Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is Chrysler Roadkill?

Car & Driver Seems to think so, as does Consumer Reports?

Today's Chrysler products are not the fault of present management. Daimler-Chrysler designed these vehicles years ago. And the new Chief Executive Robert Nardelli is trying to remedy some of the most glaring problems with Chrysler's current lineup.

But the big problem with Chrysler is the new management team. Cerberus Capital Management, Chrysler's new owners, hired Wolfgang Bernhard, one of the top car men in the world, to run Chrysler. Bernhard was one of the executives behind the Chrysler 300 success and for cutting costs, too. Apparently, he walked out when he found out he would not be the boss but was to follow the orders of Bob Nardelli, former chief executive of Home Depot. Prior to coming to Chrysler, Nardelli had no automotive experience. Just what you might expect from a corporate entitiy that is named after a three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades and with little or no automotive expericence of their own.

Chrysler's new purchasing boss, is a former associate of Nardelli at the hardware store. Everyone assumes this means the company will be buying more parts from China, where everything is cheap. This is not a good move to telegraph to the market!

Chrysler just made a deal with Nissan to buy some cars from Nissan's factory in Mexico, and sell them in Brazil and Latin America. Don't expect much to come of this agreement. Chrysler has no business in these markets and can't gain market share with a re-badged car. There will not be any profit in this. What Chrysler is doing here is anybody's guess because there is rarely enough profit in a small car for one manufacturer, much less two! Rarely does this type of deal work for either company. Chrysler needs to relearn the term "Focus"!

There are still many positives in Chrysler. Their minivan is good enough to be the best seller, and the Dodge Ram pickup has a huge following. Customers are not fools. They know what they want. Personally I think the Chrysler 300 sedan is one of the best-looking cars on the road and the Hemi V-8 is still a keyword in most masculine mindsets!

Never say never! Chrysler has come back from the dead before and the market loves a come-back kid!

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