No back-patting here (okay maybe a little) but my prediction that the Chrysler/Fiat combination was a smart one has come true. The car market grew 13% last year and Chrysler sales weighed in at 20%. Chrysler outperformed the market by 7%. GM and Ford at 3% and 4%, underperformed the market. Bringing a little European design and smaller car sensibility to America has, indeed, translated into sales and margin. The approach, tempered by some Jeep and Dodge DNA, put Chrysler back on firm ground.
A point of concern, however, is CEO Sergio Marchionne’s comment at the Detroit Auto show. He feels a U.S. recovery will pave the way for growth of his more heavy metal cars and trucks, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Ram truck. This is just the type of talk that got us into trouble in the first place. I would expect to hear this from Ford and GM but not Chrysler (Fiat). Twenty somethings and the emerging car buyer market (read future) will not be demanding guzzlers. And in 10 years a 30 MPG car will be a guzzler.
Don’t fall for this Mr. Marchionne. Keep your eyes on the big prize. Stop the supersizing. Find beauty in the small. The efficient. Meep meep. This is way forward. Peace.