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Bernhard hire seen as hint Magna looking at Chrysler

by Bill Cawthon on

The hiring of Wolfgang Bernhard by Magna International is already sparking rumors the Canadian mega-supplier may be interested in taking another run at Chrysler.

Magna was one of the unsuccessful suitors for Chrysler when Daimler put it up for sale last summer. Magna has had a long relationship with Chrysler as a contract producer of various Jeep models for the European market at its facility in Graz, Austria.

Bernhard became Chrysler’s Chief Operating Officer after the DaimlerChrysler merger and worked with Cerberus Capital Management in its successful bid to buy a majority stake in the company.

Reuters today reported anonymous sources as saying Cerberus already is in talks with both Magna and Nissan to sell what are called key Chrysler assets. According to the Reuters story, Chrysler is discussing selling Jeep to Renault/Nissan and the Belvidere assembly facility to Magna.

Cerberus, Chrysler and Magna have all declined to comment on the speculations. Fred Standish, a Nissan spokesman, said the only discussions between Nissan and Chrysler concern the partnerships that already have been announced.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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