With the news of the merger being accepted by both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Groupe PSA, a lot of people have been asking, what will the new company be officially called? According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), both companies “have ruled out using either of their existing names for the new business”.
If this is true, this means there will not be a form of the Chrysler name on a Detroit automaker, other than the Chrysler brand itself.
Does it mean an end of a legacy for the Chrysler name? No. Currently, the brand is getting an overhaul from its current parent company, FCA. The brand has been limited to just a minivan lineup and the iconic Chrysler 300 Series sedan, which will go away in the near future.
We reached out to the late Walter P. Chrysler’s great-grandson, Frank Rhodes for comment about his great-grandfather’s name being absent for the first time from the car company that he originally started in 1924. Here is what Mr. Rhodes had to say…
It has been a long time coming. That being said, we need to preserve the brand and at least it looks safe for now. Carlos Tavares, CEO PSA said he would keep all of the brands.
Chrysler should expand and go after Lincoln. I did think of a corporate name, PFC Corporation. However I thought I heard that none of the existing corporate names will be used. Maybe out of fairness since no one wants to look like they have the upper hand.
The fact is that Tavares has the leading vote, 6-5 and however you slice the cake he and the French Government are in control. Remember how Chrysler and Mercedes had a “merger of equals”? – Frank Rhodes, Great-Grandson of Walter P. Chrysler
This isn’t the first time that former Chrysler Corporation has crossed paths with Groupe PSA who owns the brands of Peugeot and Citroën. Chrysler’s European arm, known as Chrysler Europe launched in 1967 and was sold by former Chrysler Corporation CEO Lee Iacocca in 1979 to PSA. PSA rebranded the Chrysler and Simca (a brand under Chrysler Europe) models until 1987 when it launched a new line of passenger cars. However, the brand still lived on until about 1994 in various commercial vehicle lineups for the company.
But the fact is, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the merger from diehard Chrysler enthusiasts. A lot of people are hoping that a so-called “merger of equals” when Chrysler Corporation merged with Daimler-Benz to create Daimler-Chrysler. It held to the Chrysler Group being drained of cash and let to poor vehicle execution and poor build quality.
In 2009, a lot of questions were raised after the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, when the U.S. and Canadian governments allowed for FIAT S.p.A. and its CEO, the late Sergio Marchionne take over daily operations of the company and turn the company around. Marchionne found young talent buried within the Chrysler hierarchy and put them in charge of the company, which allowed for more money being spent into the production of vehicles and improved build quality.
In 2014, the FIAT S.p.A. merged with Chrysler’s new Chrysler LLC identity to create FCA. Since then, the company has expanded the Jeep brand into a massive global player, while realigning several of the core Mopar brands, which some have complained has caused chaos for the brands’ identities. However, FCA has launched several new award-winning vehicles, as well as some amazing new powertrains, but it hasn’t been enough to push the company to the forefront in a time when global regulations and costs are at an all-time high.
While the new merger with Groupe PSA allows both companies to benefit tremendously on a global scale, will it be enough to not destroy the foundation of the former Chrysler Corporation? According to some of our sources at FCA US, it won’t. According to the people we have talked to, both companies will be operating very similar to the way they are now. Certain departments will merge some of their operations together like finance, platform engineering, and global powertrains, but everything else should go unchanged.
The first case of business is to eliminate waste and that involves eliminating unsuccessful platforms. Instead, it has been said on multiple media platforms, that the new company will cut down their number of vehicle architectures and share the best of what each company has. This means those vehicle architectures like the Giorgio architecture which currently underpin vehicles like the rear-wheel-drive unibody based Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio and that are planned for a lot of the next-generation FCA vehicles like the upcoming Grand Cherokee, next-generation Dodge Charger, next-generation Dodge Challenger, and well as a new sport UV, will stay and be shared throughout both companies.
Other vehicles like the Ram pickup lineup will share they architectures with new SUVs like the upcoming Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and next-generation Dodge Durango will not be affected as well. Instead, future FIAT, smaller Jeep crossovers, Lancia, and possibly future Chrysler vehicles that share more of a front-wheel-drive based architecture will benefit from these new joint architecture sharing structures.
While the Chrysler name might be off of the actual company, the Chrysler legacy will remain. With Chrysler getting ready to launch an updated Chrysler Pacifica for the 2021 model year, as well as rumors surrounding a midsize Chrysler crossover, and potentially a smaller Chrysler vehicle based on the 2017 Chrysler Portal Concept in the works, we firmly believe that the future for the Chrysler brand still looks bright. Chrysler has shown us multiple times over the last century that the brand can keep reinventing itself.