Who Owns Chrysler? Here’s a Brief History of the Storied American Brand
The Chrysler brand has used many of its nine lives to date, but the long-standing American brand, which has had many adoptive parents and foreigners, is still alive. For the moment.
The Chrysler brand is currently part of FCA US, which belongs to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA is a dual headquartered company with a Fiat side based in Turin, Italy, and former operations of Chrysler Corp. based in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Chrysler dates back to 1925, founded by Walter Chrysler, and is still considered part of the Big Three or Detroit Three, referring to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
Chrysler has repeatedly flipped to the edge of a financial cliff. She was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1970s and was saved by government loan guarantees worth $ 1.5 billion that saved time until a surprising secret developing savior: the minibus.
In 1998, as part of a $ 36 billion deal, Chrysler was acquired by Daimler-Benz of Germany, and the so-called alliance or “peer-to-peer merger” was named DaimlerChrysler. It was not a good fit, as the two cultures never really merged – although the original Daimler platforms helped build vehicles like the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger and Challenger and Jeep Grand Cherokee though better than their predecessors – and Daimler sold Chrysler in 2007 to Cerberus, a private equity firm in the United States, for just $ 7.4 billion.
The 2008 financial crisis was devastating for the auto companies in Detroit. Chrysler has laid off thousands of white-collar workers, going as far as unscrewing the bulbs from their empty offices and has stopped plowing the top deck of unused parking garages to save money.
Factory closings, layoffs and rationalization of model lines were all planned with the loss of thousands of additional blue-collar workers. Work on future products has mostly been halted. The few remaining resources have been diverted to the development of the new generation of Chrysler 300 sedan and the new Jeep Cherokee.
On April 30, 2009, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. General Motors filed for bankruptcy on June 1, and although the government deemed GM too large to go bankrupt and had a reorganization plan for the company to go bankrupt, government officials were divided over whether to use government money to save the smaller Chrysler.
Ultimately, government loans totaling more than $ 10 billion were made, and when Chrysler left bankruptcy, it had a patchwork of owners, including the U.S. and Canadian governments, the United Auto Workers and Fiat pension funds. SpA which has agreed to supply part of its powertrains and other technologies, and also share its CEO, Sergio Marchionne.
Over the following years, Fiat gradually acquired shares from other stakeholders while repaying government bonds. In 2014 Fiat acquired 100% of Chrysler, which has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Italian automaker. A new entity, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has been created. The Chrysler subsidiary has been renamed FCA US. Marchionne remained CEO of the transatlantic empire with a long list of automobile brands, including Chrysler.
Ironically, Chrysler was not considered one of the main brands of FCA and did not receive the same level of attention or resources as Jeep or Ram. Formerly a brand of complete cars, Chrysler is now only represented by two models: the aging 300C, whose platform was designed over a quarter of a century ago, and the Pacifica minivan.
The future of the Chrysler brand remains uncertain with another parental change underway. In December 2019, FCA signed a memorandum of understanding with PSA (to which Chrysler Corporation unloaded its unprofitable European operations in 1979) for the merger of the two car manufacturers, with a provisional schedule in late 2020 or mid-2021 for the conclusion of the agreement.
The automaker yet to be named will be the fourth largest in the world, and some brands are expected to disappear. Chrysler could be one of them.