A major change just took place at the Chrysler brand. When the Stellantis merger happened, CEO Carlos Taveras promised all of the brands would have 10 years to see the results of a solid business plan. That seemed hard to envision for Chrysler as it only sells the Pacifica minivan and very old Chrysler 300 sedan. But now Stellantis has just announced a new CEO for Chrysler.
Christine Feuell will become Chrysler’s dedicated head. This helps to alleviate concerns that the brand’s days were numbered. Of course, there is always the chance her role is really to fold up things at what was once the top tier of the Chrysler Corporation. But here’s why we think Stellantis isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.
A new Chrysler CEO means a new direction to pull the brand back
Her background shows that she is there to spark things and not to help bury the brand. She is formerly chief commercial officer for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions according to the Detroit Free Press. She also spent time at auto seating manufacturer Adient, Johnson Controls, and 14 years in various capacities at Ford.
So there is automobile experience in her past. Her last position there was as director of global marketing strategy for two years. Stellantis says she provided leadership “with a strong track record of delivering profitable growth through integrated products, software, and services.”
In its simplest form, the brand going forward will absorb some of the products from sister companies Peugeot and Citroen, among others. Both had plans to enter the North American market before the merger. Now, they offer a lot of product options to “Chryslerize” without having to develop new models from scratch.
Stellantis has to differentiate what each of the 11 brands will produce
Tavares and the product teams are determining what each company’s product lines will focus on, to avoid overlapping vehicles. Depending on that internal organization Chrysler has a lot of segments it can cherry-pick from. There are luxury vehicles, sporty sedans, SUVs, and city vans to possibly rebrand as Chryslers.
Chrysler was once an important brand in America, but over the last decade, it has lost models and been drifting aimlessly. Its 300 sedan is built on the same platform as the Dodge Charger. The Pacifica minivan, though it shares little with the Dodge Caravan, is of a similar size and dimensions. So, without a compelling difference, anything that Chrysler sells can be found with the Dodge brand.
Chrysler’s brand has fallen on hard times
The Chrysler brand was the Chrysler Corporation’s flagship, save for the on-again, off-again Imperial. When the company dropped Desoto in 1960 (it made a few thousand 1961 models) and more recently Plymouth, there was a lot of shuffling of models. But the Chrysler brand always stayed on top in the hierarchy of the Chrysler Corporation.
It is an odd predicament that might have made some sense within the former Fiat Chrysler, but from the outside, it appears that the brand was slowly being killed off. Now, it has one last chance to regain some of the product and prestige that it once held.