Friday, June 21, 2013

1190 Would You Buy a New Car From This Man?

1190 Would You Buy a New Car From This Man?

(Andrea Baldo/Getty Images)

Meet Sergio Marchionne, chairman of Italy’s Fiat.

He’s the latest automotive genius in the never ending battle to save Chrysler which has been on life support almost from birth and has been passed around and ignored like a collection plate on a Sunday morning.

Everyone seems to think Sergio walks on water.  And he did manage to turn ailing Fiat around when “everyone” “knew” it “couldn’t be done.” Now they’re making sexy cars and promoting them with sexy ads and in fact memories are fading of the time when Fiat meant “Fix it again, Tony.”

But Chrysler is not Fiat.  And Washington is not Rome.  So when Sergio’s boys in Auburn Hills, MI decided to defy a recall, they hit a wall called the American Public.

The government auto mavens asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million older (pre-Fiat) Jeep SUVs because they could catch fire if hit from behind.   Chrysler said “nah.”  Pollsters asked you “would you buy a new Jeep from this man?”  And you answered.  And the answer was a resounding “no.”  Actually, the problem has been solved on the current models -- or so we’re told.  But people worry that there are nearly three million rolling fire traps on the road.

Chrysler’s well earned reputation for exciting macho design and anemic reliability can’t make a marketing blunder like that, even if the fixes will cost them tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions.  Not much per car.  But multiply that times three million and that’s a lot of Lira or Euros or dollars.

Oh.  And besides marketing there’s always that fear of fire thing.  People just hate it when their cars blow up.  Especially if there’s a “baby on board.”

So Auburn Hills or Turin had a change of heart.  They’re not fond of fried babies either.  But they’re even less fond of a sales chart that looks like the “down” arrow in an elevator.

(Note to the Statistics Police:  Various figures have been given for the recall, ranging from about 1.5 million up to 3.)

Shrapnel (Pro Sports Edition):

--The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 and captured its second consecutive NBA championship.  The heat goes on to play the winner of the NHL Stanley Cup which will be either Boston or Chicago now tied at 2 games apiece.  And the winner of the basketball vs. hockey game gets to play the winner of baseball’s World Series.

--But wait, there’s more!  The winner of the THAT game goes on to play the winner of the NHL Super Bowl, which will be held in the NJ Meadowlands on February, 2014.  Proof positive we don’t need more than one professional sport.

--Actually, we don’t need any professional sports. We have them only because without them, the television networks, beer brewers, hot dog vendors and ¾ of Canada would have nothing to do.  Not to mention the ticket scalpers and bookies who can’t make a living on horses and colleges alone.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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