Chrysler and Fiat logosEnlarge Photo
The 'new' Chrysler says it is positioned to take on the market, focusing on the core Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Mopar brands with a 'leaner, flatter' structure. Fiat CEO and new Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is similarly enthusiastic about what the partnership could mean to Chrysler.
“I personally feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the new Chrysler and to work with senior management to build this company and our great brands into all we know they can and should be,” Marchionne said.
But is the enthusiasm all smoke and mirrors? There's ample reason to be worried about the future of both Chrysler and Fiat in the current market, not to mention Chrysler's history of failed synergistic pairings. But Marchionne and the New Chrysler think the whole operation will float on the introduction of strong new products.
Some of those products will be massaged Fiats from the Italian company's small and mid-sized categories, though they won't be simple badge-engineering projects. Instead, they will be re-engineered to meet U.S. standards for both safety and consumer taste. Best estimates put the arrival of the first Fiat-Chrysler joint projects at about 18 months from now.
Of course, Fiat isn't without its own history here in the U.S., and that history pairs well with Chrysler's - in a misery-loves-company sort of way. Still, with cars like the Fiat 500, Panda, Grande Punto and Bravo to work with, there's some hope yet that the alliance will come off a success.