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Stretching to the AMX

by David Zatz on

Speculation/analysis

Sergio Marchionne has referred to the possibility of taking the joint Fiat-Chrysler headquarters to the United States, where at the moment most of the profits are being made. If that is not merely an idle threat aimed at getting concessions from the Italian government and unions — a possibility that actually seems quite likely — many options come to mind. For one, a new shell company could be created which would acquire the assets of Fiat Auto and Chrysler Group, in return for its own stock. This is the mechanism used by Walter P. Chrysler to create Chrysler Corporation, when Maxwell had been making the Chrysler Model B for a year. Renaming Maxwell Motors might have been easier, but he had his reasons for doing it that way.

Several different names have been suggested for the holding company. Fiat-Chrysler is an obvious one, but it has the disadvantage of clearly putting one brand in front of the other, á la DaimlerChrysler (“where the Chrysler is silent”). The trademarking of Detroit Motor Works, while it is most likely for a marketing campaign or clothing, shows one possibility, albeit one that practically demands a lawsuit from BMW.

I suggested, when Cerberus first took over, renaming Chrysler Group to American Motors, to emphasize the return of Chrysler to the United States. I would suggest that again. It would get Chrysler out of the problem of “When you say Chrysler, do you mean the brand or the company?” — and do the same for Fiat, which currently uses Fiat for the company and FIAT for the cars, or vice versa. It would also, hopefully, build some domestic support for Chrysler as a real home-made brand, rinsing some of the tinge of Italian engineering and Korean transmissions and German (designed) transmissions. Fiat, Alfa, Maserati, and Ferrari would, of course, all remain based in Italy. Nothing would change but the address of the headquarters, a million accounting rules, and the near-automatic listing of the company in huge mutual funds, instantly boosting the stock price.

What would make American Motors complete? An AMX, based on the Dodge Challenger and truly stretching the credulity of the large-car platform by spreading among Challenger, Charger, 300, Quattroporte, Alfa, and now AMC. But given the way Sergio Marchionne seems to love new brands (SRT, Ram, and Mopar all have their own cars now), that would almost make sense.


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