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    Something is Rotten in the State of Germany

    Vrrooom: What’s Up With Chrysler?

    I pride myself on being able to sniff out media hype from a mile away. Some call it a gift, others a curse. One thing I am sure of, however, is that the auction of Chrysler smells absolutely rank. I cannot for one minute believe that Chrysler, just months ago hailed for their sales and revenue turn-around, is in such dire straits that it is dragging down Daimler with it. This seems like just another instance of the Germans biting off a bit more than they can chew, using any excuse they can to get out of an unpleasant marriage.

    Chrysler is not failing. In fact, it is in a great place for a domestic automaker. Its lineup is certainly competitive ‘- with the class-leading Durango/Aspen, re-engineered Sebring/Avenger, and a very strong Jeep lineup. While it may have missed the target with the whole Caliber/Compass, I still see an oddly large number of them on the road.

    Chrysler figured out years ago what Ford and GM are just figuring out now ‘- when you own several brands, consolidate platforms. GM understands this to mean rebadging, as is painfully apparent with the Chevy Equinox/Pontiac Torrent, or the aesthetically-challenged Chevy TrailBlazer/Buick Rainer/Saab 9-7x/GMC Envoy. The Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger are sister cars that share very little in terms of looks, playing to two different audiences. There is tremendous money to be saved by doing this, as Chrysler full well knows. With just a handful of well-engineered platforms, Chrysler is keeping its costs down and, hopefully, quality will go up.

    Rather than having an assortment of V6 engines, the Chrysler Group is hard at work on a 3.5-liter V6 that will take the place of their current 3.5-liter, 3.7-liter, and 4.7-liter V6s. By having one well-engineered V6, they can tweak the horsepower and torque depending on its application, be it in a sedan, SUV, or crossover.

    Chrysler really has a lot going for it. They were a bit overzealous last year with their truck production, but that was likely a one-time mistake that won’t be repeated this year. When Daimler/Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche ran the Chrysler Group just a couple of years ago, there was no talk about spinning it off as a separate company. He oversaw the production of the 300, the Pacifica, and started the ball rolling on the Caliber. Those were good times for Chrysler. Now that he sits in his German office, the Chrysler Group isn’t worth saving? About a decade ago, Daimler was struggling and raided Chrysler’s billions to pull itself out of a hole. Now that Mercedes is turning a profit once again, the Germans want to send Chrysler to the wolves. For shame.

    Just maybe this is for the best. As an independent entity, Chrysler will have more control over its future and product lineup. We were promised German engineering with the merger of these two companies, only to find that Mercedes didn’t want to dilute its product line by sharing its parts with lowly Chrysler. We ended up with the 300/Magnum/Charger/Challenger, riding on the Mercedes LX platform and 5-speed transmission. Otherwise, Americans didn’t much profit from German interference. Goodbye Daimler, and good riddance.

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