Sunrise for the newly formed Chrysler Group?
There is good news of sorts for people trying to understand how the new Chrysler Group will revive itself going forward. The privately held company will have a display of vehicles as part of Fiat’s display at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. There will be no press conferences, though, in keeping with the company’s external silence since it emerged from bankruptcy in June.
Chrysler Group LLCwas formed in June 2009 from an “alliance” with the Fiat Group, and produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Mopar and Global Electric Motors (GEM) brand vehicles and products. Observers note that it has been internally focused in trying to sort itself out since then.
Traditionally Fiat, Chrysler’s new owner since June, has a significant presence at the Frankfurt auto show through press conferences and media interviews. In addition, we would speculate that around this time it would be ideal for the Group to launch itself publicly. It needs to generate some positive momentum.
Chrysler has been unusually silent given its long standing flare for media events, publicity stunts and new model introductions. It stopped its long-standing monthly sales calls after it emerged from bankruptcy, cancelled a new model preview, and was absent from the Woodward Dream Cruise.
Jim Press, the chief sales executive who was brought in from Toyota, has not been out in public, except to defend the closing of 789 dealers in front of a critical U.S. Congress, leading to media speculation that he would leave the company by year’s end.
The company, of course will not comment on such speculation, but a spokesperson did confirm the self-imposed silence as the company establishes procedures on how it will run itself under what are five new owners with Fiat’s Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, also as CEO of the new Chrysler Group.
In addition, the newly formed nine-member Board of Directors is itself new, with three directors from Fiat, four directors appointed by the U.S. Government, one director designated by the Canadian Government and one director appointed by the United Auto Workers’ Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. Automotive experience on the board is scant.
Unlike Ford Motor and General Motors Company, Chrysler, whose sales are off 42% year-to-date through July, has not announced any adjustments to its production since its plants came back online at the end of July, when it had only a 42-day supply of vehicles.
Chrysler’s position is thought to be tenuous at best by many analysts since its car sales are much weaker than average and large truck and sport utility vehicle sales have collapsed. New offerings with Fiat’s help are at least two years away. It is in essence a company built around three vehicle lines — Dodge and Chrysler minivans, the Dodge Ram pick-up truck, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle.