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MiscellaneousForbes Magazine on Chrysler's Demise
Posted by mike on 2000/10/16 0:00:00 (995) reads

We recently came across an outstanding article regarding the demise of the Chrysler name since the creation of DaimlerChrysler. The article is critical of Jurgen Schrempp, the German CEO of the multi-national company for all but ignoring the people who made Chrysler great and just concentrating on the factories and hardware. Here's an excerpt:

The Chrysler that Daimler bought is dead. The recent resignation of Thomas Gale, the great Chrysler designer, brings that home as nothing else could. This was the mistake Jurgen Schrempp made when he bought Chrysler: He didn't realize it was the people who counted, not the factories, which were old, or the sales and profits, which could come and go. The people and the leadership are the heart and spirit of the Detroit automaker, and when they go, all that is left are old factories and problems.

Investors seem to realize this. They have, in effect, written the entire value of Chrysler down to zero. Since Daimler bought Chrysler for $37 billion its market value has shrunk by $35 billion.

The managers at the old Chrysler were unique. I never saw anything like them in all my years covering the industry. There wasn't one man like Lee Iacocca. It was a team. They didn't always agree, and I'm not sure they liked each other. But how they worked together!

I likened them to the musketeers. Robert Lutz, the vice chairman who was pushed out, was D'Artagnan. His three fellow musketeers were Tom Stallkamp, thrown out as president of DaimlerChrysler; Francois Castaing, the great engineer who invented the modern system of creating new products, who resigned, and now Tom Gale, who oversaw the design of the PT Cruiser and all Chrysler vehicles.

Whatever Schrempp has now, it's not the Chrysler he bought. Of course, this isn't the first time in corporate history that a merger has been followed by the departure of talented people. But there are some real problems.

Some of Chrysler's key products are old or are facing greatly improved competition. These include the Dodge Ram big pickup truck and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. These are the big profitmakers. The cars are dying out.

Worse, from all I've heard, Chrysler morale is shot, and the daring and imagination of the old Chrysler seem to be buried under German management. Schrempp badly needs that daring and imagination, but he doesn't seem to know it. Maybe it's because he never knew how bad Chrysler could be. He never drove a Plymouth Volare or a Dodge Aspen, or watched them rust. Chrysler could turn out dogs like those again.

There are some pluses, however:

The Chrysler design team is still tops, better than almost everybody. Tom Gale hired well.

The company has the hottest car in the world, the PT Cruiser. Of course it's impossible to say how well the Germans will exploit the PT. The dream of a PT convertible is dead, and there will be no PT woodie.

There are some new products coming in the next few years, like a redone Jeep Cherokee, a new minivan, rear-wheel-drive cars and a couple of crossovers (meaning a car-based, four-wheel-drive vehicle). A new Dodge Ram pickup is also on the way.

But some of these products (like the PT Cruiser) are creations of the departed team.

Be sure to check out the entire article.

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Poster Thread
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Robert Susanka
Here is my comment, Set Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep free. I didnt like the Idea in the first place, Chriysler Is an American company and always will be. Walter.P. Chrysler and Henry. Ford were historically good friends and a merger between them would have been a far greater match, and offered better compitetion to GM. Perhaps Ford and Chrysler should talk. I know it sounds crazy but look how all the mergers at Ford that have prospered and remained their own identity.

Poster Thread
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Griff
I agree with Robert that the Benz people should let the Chrysler be their own thing. I don't know how much influence the Benz people have on the Chrysler concept cars but Chrysler seems to have a pretty good looking group of concept cars and up and coming cars (minus the KJ) and if they would just produce them they would be in good shape. But I think Chrysler should be their own separate company. No Ford, No GM, No Benz. I disagree with Robert on Chrysler joining with Ford's PAG group. Look at the new cars coming out of that group that are under euro brands like Jags, Volvos, and Land Rover. The new S-Type Jags are really nice but they are on the same undercarrage as the Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable, and Lincoln LS. Volvo is looking to get a car on that same platform that Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, and Jaguar share. The Land Rover company which has been producing the rich mans Jeeps for years might be getting a new all wheel drive system for the Range Rover. Thanks to Ford's PAG they think that Range Rovers, the most able and luxurous sport ute that was the pioneer of the luxury SUV segment, needs to drop the low range and get All wheel drive instead. That is a crime in its self. If you made enough money to buy a Range Rover I bet your competent enough to figure out when you need to throw it into low range. The truck is all ready full time 4 wheel drive but why would you loose that transfer case, that's something i would like to know from Ford's PAG autogroup. So if you want your next Jeep Grand Cherokee to be on a Expedition platform or your next Wrangler on a Ford Escape platform maybe you should tell ford to buy Chrysler. But then again if you want those things you are in the wrong place for info. Maybe you should be looking at explorer news and not Jeep. I really don't want my Cherokee on to be part of Ford Ex.... SUV line. They might rebadge it and call it a Ford, maybe a Jeep devired Ford Explosion.

Poster Thread
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: dana300
One thing you could always count on from Chrysler was innovative and exciting vehicles done by motorheads for motorheads. Apparently the Germans won't be happy until the Mopar legacy is dead and buried and all Chrysler products are Mercedes variants...what a tragic end for some of the most dramatically-engineered, fun-to-drive, best-loved American automobiles...I hope Messrs. Gale, Stalkamp, and Lutz are not through suprising and delighting those of us who are certified car nuts.....
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