Chrysler Group LLC began in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills in 1925. It has since undergone numerous changes and is known as the Chrysler Groups and has been affiliated with DaimlerChrysler. The company recently sold its entire stake to Cerberus Capital Management and declared chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2009. The company then merged with Italian automaker Fiat. Despite difficulties of current times, Chrysler helped to revolutionize the auto industry and define the motor city.
The company was founded by Walter P. Chrysler when the Maxwell Motor Company was re organized into the Chrysler Corporation. The 6-cylinder Chrysler was designed to provide customers with an advanced and well engineered car at an affordable price. The 1924 model Chrysler featured a carburetor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and oil filter during a time where almost no automobiles came with these features. Chrysler is credited with almost full credit for engineering the rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration. Chrysler also designed the safety wheel which was adopted by the auto industry worldwide.
Advanced research and development involved with Chrysler propelled their corporation to second place in U.S. automobile sales by 1936. Chrysler took an approach similar to the General Motors Company which involved opening different divisions within the company such as Dodge, Fargo, and the DeSoto marque. MoPar was also a division of Chrysler that sold replacement parts for manufactured Chrysler vehicles.
The Airflow models of Chrysler cars which were among the first to be designed using aerodynamic principles and were developed in the industry’s first wind tunnel. Buyers rejected the Airflow models, but the conventional cars that they had developed in the past help pull Chrysler through the depression. The Plymouth marque of Chrysler was one of the few that actually increased in sales.
During the 1960s Chrysler was the only one of the Big Three American automakers to offer the uni-body construction which offered increased handling, rigidity, and crash safety. The DeSonto and Plymouth divisions of Chrysler would eventually overlap and lead to their demises (DeSonto in the 60s, and Plymouth a few decades later). Chrysler would suffer more after a downsizing of the Dodge and Plymouth lines.
The focus on fuel economy, safety, and emissions in the 1970s lead to further problems for Chrysler. American automobile companies were being required to make smaller, lighter engines that ran much cleaner. It was up to each company to solve the problem independently as there was no cost-sharing. More of Chrysler’s budget was required to meet these demands due to the thin profits of the previous decade. The recent expansion into Europe in the 1960s collapsed due to rush manufactured vehicles released by Chrysler. By the second gas crisis of the 1970s, the previous large Chrysler models were in such low demand that the company had nothing to fall back on.
At the end of the 1970s, Chrysler petitioned the government for a $1.5 billion loan to avoid bankruptcy. Congress passed the ‘Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979’ and the U.S. military bought thousands of Dodge pickup trucks which became commercial cargo vehicles. Chrysler had effectively paid off the loans by 1983 resulting in a $350 million dollar profit to the U.S. government. Chrysler again expanded into Europe, but was still the weakest of the Big Three.
In 1998 Daimler-Benz purchased Chrysler, forming DaimlerChrysler. Although the new merger offered many attractive automobile models, the company continued to suffer due to the lower stock prices. CEO Dieter Zetsche expressed desire to sell the majority of Chrysler and keep it dependent upon Mercedes-Benz in 2007. 80.1% of the Chrysler Company was sold to Cerberus Capital Management on May 14, 2007 for $7.4 billion. The newly reformed Chrysler became Daimler AG and they revealed a new version of the Penstar logo as well as a website later that year.
The financial crisis of 2008 brought more problems for Chrysler which led to their eventual filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company recently announced an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat. June 10, 2009 marked the day that the Supreme Court approves the sale of Chrysler to Fiat.
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