Chrysler: No News is Good News

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Today’s the day automakers reveal their US new car sales numbers for June. For the last umpteen years, Chrysler has greeted the gloaming with a conference call with jobbing journos and anxious analysts: a spinmeisterfest wherein ChryCo would attempt to explain away their hemorrhaging bottom line with talk of The Next Big Thing (electric minivans!). Ah, but this is NEW Chrysler (a.k.a. Fiatsler). The Italian stallion running the US taxpayer-supported company has decreed the American part of his fiefdom should stay shtum on its stinking, sinking sales. (I guess he missed GM CEO Fritz Henderson’s transparency pledge.) In fact, reports that Chrysler’s top suits have said anything about anything since the company emerged from bankruptcy. All except the boss, of course, who told Bloomberg that ChryCo’s cash burn is returning to simmer. Oh, Sergio!

“We are still burning cash, but it’s slowed down by far,” Marchionne told Bloomie’s yesterday. “The question is how quickly we can stop the bleeding. That is priority No. 1.”

OK, signore, spill! I mean, we’re paying for this right? So tell us how you’re doing and what you’re gonna do. Fair’s fair, yes?

“It would be very useful for the public, and the people who have funded us, including the taxpayers, to know how we’re doing,” he said. Marchionne said he’s working with the US Treasury to decide what information Chrysler might report and when to release it.

By the end of the month, Marchionne wants to decide how the partnership will manage its Dodge and Alfa Romeo brands, which he sees as American and European counterparts.

“The level of competition between these two brands is tremendous because they are both going after the same customer,” Marchionne said. “Dodge is the American muscle car, while Alfa Romeo is the European muscle car. How we dovetail these two brands is very important.”

That’s what he’s worried about? We are so screwed. Meanwhile (yet not entirely unrelated), the Wall Street Journal reports that those Chrysler dealers that remain are having trouble securing vehicles that actually sell (e.g., Jeep Wrangler and T&C minivan). The WSJ sees the “high-demand” model drought as one of them there “signs of stability.” And then coughs-up the real deal.

While it had less than a 40-day supply of a few vehicles, including the Wrangler, at the end of May, according to Autodata, it had a glut of others, such as the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Patriot. Some dealers said they are being forced to buy less-sought-after vehicles from their fellow dealers in order to get a few coveted Wranglers or Town and Countrys.

Plus ça change and all that, only in Italian.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Ajla Ajla on Jul 01, 2009

    Dodge screwed its naming all up. I've mentioned this before, but the current Charger sedan should have been called the Coronet. Mopar built six-cylinder Coronet sedans back in the day so modern 2.7L and 3.5L versions wouldn't be blasphemy. Plus, both the LX Charger and 1970 Coronet have a similar "scowling headlight" look, and it still would have allowed Dodge to create sported-up Super Bee versions but remain correctly in-line with history. Just as important though, it would have freed up the Charger nameplate so that the current LY-Challenger could be the new Charger. I do think the '09 Challenger looks good, but its dimensions are so wrong that it doesn't give me flashbacks to the E-body. The LY-platform is actually closer in size to the B-body that the Charger was based on. I imagine that a LY-coupe skinned like a 1970 Charger would have a much cleaner look- it would probably be more popular too. _____ It wouldn't have saved Chrysler, but at least would have made people complain less.

  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Jul 02, 2009
    The level of competition between these two brands is tremendous because they are both going after the same customer,” Marchionne said. “Dodge is the American muscle car, while Alfa Romeo is the European muscle car.” yeah I can see a lot of cannibalism betwen Dodge sales and Alfa's. I like them both, but they are half a world apart. Oddly enough.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Defender looks way better than the Bronco in both 2-door and 4-door.
  • ToolGuy I found this particular episode to be incredibly offensive.I am shocked that eBay Motors is supporting this kind of language and attitudes in 2024.I will certainly keep this in mind next time I am choosing where to buy auto parts (I buy a LOT of auto parts).
  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.