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The Mercury Cars Guide : June 20th 2009
8— It’s business as usual at Chrysler NEIL McDONALD D O NOT expect the folk at Chrysler Australia to be learning Italian just yet. Despite the merger last week with the giant Fiat group, the local Chrysler operations will continue as usual, according to Chrysler Australia managing director, Gerry Jenkins. ‘‘I don’t see any immediate changes to our local opera- tions,’’ he says. ‘‘The future looks bright.’’ Chrysler Australia cur- rently distributes Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles here with Fiat distributed by the Sydney-based Ateco Group. Jenkins does not see any distribution changes. ‘‘We’re excited about the alliance and at the end of the day this industry is all about bringing great product to mar- ket,.’’ he said.; Fiat Group chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, will be thenewchief executive officer with Jim Press, formerly one of Chrysler’s two presidents, his deputy. ‘‘We now look forward to establishing a new paradigm for how automotive compa- nies can operate profitably going forward,’’ Marchionne says. ‘‘We intend to build on Chrysler’s culture of innova- tion and Fiat’s complemen- tary technology. ‘‘Those Chrysler operations assumed by the new company that were idled during this process will soon be back up and running, and work is already under way on devel- oping new environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient, high- quality vehicles that we in- tend to become Chrysler’s hallmark going forward.’’ Marchionne says that Chrysler will have a new product plan, including sev- eral models developed by Fiat, within 90 days. For Chrysler Australia it may mean access to a range of newer, smaller cars under- pinned by platforms from the Fiat stable. Chrysler’s business, including Australia, is one of the few bright spots in the company. Australia is Chrysler’s larg- est right-hand drive market and the number one Jeep Wrangler market outside North America. For Fiat the deal means it gains entree to the lucrative North American market for its cars, including Alfa Ro- meo. Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, June 20, 2009 LOOKING AHEAD: A neon sign in the showroom window a dealership in Chicago, Illinois. Fiat could also leverage its Case-New Holland truck, agri- cultural and construction business to push Fiat com- mercials into North America. Asia-Pacific Apart from Fiat’s lower-cost platforms, Chrysler will also have direct access to Italian engineering and state-of-the- art smaller capacity turbo- diesel engine technology. Chrysler will also benefit from Fiat’s management ex- pertise in business turn- around and provide access to Fiat’s international distribu- tion network, especially in Latin America and Russia. The merger makes the com- bined Fiat-Chrysler group the sixth largest carmaker in the world and ends months of speculation over the loss- makingUScarmaker’s future. However, the return of Fiat and Alfa Romeo to North America faces hurdles, not the least of which is a hangover from the days when Italian cars had a poor reputation for quality. Alfa Romeo cars have not be sold in the US since 1995 and Fiat since 1983. They both pulled out of the US market because of poor sales and reliability problems. It is the second time in 10 years the embattled Chrysler ‘ The future looks bright carmaker has found itself in foreign hands. German carmaker Daimler bought Chrysler in 1988 but sold out in 2007 to Cerberus Capital Management. DaimlerChrysler sold 80 per cent of its interest in Chrysler to Cerberus, which late last year gave up its share of Chrysler’s debt and forfeited its equity stake. Fiat will own 20 per cent of the loss-making Chrysler Gerry Jenkins, Chrysler Australia MD Group, to be known as the Chrysler Group LLC, and has the option of ramping this up to 51 per cent once the busi- ness is on a sound footing. The United Auto Workers’ ’ unions has 68 per cent, the US Treasury 2 per cent and the Canadian Government 20 per cent. The first vehicle expected to be built under thenewowners is the 2011 Jeep Grand Chero- kee.
June 13th 2009
June 27th 2009