By Brendan Moore
Apparently, Jim Press, co-president of Chrysler LLC, stated in an interview last week that should Chrysler survive, it would survive as a small boutique manufacturer producing high-performance, high-quality cars much like German automakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz do currently.
In fact, according to Automotive News, an industry weekly, Mr Press stated: “If there’s one company in America that can build high-craftsmanship, innovative vehicles, it’s Chrysler.”
Referring to the new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, Mr. Press opined that, “If Mercedes-Benz built a pickup truck, that’s what it would be”.
Jim, Jim, Jim.
There is nothing wrong with having a positive corporate self-image, but statements like that just boggle the mind.
Sure, it’s possible that Chrysler could transform itself into BMW or Mercedes-Benz. I mean, it could conceivably happen. But at this point it would be the equivalent of Pamela Anderson becoming a respected Shakespearean actor. Or Detroit becoming as much of a tourist destination as Paris, New York City or London.
Yeah, both those things could happen, but, you know, it’s not a good percentage bet.
Chrysler is at the bottom of the quality rankings among vehicle manufacturers. They have very few vehicles which could honestly be described as performance vehicles, and it would be a bit of a stretch to anoint any of the Chrysler vehicles currently produced as the clear-cut “best in class” in their respective segment. Chrysler does not produce vehicles noted for their beautiful design. They do not produce vehicles noted for their fuel-efficiency. To be frank, in every measurement, Chrysler is a very, very long way from equaling manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
And Mr. Press, previously with Toyota for 30 years before he arrived at Chrysler LLC in 2007, not only aimed high when talking about the future Chrysler, he hit low when talking about his Detroit competition. Press commented that while Chrysler is producing premium vehicles from the ground up, Ford and GM just take a basic car and use “gingerbreading’ to bring it up to premium status.
It’s understandable that Jim Press would want to talk up the future of Chrysler since that future is very tenuous at this point, but perhaps a more realistic view of Chrysler’s short-term prospects might be in order.
Additionally, I can’t see the value in trash-talking your competition when you’re the current Chrysler; it seems surreal that Chrysler should be proclaiming any sort of superiority, in the media, over anyone – even if they really do believe it themselves.
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