Chrysler‘s UK managing director Peter Lambert has left the company just as the American operation formally separates from its former Mercedes partners on November 1.

Formerly marketing director for Mercedes’ van unit, Lambert, who took over as md in June last year, said: “I am no longer in the role of Chrysler Group UK’s managing director. I can say nothing due to contractual issues between the organisation and myself. I am currently on gardening leave although officially I step down on November 1.”

It appears that Lambert has paid the price for falling sales, with Chrysler volumes down 18% during the first nine months of this year and 27% adrift of September’s registrations.

A former colleague commented: “There is nothing personal about Peter’s departure. He is carrying the can for lack of sales success.”

Chrysler is under the control of the Cerberus private equity operation that bought it out from the German-American DaimlerChrysler group.

Recently a dealer convention in Las Vegas discussed the possibility of rationalising models across the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep ranges.

Lambert claimed: “I would hope that establishing the fleet operation, which is pivotal to UK market success, will be my legacy to Chrysler. Before I arrived there was very little focus on the business sector. The team has been growing relationships among quality fleet businesses, with emphasis on more user choosers, contract hire and leasing businesses. Before then it was predominantly short-term units, which did no favours to residual values.

“Progress takes time but the high RVs for the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Caliber show we were establishing foundations for the future.”

It is believed that Lambert could find a role back with Mercedes and he added: “I have a tremendous amount to offer the industry in terms of experience and enthusiasm.”

The md Lambert succeeded, Simon Elliott, has been appointed interim MD, having returned from China where he was in charge of sales, marketing and network development.