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Balancing Mercedes and Chrysler for Long-Term Success

I do not in any way shape or form dislike Mercedes Benz. They are the finest German car in my honest opinion. When the merger occurred, I thought it was a better merger than anything that could happen. Here is a top 3 American company that had $8 billion merging with the best German company and finest European automobile in the world. Problem is, Shrempp admitted he lied about the merger. I am over that. I am over the name as DCX, and I see Dieter Zetsche [the Chrysler CEO installed by Daimler] really trying to prove his worth and all that. I have accepted all of it with a lot less reservation than I have in the past.

[What I want Mercedes to do is to] be there with us as a conglomerate, not as big brother. It reminds me of all the characters in movies, kind of like Eddie Haskell, always willing to take all credit, compliment, but in the background, the nasty instigator of all, guilty of nothing. The person that walks around making decisions, but has never been on the floor to know what the impact is to the workers, the person that says give me a point paper of the pros and cons of it, then shuns it.

For example, look at Cadillac and Chevrolet, where the Cadillac Evoq is based on the Corvette platform. You don't see Chevrolet saying things like, "We are allowing Cadillac to use the superior suspension system for their new $50,000+ 2 passenger coupe because they couldn't build one for themselves," or Ford saying, "We helped Jaguar design their V8 because they just couldn't get any farther than the L6 DOHC or V12 from days gone by."

These are things that make platform sharing and joint ventures work. Not the same as Mercedes. To say they saved Mopar at the time of the merger of equals is done backwards. IF Ma Mopar was in as bad of shape as described, Mopar should be saying, with the help of MB, we are now out of trouble and will be able to improve our product lineup and quality with the assistance through the merger of equals and assistance of superb German engineering brothers.

It is really funny to hear this melting pot talk when the U.S. is the one to meld with another company, but believe me, for the past almost 20 years of traveling in the South Eastern and South Western hemispheres, through Africa and Indonesian islands to Australia, and a few places in Europe, one of the biggest hatred is not the U.S. attitude, but the disrespect received by the host nation. To hear that it's no big deal for MB to just stick their parts in U.S. cars is contradictory to each and every one of the foreign conversations I have had over the years. Joint venture, no problem. Shove stuff down our throats and "save us" in an arrogant manner, never. If it is a "merger, I want to see the best of both worlds" attitude on Mercedes' side, we wouldn't hear the rhetoric from the other side of the pond the way we do. "Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth was a sinking ship and Daimler-Benz saved them from destruction."

Dodge, as of the late 90s, has been the innovator, they take a step, the grab the ram by the horns, do it, do it efficiently and quickly, and other than the Neon head gasket problem, was very successful. MB has always been a success because they cater to a more forgiving group. The ones that are, shall we say without stereotyping, old money. If there is a delay in getting a new design, no big deal. Changes are steady, not dramatic, so no big sweat getting something a year later than now.

Dodge always catered to a different group since they have to be the underdog to Ford and Chevy and Japanese cars. Long delays and waits result in markets closing because the competition comes up with something in response, i.e., how many Pacifica type cars are going to be available that did not exist when it was announced it would be built?

The PT Cruiser, built on the assumption it would sell about 85,000 annually, was way off the mark. It has had an excellent record and will probably be one of Chrysler's best selling cars on record. Over half a million are in production and the GT Cruiser is being feared by the GTi/Jetta crowd, and they aren't even in the same league! I don't think there was too much German input to the vehicle, at least I haven't heard any, and it is a huge success.

Dodge Trucks, no interference, best reviews for a truck I have ever heard with the new Hemi, including the one where they took a Ford and Chevy in tow, and 3500lbs in the back, purposely overloading it, and ran the highways with it (17500 lb payload) and bragged about overloading and it still doing 55 on the hills and 70 on the flats. Don't see Chevy and Ford doing that test.

Remain a merger, but brag about the DCX arm for its ingenuity and ability to grab domestic and Japanese shares, but don't be the Eddie Haskell. That drives more staunch American car owners away, both young and old. We old will deal with it in our own way, but expect the young to stay away forever. Neither one of us can survive with that over our heads. On top of that with the young crowd, they may hate the American cars, but they loathe the American car with European snobbishness added on top of that.

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