Automotive Industry and Chrysler

Chrysler Corp was established in 1929 ( by Walter P. Chrysler) during the time when the auto industry had just began to bloom. During the depression, smaller more specialized companies began to disappear and the larger companies began to consolidate and buy up some of their smaller competitors. It was at this point in time that the Big Three emerged (Ford, GM, and Chrysler). It was also around this time that the UAW (United Auto Workers Union) was established, and this union holds a major role in the auto industry to this day.

From the 40's-50's Chrysler had some ups and downs, but some key factors were the development of their parts division (MoPar). The "Hemi" designed motor was created, they were the first to recognize the need for aerodynamics, and also created power steering, power windows, fuel injection, and alternators, just to name a few innovations that we still see today.

During the fuel crisis (early 70's), Chrysler stumbled badly. To try to compete in a new environment (need for fuel efficiency), Chrysler bought a 15% stake in Mitsubishi Motors. This move, they felt, would re-secure their position in the market, due to the technology Mitsubishi possessed. Unfortunately, that decision proved to be a vital error on their part. Consumer perception of the new automobiles seemed to be that Chrysler had cheapened its brand. By 1979 Chrysler was on the brink of bankruptcy.

It was the combination of a 1.5 billon dollar Federal loan and the cost saving measures of newly appointed CEO Lee Iacocca that soon brought the company back to its feet. By 1983 a new "Iacocca" lead Chrysler had paid back all Fed monies. Some of Iacocca's measures involved scale downs of factories, plant closings, layoffs, and benefit reductions. He also restructured the company in a way that would increase production of family passenger cars (Caravan, Voyager) and re focused the company on the development of mere fuel efficient vehicles.

By mid 80's Chrysler was a powerhouse and began to buy up companies (Gulfstream, Lamborghini, Finance America, EF Hutton, AMC, to name a few).But, within years, Chrysler began to fall back into financial trouble. Primarily brought upon by poor workmanship and eventually customer disapproval.

Like so many other companies, Chrysler had lost its focus. They had forgotten who they were and no longer concentrated their efforts on the production of automobiles. Instead entered markets and industries that did not properly align with who they were and where their strengths lied.

1998 began the merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz. This 37 billon dollar infuse of money brought upon a name change to DaimlerChrysler Motors Comp. and also brought them back as, one of the top three largest automakers.

Entering into this partnership, each company had their own agenda. Chrysler felt that the large influx of money, coupled with the backing of German engineering could help to bring their company back to the top. Daimler felt the merge could open up their presence in the American market, particularly amongst middle income customers.

Initially, Daimler had separated themselves from the US group in terms of management. In 2001 Chrysler group reported major losses. After that quarterly report, Daimler began to take a major managerial role in the company (replaced both CEO and COO). In the following years we see a major cultural difference in management style. These cultural differences ranged from management pay structure, to methods of design processes. Ultimately, these differences lead to the selloff of the company to Cerberus Capital Management (DaimlerChrysler sold off 80.1% stake) and changed the company back to Chrysler Motors.

Cerberus's hands off approach was to allow Chrysler management to concentrate on long term planning, rather than tying them down to short term gains. Chryslers sales continued to decline and by 2008 Cerberus had entered into talks with GM to try to arrange a deal, which would never materialize.

On April 30, 2009 Chrysler filed for bankruptcy (Cerberus loses their equity stake). A US bail out deal was arranged and an alliance between Chrysler and Italian owned Fiat was established. As part of the deal, Fiat would eventually gain a 35% stake of the company, VERB (UAW trust fund) would hold 55% and US Treasury would hold 8% and the Canadian Government 2%.

Chrysler finds itself back in a situation of being owned by a foreign company. There are some very distinct differences between Fiat and Daimler in terms of partnership. On the positive side, we see that Fiat and Chrysler have never competed against one another both in product, or geographically .

This alliance, will enter Chrysler into the world market (Previously Chrysler did not have a presence outside of North America). Fiat is most recognized for its mini and small cars, a market that Chrysler has struggled in. Fiat, will benefit by entering into the US market (previously they had little to no presence), and can gain the design and technology needed to enter into the mid to larger sized car market.

Culturally, Fiat has a record of preferring mutual profitability over ego and domination ( unlike Daimler). However, current CEO Sergio Marchionne does have his own approach to management. He feels each brand should have independent leadership. Marchionne also believes his executives should perform multi tasks and are in charge of combinations of departments (Brand and Sales, Brand and Production, or sometimes two brands). This different style has caused dissention over the years and in some cases, executives have even quit.

To date, Chrysler and Fiat has been experiencing steady growth as well as the entire market. As of January 2014, the US auto sales have risen 14% (Chrysler 4%, GM 6% and Ford 9%). Currently Fiat owns 59% of Chrysler. This growth has sparked talks with VEBA to purchase an additional 6%. Beyond that, VEBA and Marchionne have different ideas on the purchase of their remaining shares (35%). Marchionne would like to avoid a IPO while VEBA feels they could receive the most money through a public offering.

Regardless of how the remaining shares are sold, Fiat faces a potential problem. Although Fiat is in a good financial condition, it would still be necessary to finance a portion of the shares. An Italian company's interest rate follows the same yield curve as their government's bonds, and the political instability of Italy could pose a major impact on the auto maker.

Once Fiat gains total control of the company, Marchionne has stated that the two companies must come together as one. He has been quoted as saying, " We have gone beyond the dating stage", and also " This has gone into heavy-duty relationships that need to be consummated in some fashion. We need to bring the bacon home now." Statements such as this, generally mean change. Time will tell if this will become another Daimler type relationship or more of a true partnership.

Chrysler Group LLC Mission: Design with Purpose Vision: To build cars and trucks people want to buy, will enjoy driving and will want to buy again

Secondary Goals: Enhance our core: invest in product enhancements; strengthen our customer focus; improve our relationship with our dealers; and recommit the entire organization to a new level of quality. Extend our business: develop or establish partnerships to provide new products; build off of existing products to extend into new segments; explore new and adjacent market opportunities; and accelerate new technologies and innovation.

Expand our market: pursue global alliances to fill gaps in our product portfolio and open new geographic opportunities; increase global sales by building from our existing dealer network; and invest closer to our global customers by enhancing regional business operations and global engineering centers. Strategic Policy:

To fully integrate Fiat and Chrysler They plan to do this through a "joint platform-reduction strategy". They intend to half their number of architectures, while maintaining the same amount of models (ex mid size Alfa Romero will use the same architectures as Chrysler 300) SWOT Analysis

Strengths: V-8 Hemi Motor Since the 50's Chryslers V8 hemi has been known for its power. When Chrysler reintroduced the motor (2003), it proved to be one of their bigger money makers Mini Vans For over 25 years, Chrysler and Dodge mini vans have been a dominated force. Currently they hold 40 of the market. Weaknesses: Management problems: Since 1998, Chrysler group has been through the merger with Daimler, Cerberus, and now Fiat. It became harder and harder to maintain customer loyalty. Quality Problems: Chrysler products are routinely listed amongst the least reliable automobiles (Consumer Reports and J.D. Powers) Opportunities: Global Markets The partnership with Fiat will now allow Chrysler to compete globally. Until recently, Chrysler was primarily sold in North America. Fuel Efficiency With Fiats "small car" platform, Chrysler is now able to compete in a market that they had little to no products for. Threats: Dissatisfied Customers Over the years Chryslers reputation has been through the ringer. It is going to be difficult to convince the market, that "this time" is going to be any better. Vast Competition Although the world market place can be seen as an opportunity for the struggling company, Chrysler will now also be competing an a much larger area in terms of foreign competition

Chrysler still, has a long road ahead of them. If this alliance is handled correctly, it could prove beneficial to both Fiat and Chrysler. By combining their platforms they will be able to reduce costs. However, through the years Chrysler has developed the reputation as a broken company, and now consumer approval is in question. It will be necessary for Fiat to reassure the public that they are not just another company trying to make a buck off of the Chrysler name.

Unfortunately, it seems to me, that Marchionne is more interested in building up Fiat. His main focus is on the fact that Chrysler has a stronger mid, large, and truck platform. An area that Fiat has been lacking. Fiat has already began to use the Chrysler 300 platform as well as the Jeep platform to introduce new Alfa Romeo models. In the European market, certain Chrysler models will be sold under Fiats Lancia brand (Ex. 300 becomes Aurelia and Town and Country becomes Lancia Phedra).

The fact of the matter may be that for Fiat, the takeover of Chrysler was a wise decision. In essence, it was only necessary for them to purchase 65% of the company ( first 35% was given to them). Marchionne is also committed to bringing the industry back home, and has noted that while American factories are close to capacity, his Italian counter parts are running somewhere between 30 and 50 %.

Currently, Italian factories are receiving two thirds of Fiats group budged for improved efficiency Now, they have access to the American market , as well as to add automobiles t ( mid, large and truck) to the world market. With this added strength, they now have the ability to compete in the worlds area with a full line of products.

Bibliography: LUDVIGSEN'S COLUMN: Fiat’s fraught future http://www.just-auto.com/comment/fiats-fraught-future_id104269.aspx

Marchionne still wants Fiat-Chrysler merger http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/driveon/2013/03/05/chrysler-fiat-marc hionne-geneva-motor-show-uaw/1965275/

Fiat in Talks With Banks About Chrysler Deal, CEO Says no IPO http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-05/fiat-in-talks-with-banks-about-chrysler-deal-ceo-says.html

http://www.fiatusa.com/en/

http://www.chrysler.com/en/

Strategic Management and Business Policy, Thomas Wheelen ; J. David Hunger