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Alphabet Soup as Chrysler Becomes FCA US LLC

Familiar name to remain only on Chrysler brand products.

by on Dec.16, 2014

More changes for the newly merged Fiat Chrysler.

After nearly 90 years, it’s the end of the road for the familiar Chrysler corporate name.

Just two months after the maker completed its merger with Italy’s Fiat, the U.S. side of the company will abandon the familiar Chrysler Group LLC to become FCA US LLC.

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The name is meant to better reflect that of the new parent company, the global Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

“FCA US continues to build upon the solid foundations first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925 as well as a rich Fiat heritage that dates from 1899,” the company said in a prepared statement.


Mercedes Will Provide Platform for New Infiniti Luxury Car

Daimler ramps up increasingly successful partnership with Renault-Nissan alliance.

by on Sep.14, 2011

Infiniti will use a Mercedes-Benz platform when it goes to production with a compact luxury car based on the striking Etherea concept vehicle.

The all-new Mercedes-Benz B-Class platform will be shared with Infiniti which plans to use it as the foundation for a compact luxury offering based on the popular Etherea concept car.

That’s the latest move to emerge from a rapidly expanding alliance between Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG and erstwhile rivals Nissan and Renault, which have made a successful go of their own Euro-Asian alliance.

In an unusual joint appearance, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn provided an update on their 18-month-old strategic partnership and gave a sense of where they hope to go next.

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The three companies will soon begin sharing powertrains, as well as an assortment of vehicle platforms.   But among other things, they are looking at the possibility of pooling efforts on the development of zero-emissions vehicles, the two CEOs suggested.

“We probably haven’t seen as much change in our industry in decades as we have to face now,” said Zetsche in explaining why Daimler, Nissan and Renault have chosen to work together.  So, he added, “By doing (things) together in certain areas we will get even stronger.”

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and his Nissan-Renault counterpart Carlos Ghosn during a Frankfurt Motor Show news conference.


Cruisin’ to a Conclusion

Production set to stop on once popular Chrysler PT Cruiser.

by on Jun.30, 2010

Going for its last cruise. The once wildly popular PT Cruiser ends its production run on July 9.

Its debut at the 2000 North American International Auto Show touched off a near-riot when Chrysler began handing out die cast models.  And in its first few years on the market, the automaker could barely keep up with production.  But shortly after the Independence Day break, a car once described as “too cool to categorize” will fade into oblivion, the last one set to roll down the line on July 9.

Exactly why the Chrysler PT Cruiser is going out of production is as much a matter of debate as the reasons for its early success, though there’s no arguing the fact that sales are a shadow of their one-time peak, when the Detroit maker could barely keep up with demand.

Short for Personal Transportation, the Cruiser was one of the first domestic models to fall into the nebulous crossover category.  Even federal regulators had a hard time figuring out whether to call it a car or truck for safety and fuel economy standards.  Smaller by a foot than the old Dodge Neon sedan, its high seating and large cargo compartment were part of the appeal, but there was also a sort of back-to-the-future element to the design, former Chrysler officials suggested.

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“The styling gets you into the vehicle, but the utility keeps you there,” one-time PT Cruiser Marketing Manager Jay Kughie told TheDetroitBureau at the vehicle’s launch.


Chrysler Puts the “Help Wanted” Sign Out

Maker boosting production, speeding up product development.

by on Jun.09, 2010

Chrysler has already announced plans to boost employment by nearly 2,700 so far this year.

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Even before Chrysler and its former partner, Daimler, split up their ill-fated marriage, the U.S. maker began a massive downsizing that only accelerated when Chrysler plunged into bankruptcy, last year.

But, suddenly, the Help Wanted signs are going out in front of the maker’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  And not only is Chrysler bulking up at the plants it predicts will boost sales, but it is also bringing in workers to help speed up its product development system.

Just since the beginning of the year, the maker has announced plans to add nearly 2,700 blue and white-collar employees, notes the Detroit Free Press, and the pace is expected to increase in the months to come.  While many of Chrysler’s new hirings will be done on a temporary or contract basis, the maker also appears to be looking for a number of full-time employees.


Daimler’s Zetsche on a Tightrope

Daimler's CEO is struggling to keep momentum going.

by on Apr.13, 2010

A number of recent moves by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche have come under fire.

Ever since he moved back to Stuttgart, after a 2005 tour of duty as Chrysler’s chief executive, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has been dogged by the lingering controversies left behind by his predecessor, Juergen Schrempp. In addition, Zetsche has been challenged by a series of new issues that have left the company poorer and its strategic direction open to challenge.

Zetsche was supposed to offer stability and tranquility after Schrempp’s stormy reign as CEO – which ended in an angry annual meeting, in Berlin, during the spring of 2005, when shareholders went after Schrempp with the kind of zest the Red Baron’s Flying Circus used to reserve for chasing down British aircraft in World War I air battles.  Schrempp’s few defenders in the hall were left pleading for civility.

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By comparison, Zetsche’s tenure has been reasonably tranquil, though he has nonetheless been left balancing precariously on the high-wire without much of safety net.


Daimler on the Mend?

An unexpected upturn at the Mercedes car and truck brands?

by on Oct.19, 2009

The old Mercedes CLK morphs into the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe for 2010.

The 2010 E-Class is receiving a solid reception and helping revive Daimler's financial fortunes.

Less appears to be more for Daimler AG.

The German maker, parent to Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach, among other operations, has disclosed partial financial information indicating third-quarter operating profits and sales were lower than a year ago but better than anticipated, particularly since top-line revenue dropped 18%.

Industry analysts were particularly upbeat on the news, suggesting that the solid reception for the latest-generation Mercedes E-Class sedans and coupes could trigger a much-needed turnaround.  Of course they could just be peddling stock in a depressed company.

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The company said its cash flow was better than expected during the third quarter.  Daimler, like other automakers, has seen its reserves and resources drained by the global recession.


Daimler Dumps Chrysler – Again

Newest battle centers on Sprinter van.

by on Sep.02, 2009

As part of the continuing split between former partners Daimler and Chrysler, Dodge dealers will no longer be able to market the popular Sprinter van.

As part of the continuing split between former partners Daimler and Chrysler, Dodge dealers will no longer be able to market the popular Sprinter van, as of January 2010.

Mercedes-Benz USA LLC is preparing to take over sales of the Sprinter vans in the U.S. from Chrysler Group LLC and Freightliner, Daimler AG’s American truck subsidiary. That’s right luxury car dealers will handle the commercial truck.

The unceremonious decision to cut the Sprinter ties to Dodge wasn’t exactly a surprise given the increasingly bad blood between Chrysler LLC and its old German partner. Last week, Chrysler filed a lawsuit against Daimler, charging it with failing to honor a supply contract – in fact, the second legal action the American maker had taken against its former partner in barely a month.

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Daimler plans to stop supplying the Sprinter vans to Dodge dealers on Jan.1, 2010. None of the more than 300 Dodge dealers certified to sell the Sprinter will be retained, Daimler officials said.


Chrysler Suing Daimler Over Parts for 2010 Models

Shortage of diesels, other parts could halt production.

by on Aug.26, 2009

Chrysler has gone to court to force former partner Daimler AG to continue supplying the heart of the Grand Cherokee Diesel - its engine.

Chrysler has gone to court to force former partner Daimler AG to continue supplying the heart of the Grand Cherokee Diesel - its engine.

The frosty split between former partners Daimler and Chrysler just got a lot colder, with the U.S. maker suing the German firm over its decision to stop supplying parts needed for some of Chrysler’s 2010 models.

This is the second time this month the two former allies, known for nearly a decade as DaimlerChrysler AG, have squared off in court.  Earlier in August, unsecured creditors who suffered significant losses as part of the Chrysler bankruptcy, laid out claims that Daimler fraudulently diverted $9 billion in assets immediately before divesting itself of its American arm, with the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management.

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In the latest action, Chrysler went back to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Albert Gonzalez to seek an order requiring Daimler to continue providing diesel engines, steering columns and torque convertors used in some of the American company’s 2010 products.  Without them, Chrysler asserted, it would be forced to halt production of some models.


Daimler Dives Into the Red, Again

Q2 loss lessens, but near-term profits likely elusive.

by on Jul.29, 2009

A turnaround at Daimler AG will likely depend on getting a lot of these 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans and coupes into customer hands ASAP.

A turnaround at Daimler AG will likely depend on getting a lot of these 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans and coupes into customer hands ASAP.

Daimler AG continued to see its losses mount, during the second quarter of 2009, but reported a stronger financial position as its earnings from continuing operations improved.

Daimler lost $560 million in the second quarter compared to the nearly $2 billion loss in first three months of the year.  Still, that was a far cry from the substantial profit the company posted a year ago.  And Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, warned that the German automaker may not return to profitability this year because of the severe global recession.

The improvement is likely to be gradual at best and rests on scoring a solid, global hit with the new E-Class, Zetsche said.  The automaker has completely redesigned its mid-line sedan, for the upcoming year, and added a coupe to the E-Class line-up, as well.

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Meanwhile sales of trucks, busses and vans also continue at low ebb because of the broad economic downturn around the world.

Overall, Daimler posted a net loss of $1.4 billion compared to net income of $1.95 billion in the same period a year ago. Daimler reports in Euros but the loses have been translated into dollars, with an exchange rate set at $1.40 to the Euro.


Daimler Loses the Air of Invincibility

Fourth-quarter slump takes dismal toll.

by on Feb.17, 2009

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

The global recession has punctured the air of invincibility at Daimler AG, as the German automaker reported a 12 percent drop in revenue and a $1.95 billion loss in the fourth quarter.

The troubled fourth-quarter sliced the company’s net profit to $1.8 billion for 2008 from more than $5 billion as the company’s overall revenue dropped by 1 percent, according to the company’s annual financial report. The Mercedes-Benz division, the company’s flagship, lost money in the fourth and the company also reported that its wound up the year with negative cash flow of almost $5 billion, as the economic downturn took a heavy toll on Daimler’s resources.

“During the first half of 2008, we proved how well we perform under normal economic conditions. Many of our business operations were headed for very good results,” said Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche.