“They think there is a lot of opportunity overseas for the Jeep brand,” said one senior Chrysler official, who asked not to be identified by TBD. The possibilities are especially strong in regions such a South America where Fiat already has a well-developed sales network.
American car manufacturers have rarely made exports a priority over the past 30 years. The bankruptcy of both Chrysler and GM has forced both companies to re-think their business models.
Jerry York, former Chrysler chief financial officer, who later worked closely with Kirk Kerkorian, said recently that DaimlerChrysler had neglected the export business during the decade it ran Chrysler. Exports of Jeep-brand vehicles actually peaked in 1997, the year before the merger with Daimler-Benz, according to another former Chrysler executive.