I saw at least five news stories about how Sergio Marchionne’s joke about not releasing the new Dart on April Fool’s Day “fell flat.” April 2, a Monday, was always the scheduled date, so the boss was just trying to be cute. Most writers did not pick up on the joke, a fine testament to their lack of humor if not sense.
More significant is the release of Chrysler’s annual report (10-K), from which Car and Driver extracted some interesting highlights. Here are a few:
3. New transmissions (the ZF 8-speed and the Fiat dual-clutch) are coming, with a 9-speed arriving in 2013. Where will this gearheadedness end?
4. What C&D didn’t say is that Chrysler Group’s 2011 net income was finally in the black at $183 million (after a $652 million loss in 2010). Net revenue for the year was $55 billion, up 31 percent over 2010. It’s the company’s first profitable year since 1997.
CEO Marchionne took no salary, bonus or stock options. Compare Ford’s Alan Mulally, who just took $34.5 million in stock for a 2009 performance incentive, on top of his (last year’s) $9.45 million bonus and $1.4 million salary.
We’ve written about the Dart before, with high hopes. Anything will be better than the Caliber, which finally went offline last December. You can’t blame Marchionne for that car, but the jury is still out on Chrysler’s new policy of selling pre-owned, warranteed competitors’ cars on their lots.
The idea, the company hopes, is to give its used-car buyers other options—and then convert/entice/persuade them into buying a Chrysler or Fiat product. They call this gambit the Diversified Certified program. Well, of course dealers think it’s a great idea.
However, says automotive.com,
It will be awkward if Chrysler is cuckolded by a wave of customers attracted by the idea, but driving off in a certified Ford with a warranty paid for by Chrysler is like a terrible example of automotive alimony.
The grammar is horrendous, but you get the idea.
What do you think will be the outcome of Diversified Certified? Give us your prediction.