The automaker said that it would offer buyout and early retirement packages in the next two weeks and that layoffs would follow in December. As many as 5,000 people will lose their jobs, a Chrysler official with direct knowledge of the plans said.
"These are truly unimaginable times for our industry," Chrysler's chief executive, Robert L. Nardelli, wrote in a letter to workers. "We continue to be in the most difficult economic period most of us can remember. The combination of troubled financial markets, difficult credit, volatile commodity prices, the housing crisis and declining consumer confidence continues to weigh on the economy. Never before have auto industry sales contracted at such a fast rate."