knows he has to save Chrysler to prove this one a success.

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