Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2013 05:26 PM
Short on truly new-from-the-ground-up products compared with most of its competitors, Chrysler really couldn't afford to botch the launch of its new Jeep Cherokee into the heart of the fast-growing mid-size SUV segment in the US market. But it did.
And now Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne not only is having to make up for lost time and sales by finally getting past Cherokee production bottlenecks, but he also has felt compelled to vow that his company won't ever make the same mistake again.
Chrysler stopped making its previous entry in the segment, Jeep Liberty, last year, losing its place against the competition, and then hold-ups related to Cherokee's innovative nine-speed transmission put the launch several weeks behind. Cherokee is just now reaching Chrysler dealers across the country in enough volume to support the company's lofty sales ambitions for the vehicle.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 7, 2013 11:15 AM
California isn't always a bellwether; just ask Fiat dealers outside the Golden State. California consumers buy about one-quarter of all Fiats sold in the US now, but enthusiasm for the brand decidedly has not spread eastward like bell-bottomed jeans or bleached-blonde hair.
And that's a growing problem for Fiat and Chrysler. While the companies are locked in a game of chicken with the United Auto Workers over the value of Chrysler stock, CEO Sergio Marchionne is hearing increasing complaints from American Fiat dealers that instead of being a silk purse from a sow's ear, the Fiat brand has proven to be more like a pig in a poke.
"It's sad to say, but [Fiat has] become a stepchild," one Fiat dealer anonymously told Automotive News. "Chrysler doesn't want to hear that, but that's the reality."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 25, 2013 04:52 PM
Everyone involved in the 2009 bailout of Chrysler by the US government and Fiat knew that at some point there would be a vestigial mess to clean up even after the two parties, with the United Auto Workers, rescued the company financially and set the stage for the four-year sales boom and brand revival that the Detroit automaker has enjoyed.
Welcome to that mess. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is trying to wrap up the four-year transformation of Chrysler by taking control of the last part of the company that is controlled by the UAW because of the concessions that it and its members made to help keep Chrysler alive four years ago. But he's got to get the union to give up that stake at an optimum price for Fiat, and he's having trouble doing that right now.
Marchionne is saying that he's planning an IPO for Chrysler soon, which would place a market value on Chrysler stock that he says is being overvalued by the union. Presumably that would help wrap things up, but perhaps at a price that Marchionne deems too high. So he has threatened for Fiat to back away from its increasing entanglement with Chrysler.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 19, 2013 06:17 PM
Forgive United Auto Workers officials if they are wary of the trademark sweaters worn by Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. They're worried that he might be hiding some cards up his sleeve.
The two sides continue to be engaged in a multi-billion-dollar game of poker as Marchionne attempts to bring the 42-percent share of Chrysler that Fiat doesn't own under its final control by buying it at the lowest possible price from the union, which picked up the stake just as Fiat gained majority ownership of the US automaker during the 2009 bailout.
Lately, Marchionne has been making noise about filing an initial public offering of Chrysler stock in coming days. Pundits are saying he's bluffing—that what the Fiat and Chrysler boss really wants to do is to get the market to value Chrysler and force the union's employee trust, which owns the Chrysler stake, to bargain a deal once and for all.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 10, 2013 11:52 AM
Two topics have dominated industry chatter at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week: When will the European market begin recovering? And what's with all the new SUVs that are on display at the show?
Oh, and 'Where's Waldo?' Or, rather, why did Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne abruptly cancel his planned appearances at the show?
There are signs that sales in Europe at least have flattened out. But while UK car sales rose in August by 11 percent in their 18th consecutive month of growth, that has been a contrast to Germany, France, Italy and Spain, all of which have continued to suffer sales declines.
"Clearly, Europe still has a long way to recover," Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America Group, told brandchannel. "Eastern and Central Europe are showing a few more signs of rebound, but they're still relatively weak."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2013 10:40 AM
As every brand marketer knows, sex sells. And, if you're Fiat, you're suddenly aware that orange does, too.
The Italian brand has been mounting an uphill battle for mainstream awareness, brand recognition and sales in the United States since its little cars returned to American shores a couple of years ago under the aegis of Fiat's ownership of Chrysler and the keen sense of CEO Sergio Marchionne that the timing might be right for Fiat's reappearance in the US market.
Sex appeal has been a staple of Fiat's marketing, and it's no surprise that the brand is turning to it again in new campaigns for its Fiat 500 Abarth version and the new Fiat 500e all-electric vehicle that will be sold first only in California. From its "Seduction" ad a couple of years ago to the one it debuted early last year featuring a supermodel, her bikini top, a scorpion, and—oh, yes—the black-and-red Abarth, Fiat has been playing this card consistently.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 11, 2013 09:16 AM
Lululemon CEO steps down.
Mondelez to launch coffee pods for rival Nespresso machine.
Google cuts illegal drug site search ads and videos.
Adidas sued by church over Adizero trademark.
American Airlines unveils post-merger top management team.
Apple allows iTunes Radio users to pay to avoid ads.
Boeing sees no jet bubble.
CBC apologizes for botched national radio rebranding.
Citibank could face $7 billion loss on currency swings, analyst says.
Comcast beefs up in-home Wi-Fi.
Dole Food gets buyout offer from CEO.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 6, 2013 12:39 PM
Has Chrysler gone too far in refusing to recall 2.7 million older-model Jeeps that federal safety regulators say are unsafe and may have contributed to dozens of fatalities in fiery rear-end collisions?
The consensus of outsiders is: Yes, Chrysler is taking too big a risk of its hard-won success and reputation in drawing this particular line in the sand.
"It's the most moronic decision this year," Todd Turner, head of auto consultancy Car Concepts, told MarketingDaily. "Why would they start a fight that is only going to damage their reputation and further draw attention to the issue?" Paul Eisenstein, a veteran journalistic follower of the industry, opined on Autoblog that "sometimes you can't win for losing and even if Chrysler is right, there is a serious chance that it may nonetheless lose the battle in the public eye, especially if it is seen as putting profits before safety."Continue reading...