What's Next for Chrysler?
" title="2009 Dodge Caliber" hspace="10" vspace="10" width="300" height="225" align="left" />Let's start at the beginning, with the "surgical" bankruptcy that's supposed to allow the good assets of to be sold off to a new entity. Sounds almost like the company is just going to get its tonsils removed, doesn't it? The thing is, my brother the doctor once told me his definition of minor surgery: Surgery that's happening to someone else. And that's the feeling I get here.Chrysler
While Dr., I mean President, Obama thinks this could be done in about 30 to 60 days, a quote from Bloomberg about the Chrysler bankruptcy judge might be inadvertently closer to the truth. The financial new service reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez will be running things and immediately reminds us that he "spent years sorting through the wreckage of Enron Corp. and WorldCom." And the operative word here, of course, is "years."
But let's say a miracle occurs and the reborn Chrysler is all ready to go in June or July, in time for most of what's normally the big summer selling season. The new company is still going to be stuck with the same old lineup it has now. Except for the , which really isn't going to mean much in terms of units sold, the Chrysler portfolio of cars is aging quickly. The Chrysler 300/ have been around since 2005; the Dodge Caliber (pictured) has been out since '06. The Chrysler Sebring has already been lurking around since 2007. And you know what? That's pretty much it in terms of actual cars, and even then I'm stretching the definition a bit to include the Caliber.Dodge ChargerDodge Challenger
Although, for the sake of argument, you could toss in compact SUVs, the and , both of which have been scaring away customers since 2007. On the other hand, the new Dodge Ram is pretty impressive-but putting the company's survival on the back of a full-size pickup '” or minivans or SUVs '” might not be the wisest move in today's automotive market.Jeep PatriotJeep CompassJeep's
And that wonderful Fiat small-car technology? First, keep in mind that these are very small cars. The Fiat 500, the one that gets the great mileage and the great hype, is somewhere between a smart fortwo and a hatchback in size; it's about three feet shorter than a . I may be a big fan of city cars like 500, but I don't sales of a vehicle like this will have a big impact on the U.S. market anytime soon. But it really doesn't matter anyway, because it would take until 2011 for the Fiat 500 to be revamped to meet U.S. specs.Ford FocusToyota Yaris
So, what's really going to happen to the new Chrysler?
Well, the folks at The Truth About Cars have a mole who got his hands on some of the actual bankruptcy filings, and according to those documents, the majority of Chrysler's assets will end up being owned by "a newly established Delaware limited liability company thatÂ currently is anÂ indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat."
And somehow I don't think that's bankrupt-ese for "merger of equals."