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The NEW Chrysler's Armchair CEO
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I still remember back when the Chrysler 300 was first introduced to the world. It was the best car on the road at the time and i wanted Chrysler to produce so many of its wonderful concept vehicles it created since the early 2000s.
- Imperial / ME Four-Twelve / Firepower / Airflite / ecoVoyager / Nassau to name a few

Unfortunately for us we never received any of these vehicles and we never received any new vehicle outside of the rebadged Crossfire and Aspen (200 was a replacement for Sebring and the PT was moved over due to Plymouth).

I have heard two areas of focus for Chrysler as we move into the future
  • Chrysler = people mover brand
  • Chrysler = affordable luxury

As an Armchair CEO I don't think that there is a viable path forward for Chrysler down either of these paths.
1. Why put a people vehicle in a brand that has zero (or close to zero) general public interest?
2. Why put affordable luxury vehicles in a brand that hasn't been able to sell 'affordable luxury' for decades now or why would we sell it under Chrysler when Jeep is Stellantis' luxury name plate that has proven it can move product?

How do we quantify some of these items?

Lets first take a stab at my proposition that outside of our little community that people don't care about the Chrysler brand.
We can use Google search to get a sense of how frequently people are talking about / looking up info on a brand.

First observation is you will be hard pressed to find a car brand that has lower search engine traffic than Chrysler. It was low years ago and it is still low today. What is surprising about this is that for the majority of the population Chrysler isn't just a car brand and that it represents the entire company (Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep).
White Rectangle Font Slope Line




You can look at similar trends for General Motors and notice that a company search team does bring value as GM is searched at the same rate as Buick. So the fact that Chrysler is so low when it is our 'company' and a 'brand' is telling.

Product Rectangle Font Slope Line




And when we compare these search terms to the other FCA brands its a bit telling.
1 and 2 are Dodge and Jeep
3 is Ram
4th is Chrysler

And what is interesting is that in 2020 Jeep outsold Dodge by a range of ~ 3 to 1 and yet still had similar search results. So this speaks to the cache that Dodge brand has brought with is marketing positioning as of late (sales volume has gone down over the 2010s yet its search results go up).

Product Rectangle Azure Slope Font




Next let's chat about can Chrysler sell "affordable luxury"

Below is a snippet of a companion on when Chrysler had a 'new' product in a popular segment 'near luxury large SUV'. One can come up with other comparison vehicles but if there was momentum behind the Chrysler brand the sales could have looked better with the Aspen.

Chrysler Aspen sales by year
YearAspen's soldYukon's soldSequoia's sold
20067,65673,45834,315
200728,78871,47623,273
200822,25463,42830,693
20095,99629,41116,387

And most brands are moving towards being an SUV brands (maybe having 1 or 2 cars to go along with the SUVs).

Ford
14 SUVs / trucks / vans
1 car

Chevy
11 SUVs / trucks / vans
4 cars

Lincoln
4 SUVs / trucks / vans
0 cars

Cadillac
4 SUVs / trucks / vans
2 cars

to name a few brands. SUVs are the dolomite product of choice. So if that is the case do we leverage Jeep to sell the near luxury products or do we use Chrysler as either way ~75% of the product will be that of an SUV. Jeep has shown that they can sell ~$100k MSRP vehicles with the trackhawk. I don't think people would buy at the volume that we need if we were to sell the same product as a Chrysler.



So what should Stellantis do next?

1. Position Jeep as its Acura / Lincoln / Cadillac / Lexus / etc. It has the brand recognition and it has shown it can sell in volume with these products. Potentially split Jeep from CDJR dealerships and sell Jeeps with Stellantis higher end brands(?)

2. Shutdown the Chrysler brand and position Dodge/Ram as its Ford / Toyota / Honda / Chevy / etc. Convert the 300 over to a Magnum (give it an inch lift) and convert the Voyager/Pacifica to Caravan/Grand Caravan combo.
I do believe that Dodge/Ram may need a mid-size car/hatch along with a true-mid size SUV. Convert the Durango over to Wagoneer platform and position it against the Tahoe. While we are at it -> stop giving products to Fiat in NA and hand over the 124 over to Dodge. It would never had sold in the hundreds if it was under the right brand.
 

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First, I want to thank you for taking the time, effort, and energy for putting together this comprehensive analysis!

Reading this through leaves me with a couple of questions and a couple of thoughts:

Does Ma Stella have the time, patience, and money to see through what would be a very long, very expensive effort to essentially re-start Chrysler brand from scratch?
Also......At what point do you reach the stage of "good money after bad" ?

Speaking for myself......I really don't see the point in Ma Stella pouring a couple of decades and untold billions in trying to breath life into Chrysler.
There are any number of uses for those billions...like...Trying like Hell to fight off Elon Inc, and the hoards of Chinese OEM's looking at North America and Europe with envious eyes.

Chrysler will always hold a soft warm fuzzy place in my heart, BUT......
At some point......there comes a time to face the harsh reality, and LET GO.
The sooner we can let go....the sooner we can start the healing process.
 

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Yes, thank you for all that analysis work. I think we first need to give this new lady some time and see if she has ideas we aren't thinking about. Myself, I believe they could start by bringing to market a sharp CUV. There aren't many great looking ones out there. They all look the same. Let's see what happens.
 

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Quite frankly, Chrysler needs something that looks different, new and exciting. No one is going to care about a Chrysler that is restyling something that has been done before. There is just no enthusiasm in the brand and remarketing stuff doesn't generate interest. Five years ago no one was talking about Hyundai with cheaper versions of existing cars. Now they are the leaders going into the 2020s
 

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Dodge will remain a performance brand. It is clearly working for them and to try and change it to mainstream is too risky.

Chrysler can fulfill a big need.....fuel efficient CUVs that are affordable and aspirationally styled, like the 300. This could allow Jeep to drop all the 2WD variants. Jeep's base trims are moving upmarket already. A Grand Cherokee L Laredo is difficult to find for less than $45k even though it starts at $39k.

Let Chrysler have the $30k RWD 3-row that tops out at $50k. It will not have all the Jeep luxuries, but it would cover a real need in the marketplace. At the same time, by sharing the platform, it gives economies of scale for both Dodge and Jeep (if Dodge keeps the Durango on the Grand Cherokee architecture).

Yes, this would put Chrysler on target after Toyota, Honda and Kia. Not an easy place, but right now, Stellantis has nothing to compete with those brands.

I also do not advocate for a full lineup for Chrysler. Chrysler should stay in mid-size, full-size and minivan. That is it.
 

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They say there is power in a name. Around here where I live, 5 hours south of Detroit, nobody refers to this company as "FCA", or "Stellantis". When guys get into casual conversations about this company, they refer to it as "Chrysler". I can hear the guys at McDonald's sitting around 6:00 a.m. coffee now, "I took my pickup to see why it wouldn't start yesterday and Chrysler wants $250 for a new starter!"

The Chrysler name is still engrained in the brains of many Americans, and it would be nice if somehow leadership could figure out a way to make it great again.
 

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I just watched a movie where the main character was driving a new 300S. To me it is still one of the best styled sedans out there and I don’t understand why it is not selling more even with its lack of marketing. Every time I see one it has presence to me. I don’t understand how people choose many of the other sedans over it. Dealers not stocking many obviously doesn’t help.

I think the original post raised a good point: how do you raise awareness for the brand? I have always been surprised how some brands like Ford and Toyota can be all things to all people while others get associated as a minivan or truck company. Chrysler being down to only two models obviously doesn’t help. At this point one has to ask oneself: why would people choose our products over others?
 

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I believe that Chrysler is largely not considered or searched on because after so many changes in ownership, most of my circle of acquaintances is not even aware that they still exist. They thought it was absorbed and discontinued years ago. The are aware of Dodge, because of the performance advertising, but they don't realize that Chrysler is still around. And here in the Northeast, we see TV ads for Ram, Jeep and Dodge, but NEVER for Chrysler. Not in years.
I believe Chrysler can and should be made relevant and viable.
 

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I believe that Chrysler is largely not considered or searched on because after so many changes in ownership, most in my circle of acquaintances are not even aware that they still exist. They thought it was absorbed and discontinued years ago. The are aware of Dodge, because of the performance advertising, but they don't realize that Chrysler is still around. And here in the Northeast, we see TV ads for Ram, Jeep and Dodge, but NEVER for Chrysler. Not in years.
I believe Chrysler can and should be made relevant and viable.
TOTALLY agree.
 

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Very nice summary. I have long believed there are too many brands under one roof at the CDJR dealerships, and it was a mistake to combine them. At one point it was supposed to be Chrysler/Jeep and Dodge(with trucks), but Daimler was cost-cutting and combined them all. The combined dealership led to Marchionne wanting no overlap between brands, making things worse for Chrysler and Dodge. At this point, I think there are two options

1. Invest in each brand, expand each lineup, and split the dealerships out to Chrysler/Jeep(or Alfa) and Dodge/Ram/Fiat standalone dealerships. Share vehicle architecture between Chrysler and Dodge similar to what PSA was doing with its core brands. This is a very expensive option.

2. Move the minivan to Dodge, and quietly let Chrysler die a death from starvation. This leaves the same number of dealerships and allows any investment that would have gone to Chrysler to be spread across the other North American brands.

I think it would be very difficult to unwind the combined dealerships. As sad as it is to let Chrysler die, I think it is the more viable option and makes more sense from a cost perspective.
 

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Nothing would resuscitate Chrysler like making cars available to buy. Nothing on the lots or in the showroom around here yet, so my Pacifica and my wife's 300 are still unavailable. It's so bad that my recent visit to my usual dealer, they had nothing on the showroom, and I wasn't even approached when I walked in. There were fourteen Chargers, four Challengers, a dozen Jeep SUVs and maybe thirty trucks on the main lot. When the main lot is full, they can stock 7-800 vehicles, with room for overflow in another area behind the used car lot.
 

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Nothing would resuscitate Chrysler like making cars available to buy. Nothing on the lots or in the showroom around here yet, so my Pacifica and my wife's 300 are still unavailable. It's so bad that my recent visit to my usual dealer, they had nothing on the showroom, and I wasn't even approached when I walked in. There were fourteen Chargers, four Challengers, a dozen Jeep SUVs and maybe thirty trucks on the main lot. When the main lot is full, they can stock 7-800 vehicles, with room for overflow in another area behind the used car lot.
So let me get this straight - they had 60 vehicles and felt no need to sell any of them?
 

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The NEW Chrysler's Armchair CEO
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
First, I want to thank you for taking the time, effort, and energy for putting together this comprehensive analysis!

Reading this through leaves me with a couple of questions and a couple of thoughts:

Does Ma Stella have the time, patience, and money to see through what would be a very long, very expensive effort to essentially re-start Chrysler brand from scratch?
Also......At what point do you reach the stage of "good money after bad" ?

Speaking for myself......I really don't see the point in Ma Stella pouring a couple of decades and untold billions in trying to breath life into Chrysler.
There are any number of uses for those billions...like...Trying like Hell to fight off Elon Inc, and the hoards of Chinese OEM's looking at North America and Europe with envious eyes.

Chrysler will always hold a soft warm fuzzy place in my heart, BUT......
At some point......there comes a time to face the harsh reality, and LET GO.
The sooner we can let go....the sooner we can start the healing process.
From someone who loves (or had loved) Chrysler i thought it was a smart decision for them to head down this people mover category. A brand needs a purpose and at least this was a purpose however bland. But your right at what point do you call 'uncle' and pivot and just lean into the other assets you have. I would buy a Chrysler over a FIAT all day but i don't know anymore if i would buy one over a Dodge / Jeep or even other auto maker brands. I need to feel connected to the brand and i have no more feelings or connections to the brand.
 

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Dodge will remain a performance brand. It is clearly working for them and to try and change it to mainstream is too risky.

Chrysler can fulfill a big need.....fuel efficient CUVs that are affordable and aspirationally styled, like the 300. This could allow Jeep to drop all the 2WD variants. Jeep's base trims are moving upmarket already. A Grand Cherokee L Laredo is difficult to find for less than $45k even though it starts at $39k.

Let Chrysler have the $30k RWD 3-row that tops out at $50k. It will not have all the Jeep luxuries, but it would cover a real need in the marketplace. At the same time, by sharing the platform, it gives economies of scale for both Dodge and Jeep (if Dodge keeps the Durango on the Grand Cherokee architecture).

Yes, this would put Chrysler on target after Toyota, Honda and Kia. Not an easy place, but right now, Stellantis has nothing to compete with those brands.

I also do not advocate for a full lineup for Chrysler. Chrysler should stay in mid-size, full-size and minivan. That is it.
Dodge 'W' model is green lit for quite some time. The only question is about number of rows.

Chip shortage may ruin some plans in terms of timing but before the plan was to have 3 new Dodge models with M24, one MY23 which is obviously Hornet and the 2 additional Dodge models as MY24.
 

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Dodge 'W' model is green lit for quite some time. The only question is about number of rows.

Chip shortage may ruin some plans in terms of timing but before the plan was to have 3 new Dodge models with M24, one MY23 which is obviously Hornet and the 2 additional Dodge models as MY24.
"Plans" under FCA were meaningless over the decade they had control of the company. Why should they matter now?
 

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You guys are talking about the past, not the present. Stellantis is not FCA.

(Am I disloyal for insinuating that FCA wasn't perfect?)
100% agree.

Tavares said all brands get 10 years to prove themselves, then he backed it up by hiring a CEO specifically for Chrysler.
 
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