When FCA Chairman Sergio Marchionne speaks, the automotive world listens. And Friday could be epic if he announced a phase-out of the iconic Chrysler badge.
Larry Vellequette is reading the tea leaves sitting atop the Crain Communications building overlooking the Motor City, writing for the Automotive News.
“I expect that they’ll probably say it’s going to phase out,” he told 7 Action News. “This is purely speculative in nature but they have so starved the Chrysler brand.”
Chrysler only makes the old, some would say stale 300 passenger car and the newer updates Pacifica minivan and Pacifica hybrid.
Four years ago, Chrysler had planned to produce 8 different models. But Vellequette says the Chrysler name may not disappear completely.
“The Pacifica will stay. And they may just keep the Chrysler badge on the Pacifica. And say that’s the brand,” he said.
Waymo a driverless fleet just bought 62,000 Pacifica hybrids.
On the other hand, FCA could also announce expanding the Jeep brand with a smaller model and at the top of the line with the luxurious Grand Wagoneer.
Brian Ackerman is sales manager at Jim Riehl’s Friendly Chrysler in Warren.
He says, “From our standpoint, Mr. Marchionne has made some good decisions. You might question them at the time they’re announced. But as it plays out, it seems like he’s usually ahead of the curve.”
This is all happening now because Marchionne is retiring and wants to leave the company in the best financial shape.
The Fiat badge may be discontinued completely in the US and expanded in other markets where it does well.
This is not the first time the Chrysler brand has struggled to maintain it's identity. Here is a timeline to better explain it's history to where the company is today.
1925- Chrysler first launches in the US, selling well engineered cars during World War Two.
1998- Chrysler pairs up with German automaker Daimler-Benze and becomes known as Diamler Chrysler.
2007- Just shy of a decade since the merge, Diamler-Benze sells Chrysler to a private equity company known as Cerberus Capital Management for over seven billion dollars.
2008- The recession hits and Chrysler has to file for bankruptcy. The Federal Government provided the Detroit automaker with a four billion dollar bailout so they can keep operations afloat.
2009- Fiat steps in to merge with the company and Chrysler becomes known as Fiat-Chrysler.
Since the take over in 2009 the Italian automaker has made big changes. The original goal was to focus on small well-engineered cars, but with more Americans wanting bigger cars, that plan may be in jeopardy.