Chrysler's China Syndrome

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
chryslers china syndrome

While Buick has helped GM become one of the top-selling firms in China, Chrysler is struggling to sell its own brand of Americana in the Middle Kingdom. Automotive News [sub] paints a dreary picture of Chrysler’s China operations, describing dealerships in glamorous Shanghai with “a sun-faded advertisement for the 300C peeling off the glass,” and a “rain-streaked shop sign above the main entrance (on which) the colors inside the Chrysler logo have washed out completely.” And between quotes from dealers bemoaning “not so good” recent sales numbers and the lack of Chinese production, AN finds plenty of blame to go around. Though Chrysler had an early inside line on the Chinese market thanks to its Beijing Jeep venture in the early 80s, the Daimler hookup proved disastrous to ChryCo’s Chinese ambitions. “Under DaimlerChrysler, Chrysler was only ever seen as the U.S. unit of a global company,” a Chrysler employee tells AN. “When it came to expansion into China, Chrysler’s needs took a back seat.” As a result, Chryslser sold only 8,207 300Cs, Sebrings and Caravans in China in the first six months of this year. Over the same period, General Motors China sold 261,443 cars and Ford Motor China sold 89,117.

And though the Chinese love Buick’s subtle yet unmistakably American look, Chrysler’s over-the-top styling isn’t winning many friends. “Chrysler has been the only company to make a U.S. vehicle without any changes to suit the Chinese market,” says John Zeng of Global Insight. Besides, if you think quality is bad on American models like the Avenger, imagine the same car built under license in China. Chrysler does have some opportunity in China, as many Chinese automakers are as desperate as Chrysler to find a foreign partner to improve their products and brand image. Unfortunately, as JD Powers analyst John Bonnel puts it “Chrysler has its hands full with problems in the U.S. They’ll find it hard to marshal the resources they need to build a business here.”

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  • Menno Menno on Oct 21, 2008

    Yes, the tiny little American Motors team at the old Nash HQ (Plymouth Road, Detroit) did a terrific job on that XJ, didn't they, Ingvar? Something GM and Chrysler could actually use to their benefit - a small, dedicated team of underdogs. All GM and Chrysler have instead, are a massive non-team with morale kicked into the nearest bucket. And a plan to take two such non-teams and merge them, apparently. Idiots.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Oct 21, 2008

    So Chrysler can't afford to keep it's showrooms in order? C'mon how stupid is that? That would be like an American dealer refusing to cut the grass b/c business was bad. Pretty short sighted to me. If business is slow then they've got extra time to get out there and spruce the place up and think up some new strategy. What are they doing? Sitting in the back office in a depression?

  • Olddavid I cannot understand the Audi demographic. The powertrain requires technical gymnastics to make it merely acceptable and I've never known one to get past the warranty period w/o an extended stay at the dealer. Granted, I haven't owned one since the Jurassic period, but nothing I have seen or experienced would change my mind. I was given a Q6 (7,8?) as a courtesy car while being fleeced by their retail mechanics and it didn't even make the return trip without a journey by hook. Then I was treated to the pitch of the eight computers making sure I had no earthly needs unaddressed while driving the vehicle. Key word - driving - seemed beyond their capability. Didn't all the OEM's tout direct injection and coil-on-plug combined with more computing power than Apollo 11 as the end of driveability concerns? I'm somewhat reluctant to throw out the baby with the bathwater because I have had excellent performance from my "fleet" that are equipped with OBDII, but the simplicity of vacuum advance and dwell meters and a handy Uni-Syn have me considering the change. Realistically, I soon expect to no longer be able to get out my jackstands and tools and go to work. My former brother-in-law always said "fail to plan is planning to fail" and really practiced what he preached. I guess a little realism won't hurt me. End of screed
  • Luke42 I'm only interested if it has a plug.For cars, I'm EV-only.For a truck, I can see the utility of a PHEV, or an EV with a ridiculously long range -- for towing a travel-trailer.A PHEV pickup truck would be very interesting.
  • Jkross22 Most cars would be better with a manual. Maybe not the large SUV/sedan classes of cars, but everything else would be better/more enjoyable. Everything smaller than a Camry would drive better with a manual.
  • Tassos this "tease" is not worth the paper it's printed on. As is the vast majority of such "teases" that do not reveal a single spec or decent photo of the vehicle.
  • Tassos Even when new, these were tiny, worthless, unsafe, unstable pieces of JUNKTO ask.. $7,200 (don't forget the $200) for this utterly worthless 38 year old rustbucket is a testament to what a total fool must one be to be buying any car today. My advise to all of you who are eager to buy anything today is W A I T. Wait two years. Keep what you have, it could not possibly be worse than this worthless piece of excrement.Oh, and BTW,, I DID drive this worthless thing, had to rent it on a 5 day vacation on an island in the Mediterranean. So don't tell me I don't know it.