Who will buy Chrysler? High level talks were taking place recently between DaimlerChrysler and General Motors. Could another major merger work? Whatever the outcome, industry analysts expect DaimlerChrysler to cut thousands of jobs and close two North American plants at the Chrysler group. But to put today’s situation in perspective, we can look back 20 years to the last time one Detroit carmaker swallowed up another after acquiring it from a European owner.
Chrysler's purchase of American Motors from Renault could be a template for a GM takeover of the Chrysler group. Like Chrysler back then, GM would probably liquidate most of the hard assets and make the Chrysler- Dodge-Jeep business a marketing division of GM.
Put a positive spin on it and look at the product portfolio: Stow ‘n Go minivans, Chrysler and Dodge rear-wheel-drive cars, including the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. In trucks and pickups, still a staple of US sales for Ford and GM, there are the Dodge Ram, Jeep Wrangler, Liberty, Grand Cherokee and Patriot.
And what about the best Chrysler assembly plants – the innovative Toledo Supplier Park, which makes the Jeep Wrangler, and Brampton, which builds the Chrysler 300 as well as the Dodge Charger and Magnum, potential partners have some top-level facilities into which they can bring their own products.
Renault, now Renault-Nissan, is the natural choice of buyer. It would get a dealer network in the US, a model line that fills gaps in the Renault-Nissan portfolio, including an excellent engine programme in the Hemis, and a ready-made set of great manufacturing facilities to move production away from high labour-cost Western Europe and Japan. And they would finally get their ball back after dropping it in the unwise sale of American Motors two decades ago. Poetic justice.
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