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Marchionne: Grand Cherokee is no Mercedes

by David Zatz on

Joan Muller’s interview with Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, was published in Forbes’ Web site today. The illuminating article directly addressed the myth that the Jeep Grand Cherokee is basically a Mercedes:

…if I called the head of product development here and you told him that it was a Mercedes he would just kill you. … it started off as a Mercedes platform. Dieter left here in 2006. That architecture wasn’t industrialized until 2009. In three years in this business, the world changes. … All the suspensions were redone, all the work on the inside was redone, everything. This is nonsense.

He also noted that while he drives people hard, he also makes sure people get breaks when they need it (he mentioned taking the family on vacation for two weeks); that he believes the Treasury assumed there was a sizable chance of failure, but that they would have bought Chrysler two year and a more likely chance of someone else picking it up.

Regarding the IPO, Marchionne noted that it was needed to help monetize the VEBA’s Chrysler holdings. He also noted that if the Fiat 500 does “50 to 80,000 cars a year” in the United States, it will “have been more than a resounding success;” and that some changes made to the Fiat 500 for the US will be brought back to the European version. The production capacity is around 120,000 per year, for North America, Brazil, and China.

Marchionne said that Chrysler was instrumental in the planned rejuvenation of Alfa Romeo, because while the current Julietta and Mito are “true Alfas” with the right engines and feel, the “real opportunity” is to use the architecture of the upcoming compact Dodge sedan due in 2012 as the basis for the next generation of Alfa Romeo. The cost of developing the architecture would otherwise have been prohibitive; sharing the cost makes it practical for both companies.

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David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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