Earlier this past week, Stellantis announced that Christine Feuell, formerly the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions will join the company effectivity tomorrow, as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chrysler brand.
We thought we would reach out to our good friend Frank B. Rhodes, Jr. (the great-grandson of Walter P. Chrysler) and a man on a mission to save the Chrysler brand and his grandfather’s legacy, for his thoughts on the move to introduce a new CEO to what he thinks needs to be done to push Chrysler forward into the future.
Here is what Mr. Rhodes, had to say…
“Today, the Chrysler brand has fallen to only two products, and according to the recent J.D. Power study, is at the bottom of the list in quality. In my opinion, the folks at the former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) gave up on the Chrysler brand in favor of the Italian brands like Alfa Romeo and Maserati. They even closed the Walter P. Chrysler Museum at the Auburn Hills campus and are now using it for their North America base of operations for the two Italian brands.
We need someone to fight for the Chrysler brand and Mr. Tavares’ choice of Christine Feuell is hopefully the right pick. I know how it is that every division wants to get a bigger share of the monies. Well now, it is time for Chrysler to make a stand.
It makes me think back to a quote from the March – April 1972 issue of Antique Automobile stated, “Chrysler the name was unknown to the public, but Chrysler the man had experienced vast success and prestige within the industry. Combining practical ability with extraordinary vision, he viewed market conditions [from a] wide perspective. Vividly aware of rapidly changing times, he noted deep-rooted reluctance within the industry to make the proper adjustments.”
Today, the Chrysler brand has almost 100 years of prestige. Please build on that.
Head of Design for Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep / Ram / Maserati / FIAT Latin America, Ralph Gilles, is a brilliant designer and knows the brand and its history well. I plead to him and his team to make the branding stand out on the Chrysler lineup, like what Ford has done with the Lincoln brand. Chrysler can tackle Buick and certain Lincoln vehicles with the right products. Does anyone remember the Imperial nameplate?
By the way, the “People Mover” brand, in my opinion, should not be a moniker for the Chrysler brand. I feel that they need to come up with something more exciting. Chrysler has been America’s blue-collar luxury brand since the beginning. Remember the successful “Imported From Detroit” campaign?
Engineering, styling, and especially QUALITY are key for the brand’s growth. I have been telling people at the Chrysler Corporation, Daimler, Cerberus, Chrysler LLC, FCA, and now Stellantis for years. Why can’t they get it right?
In the early days, Walter P. Chrysler’s name was on the product. Unfortunately, today, in my opinion, there are a bunch of bean counters. Ms. Feuell, you will need to take charge and bring the Chrysler brand back. When a car is designed, have the changes ready to go from the beginning. The Japanese are good at this. The Chrysler 300 letter series was constantly changing and involving. Walter liked to tease the public, especially when the new Chrysler Imperial was about to launch.
Be careful not to put all of your eggs in one basket regarding electricity. Politics is always changing and, in my opinion, if we were to get a pro-fossil fuel president this whole experiment just might collapse.
In the 1920s, Chrysler Corporation ran plain text pages touting this new revolutionary vehicle in the “Saturday Evening Post” for months before an actual picture of the product was shown. It helped build excitement for the product.
In the past several years, FCA has pumped billions into the Alfa Romeo brand, for how many sales? To rationalize, if just a fraction of those dollars had been allocated for Chrysler, where would we be? Chrysler is a household name and sometimes money will not buy sales as with Alfa and Fiat. Furthermore, there are thousands of dealers to service Chrysler products.
Case in point, Chrysler 300 sales are down but holding with little or no investment or advertising. Maybe the brand received a smaller allocation of chips. The bottom line is that everything is paid for and FCA should have built on that foundation.
It is easy to criticize past decisions, but now is the time, your time, Ms. Feuell to make the necessary changes to bring this iconic blue-collar brand back to life!”