Chrysler Suicide Watch 35: Reason to Be Cheerful

chrysler suicide watch 35 reason to be cheerful
(The following email was sent to Chrysler employees today. It was released to the media with a note which read "'This information should help you cover Chrysler. We also sent it to our employees to help them as ambassadors of the company – Nancy." We leave it to you, our Best and Brightest, to make what you will of it.)

Keeping Track of the Facts on Chrysler LLC

By Nancy Rae

Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Communications

As the industry goes through a period of great change and a slowing economy, we all face difficult questions about the status of the industry and our company. Following are a number of the leading subjects that come up in the media and in our daily conversations, as well as information you need to know and share:

The State of the U.S. Auto Industry in 2008 .

Our full year plan for the market in 2008 has been aggressively conservative, allowing us to be better positioned for the current slowdown. We are clearly in a challenging environment, but continue to be focused on building a profitable enterprise for the long term. We are committed to good business practices despite the market slowdown such as reducing fleet sales (volume down more than 20% YTD) and dealer inventory (volume is down 67,000 units from a year ago).

The State of Chrysler

. As a private company, we are like a $60 billion startup with a real owner-operator mentality.

. Despite the challenges, we are meeting or exceeding our financial targets.

. According to Bob Nardelli (in The Wall Street Journal), "Cerberus nor its backers are second-guessing the deal. They are not looking back."

. According to Tim Price, Cerberus spokesman, "We are comfortable. We are long-term investors. Chrysler is ahead of its cash flow forecast by $1 billion."

. We currently have our top 300 leaders going through a comprehensive leadership development program consisting of five segments focusing on strategic thinking, operating excellence and leadership.

. We are developing project-specific alliances to help bring the world's best technology to our customers, as soon as possible. Examples range from working with Nissan on a new small car for global markets to partnering with GM, Daimler and BMW on hybrid technology.

. We enacted a 5 percent cost reduction on certain non-production materials and services as a part of ongoing efforts to reduce our cost footprint in a highly competitive marketplace.

Chrysler's Sales in 2008

. Worldwide sales are down 14% YTD, which includes YTD increases in Canada, Mexico and International Markets. Fleet sales in the U.S. were down 40% in May and 23% for the year.

. Sales are rising for new products, such as Dodge Journey (2nd best selling mid-size crossover in May), Dodge Avenger (+15% YTD), Dodge Caliber (+9% YTD), Chrysler Sebring Sedan/Convertible (+11% YTD), and Jeep Patriot/Compass (+65% YTD).

. Our long-wheelbase minivans' U.S. retail sales are up 30% YTD, and retail share is up.

. In Canada, Chrysler is the #2 best selling manufacturer in the country, and up 5.5% YTD.

. In Mexico, Chrysler's sales are up 5.1% YTD.

. Outside North America, Chrysler's international sales are up 8% YTD, with markets like China and Russia becoming a larger part of our business.

. Dealers have embraced Project Genesis, and we are making progress in transforming the U.S. dealer network. Through May, 58% of our dealers are tri-branded, compared to 50% a year ago. In the U.S., we now have 3,488 dealers, down from a year ago 3,684.

Chrysler's Alignment with Marketplace

. Chrysler is better aligned than previously for the shift towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. We also believe there is a strong and viable pickup truck market going forward.

. Through May, our U.S. sales were 41% pickup trucks and traditional SUVs, and 59% cars, car-based crossovers, compact vehicles and minivans. (Industry is at 33%/67% ratio)

. Chrysler has six vehicles that achieve 28 MPG on the highway: Dodge Caliber, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.

Chrysler's Launch Lineup for 2008

These new vehicles have competitive advantages and are well-suited for today's marketplace:

. Dodge Journey – A crossover with class-leading (25 mpg) with a 4-cylinder engine.

. Chrysler Aspen/Dodge Durango Hybrids – Full-size SUVs offering up to 40% improved fuel economy in the city at a price thousands of dollars less than the competition.

. 2009 Dodge Ram – There is no better way to fight truck buyer malaise than with our best truck lineup ever boasting breakthrough new features. The new Dodge Ram lineup will also soon add optional light duty diesel and hybrid powertrain options.

. Dodge Challenger – This modern muscle car will come with a fuel-efficient V6 option at an aggressive entry-level price of $21,995.

Harbour Report for Manufacturing Productivity

. This year, Chrysler tied Toyota for #1 in manufacturing productivity (avg assembly hours).

. Chrysler has the #1 assembly plant (innovative Toledo Supplier Park) and #1 engine plant (GEMA joint venture with Hyundai and Mitsubishi).

. The combination of lower hours-per-vehicle production and a more competitive wage rate helps us compete with the transplants.


. In the latest J.D. Power IQS, the company improved six points, and Chrysler and Dodge brands showed improvement. Unfortunately, the Jeep brand was last in the survey due to concerns about the Wrangler Unlimited. We can do better and we know it.

. Dodge Durango and Dodge Dakota were tops in segments for least problems per hundred. Chrysler PT Cruiser took second place in the "Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle Segment".

. We have a corporate wide focus on the customer. As part of this, we have put in place the industry's first Chief Customer Office, Doug Betts, and the Customer Advisory Board.

. Chrysler LLC has approved more than 400 improvements in areas such as better materials, fit and finish and quieter operation.

Commodity Prices

. In the wake of mounting pressure from ever-increasing steel and other commodity prices, Chrysler is managing its costs and revenues to partially offset spiraling commodity costs.

. Chrysler will continue its overall commitment to deliver the best values in the business through increasing standard equipment with our New Day packages to creative incentives, such as the $2.99 Gas Guarantee and our industry-leading lifetime powertrain warranty.

. At the beginning of the model year, Chrysler added, on average, $1,200 of new content to the vehicles in its lineup.

Investing in our Future with Advanced Technology

. Chrysler is in the midst of a $3 billion investment in advanced powertrains to develop new fuel efficient engines, axles and transmissions.

. ENVI is Chrysler's in-house organization charged with establishing Chrysler leadership in electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies.

. Chrysler's UConnect® is a Bluetooth® enabled voice-activated, in-vehicle, hands-free communications system that recognizes more than 100,000 words and is capable of learning new words. Voice commands can input addresses to the navigation system, select satellite radio stations and access voice mail. New for 2009, the hands-free system automatically downloads up to 1,000 phone book entries per phone.

. Examples of new advanced technologies available on 2009 models include:

. In-vehicle wireless Internet connectivity: coming from Mopar® by year end 2008.

. Rear Cross Path: Chrysler-exclusive system warns drivers of approaching traffic in the parking lot aisle during back-up maneuvers.

. Blind Spot Monitoring: exclusive to Chrysler and Dodge in minivan segment.

We are committed to continuing to share information with you. As an ambassador for this company, we hope you will communicate this information in your conversations about Chrysler.


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2 of 52 comments
  • Jackc10 Jackc10 on Jun 24, 2008

    "We currently have our top 300 leaders going through a comprehensive leadership development program.." That probably means 300 employees get to listen to Nardelli's retelling of his football glories at some minor league college and how he reduced costs at HD by getting rid of employees that the customers mistakenly thought were part of the operation.

  • Cayman Cayman on Jun 25, 2008

    If i were running Chrysler, things would be dramatically different -- that is, i'd stop lying through my teeth about how confident Chrysler executives are that the company will survive intact. We all know that it won't. First of all, Chrysler products are well below average by almost all measures of quality and fuel economy. What's more, Chysler has't bothered to properly invest in new vehicle development in the last decade. Farming everything out to the lowest bidder is the best way to integrate a junk product. And let's not forget how nicely this PR-spun piece ignored the cash burn problem. Sure, Chrysler is trimming down inventory on dealer lots as fast as it can. But it has to give away each car and truck to do it. So long, Chrysler, it was nice knowing you. Please donate your last few factories to the city governments so that they can refurbish them into low-cost housing or something useful.

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.