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Nissan and Chrysler Scrap Three Vehicle Programs

Nissan scrambling for alternative for next-gen Titan pickup.

by on Aug.26, 2009

The Titan has never come close to hurting domestic pickup trucks.

Titan never hurt domestic pickup truck sales.

Chrysler and Nissan have decided to part ways, scrapping three joint-vehicle programs originally intended to fill yawning gaps in their respective line-ups.

“For the past several months, teams from both companies have been studying the viability of the projects in light of significant changes in business conditions since the projects were announced in January and April of 2008,” Chrysler said in a brief statement. “Today, it was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects,” it added.

With Nissan officials recently telling they were still open to working with their Detroit counterpart, it appears that the announcement was heavily influenced by Chrysler’s new parent, the Italian automaker Fiat. It also appears Nissan is the loser in the latest developments.

Chrysler has already been selling a version of the Nissan Versa through some of its Latin American retail outlets.  And it was originally expected to add another Nissan-based small car to its line-up, next year, in a bid to expand its global presence. Chrysler’s need for both small vehicles was eliminated by its merger with Fiat, which also sells a full-line of small cars around the world.

For the Japanese maker’s product portfolio, its erstwhile collaborator was expected to provide a rebadged and redesigned version of the Dodge Ram pickup truck as a replacement for the slow-selling, loss making Nissan Titan.  The Chrysler-based pickup was to reach Nissan showrooms, in the U.S., by 2011. Now Nissan dealers won’t have a pickup truck to sell.

That particular joint venture appeared to run into snags, according to Nissan’s truck chief, Larry Dominique, about the time it became clear that Chrysler would fall under the control of Fiat, post-bankruptcy.  Indeed, he suggested, during an interview with, early this month, that Nissan couldn’t get any clear answer as to Chrysler’s plans – no surprise, suggested other sources, considering the turmoil at the troubled American automaker.

Actually it looks like the vehicle-sharing project was put on hold almost as soon as it started after Renault/Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn expressed reservations about the plan when Chrysler began to run into serious financial problems last fall. Chrysler’s financial difficulties wound up with the company filing for bankruptcy on April 30. After Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June, Fiat gained effective management control of the U.S. car maker and has been pressing ahead with a complete overhaul of its operations.


Chrysler Sold to Fiat. Immediate Organizational Changes Are Announced

Sergio Marchionne is the new CEO. EVP Steve Landry Retires.

by on Jun.10, 2009

Sergio Marchionne

Chrysler Group needs to sell off its bloated inventory and get factories producing again.

Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer of the New Chrysler Group, put in place a new organization at the same time the sale of Chrysler to Fiat was completed this morning.

The U.S. Supreme Court late yesterday lifted a stay, allowing the sale to proceed. Under the terms approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York and antitrust regulators, the company formerly known as Chrysler LLC formally sold substantially all of its assets, without most of its debts and liabilities, to a new company that will operate as Chrysler Group LLC.

In addition to Mr. Marchionne, currently the Chief Executive Officer of Fiat S.p.A. serving as CEO, Chrysler Group LLC will be managed by a nine-member Board of Directors, consisting of three directors to be appointed by Fiat, four directors to be appointed by the U.S. Government, one director to be appointed by the Canadian Government and one director to be appointed by the United Auto Workers’ Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. The Board is expected to name C. Robert Kidder as Chairman. The process of determining additional board members is continuing.

Chrysler Group LLC said in a statement that it is restructuring to concentrate on the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge vehicle lines and the Mopar brand of aftermarket parts.

A large, potentially fatal, issue remains with Chrysler’s currently depressed sales levels, and as a result how long it takes to sell off the current inventory. All Chrysler plants have been idled since its bankruptcy filing and it is uncertain when they will resume production. Its suppliers are facing their own insolvencies.

The sales challenge confronting Chrysler as it emerges from bankruptcy is gargantuan. Before the Chrysler bankruptcy filing in March, the company had an average of $5,566 of incentives in effect — roughly 20% to 25% of the wholesale cost of a vehicle — and sales declined almost 50% anyway.

“I personally feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the New Chrysler and to work with senior management to build this company and our great brands into all we know they can and should be,” said Sergio Marchionne, who today was named Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group LLC. “That effort starts with leadership.”

To assist the new company in the transition, Jim Press is appointed Deputy CEO and Special Advisor, reporting to Mr. Marchionne. The company said Press will be instrumental in the restructuring of the Chrysler Group. Press served most recently as Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman & President.

Steven Landry, Executive Vice President, North American Sales & Marketing, Global Service & Parts, announced his intention to retire. Mr. Landry offered to assist the new company in the transition. (more…)