Mussolini… I mean, Marchionne!

2016 Chrysler 200 Limited

So let me get this straight: FCA is going to delete two sedans from its lineup in favor of ramping up production of its Jeep and RAM vehicles. Not a bad idea. If they are selling, then by all means churn them out. However, the reason for this is because gas prices have dropped and more Americans are purchasing crossovers and pickups. Are you kidding me? What will happen when the prices rise (as they inevitably will – you heard it here, first!) again and people go back to searching for the keys to their Vegas and Pintos?

2016 Chrysler 200 Limited

Adding insult to injury, Marchionne called the designers “dummies” for copying Hyundai styling cues and said they were not “up to snuff”. Milton Burle said: “If you’re gonna’ steal, steal from the best.” The Hyundai Sonata was a runaway success. The Chrysler 200 is the best thing to come from the factory since the original 300 and Viper. You call the designers dummies? Who approved the design? That was the dummy, Mr. Marchionne! I don’t see the company sending any checks back to customers who bought one. Hmmmmmmm…..

In 18 months, the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 will bite the dust. Two sedans that have created a buzz for the company and been the most competitive vehicles that FCA has produced since Lido had the reigns. Yes, they could be better, but they were a step in the right direction — and now you decide to give them the axe. Ridiculous!

2016 Dodge Dart Limited

“De-focus” is the term Marchionne used. “De-focus” What the *^&^% does that mean? I’ve never heard a car manufacturer use that term in my life. I have also never heard a CEO quoted as saying that cars he sent to the chopping block could be revived if another auto manufacturer was willing to build them. Wouldn’t that be competition? I’d love to see Lincoln tweak the chassis and trounce you in sales. It would be my pleasure to see a new, larger Chevy Volt model sell like gangbusters with your design, Mr. FCA. If you are getting rid of mid-range sedans, all that will be left are the big cars (300, Challenger, and Charger) and trucks. Is your Average Fuel Rating going to be up to spec for the Government’s deadline of 2025? You’re going to be left with nothing but big character cars and your beloved Giulia (which hasn’t surfaced yet). That may work in Europe, but this is Chrysler (FCA), not Maserati.

This all sounds to me like Chrysler is going to die twice and change hands within the next decade. The company has gone from Hitler (Daimler-Chrysler) to Mussolini (FCA). It may be an extreme comparison, but I see no valid reasoning for the decision. But hey, what do I know, huh? I’m not a financier or a company leader. I am just a consumer.

When I heard this news, I couldn’t help but remember that President Obama almost let Chrysler go bankrupt in order to improve General Motors and Ford’s chances of success. The Presidential Task Force on the Automobile Industry wasn’t certain whether or not Chrysler could turn return to profitability even with government assistance. The task force also thought that sacrificing Chrysler might improve the odds for GM and Ford. A move like this lends credibility to their suspicions. Delete your bread-and-butter sedans to focus on Hellcats and trucks? It pains me to say it, but maybe the Task Force was on to something.

2016 Dodge Dart Limited

Given FCA’s investment in the current 200 and Dart models, abandoning the compact and mid-size sedan segments and then assuming gas prices will remain permanently low might make financial sense in the short term, but it sounds like a risky long-term strategy. If Marchionne believes Jeep and Ram sales are the only vehicles that can drive FCA’s growth going forward, then there may be bigger problems at FCA than we’re led to believe. The FCA boss referred to it as “Re-focusing” on the heavier vehicle divisions. Sounds like increased production of Fusions, Cobalts, Malibus and Focuses to me.

So you’re going to “Re-focus” on the Jeep and RAM brands. Let’s see how that works out for you. Focus on trucks during a temporary lull in gas prices. Sounds like Isuzu’s winning formula. With all due respect, Sergio, this is a “dummy” move to me. It will either go down in the annals of automotive history as a genius decision or a monumental blunder.  Hope it works out.

Do you think Marchionne’s decision to kill the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart was a good idea?


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