Chrysler Creates RAM Brand in Preparation for Chapter 7
As Colonel George Taylor would say, they’ve finally done it. Chrysler, the formerly bankrupt, federally-financed, Italian-owned carmaker has created a fourth automotive brand: Ram. As the company can’t come out and say they’re hiving-off Ram trucks to simplify Chrysler’s inevitable Chapter 7 fire sale, CEO Sergio Marchionne’s birth announcement blamed Dodge for the move (of all things). “This reorganization will allow us to protect and develop the unique nature of the product offerings within the Dodge Brand.” Yeah, ’cause all those Dodge Rams were muddying-up Dodge’s otherwise pristine image, used to such great effect with the Caliber and Avenger. To continue Dodge’s evolution towards filling Pontiac’s performance remit (I shit you not), Sergio’s appointed Ralph Gilles as the old brand’s new head, which will, presumably, no longer be that of a male sheep. As Gilles is the Canadian designer who unleashed the gangsta-riffic Chrysler 300, here’s hoping for an official name change to “The Dodge Boyz.” Meanwhile, The Detroit News [sub] is ROTFL about Sergio’s intentions to take Chrysler upmarket. Apparently, it’s going to be a “tough sell.”
Here, finally, is a Detroit News story that eviscerates of a boneheaded Motown plan. Never mind that they rely entirely on “analysts” for the disemboweling bit. It’s all good. I mean, bad.
– “GM spent $2 billion over 10 years on Cadillac — and it was already upscale,” said Rebecca Lindland, head of industry research for the Americas for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. . . .
– “At this stage of their rehabilitation, I think that’s real folly,” said analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. in Short Hills, N.J.
– “To maintain anywhere near their former healthy volumes, they would be counting heavily on Dodge vehicles to capture current Chrysler buyers, which is in no way a given,” [John Sousanis, director of information content for Ward’s Information Products] said.
– “Fiat needs to do a tremendous amount of market research before jumping into this,” [Lindland] said.
– Libby said Chrysler would need a complete makeover of existing vehicles to justify raising prices and would have to radically change its lineup, including the addition of a flagship sedan in the $70,000 range, and its starting point is “not nearly as strong as Cadillac or Lincoln.”
– It would not be an easy shift, said John Casesa, managing partner of Casesa Shapiro Group in New York. “It’s much easier to go downmarket than upmarket.”
– “They’d be faced with the problem of introducing a new luxury brand to a public that already has misgivings about the Chrysler brand name in general,” [Sousanis] said.
– Quality issues have dragged down consumers’ perceptions of the brand, Phillippi said, and people shopping for a luxury car are unlikely to think of Chrysler.
All those in favor say “aye.” Anyone? Bueller?
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