By on March 27, 2012

With the government still waiting to see how much it will get out of its equity in General Motors, The General seems to be attracting more of the media commentary than Chrysler these days. And not without good reason: GM saw the greatest drop in market share last month of any Detroit automaker, its government-hyped Volt is flopping, Opel continues to be an open sore and it can’t help but flaunt its cluelessness about youth marketing. But interest in GM’s shortcomings seems to be driven by little more than election-year political implications, which Chrysler was able to avoid by borrowing cash and misleadingly claiming to have squared up with the American taxpayer. After all, Chrysler is facing just as many challenges as GM, if not more. And despite having formally closed the bailout chapter of its history, Chrysler’s performance still bears on the decision to rescue America’s weakest major automaker.

Evidence that Chrysler is receiving something of a free pass from the media is not difficult to find, with Sunday’s CBS interview with CEO Sergio Marchionne serving as Exhibit A. A fluffy profile of the Fiat/Chrysler boss, the CBS piece is so lacking in journalistic rigor that ends up providing more misinformation than verifiable facts. The “paid back the loans with interest” line makes an appearance, without any qualifications that might have explained the full truth of Chrysler’s “payback.” Another straight-up whopper: Sergio’s assessment that Chrysler can “afford” to screw up on a single car. Chrysler only has one new post-Fiat car on the immediate horizon, the 2013 Dodge Dart… if Chrysler has “screwed up” that car, it will be a PR disaster that the company might not survive. Besides, with Fiat 500s piling up on dealer lots (82 days supply as of 3/1, down from 132 days supply on 2/1) despite $500 rebates or 0% financing, it seems that Fiat/Chrysler has already used up the one “screw up” that Marchionne says it can afford.

Speaking of the Dart, Marchionne claims that the crucial compact is “mechanically outstanding” and has “nothing to apologize for”… and yet, it appears that it’s already facing some challenges. Earlier this month, Marchionne said he was bumping the Dart’s rollout from April 1 to “avoid being jinxed” by April Fool’s day (Allpar notes that the April 1 launch was a “delay” from the planned January launch). That excuse is flimsy on face value, but the fact that Mopar will only build 2,000 Darts in May and that full dealer availability won’t finalize until June shows that there are probably bigger problems under the surface than mere superstition. And Dodge boss Reid Bigland seems to already be turning down the wick on expectations, saying the delay is

“not a concern. Given the size of the segment throughout North America and the enthusiasm for the Dart, we think it’s going to go OK.”

What Bigland leaves out is that, although the segment is large, the competition among compact sedans is fierce. And the Dart is likely not as well-positioned as CBS implies when it claims its “base price just under $16,000 with 40 miles to the gallon.” The EPA doesn’t have fuel economy numbers for the Dart, but with an efficient 1.4 Turbo engine listed as an option, it seems highly unlikely that a 40 MPG highway version of the Dart will be available at the base price (at least until a 9-speed transmission becomes available next year). Oh, and the government’s condition that Fiat build a 40 MPG Chrysler only requires 40 MPG combined unadjusted, a benchmark that is far less than 40 MPG EPA, and barely competitive with compact sedans already on the market. And with only 120,000 or so units of production planned at Belvidere, and exports planned from there to 40 different markets, it seems that Chrysler isn’t banking on competitive sales figures (Focus and Cruze have been selling over 20k units per month).

But if you dig deeper, you find that the mainstream media’s breathless boosterism is sharply contradicted in the online press, where rumors of trouble in Auburn Hills are starting to pile up. Over at Autoextremist, the auto industry insider’s outsider is posting emails from sources like “Anonymous in Auburn Hills,” which indicate that there are either a few truly bad apples at Chrysler or (as the Autoextremist himself concludes) the Fiat-Chrysler marriage is facing serious issues. “Anonymous” writes

All you need to do is work at CTC [Chrysler Technical Center] and you will see just how correct AE [Autoextremist] is on this Fiat issue.

In that building resides a morass of poor decisions, poor planning, poor time management, and ass backwards 80′s era engineering think…

…They want to build good cars but can’t make a decision to save their live.

My God, they can’t even get their CAD system figured out! I mean who is stupid enough to introduce a new CAD system on a whim?? did they not think you need time to integrate all of the other computer related systems?

It is a joke of epic proportions.

Another AE reader adds:

Arrogant. Irrational. Belligerent. Such a perfect description of Fiat management, [Autoextremist] must be moonlighting within the walls of CTC somewhere…

…Fiat practices finger-snap management as its true core philosophy. Cut product development time in half! How? Just cut it in half, easy! What testing should be eliminated? What efficiencies should/will allow this? No answer. Build a new production line but with half the capital funding! How? Easy, just spend half as much! You get the picture.

In an industry that so closely controls its PR, this burst of leaks is evidence enough that some serious dissatisfaction is brewing at Fiat/Chrysler. Add the Dart’s delay to this, and the emerging picture at Chrysler is not of a company bound for great things. More troubling still is the counterpoint between these worrying signs and the dizzying ambition of Fiat/Chrysler’s new product development plans. The Dart is built on a widened version of Fiat’s C-EVO platform, but according to Allpar, that platform will be stretched further and converted to rear-drive to accommodate the forthcoming midsized Alfa Giulia and Dodge Avenger replacement. Oh, and the LX platform also has a front/rear-drive replacement under development as well, the E-EVO, which will underpin everything from minivans to an Alfa sports sedan. According to an Allpar source,

This new D architecture is a joint project, but it’s being developed in Detroit with Fiat engineers who have been flown over to be embedded permanently in the project. … This decision (having a RWD D-segment architecture) was a costly proposition, and they took a good two years of tinkering between finance and marketing before they finally reached the decision to go ahead with this. … E-Evo was discarded [for this purpose] last year, when it became obvious that if you shorten it too much you can’t produce an aerodynamic, sexy looking D-segment car, on that huge beast.

So, an apparently-dysfunctional, trans-Atlantic team is developing expensive, complex D- and an E-segment platforms that are convertible between front-drive, rear-drive and all-wheel-drive, and will underpin mass-market offerings as well as premium cars. If this sounds oddly familiar, it should: it’s like a worst-of mashup of the cross-cultural issues of the DCX days and the engineering overreach of the early LH platform development (which Bob Lutz describes as having been “trapped in the classical ‘more is more’ planning maze”). And at the root of this mind-boggling complexity is yet another unsolved issue: Fiat/Chrysler’s bloated brand portfolio, which demands this ultimate (and expensive) platform flexibility.

Meanwhile, the context for all this is even worse, as Fiat faces a crushing downturn in the European market, made worse by the fact that Fiat is dependent on the Mediterranean markets that are being hit the hardest. Fiat lost half a billion dollars last year, its stock is on a 12-month downward spiral, it has frozen European investments, and it is grappling with numerous union issues (including a hauler strike that could cost it 10% market share in Italy). And with essentially no presence in China to offset European contraction, Marchionne’s solution is another alliance with yet another struggling automaker, like Mazda or Suzuki. But the “tying two rocks together to see if they float” plan clearly isn’t a path forward, and more merging will only wreak further havoc on Fiat/Chrysler’s troubled culture. Meanwhile, Fiat is only just starting [sub] its third attempt at a Chinese production JV (building Fiat-branded Darts), and it’s moving into Russia just as that market’s growth slows.

With huge losses likely to come out of Europe, and giant outlays likely on both Chinese and Russian expansion as well as investments in complex, multi-purpose platforms, Fiat-Chrysler has a seriously tough row to hoe over the next year or so. Successes will have to come from its stronghold in Brazil, which is seeing disappointing sales numbers so far this year, or from the US. With only the Dart coming down the pike, one hopes that its delays yielded serious results and that it makes an unequivocal case for Chrysler’s Fiat-led future. Otherwise, we could easily find ourselves here a year from now, wondering once again if Fiat/Chrysler is going to make it through another 12 months.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

68 Comments on “Blind Spot: Catching Up With Chrysler...”


  • avatar
    lw

    File this under life isn’t fair. GM evokes very strong reactions, both positive and negative. I never see the same level of passion towards Chrysler.

    GM is broken until they merge all the brands into a single GM dealership and remove competing vehicles.

    Get a 20 something into a GM dealership and let them drool over an Escalde while they waiting for financing approval on a Sonic and your on the road to success.

    Until then it’s just a slow/sad slide into mediocrity as every GM dealer/brand fails trying to be everything to everyone.

    Oh and Chrysler figured this out… Check out your local Dodge/Ram/Chrysler/Jeep dealer for some first hand experience.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Sorry, but I don’t agree. If one is shopping for a luxury car, you don’t want to be sitting in the sort of showroom that makes its money from pushing questionable financing and add-ons. I was in a number of Chrysler dealerships recently (looking at 300Cs and upper-end Grand Cherokees) and the experience was distinctly down-market compared to the Cadillac, BMW and Audi dealerships I visited.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        bunkie, I bought my wife a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit V6 4X4 last November, on the spur of the moment. Just walked into the dealership and asked the salesman if the JGC on the flatbed was available for sale. It was.

        The dealership experience was really extraordinary, but not downscale. They were focused on the customer.

        After we looked at the JGC I told the salesman to ask his sales manager what the dealership needed to sell this JGC for and that I would either buy it or decline.

        I don’t haggle. Dealers need to make money. I have three brothers who spent 30 years in the new car retail business before they retired last year.

        They came back with a price that was good enough for me to buy it, and so good in fact that I ordered a bunch of extras (like a tote and luggage and skid plates and a Class IV hitch) to have drop shipped to my house (at 25% off list, plus UPS charges).

        They made a little money and I saved a little money. They took an out-of-state check so there was no financing pressure. So they couldn’t load me up and pad the final transaction price with extended warranty and insurances, etc.

        All in all it took a little over an hour from the moment we set foot into the show room until we headed out on I-10 with Phoenix in our rear view.

        I don’t know what you expect from a dealership experience, but I go there to buy, not to be wined and dined, or get a hand job.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        “I don’t know what you expect from a dealership experience, but I go there to buy, not to be wined and dined, or get a hand job.”

        Agreed, I’m not looking for a hand job, ever. But, interestingly, I did get a cake from the Cadillac dealer when I picked up my car.

        But my point still stands. I’ve reached the point in my life where I can afford a nice car and when the first thing out of a salesmans’s mouth is talk about “what payment can you afford”, I find it off-putting. The Manhattan BMW dealer I almost bought a car from was a lovely experience. Clean, modern looking and “special”. In the end, it was about the car more than anything else, but I did enjoy the cake especially as it was my birthday and we were on our way to a party.

  • avatar
    Fusion

    I absolutely agree on the CBS interview. “Marchionne has a security detail, because his government says he should”. Wouldn’t that have been a good moment to put in a couple of sentences about the fact how disastrous Fiat is doing in europe, how Marchionne is at the forefront of trying to get rid of overcapacity? And how he, by doing this has alienated himself completely from most of his italian employees and unions – so much in fact, that he now needs a 24/7 security detail.

    No – he has it, because “the government says he should”.

    Also, regarding Fiat in europe: Its not only that europe is doing bad, and especially that the parts of europe that Fiat is strong in are doing bad. Fiat is doing worse (!) than the market in basically every country. Their model lineup is overaged and not wide enough (missing niche vehicles). Alfa continues to be a brand without cars, Lancia isn’t really doing better even though they got all of Chryslers business, etc.

    Marchionne is a good negotiator and a good “bean-counter”. He saved Fiat by forcing GM to give them money, he saved Chrysler (and Fiat again) by forcing the US government into giving them Chrysler fresh out of bankruptcy and with some nice starting loans. And now he seems to be trying to talk the EU into taking care of “his” overcapacity problems…

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s tough for me to do. The nearest Chrysler/Jeep dealer moved 25 miles away, the nearest Dodge dealer couldn’t expand to C/D/R/J and switched to Mazda, another Chrysler dealer went out of business and the lot is a Mercedes overflow lot, and the next closest Dodge dealer was bought out by the Nissan dealer across the street. The first three had been in the Mopar biz for at least 50 years, and didn’t have enough land to build what Chrysler demanded. At least other makers took them over. The C/J dealer that moved away was replaced by a drug store, credit union and pizzeria.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      What every auto manufacturer has had to do since the Crash has been to tread water while hoping that the global economy would bounce back.

      We cannot simply believe that auto manufacturers facing a global glut over the past twenty years are going to magically hang in there when the bottomm falls out and stays out for three years.

      The big brand buys twenty years ago occurred when optomistic Americans flushed with SUV cash bought up legacy brands who saw that their future wasn’t especially bright in an age of excess manufacturing. Productivity since embracing Japanese and other modern manufacturing processes has increased to the point where we just didn’t need all those brands, factories and people.

      So, overcapacity was already apparent by the time of the Crash. After three years, we see the end of the Euro, the decline of the Dollar, and no relief in sight. We are in a new Long Depression.

      This means we will see the end of some beloved auto brands, just as we had seen the end of some beloved auto brands during other challenging economic times. The only thing keeping brands afloat is because of risky fiscal gamesmanship, government funding, and just plain dumb luck. Eventually, this will come to an end. Hopefully, when it ends, the Market will have returned enough for their survival.

      History is littered with great auto brands. Studebaker didn’t go under because they made bad cars. Hudson went from racing success to a tombstone in five years. Our simple explanations as to why there is no longer a specific brand isn’t due to the faults of their cars, but the failures within their ability to produce cars.

      We are going to see a lot of change ahead. Don’t be surprised to see some storied brands go under. Honestly, I can’t believe Chrysler is still around, and I don’t know how much longer we will be seeing Mazdas. Mitsubishi will one day decide to stop bleeding cash by making cars. GM isn’t too big to fail. Everyone is struggling.

      I don’t know how Fiat can survive in a Post-Italian economy unless it finds a Chinese partner willing to bail it out over another auto brand begging to be bought.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    (facepalm) just when I wanted to believe!!!!!!

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Sounds like a lot of self-serving pessimism to me. Let us not forget how badly Niedermeyer stumbled when he tried to predict the future of Chrysler the first time around; he needs a manufactured crisis to save face. Thus the treatment of unverifiable emails from another blog as credible source material. Does Fiat/Chrysler have a long road ahead of them? Without a doubt. But the tales of internal company division and politicking seem to be little more than wishful thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Do you serve any purpose on this website other than to attack the writers anytime they don’t puppet the sycophantic “Detroit is Back!” party line?

      If Ed, Bertel & Co. were as slanted and spiteful as you and the rest of the unrepentant fanboys claim they are, your account probably would have be revoked by now. Unfortunately, you’re still here and the rest of us must suffer through this sort of bile every time TTAC dares to paint somebody’s sacred cow in less-than-glowing terms.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        What do we really know in this posting? We’ve got unsubstantiated rumors from other blogs, and media puff pieces as indictments. I didn’t see the CBS News piece and can’t comment on that.

        I would imagine that most European car companies that are not based in Germany will be having a hard time in the forsee-able future as Europe winds it’s way through the Euro crisis. Additionally, it’s not like the folks in Europe are unaware of their over-capacity and are seeking alliances. There’s a long history of European carmakers working together on different products for short periods of time.

        WRT to the Italians sending engineers over, a similar phenomenom happened when Daimler took over Chrysler in the late 90′s. There were all kinds of complaints about how the Germans were ruining the place. As it turns out, the rumors were right. But, a couple of disgruntled employees can make a stubbed toe sound like an amputation.

        However, that said, I’m no fan of Sergio. (search old my old posts on this matter.) If anything, far too much has been attributed to him WRT to the existing lineup. In the throes of impending extinction, they made the bold moves Ford was too timid to make.

        Fiat Group is not the only car maker with a muddled lineup, nor are they the only ones struggling in BRIC or other developing countries. I think it’s way too soon to declare another Chrysler Deathwatch, but they certainly bear observing. But so do others. I can think of a couple of other European and Japanese mfrs who bear watching, too.

        If they’re going to puke anytime soon, they’ll have telegraphed their moves well in advance.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        @FromaBuick6: I wasn’t aware writing comments on blogs served any purpose other than entertainment value. But don’t worry, you’re providing that in spades. So does everyone else that immediately climbs on their high horse when they detect the faintest whiff of somebody that won’t unreservedly damn Detroit. You think it’s great for somebody to “call out” Chrysler, but I’d bet that you would be singing a different tune if the same was applied to Mazda or any other manufacturer with a questionable future.

        @geozinger: Although Marchionne doesn’t deserve all the credit for the refreshed lineup, he should at least be congratulated for not resting on his laurels like the last two stewards of Chrysler. Of course, Daimler’s “ownership” was nothing more than a transparent attack on American economic strength, so maybe “ownership” isn’t quite the right word.

    • 0 avatar

      PintoFan: I’m not sure which “last time” you are referring to, but in general I try to present my thoughts here as a conversation starter, not the one true gospel. I’ve never had a problem with being challenged or even proven wrong, it’s the people who attack without actually engaging in the debate that annoy me.

      Beyond that strawman/ad hominem, you engage on only one point: whether or not there are “internal divisions and poiticking” at Chrysler. At the risk of getting into a definitional debate, I’d be tempted to argue that no car company in the world is able to avoid these things completely. More to your point though, I made it clear that the AE emails were just that: reader email. It’s not definitive evidence of anything, but its presence is worth noting given the larger context (which you don’t seem to dispute). I would argue that since industry reporting is all access-based and controlled by (generally) uptight PR types, reader mail to industry blogs is as close as we’re likely to get to the truth of this matter.

      Speaking of which, I would welcome any first-hand accounts of the merger from any Chrysler employees who might be reading this. You can reach us by clicking “contact” in the navigation bar, or by sending an email to editors[at]ttac.com.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        December 1, 2009:
        “the Pentastarred zombie crashes into oblivion… Chrysler continues to exhibit all the signs of freefall… it’s clear that nothing short of a biblical miracle will stop Chrysler ignominious decline. And with no new product due to hit ChryCo’s showrooms until this time next year, there’s little reason for optimism. Chrysler is a dead automaker walking.”
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/chrysler-november-sales-plummet-25-percent/

        When you make such aggressive claims about the future of an automaker and get it wrong, it’s only fair to assume that your editorializing afterwards will be colored by that incident. And when the “biblical miracle” did happen, we got barely a whimper. I admit, the self-righteous crowing from bailout opponents in the comments section would make a nice photo montage, maybe overlaid over a picture of a crow on a plate.

        I would not put it past the most aggressive of the Detroit haters/bored dealership employees to send out bogus email messages alleging internal dissent in Auburn Hills. It’s not like they have anything more constructive to do. If you’re really convinced that something is amiss at Chrysler, you ought to arrange some interviews with real, living employees and not internet ghosts. If something really is awry, you shouldn’t have a problem getting someone to talk- with their identity protected, of course.

      • 0 avatar

        But he was completely right about that free fall. Only government intervention saved Chrysler back then. So I don’t quite see how that editorial would make Ed untrustworthy.

      • 0 avatar

        Pintofan: I directly reference the “biblical miracle” that was the Chrysler bailout (remember, the auto task force approved Chrysler’s second bailout by a single vote) in the introduction to this piece. The fact that I helped pay for Chrysler’s biblical miracle is what drives me to try to understand the true state of its health now. I wouldn’t bet that Mazda (to use your example) will outlive Fiat/Chrysler, but the Fiat/Chrysler story is more interesting to me and, I believe, more relevant to Americans.

        Meanwhile, we’re only stuck on some anonymous emails. The major point of the piece is that mainstream media coverage seems blind to the seriousness of the challenges facing Fiat/Chrysler. Whether those emails are “real” or not, there’s a lot of other evidence in my piece that the dominant narrative fails to tell the whole story. I’m sorry you’re not fond of my conclusions, but it will take a more substantive counterpoint to change them.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Pintofan, regardless of what was said about Chrysler, or GM, in the past, Chrysler for one puts out a decent product these days.

        Best of all, just like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, et al, Chrysler provides jobs to Americans, making cars in America for Americans. That is a good thing!

        But that doesn’t take away that Chrysler still has some real problems. The irony is that Chrysler’s parent company and majority owner, Fiat, has even greater problems and that it may very well be Chrysler’s profits, meager as they are compared to GM and Ford, that will save the day for Fiat, and Fiat itself.

        I didn’t like the bail outs. I continue to be opposed to any kind of bail out, hand out or nationalization of any failed business, anywhere, anytime.

        But this is where we’re at today and by the end of next year we’ll probably be bailing out GM once again along with its Opel subsidiary and its French partner. They are all on the way down.

        Reality is what it is and I think Ed Niedermeyer has it right.

      • 0 avatar
        Brantta

        Well after the bailout, both Ed and Autoextremist said that Chrysler needs a miracle for a survival. So, bailout can’t be that miracle.

        Let’s get the timeline straight.

        June 2009 – Chrysler receives a high interest loan from the Treasury Dept.(BAILOUT)

        December 2009 – Ed’s column ( it’s clear that nothing short of a biblical MIRACLE will stop Chrysler ignominious decline. And with no new product due to hit ChryCo’s showrooms until this time next year, there’s little reason for optimism. Chrysler is a dead automaker walking.)

        March 2010 – PMD Autoextremist’s column, excerpts(Chrysler has sunk to the bottom in the Consumer Reports 2010.

        I’ve written repeatedly that despite Sergio Marchionne’s track record in rescuing Fiat, the Chrysler situation is dramatically different, and to assume that because he did it once he can do it again is wildly optimistic and woefully off-base, because it’s impossible to overcome years of product neglect with a finger snap and a curt “we know what we’re doing” dismissal of the facts.

        On top of Chrysler’s myriad product program problems, the other ugly reality for Chrysler is that it has almost completely fallen off of the American consumer public’s radar screen.

        Right now Chrysler is America’s “forgotten” car company. Time keeps ticking, ticking away for Chrysler, and at this point Sergio & Co. are going to need a MIRACLE for a shot at survival.)

        P.S.
        Ed, please stop with a stories that Fiat is dependent on the Mediterranean markets in Europe.

        Fiat sales in Europe outside Italy:
        Mediterranean countries (+ Balkan) – 11%
        Rest of Europe – 89%

      • 0 avatar
        Fusion

        Why would you ever exclude Italy when talking about the dependency on the mediterranean countries?

        Fiat sells about 25% of their worldwide volume italy country alone. In fact, Fiat sells more than 50% of their european (or 25% of their worldwide) volume in Italy…

        Also, the rest of your numbers aren’t correct either. Francce and Spain alone make up 13% of Fiats european volume and they are both “mediterranean countries”.

      • 0 avatar
        Brantta

        Italy is Fiat’s home market.

        I omitted France because all these affected countries (Mediterranean) are in Southern Europe. France is Mediterranean country, but it is more Central Europe country, and has a much longer Atlantic Ocean coastline. Paris is as close to the Mediterranean as is 90% of Central Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Fusion

        So how does the fact that italy is Fiat’s home market change the fact that Fiat is extremely dependent on it?

        When talking about the “mediterranean states” one usually does include France, because it does have access to the mediterranean sea and its economy and car-buying behavior more closely mirrors those of Italy, Spain and South-West europe. In car buying terms, France is traditionally a lot more like Italy and Spain (i.e. buying very small, mostly french and italian diesel-powered cars), then like Germany, the nordic countries or UK.

        Also, the trajectory of the french economy at the moment also puts it closer to its southern neighbors, than to its northern ones (even though France is by far not doing as bad)…

        So the fact remains, that Fiat does about ~70% of its european sales in the south-western european countries of France, Spain and Italy. How can you not call this dependent?

      • 0 avatar
        Brantta

        Ofcourse Fiat is dependent on Italy, but not on the Mediterranean (South Europe). Outside Italy, Fiat’s biggest markets are Germany, France, UK, Poland, Netherlands. Not Spain, Portugal or Greece. Fiat sells 30% more cars in Benelux than in Southern Europe without Italy.

        Car-buying behavior in Italy and France is totally different. Fiat is best selling brand in Italy, two French brands are in top 5.

        In France three French brands are in top three, and Fiat is out of top 10, behind VW, Ford, Dacia, Nissan, Opel, Toyota, Audi.

        In Spain Fiat sells half of what Toyota sell, and Toyota is in the 10th place. Spain and UK are quite similar.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    The media will jump on Chrysler when they have hard evidence of failure. However, the doom & gloom will come first from the Fiat side. The platforms that were developed in Italy are being sent to the US to salvage the development costs. Most of these platforms are now seen to have no future in Europe, thus, the confusion over future products, as they try to adapt them into viable US models. This has been a source of confusion and frustration for all concerned, but now it’s up to the US side to carry the ball for the team. Their adventures in the BRIC countries may help later, but for now, it’s Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram or bust. One can only hope that they have the right people for the task ahead. This could be a legendary success, or a monumental failure. The final chapter is still to be written.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Well, the E-body was FWD and RWD at the same time. That was a long time ago though, and those cars weren’t cheap. I’m not sure about a more recent example.
    ____________________________
    I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for the ChryslerCo guys though. It’s like a multiple DUI convict complaining about not being allowed to drive anymore. It might suck but it’s not like it happened for no reason.

    Would the CTC employees rather have had their company go into liquidation than go to Fiat? Do they want to roll on with the GS platform cars until 2015? Chrysler and Fiat aren’t exactly in a position where they can be conservative.

    Rushing half-cooked products to market would be bad for business, but I don’t think the Italians putting some pressure and lofty goals on the Auburn Hills squad is necessarily a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What was the E-body that was both FWD and RWD?

      edit: Nevermind. I was thinking about Chryslers. Forgot about GM’s big personal luxury cars.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      “the E-body was FWD and RWD at the same time”

      It’s not exactly a car, but Ford’s European market “Transit” (the big van, not “Transit-Connect”) is available in FWD, RWD and AWD versions.

  • avatar
    skor

    It’s the curse of Jeep.

    Jeep was developed by the American Bantam Car Company. The design was purchased by the US Government from American Bantam and given to Willys-Overland with large orders going to Ford. Immediately after WWII American Bantam went bankrupt.

    At the conclusion of WWII, Willys-Overland and Ford fought it out over who owned the Jeep design…..a court ruled that the rights to the Jeep name and design were owned by Willys-Overland. Although the Jeep sold well in the post war years for Willys-Overland, they struggled with the rest of their auto business, and in 1953 Willys-Overland was purchased by Kaiser Motors.

    The Jeep sold well for Kaiser, but the rest of their car biz sank like a stone. In 1963 Kaiser renamed itself Kaiser-Jeep. Business only got worse for Kaiser-Jeep through the 60′s, so in 1969 Kaiser-Jeep was acquired by AMC.

    The Jeep sold well for AMC, but their car biz went from bad to worse during the 70′s, and in 1979 AMC was purchased by Renault.

    The Jeep sold well for Renault but the rest of the AMC line-up didn’t do so well. In 1986 Renault’s chairman, Georges Besse, was murdered by the communist terrorist group, Action Directe. In 1987, AMC was purchased by Chrysler.

    The Jeep sold well for Chrysler, but the rest of the AMC products were canned. During the 90′s Chrysler’s fortunes were starting to wane. In 1998 Chrysler hooked up with Daimler-Benz AG in a “Merger Of Equals”.

    Jeeps sold well for DaimlerChrysler AG, but soon problems sprung up with the rest of the Chrysler line. Bleeding money, the Germans unloaded Chrysler/Jeep, at a huge loss, on Cerberus Capital Management in 2007. The Germans actually paid Cerberus to take Chrysler/Jeep.

    The hell hound almost never lost money on any of its business deals, but in 2009 they were forced to take Chrysler into bankruptcy. The American government essentially paid Fiat to take Chrysler/Jeep.

    Today the Jeep brand continues to sell well, but it appears that Fiat is in some major trouble.

    Hmmmmmm. Anyone see a pattern here?

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      Yes. World War III is imminent.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      So do we kill Jeep with a stake through the heart or direct sunlight?

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Why would we do that? Jeeps sell well.

        But it does make one wonder who’s next. It’s not exactly like there are a lot of options left. Cadillac/Buick/Chevrolet/Jeep, anyone? Seems like they’d fit right in.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, Jeep is doing pretty well since the Daimler touches are showing up on the dance floor. It got me to buy our FIRST NEW Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit V6 4X4.

        I just hope that this NEW Jeep is better than all the used ones I owned over decades past.

        Just in case, I’m holding on to our 2008 Toyota Highlander that has been problem-free and continues to run without fail every day. Just start’r up, point it where you want to go and step on the gas. Like an appliance. I love it!

  • avatar
    Toad

    It is impossible to know if the insider complaints from Auburn Hills are:

    A) sour grapes from company curmudgeons resisting new ideas, especially from outsiders, or…
    B) legitimate complaints about mismanagement by foreign interlopers.

    With Chrysler sales up, the government no longer an “investor,” new management, and product looking better than it has in almost 20 years I’d like to think they are heading in the right direction. I’d also like to think I have the winning Mega Millions ticket. The entire US auto industry (from line workers to CEOs) has always resisted outside managers, ideas, and influences, and we see where that got them.

    In truth we won’t know if Chrysler has been turned around for a couple more years.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    We’re all doomed……..Shesh!

  • avatar
    mike978

    Interesting article. I don`t know if I would class the delay in the Dart by a couple of months as necessarily being bad. They might be wanting to ensure whatever issues (unknown to us) are resolved before selling it to ensure a reliable, competitive product. Time will tell if that is the case but the delay is one of those things that could easily be seen from both a positive and negative perspective.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Besides, with Fiat 500s piling up on dealer lots (82 days supply as of 3/1…)”

    By Japanese standards, that isn’t great. But by Detroit standards, that’s pretty average. Not terrific, but not end-of-the-world tragic, either.

    “we could easily find ourselves here a year from now, wondering once again if Fiat/Chrysler is going to make it through another 12 months.”

    Chrysler Group posted positive net income in FY 2011. It also generated cash through operations, i.e. it took in more money from selling cars than it paid to build them. I didn’t analyze their financials in detail, but on the surface, those are positives.

    I know that it’s tempting to put things on Death Watch, but I’d say that’s a bit hasty. Chrysler seems to be doing a fair job of building its US sales (with Jeep generating a fair chunk of the volume), so the news isn’t entirely bad. But Marchionne is right — the company in its current form is too small, and it needs to find a way to grow the business without creating diseconomies in the process. Not an easy job and it may fail over the long run, but that outcome won’t be determined within just a year or two.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      There’s also the question of whether or not Fiat will really be able to build the brand with expanded model offerings. I will be curious to see if they will find success with more mainstream options, such as the new small MPV they’re planning. They could also use a subcompact sedan- something to compete with the Versas and Sonics. They might not find a lot of money in that effort at first, but right now brand proliferation is key if they want to build a lasting foothold. A high-volume seller, even if the margins are slim, will create the kind of recognition Fiat needs to become something more than an ultra-niche brand.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, the 500′s inventory is improving… just don’t leave out the rest of the context, namely the spiffs and finance deals that help move the metal. The 500′s probably not a financial failure: most development cost was likely paid for with Euro sales, and Mexico and Brazil should keep the Toluca plant humming. But the 500 was supposed to spark the Fiat/Alfa invasion and give Fiat some credibility as Chrysler’s savior. It has not turned out to be the “it car” it was in Europe. Mission not accomplished.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “There’s also the question of whether or not Fiat will really be able to build the brand with expanded model offerings.”

        This isn’t going to happen. Marchionne has stated that Fiat is getting out of the larger car business, and the branding of the latest compact as a Dodge Dart is a good indication that Fiat is going to remain a niche brand in the US.

        My sense is that Marchionne has switched gears due to the euro crisis. The acquisition was intended to expand Fiat, but now the plan has changed to turn Chrysler into the de facto parent company. Fiat doesn’t have a bright future in Europe. Half of its European sales are in Italy, and Italy is going to be an economic laggard for years to come, which hits him harder than it hits any of the other European automakers. Being heavily invested in the PIIGS is a considerable disadvantage for Fiat that VAG, Daimler, etc. doesn’t have.

        “Yes, the 500′s inventory is improving… just don’t leave out the rest of the context, namely the spiffs and finance deals that help move the metal.”

        With the shift in strategy, the 500 is not a big deal. For the company to generate sustainable cash flow, it needs to sell pick up trucks, midsize sedans, and various Jeeps, plus Fiats in South America. (It wouldn’t hurt to sell some 300s, either.) This sucks for the US Fiat dealers that invested in the stores, but otherwise, it matters more for the company to make money than it does to build an Italian brand in the American market. On the other hand, this should be good for business travelers, as there won’t be a shortage of cars to rent…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Look at the bright side, some people bought a FIAT for the first time in 20 years. And that is what counts for Sergio. Chrysler is merely a path to the US market and not much else.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    There is a wonderful article in the Harvard Business Review titled “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs”.

    From Mr. Niedermeyer column it would appear that the Fiat people have read the HBR article and the Chrysler people haven’t.

    Granted it is easier to make amazing last minute changes to a $300 iPod or a $500 iPad than it is to a $30,000 car.

    Enjoyed the history from Skor.
    Could it be that sales managers are struck dumb trying to figure out why anyone would buy a Jeep that they loose concentration on the other cars their company is trying to sell?

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      Careful….! you’re calling highdesertcat dumb for buying his wife, on the spur of the moment, a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit V6 4X4…. He told us t least twice.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Oh, he’s told us way more than twice. That story comes up at every opportunity. Along with their Highlander. And his granddaughter’s Elantra. Over and over again.

        There’s a few guys on here who feel the need to work a description of their car(s) into every other comment. It’s lame.

        On topic: Chrysler has a substantial negative perception to overcome in much of the market. It can be done, but it will take a decade+ of great products that are reliable and offer good value. I’m not sure they can do it. Their history since 1970 or so indicates that they cannot.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        LOL! First I’m accused of being too brief and too assuming that everyone has read my previous posts and now I’m being accused of being repetitive.

        DUDE! Don’t like my posts? Feel free to skip them. My feelings won’t be hurt!

        Not a problem for me. I rarely comment and then only on threads that I know something about.

        And as far as possibly being ‘dumb’ for buying my wife her JGC when we were traveling, in 46 years of marriage I have learned that, ” a happy wife means a happy life because if mama ain’t happy, then nobody ain’t happy.” That’s good enough reason for me.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    I think I would have bought an Alfa Mito if it had been imported. Maybe Fiat/Chrysler could put an Alfa snout on a new Dart and call it a Ciao. That’s brand engineering I might love.

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    So let me get this straight, somehow reducing their supply of Fiat 500s from 132 days to 82 in a single month – while still producing them is “Fiat 500s piling up on dealer lots”. Sounds like to me sales are pick up – and rapidly.

    I also fail to see how the Dart being “mechanically outstanding” has ANYTHING to do with production ramp-up. It takes time to ramp production up, it takes time to get suppliers on line, and it takes time to get people trained.

    Every single car ever made has always had an initial ramp-up time while production bugs get sorted and optimized. You’re saying like its something new that the 1st month or two of a brand new vehicle made at an unfamiliar plant will not be at full production immediately.

    You really are not that familiar with how the auto industry works, are you? Especially since you do not seem to understand how Chrysler platforms and architectures work.

    In Chrysler terms, a platform is just physical dimensions. The platform dictates where the wheels can go, and dimensions for body panels so that the machines can move them into place easily. The architecture (suspension, floor pan, drive-train) is what goes inside the platform.

    Alls it means is that you can build a variety of completely different vehicles in the same plant with the same tooling on the same machines. So you can run minivans, RWD sports-cars, and AWD SUVs down the same assembly line in the same plant without having to re-tool.

    It’s not complicated, it’s simply utilizing what Chrysler’s factories are capable of doing. Not too many automakers have factories as advanced or flexible as Chrysler’s – believe it or not.

    You claim not to have a bias against Chrysler, but every article you write about them is disgustingly negative.

    • 0 avatar

      Re: the Cinquecento, see my comment above.

      Re: the Dart, it is failing to meet Chrysler’s own deadlines. Assuming Sergio and company know all there is to know about making cars (a claim I have never made about myself), why would they announce January and April 1 launch dates and then miss them?

      Re: platforms/architectures, the terms are often used interchangeably but I appreciate the clarification. In any case, I wasn’t arguing that the challenge presented by the FWD/AWD/RWD strategy is one of production, but of design and differentiation. Chrysler spent $1.6b on R&D last year, Hyundai/Kia is spending nearly three times that ($4.4b) this year. Even if the new bosses in Auburn Hills have the most clever platform/architecture strategy in the books, it’s going to be tough to differentiate all those products on that budget.

      See, we can discuss these things without calling each other names. In fact, debating with an open mind is a lot more interesting than passing judgement on each others perspectives. I’ve certainly learned a lot from TTAC’s commenters (many of whom are too modest to admit they work on this stuff every day) this way…

      • 0 avatar
        cacon

        Delaying a product has very negative effects perception wise, mainly with the potential customers and investors.

        The delay can have many reasons. Most of the usual reasons are “good” in the sense of waiting more to release it:

        - Some major issue was discovered during final testing/planning. The final user will not have to put with it after sale, and will save millions of dollars in recalls (yes recalls can reach the million mark pretty easily just by the hourly wage of the technicians that will have to be paid to perform the job, even if it’s just to tight a bolt).

        - An area of improvement was discovered that will improve the profits and/or the product and can be implemented easily and with minimal risk.

        - Suppliers issues: electronic ECU’s, tires, rims, sensors, rubber stuff, you name it. Cars are the most complex inventions that have to be mass produced. Newer cars have a lot of suppliers for each and every component.

        But there are the negative things of a delay: poor and/or idiotic management (engineering, design, production, marketing, etc) that leads to serious problems once the product is getting finalized. Many of these issues were already identified by the design/engineering side but were not addressed properly and in due time. If this is the reason why the Dart is getting delayed, then we all should be worried.

        So yes, delaying a product gets you a very bad image, but since I work for a supplier for the big three (will only say the we do ECU’s) I’m hoping that they’re encountering engineering issues that will improve the car once it’s released.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    “Chrysler only has one new post-Fiat car on the immediate horizon, the 2013 Dodge Dart…”

    Actually there is another one and it’s called the VIPER. But god forbid that we check our facts on that one, since they’ve already been showing teasers on that car.

    Also 2013 brings a new Jeep to replace the Liberty, and hopefully the Patriot and Compass all in one swipe. Again you can reference ALLPAR but then ignore other facts.

    And as far as the Dart is concerned, the car is in pre production right now. Did you not see the cars rolling down the line in the video? They’re pre-production units so they can be tested and engineering issues can be worked out before the car launches. Instead of trying to nitpick on why the slow roll out of the car, try appreciating that the man realizes that the car needs to be a success and it should be a quality product, hence not SHOVING the car out the door half assed and then trying to fix the “early” ones with TSB’s and recalls.

    Oh and as far as the loans are concerned, at least the “taxpayers” received a good portion of the money back….something that cant be said about the banks that took it and ran.

  • avatar
    Zoom

    A real journalist would not classify anonymous web postings as a “burst of leaks” or evidence of anything.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    “Earlier this month, Marchionne said he was bumping the Dart’s rollout from April 1 to “avoid being jinxed” by April Fool’s day ”

    April 1, 2012 is a SUNDAY. No one in their right minds launch a vehicle on a Sunday. Marchionnes delay comment was a joke. The launch date is Monday, April 2nd when the work week begins in Belvidere, Illinois.

    Looks like the joke worked just fine on you Ed.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I like Dodge, if I win the MegaMillions on Friday – a new Charger and Challenger will be finding a home in my new garage in my new house in Palm Beach with my “new” friends. (with thanks to Mr. Ron White aka Tator Salid) for that line.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    This whining over the bailout crap got old long ago. GM, Ford and Chrysler have paid billions upon billions of dollars in taxes over the years of their existence, as well as their thousands upon thousands of employees. So it’s really more like they were getting more of their own money back. All of the people that are bitching about the “bailout” would have bitched about paying for unemployment compensation and welfare benefits that the tens of thousands of employees would have been receiving had GM and Chrysler folded.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Mid-sized and compact sedans/crossovers are the heart of the US market. Chrysler hasn’t been successful in that market since the K-car days. And Fiat has never been successful there. That’s the problem: there’s no real synergy between the two companies where it really counts. Marchionne said in the CBS interview that the two companies were a perfect fit, 2 sides of the same coin. In reality, that coin has a hollow center.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The U.S. taxpayers’ “investment” in bailing out Chrysler is a sunk cost; we’re not getting our money back. The taxpayers’ “investment” in GM is not yet fully a sunk cost; there’s some hope that we will get our money back.

    But the larger question here is whether or not attempting to resist powerful economic forces — even with billions of dollars — makes any sense. Similar efforts were made in the 1970s and 1980s to “save” the U.S. steel industry, not in the form of direct subsidies, but in the form of tariffs which had the effect of making steel in the U.S. more expensive, to the detriment of U.S. consumers and U.S. product manufacturers (such as automakers) who use a lot of steel. Despite these efforts, the U.S. steel industry today employs far fewer people than it did.

    Everyone writes that the auto market is not growing, that there is an excess of supply, that, for nationalistic reasons, emerging markets (Brazil, India, China) are building cars domestically, rather than importing them. So, it’s not possible for the U.S., for example, to export its excess production to any significant degree. In addition, for a variety of reasons, cars are getting more durable; and the replacement rate is lower.

    This is no one’s fault; it’s just what’s happening.

    Under such circumstances, there is simply no room for error. Launching an Edsel in today’s market would likely be fatal. It seems to me that the reason to be concerned about Chrysler is that its good models (the revised Jeep line and the upgraded 300) are heavy on the fuel consumption side. So, if the present $4+/gallon fuel prices continue, sales of those vehicles are going to suffer. And, when it comes to fuel-efficient, good cars, all Chrysler has to offer is the Fiat 500 which is too small and is not really a compelling alternative to the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta or the Chevy Sonic. (And we’ll simply pretend that hybrids don’t exist, for purposes of this dicussion.)

    My point is that a non-politically oriented bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler would have made a rational determination about which of those companies’ product lines should survive and which should not. Yes, a lot of jobs would have been lost; but a lot of jobs were lost in the politically-driven bankruptcy that did happen. And the surviving lines of business in an economically-driven bankruptcy (including the jobs associated with them) might have had a better chance of survival in the long run. Sure, that might mean the end of Chrysler as a separate company.

    But the result of what the political bankruptcy that was done is that the blood-letting is not over, because the economic forces which drove Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy have not yet been fully accommodated.

    At best, the politicians who supported the “bailouts” can boast about the jobs that they “saved,” which will be true for, perhaps, as long as they stay in office, but not much longer.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think the American consumer will decide Chrysler’s fate, not a bunch of know-it-all blogmeisters. Last month Chrysler’s sales were up over FORTY percent, The Chrysler brand, with only three models, outsold Buick and Cadillac COMBINED. I just saw a new Dart testing on Woodward Avenue this morning. That car has success written all over it, and it competes in a segment that Chrysler has had virtually no offerings in for some time now. Ultimately, it will be customers pluncking down their hard earned cash that will determine how well Chrysler, and any other automaker for that matter, does in the future.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    Good too see you here, Ed! Working the crowd like a pro!

  • avatar
    nickoo

    You present a good negative view, but let’s not forget about Chrysler’s new products since 2009, their vastly increasing sales numbers month after month, and their first profitable year in who knows how long…

    It would be great if they were spun off from Fiat, there are clearly further steps they need to be taken, particularly by killing half of Jeep’s current lineup, getting the Avenger’s replacement to market ASAP, defining a clear brand image for Chrysler (aka buick/lexus or Cadillac/bmw competitor) and sticking to it, but just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and they have made a remarkable turn-around from the dark days of Daimler/Cerberus

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree, but Chrysler as a subdivision of Fiat, still has a multitude of problems, being dwarfed only by the problems of the nationalization recipient, GM.

      But the outlook for Chrysler is different because Chrysler is now a subdivision of Fiat, a foreign company. Fiatsler is much like Toyota, Honda or Nissan, in that it provides jobs to Americans who built cars in America for Americans. That is a good thing.

      And the UAW, as part owner of the Chrysler subdivision, is less likely to strike themselves. Nobody but Quickdraw McGraw would be so stupid as to shoot himself in the foot or cut off his nose to spite his face.

      What have we got with GM? More of the same as pre-2009. Not enough people buying their product. Too many divisions. A precarious state of finances in their Opel subdivision and an over-reliance on the French partnership to diversify their income streams.

      Bob King is all for downsizing Opel, as long as cuts remain overseas and the UAW keeps on living large in the US.

      Most people with half a brain avoid GM because they don’t want to buy last-century pickup trucks or be stuck with an orphan.

      GM has to downsize and refocus on their core markets and brands – Chevrolet and Cadillac. Buick is ripe for divesting and GMC should be folded into a luxury arm of Chevrolet.

      Chrysler is going to be expanding as Sergio implements his vision and strategy for global growth. Chrysler is the one to watch in spite of their own massive difficulties.

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Chrysler’s profits in the coming years are what keep Fiat going and standing.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Chrysler has been on a tear for the last year and half with very impressive YOY sales gains. Incentives were down relatively compared to the years past. They are pretty close to regaining the third spot back from Toyota if they keep the sales gains outpacing the market be huge margins. Its good to see them performing so well, however, there are worrying signs that all of this is unsustainable. Most sales gains have come from a completely refreshed product lineup and sales are going to taper off soon. If they made a paltry 500 million in profit for all of 2011 with record sales, how are they going to fare when sales plateau in the coming years?

    Also, from the 60 Minutes video, it seems Sergio was taking too much credit for Chrysler’s turnaround when in fact most of the products leading the charge were conceived well before Sergio took to the helm.

    The Dart’s 120,000 production capacity isn’t too low considering Chrysler Co’s compact sales are at zero now. 10K units a month would be a great start. The Dart is going to be a premium compact like the Focus/Cruze and not going to compete much with the current bargain basement compacts like the Corolla/Civic/Sentra. So, it need not sell in great volumes.

    What is funny is how people laud Chrysler for its comeback when it only made $700 Million despite impressive sales and a completely refreshed lineup but criticize GM which made $9.2 Billion with 80% of their sales coming from aging models (Silverado, Seirra, Tahoe, All GMT 900, Malibu, Impala, CTS and all Lambda’s) at the end of their product cycle.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Some of the anecdotes in the e-mails are scary, such as switching CAD systems and budget insanity. But many companies experience these things and live with them.

    The depletion of the 500 stock from 130 to 80 days sounds like a good thing rather than evidence of trouble.

    The Dart is going to sell well because it is so beautiful. Hopefully, it will perform well, too. I am eagerly looking forward to it.

    The expansion of the Dart chassis into other configurations doesn’t bother me – that’s what engineers do. And that “’80s era engineering think” is what saved Chrysler and produced lots of nice cars for the time.

  • avatar
    keet

    The whole CAD thing is being blown out of proportion. With a little digging, you’d find that they switched to be on the same page as their new parent company, Fiat. Doesn’t that make sense, since a lot of their new products are based on Fiat vehicles, or is it just more fun to put a negative spin on it???

  • avatar
    pb35

    I’m going to test drive a Charger R/T on Friday. If I have a positive dealer experience (and like the car), I just may plunk down my hard earned dollars for one.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    The proof will be in the pudding as it were and so far the pudding has been pretty good.
    This site is going to get interesting as we get closer to the election. I expect tons of TTAC charts extrapolating out all kinds of minutiae proving completely that Chrysler is somehow on life support. Sergio’s quotes will be dissected to the nth degree as the integrity patrol looks for missteps. Several articles will be published on how Chrysler is ready for failure as it doesn’t have a sales networks in far off locales like Micronesia and Easter Island. Reviews will lament that the Dart, while good, just doesn’t have that undeniable appeal of a mid 90s Civic. Thinly veiled references will fly that Mopar fans are a bunch of sub-prime credit score, trailer park dwellers with confederate flags on the door, 3 22 inch rims plus donut, and a 5 year old rap CD shredding the subwoofer. The Fiat 500 will be declared a failure even as sales continue to rise. After the arrival and success of the Dart, failure will be next pegged on Chrysler’s lack of a sub-sub compact car as, y’know, every manufacturer has to have one to be a player, right? As this goes on, the comment section will be littered with requests for a diesel, manual, Magnum wagon, statements that the Challenger is too slow because it weighs to much, and proclamations that they will never buy a Chrysler product again as the 1976 Volare they bought used out of college in 1989 had rusty fenders.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      You forgot the neon head gasket, the 2.7s and the Sebring name.

      Bonus: ‘it’s just an old E-Class,’ Dieter’s mustache or mentioning a dog defecating and Crossfire in the same sentence.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        Not to mention Grand Cherokee is a Mercedes ML, K cars were badge engineered crap, all Chrysler transmissions are crap, PT Cruisers are for old people, why don’t they make real Jeeps anymore?, and the Viper will have electronic nannies therefore, it will be inferior.

        Bonus points for Iaccoca and Snoop Dogg references.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India