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U.S. Government Bails Out on Chrysler, Ending Post-Bailout Ties

Fiat completes buy-out of government shares as it prepares for global realignment.

by on Jul.21, 2011

CEO Sergio Marchionne announcing the pay-off of the federal bailout in May.

The federal government has severed its remaining ties to the once-bankrupt Chrysler Corp., Italian automaker Fiat buying up the Treasury’s remaining shares in the Detroit maker.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, is expected to follow that news by announcing a global realignment next week, which will mark the next critical step in merging the two makers into a trans-Atlantic giant.  Fiat has steadily increased its stake in the U.S. maker after receiving a 20% share following Chrysler’s emergence from Chapter 11 protection in June 2009.

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Fiat paid $560 million for the government’s 98,461 shares, boosting its holdings by 6%.  Meanwhile, it paid another $125 million to purchase the 1.5% stake held by the Canadian government, which also offered Chrysler a helping hand during its emergence from bankruptcy.  In all, the Italian automaker now owns a 53.5% stake in Chrysler.

The U.S. maker received a total of $12.5 billion in assistance, starting in late 2008.  Since then, the maker has repaid $11.2 billion, fully covering the bailout provided by the Obama Administration.  But Marchionne has said he does not plan to cover the additional funds that were initially provided under the term of former President George W. Bush.


Chrysler Badge Vanishes from Europe

U.S. models will now be rebadged as Lancias.

by on Jun.01, 2011

No, it's not a Chrysler 300, but the newly reborn Lancia Thema. The Italian brand will now handle all Chrysler-brand products sold in Europe.

European buyers will no longer be able to get their hands on a car with Chrysler’s winged badge unless they have a source on the grey market.

Starting today, all products that were formally marketed under the Chrysler name will now be rebadged Lancia.

That’s the latest step in an evolving global strategy bringing Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat ever closer together.  With the European maker planning to control more than 51% of the once-bankrupt American automaker before year-end, Chrysler and Fiat are rapidly consolidating product development, distribution and finances.

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The decision to abandon the Chrysler brand name in Europe wasn’t entirely a surprise.  Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, revealed plans to pair the brand with the long-struggling Lancia during a November 2009 media and analyst briefing.  At the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, a number of Chrysler models, including the Town and Country minivan, as well as the small 200 and larger 300 sedans, were unveiled wearing the Lancia badge.

“We couldn’t maintain the two brands everywhere so we had to decide,” Olivier Francois, the executive overseeing the two brands, told Bloomberg news service. “Lancia has a higher awareness in Europe, while for the U.S. and the rest of the world, Chrysler is a more global brand.”


Lanchlers and Chryliats Debut in Geneva

Are Fiat and Chrysler blurring the lines a bit too much?

by on Mar.02, 2011

No, it's not a Chrysler 300, but the newly reborn Lancia Thema - based on the Chrysler 300.

If American visitors to the Geneva Motor Show get a sense of déjà vu at the Fiat and Lancia stands, that’s no surprise.  While they might wear a European badge, a variety of new models are indeed familiar to U.S. motorists – and raise fundamental questions about the alliance between Fiat and its trans-Atlantic partner, Chrysler.

The most notable debut from Lancia at this year’s Geneva show is the Thema, a reborn version of the brand’s flagship, which was discontinued in 1994. While the badge on the grille might be Italian, the rest of the car is a virtually unchanged Chrysler 300, the new version of which has just launched in the U.S. market.

Think of it as, “The first global flagship that combines the best of two worlds,” Lancia officials declared during their press conference.

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The Lancia stand also features the Voyager, also lifted, near whole, from the Chrysler line-up.  And the maker is showing a new concept car, the Flavia, which is based on the U.S. 200 sedan.  A production version is likely to debut in the coming months.

Over at the Fiat booth, the maker revealed the big Freemont crossover, also pulled from the Chrysler stable.  The European version was “developed to meet European needs and expectations,” officials declared to the assembled press core.


First Look: Chrysler 200 Convertible

Image leak forces maker to reveal model early.

by on Jan.18, 2011

Chrysler's new 200 convertible will reach showrooms by spring.

The lackluster Chrysler Sebring Convertible is about to get a wee bit more stylish replacement.  The maker has officially released the first pictures of an all-new Chrysler 200 Convertible, which will go into production later this year.

Versions of both the 200 sedan and ragtop will make their debut, meanwhile, under the Lancia badge, in March, at the annual Geneva Motor Show.

Significantly redesigned, the 200 sedan was launched last year.  (Click Here for’s review.) But the maker was holding back on word of the convertible until an upcoming auto show preview.  At least that’s what it had planned until photos were unofficially leaked out to some Web outlets.

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That forced Chrysler to put out an official press release – and to trigger an angry outburst by photographer Webb Bland, who declared it “infuriating,” on his Facebook page, that “five weeks of careful planning and logistics (were) destroyed in an instant…by one lone, misguided idiot.”


Marchionne to Outline Chrysler Plans

Aims to address skeptics.

by on Apr.19, 2010

Can CEO Sergio Marchionne convince skeptics that Chrysler and Fiat have a solid plan in place?

These days, more and more folks talk about the “Big Two,” General Motors and Chrysler, underscoring the growing sense of skepticism about Chrysler’s long-term viability.

But that’s one of the key issues that will be addressed – though not necessarily reversed – at a meeting in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.  The man in the spotlight will be Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO of both Chrysler and the Italian automaker Fiat, which took control of the U.S. company after it emerged from bankruptcy, last year.

The event, at Fiat’s global headquarters, will give the Canadian-educated Marchionne a chance to lay out his 5-year plan for not only the Italian maker and its various European subsidiaries – including Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and Maserati – but also how the Fiat Group will fit into Chrysler’s future.

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Among other things, that will mean a stepped-up presence for the U.S. maker abroad, as well as the hoped-for return of Alfa to North America, a market it abandoned two decades ago.