Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram.
Location Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Michigan. 
Various plants in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Sales figures
2016: est. 2,900,000 units*
2015: est. 2,800,000 units*
2014: est. 2,600,000 units*
2013: 2,400,000 units (excluding cars supplied to Fiat)
2012: 2,200,000 units
2011: 1,900,000 units
2010: 1,516,000 units

2009: 1,317,623 units (outside North America: 140,786 units)
2008: 2,010,800 units
2007: 2,676,268 units
2006: 2,698,429 units
2005: 2,812,993 units
2004: 2,779,895 units

2016 global sales by brands:
Jeep: 1.41 million units
Dodge: est 600,000 units

Chrysler: est 250,000 units
Ram: est 650,000 units

2016 US sales by brands:
Dodge: 506,858 units
Chrysler: 231,972 units
Jeep: 926,376 units
Ram: 545,851 units
Total: 2,211,057 units

2016 US sales by models:
Dart: 43,402 units
200: 57,294 units
Charger: 95,437 units
300: 53,241 units
Challenger: 64,433 units
Viper: 630 units
Town & Country / Caravan: 186,749 units
Pacifica: 62,366 units
Renegade: 106,606 units
Journey: 106,759 units
Compass / Patriot: 215,987 units
Wrangler: 191,774 units
Cherokee: 199,736 units
Grand Cherokee: 212,273 units
Durango: 68,474 units
Ram pickup: 489,418 units

* Following the merger, FCA no longer reports global sales figures for its American brands.

Introduction Chrysler was traditionally the last of the "Big 3" American car makers. In prior to its bankruptcy in 2009, it sold cars and trucks in 3 brands: Dodge (mainstream), Chrysler (near-premium) and Jeep (SUV). The majority of them were sold in its home market, but some of them were produced by Magna-Steyr in Austria for sale in Europe. As it could not afford developing and producing its own components, its vehicles employed a lot of Mercedes technology (from DaimlerChrysler era) and engines from the joint-venture with Hyundai and Mitsubishi.

Now being part of the FIAT group, its product portfolio is set to change significantly, emphasizing on small cars shared with FIAT.

Brief History
Chrysler was founded by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925 by renaming Maxwell Motor. The early Chrysler was renowned for innovative engineering. This can be seen in its Air Flow (1934), which was the world's first production car designed with wind tunnel testing. It was also one of the first cars employing spaceframe chassis and hydraulic brakes.

By 1929, Chrysler became the third largest car maker in the USA, just behind GM and Ford. From 1936-49 it even overtook Ford to the second place. During WWII, Chrysler's factories were converted into arsenals and responsible for producing M4 Sherman tanks. It continued earning good profit during the Korean War in 1950s.

In order to challenge its rivals, Chrysler followed them to inroduce multiple brands and a cascading pricing policy. Its brands included Plymouth and DeSoto (both created in 1928), Dodge (acquired from Dodge Brothers automobiles in 1928), Imperial (1955) and Valiant (1960). In 1987 it acquired AMC (American Motors Corporation), hence secured the Jeep brand. However, most of these brands were abandoned afterwards as sales declined. By the new millenium, only Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep are left.

1955 Chrysler 300

In the 1950s and 60s, Chrysler was famous for producing a series of performance cars, such as the 300-series with hemi-spherical combustion chamber V8 and the Dodge Charger musclecar. Nevertheless, the musclecar era ended in tragedy when the first energy crisis and Federal emission regulations arrived. Chrysler found itself failed to sell its thirsty large cars and lost its market share to Japenese econo cars. On the other hand, its ambitious expansion plan in Europe came to a failure, too. As a result, by the late 1970s it ran to the edge of bankruptcy.

Fortunately, in 1978 the company hired Lee Iacocca from Ford as its new president. He introduced a radical cost reduction program, cutting heads, axing unpopular models and reducing platforms - eventually to only one ! As a result, Chrysler lost weight by 50%. Meanwhile, Iacocca sought a US$1.5 billion loan from the Federal government and used it to develop the one and only one platform - the front-wheel-drive K-cars, which formed the basis of many models. The K-cars were small cars compare with GM and Ford’s models. They helped Chrysler to regain profitability in 1982. Next year, it launched the world's first MPV - Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan - which immediately became a hit.

1982 Chrysler LeBaron - one of the earliest K-cars

When the K-cars were phasing out, Chrysler increasingly relied on its joint-venture with Mitsubishi, Diamond Star, whose cars were basically engineered by the Japanese. However, it still had the luxury to invest into new toys - it acquired 15.6% of Maserati in 1984 and took full control of Lamborghini in 1987, although both were sold off a few years later.

Since the Iacocca era, Chrysler had became an efficient, fast-reacting and creative car maker. It was the first to realise the potential of MPV and SUV, which helped it earning billions of profit before competitors came. Its Neon small car demonstrated creative design and an efficient development process. Engineers and stylists worked under the same roof to achieve a record-breaking development time. Its LH sedans pioneered one of the first "cab-forward" designs. Its Viper revived muscle car era. Prowler and PT Cruiser kickstarted a new wave of retro designs. Chrysler always came at the leading edge of market trend.

1998 Dodge Intrepid (LH-platform)

Things changed in 1998 when it merged with Daimler-Benz to form DaimlerChrysler. Officially the merger was said as a "merger of equals". However, in 2000 most American top executives were replaced with German. By then it was clear that the merger was actually a takeover by Mercedes. Although by production number DaimlerChrysler was the fourth largest car group in the world, it was never benefited by the larger economy of scale, because the cheap cars of Chrysler could not share many parts with the premium cars of Mercedes. On the contrary, the conservative management of the German actually killed the creative culture in Chrysler and resulted in some conservative new vehicles. By the early 2000s, Chrysler ran into another financial crisis. The German decided to pull the plug and sold Chrysler to investment company Cerberus Capital Management in 2007.

The global credit crunch and economic recession in 2008 pulled Chrysler into deeper trouble. In 2009, it surrendered and went into bankruptcy protection. Under the guidance of US Federal government, Chrysler went into the hands of FIAT group. The merged group was renamed to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in 2014.

Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan
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