Chrysler Group LLC, which was renamed FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) US LLC after the Chrysler-Fiat merger of 2014, is often referred to as one of the “Big Three” automakers in the USA. Its headquarters are situated in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Besides the Chrysler brand, FCA US LLC also includes other US-based automotive brands like Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, Mopar, and SRT.
The Chrysler brand owes its establishment to Walter Percy Chrysler, a revered automotive industrialist who helped to spur on the growth of the automotive industry in the first half of the 20th century. Before he founded the Chrysler Corporation, he had served as the President and Executive Director of Buick (one of General Motors’ automotive divisions) for a few years. When he left General Motors, it is said that he was one of the richest men in America because he had sold his stock in GM for a lot of money. After that, he took on a similar role at the Willys-Overland Motor Company and attempted to turn around its misfortunes between 1919 and 1921. Chrysler’s next project was the Maxwell Motor Company, which was also going through hard times. Chrysler acquired a controlling interest in the company and tried to fix its troubled operations, but it was too little too late. Chrysler then founded the Chrysler Corporation in 1925 and most of the Maxwell Motor Company’s assets were absorbed into the Chrysler Corporation.
Thanks to Chrysler’s vast experience in the automotive industry and his strong financial position, the Chrysler Corporation expanded quickly. In 1928, the company opened two new divisions: Plymouth and De Soto. The same year, it also acquired the Dodge Brothers company and the Fargo trucks company. Walter Chrysler’s intention was to use a similar brand hierarchy strategy to that of General Motors, and it worked. By the late 1950s, the brand hierarchy from the lowest to the highest price point was: Valiant, then Plymouth, then Dodge, then DeSoto, then Chrysler, and then Imperial at the top.
During the 1960s, the Chrysler Corporation attempted to establish itself in Europe by acquiring Rootes Motors of Britain, Simca of France, and Barreiros of Spain and changing their names to “Chrysler United Kingdom,” “Chrysler France,” and “Chrysler Spain,” respectively. Together, they formed Chrysler Europe. Unfortunately, the investment did not bear much fruit;It got into a lot of debt. Chrysler Europe was eventually sold to PSA Peugeot Citroën in 1978 for just $1.
Chrysler struggled financially in the 1970s because of the world oil crisis. The US government saved the company from bankruptcy at the time with a bail-out loan of $1.5 billion. Around the same time, Chrysler partnered with Mitsubishi Motors and began to sell Mitsubishi vehicles under the Plymouth and Dodge marques in the USA. In 1987, Chrysler acquired the American Motors Corporation (AMC), which came with brands like Jeep and Eagle. Later on in 1998, Chrysler entered a 50:50 merger with Daimler-Benz, and DaimlerChrysler AG was formed. However, the merger proved not to be the “marriage made in heaven” that it was said to be. DaimlerChrysler AG eventually sold its stake in the Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management in 2007.
What followed was the height of the great recession, and it hit the Chrysler Group hard. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009 and announced its plans to form an alliance with Fiat S.p.A. In January 2014, Fiat S.p.A completed a deal to purchase the Chrysler Group from the United Auto Workers retiree health trust. In May of the same year, Fiat S.p.A then merged with the Chrysler Group to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V, which is the 8th-largest car manufacturer in the world. FCA US LLC is a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.
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