It’s a nightmare scenario:
A major auto show where your company has a history of putting on extraordinary performances is coming up. Problem is, this year your company doesn’t have anything extraordinary to sell. Or any money to put together anything spectacular.
That’s the situation new Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne found himself in when preparing for this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. How could Marchionne get Chrysler to skid through this year and make it to next year, when he hopes his newest pet project will have some new product to finally show off?
With exciting new vehicles sure to be on display from Ford, GM, and all the import brands, Chrysler could easily have found itself sitting in a corner all alone, brushing crickets off its line of Sebrings and Wranglers.
Ahh, but really, do you think the Fiat King would let that happen? Especially considering Fiat has its hands in Ferrari and Maserati, too? Remember, at last year’s show, Ferrari didn’t even bother showing up. Things will be different this year, with both Ferrari and Maserati showing their wares in the Chrysler booth. The thing is, if visitors want to see them, they’ll have to make their way through the maze of Chryslers first.
Everyone who goes through the doors at the Cobo Center will want to see the Ferraris. At least, that’s Marchionne’s bet. Chrysler didn’t even schedule a news conference this year, banking on the fact that the Italian supercars will generate plenty of attention.
Chrysler also plans to show off a full line of the Fiat 500, the minicar it will sell in the States to take on the MINI Cooper. Included will be a concept version of an all-electric 500, which may or may not ever make it into production.
I think Chrysler has a great future with Fiat, and I like the ploy (and irony) of showing supercars in Chrysler’s booth. What I don’t believe, though, is that affiliating Chrysler with the exotics will make its current lineup any more appealing. What do you think?