My dad retired from Chrysler international advertising at BBDO and my wife and I both worked on Chrysler and Jeep’s advertising during his tenure. Going farther back when I was ten, I can remember my mother telling me a story about our neighbors who said, “buy the stock for a buck”. Good tip, wish we had and then dumped it high. Yet with all this, to say we are a family steeped in Chrysler is an insult to the people who are still steeping in it. We had the good fortune to get out several years ago and have never looked back.
Fiat Group, the Italian company that owns Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Abarth, absorbed Chrysler’s assets in June as part of the auto maker’s federally supervised bankruptcy. Fiat now has a 20% ownership stake in the company. The U.S. Treasury holds a 9.8% stake. Fiat’s stake is expected to grow as they shares more of its technologies with Chrysler. Together as one, the companies will have their first board meeting starting Monday.
“I can only tell you that the level of engagement is relatively high,” Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer Fiat SpA e Fiat Group Automobiles, said in the Fiat earnings call. “I am very, very confident that the measures that we’re putting in place will pull Chrysler out of the crisis that it found itself in. The level of and the quality of the management team is outstanding.” I’m sure he is referring in part to Jim Press who ran Toyota for all those years. My wife and I had a nice chat with him at Street Side Restaurant in Birmingham right after he moved out from California.
The three-day deep tissue massage will take place in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They will attempt to address the chronically tight and repetitively strained heads of those that can’t figure out what America wants or how to sell what they’ve got. They’ll drive the vehicle lineup and strategize how to wean themselves off of gas guzzlers and crack-based incentive sales. Additional conversation is sure to insue about how to bring small cars to Chrysler, re-elevate the brand to its once glorious status (or drop it altogether) and take on Honda and Toyota in the process. But the proof is in the pudding isn’t it? Which is an ironic turn of phrase given that pudding is half the reason our fat-ass country has such huge cars to begin with.