By on January 11, 2010

What's my brand again? (Courtesy:Autoguide)Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.

According to CBS

Last Thursday, Chrysler sent an email to members of the broadcast media, including CBS News, who had requested interviews with CEO Sergio Marchionne. The email, written by electronic media communications manager Ed Garsten, notified the recipients that Marchionne would be made available for “a 45 minute special broadcast availability” at 1 p.m. on Monday.

But minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, the plan had apparently changed.

Senior manager of communications Carrie McElwee stepped in front of the microphone and announced to the more than two dozens journalists already on hand that the event had been canceled. “He was on the floor quite a bit before, and then it took longer and his schedule changed,” Garsten later told CBS News.

The WSJ‘s write up of that on-the-floor conversation starts with the headline “CEO Expects Chrysler to Start Hiring,” but bases it on this heavily-qualified quote

It is more than likely, if we are accurate in our forecast of what the market will be, we are going to increase heads. It will be a gradual build, with some of it being done with temporary hires.

That first “if” is the mother of all ifs. Chrysler’s entire financial plan centers on the Group making $42.5b net revenue and breaking even on an operating profit basis next year. In all recent presentations, Chrysler executives have tied financial results to the health of the overall market, seemingly ignoring the elephant in the room, which can best be represented in visual form thusly:

Has Chrysler hit bottom, or are we looking at a dead cat bounce on a long road downward? Auto Motor und Sport dedicate a few short sentences to Marchionne’s take on that question. “The only thing that reassures me is that we hit a floor in 2009,” Marchionne is quoted as saying. But, “putting his ambitious sale goal in doubt,” as AM&S puts it, Marchionne disclaims “unprofitable volume isn’t the volume I’m looking for.”

Too bad nobody had the chance to ask if he thinks (for example) the Islander Edition Wrangler will halt the once-proud Jeep brand’s 30 percent sales slide that took place over the last year. Or how showing a Lancia dressed as a Chrysler gets anyone excited about anything. Or what will happen if arbitration with 789 culled Chrysler dealers goes bad. Or how (for example) offering $1,500-$4,000 cash on all Chrysler-brand models repairs the brand or creates “quality volume?” Or, or, or…

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12 Comments on “Sergio Marchionne Gives Media, Reality The Slip...”


  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    That grille looks hideous …

    It reminds me of a:  (subsequent readers are invited to fill in the blank.)

  • avatar
    ott

    or, or, or… followed by if, if, if…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Or how showing a Lancia dressed as a Chrysler gets anyone excited about anything.
     
    I’ll admit to being excited about seeing that…

  • avatar
    Garrick Jannene

    The sands of time are running out extremely fast for what’s left of Chrysler, but they do have one valid excuse for having nothing to display at Detroit.  They’re saying that since they’re working on an insanely small amount of time by auto industry standards to roll out refreshes and new models, all of the new models for the next couple of years are finally going to be revealed months, if not weeks, before they’re actually out, and that’s it.
    Do I believe it?  Well, at this point, there’s nothing pointing either way, so I’ll wait patiently.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If development and durability vehicles are built, there would be something to show at least a year before SOP … that is unless, of course, they are cutting out the development and durability part, and going from HTFB (hard tool functional build) to HTShIT (hard tool ship it today…)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Has Chrysler hit bottom, or are we looking at a dead cat bounce on a long road downward?”
    Long? I give them 12 months tops.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Should I feel bad for being a vulture about all this?  I.E. my mind keeps drifting to later this summer, and I’m buying a Challenger R/T for $6000.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    With all of the Chrysler-bashing that goes on in the media (like here on TTAC), and as busy as Marchionne is, I would not make time for the media either.

    I’m still trying to figure out what car company TTAC doesn’t bash. I’m starting to think they have an inside deal with Hyundai…??? 

    BTW – I would buy that rebadged Lancia, over a Sebring (or any Hyundai), any day.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    The rebadged Lancia is no doubt only there because there was nothing new to show. I think it’s highly unlikely it will ever be offered for sale given the U.S. market’s disdain for hatchbacks especially in midsized cars. Marchionne must have thought nothing positive would result from his scheduled press conference hence the cancellation. I’m certain if he felt otherwise it would have been held. It’s no secret to anybody that Chrysler is in by far the worst position and I hope they manage to succeed. How they’re going to manage that I have no idea but I wish them the best.

  • avatar
    essen

    Why rebadge it?

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    Sergio is quite entertaining, I hope Chrysler makes it a bit longer just so he keeps ending up in the automotive news.


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