Monday, June 08, 2009

#556 Chrysler Round 26

556 Chrysler Round 26

Stuff about Chrysler has appeared in this space 25 times since these commentaries starting taking this form in October, 2005.  Here's the 26th.

The company celebrated, or at least observed its 84th anniversary this month, making it 22years younger than Ford and 17 years younger than GM.  In this age range, it's not much difference.

But Chrysler has had more lives than a cat.  And it looks pretty much like the one that's looming now will be the final straw.  Chrysler is under attack from all sides, and there no longer are enough wagons (or mini vans) to circle.

It's a war on how many fronts?

Well, about 800 dealers are about to be closed and they're in court.  The current factory owner, Cerberus, wants to sell or give or will a good chunk of the company to Fiat.  But pension funds with Chrysler stock are fighting that.  Heaven knows what benefit they expect if the sale doesn't sail through and the company goes bust.

Of those dealers, a lot of those on the line leading to the firing squad were told to buy extra inventory back a few months or a year or so ago.  Now, they're unloading their remaining stock at fire sale prices.  That sounds like bad news for the dealers and good news for the customers.

Perhaps.  But, then, whatever price you pay, you're still getting a Chrysler. Check out the reviews on Edmunds.com for critical concepts like "sub-par interior"  "Frumpy." "Outclassed by every competitor."  "Poor build quality."  Don't like Edmunds? How about US News?  They don't like 'em either.

Contrary to the Cerberus news releases of two years ago, the old "partnership" with Daimler did not "move the company forward."  Daimler was so busy playing corporate games, internal and external that it never "got" the American car business.

Cerberus appears to have figured that managing an auto manufacturer was the same as any other final project in MBA class.  It ain't.

So, now they're trying to pass this outfit around like a half-finished joint, and the Italians want a hit, or say they do.

This is not stuff you can blame on the UAW, though everyone's tried.  This is not something you can blame on market conditions.  This is a top heavy, over managed, under engineered industrial icon about to be reduced to a pile of milled aluminum corrosion. Walter P. Chrysler is rotating in his grave.  But not at an RPM great enough to generate a recovery.

Shrapnel:

--The New York State economic development office is looking for a new chief. Again.  Would you take developmental advice from an outfit that can't seem to advise itself well enough to function?

--Fifteen hours after the wedding, the bride and groom are outside the house, chatting with neighbors.  Must have been a short "wedding night."  Or maybe it hadn't yet started.

--Apparently, there was a reunion of WRFM radio people the other day.  Word didn't get around until after the fact, which may have left a lot of us long-timers wondering why no one told us.


I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009


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