Chrysler’s Comeback is Real!

Chrysler Corporation has been beat up the last decade in so many ways it’s almost wrong. The merger with Daimler did not go as planned for either company and then right before the economic tsunami hit, Chrysler is purchased by equity firm Cerberus. Most people outside of the auto industry had no idea who Cerberus was and they still don’t have any idea who they are today. Cerberus knew very little about running an automaker and it showed, so when they bailed on Chrysler and her employees it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Almost everyone knows that Chrysler went through bankruptcy in 2009 and were on the brink of extinction when an agreement to take over the company was reached with Fiat. Heck, they basically shut down all production in December 2008, which had many in the industry pondering whether Chrysler could ever recover! Fast forward to December 2010 and now things have turned around for the Pentastar.

STERLING HEIGHTS, MI - DECEMBER 6: Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne attends an event that celebrates the latest announcements about Chrysler products, jobs, and investments at the Chrysler Group Sterling Heights Assembly Plant on December 6, 2010 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The Chrysler Group LLC announced the production launches of the all-new 2011 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, and an $850 million investment for all-new paint shop, machinery and handling equipment. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Chrysler is now run by Sergio Marchionne, who orchestrated a turnaround at Italian car maker Fiat and is now in the midst of doing the same with Chrysler but on a larger scale. We say “larger” because this turnaround will also include Fiat, as Mr. Marchionne is not finished his work in Turin either. There is new and consistent process and leadership with the Fiat World Class Manufacturing System working it’s way into all aspects of Chrysler’s facilities with a real focus on quality, which translates into “a new day has arrived.” On the design side, hopefully there are no more redesigns like the weak Sebring and no more allowing well-built and designed vehicles wither on the vine with shabby updates using cheap materials. Enter Fiat’s multi-air engines, which are reliable and fuel efficient. There’s reason for optimism in the halls of Chrysler. The culture is surely going through some changes at breakneck speed, but when you hear about what Italian export Mauro Pino is accomplishing at Chryslers Toledo, OH plants you can understand that real progress is taking place at all levels of the “New Chrysler”.

Chrysler sales in 2010 are up almost 20 percent from 2009 and with eleven all-new or seriously refreshed Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat vehicles to be launched during the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter of 2011, the march is on for a larger slice of the market. Also in the mix is the venerable Fiat 500, which will add some flair to the Chrysler/Fiat stable and don’t be surprised if that little 500 becomes a cult hit. Many thought the days were numbered for Chrysler and it wasn’t easy to change perceptions but in the auto world, many are taking notice of what Chrysler and all of her brands are building and selling.

The Dodge brand has seen sales steadily climb and has new product that could seriously put them on a roll with the gorgeous 2011 Dodge Durango, the stylish and tough-looking 2011 Dodge Charger, the sharp crossover 2011 Dodge Journey, the new 2011 Dodge Avenger, the upgraded 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan, and the badass Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. We had a chance to drive some of these cars and were very impressed. The 2011 Dodge Charger is the flagship of the Dodge brand and appears to be ready to rock and roll in the sales department, with a re-design that looks awesome.

The big daddy of them all at Chrysler is the 300 and we’re going to have a bird’s eye view of the new machine at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 10th, 2011. Some of the photos that have been released show a very sleek 2011 Chrysler 300, with a grille that features seven horizontal liquid chrome blades and a new Chrysler wing badge and a stunning totally new interior that is garnering plenty of praise early on in the 300’s unveiling. Look for plenty of coverage of the Chrysler 300 on Bullz-Eye.com during the Detroit Auto Show in January 2011.

There is no longer just a bunch of folks crossing their fingers hoping that the U.S. Auto Industry can recover, but rather we are witnessing a real strengthening in sales with Chrysler/Fiat positioning themselves for a renaissance that is truly American and amazing! The competition is fierce and we know this firsthand, as we continue to drive, test and review many makes and models from top flight auto producers. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Chrysler/Fiat is building something for the long term and they have an edge right now that they can’t lose if they want to be stronger than they’ve been in decades.

  

Driving with Dodge in San Francisco

Gerardo Orlando of Bullz-Eye.com had the opportunity to drive some of the new Dodge vehicles in San Francisco! Find out what he had to say on some of the rides.

I was invited by Chrysler to join other bloggers in San Francisco for the opportunity to drive some of the new Dodge vehicles. As you can see from the photos above, we had a beautiful day in the city by the bay, and I had a great time with this impressive new lineup.

The Dodge Charger is the flagship vehicle for the Dodge brand, and the Charger has been completely redesigned from the ground up for the 2011 model year. The iconic feel of the vehicle remains, but you can see the new, sleeker design in the first photo above and in the other Charger photos. It offers a sport sedan that I think will have huge appeal for guys looking for performance, aggressive styling and value. The car was a joy to drive through the winding roads in the Bay area, as the new suspension lived up to the promise. For a car that starts at $25,995, buyers will get tremendous value.

The real treat of the day was the 2011 Dodge Challenger. I had the opportunity to drive one of the Inaugural Edition versions of the 2011 Challenger SRT8 392. This car is beautiful as you can see from the slideshow above, with the white paint and the blue racing stripes, and it’s the ultimate American muscle car. Frankly, I can’t remember a car I enjoyed driving more than this one. The car is a torque monster – the 392 Hemi is rated at 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. I drove the automatic version, and this car is a beast! When you hit the gas at any speed, this car does exactly what you want it to do as it respond with a muscular roar. It handles beautifully as well, and any car enthusiast will fall in love with this 2011 Challenger.

While the Challenger and Charger stole the show, I was equally impressed with the other vehicles in the Dodge lineup. Dodge brought back the Durango, and this full-size SUV should be a real hit. The 2011 Durango has all the luxuries customers are becoming accustomed to in the crossover segment, but this SUV is the real deal as it still leads its class in towing capacity. Meanwhile, the handling is much better than previous versions of the vehicle, so you don’t feel like you’re driving a big truck.

Read the full article.

  

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