Blog: Dave LeggettChrysler signs of life shocker

Dave Leggett | 24 September 2008

Chrysler has taken a battering in sales for some time now. Ford and GM at least have their considerable global engineering resources to call on when it comes to rejigging the product offering. Poor old Chrysler, people said, is just too exposed to a market reacting seismically to the twin ills of the credit crunch and high fuel prices. It is difficult for it to do much about that quickly, even if private equity owner Cerberus were inclined to spend heavy on product development, which it probably isn't.  

Therefore, the beleaguered company is likely facing break-up and is pretty much all washed up; it's just a matter of time before the brown stuff really hits the fan, many said.

And that brown stuff may yet eventually hit, but the fat lady with a penchant for singing has at least been sent back into the dressing room after yesterday's events. There are signs of life in the Chrysler engineering department.

Just as GM is dancing a merry jig following its production Volt unveil, Chrysler gatecrashes the party with something of an electric car show of its own - not one, but three and one to be in production before the end of 2010. It was something of a surprise, carefully - and smartly - choreographed by the company, too (starting with an exclusive interview first thing yesterday on CNBC, news of which spread like wildfire across the web).

Could Cerberus be thinking ultimately of packaging the Chrysler electric car know-how (ENVI ) business into something to ring-fence and sell to an OEM, along with other parts of the Chrysler Group of value that the market might go for? Let's leave the cynicism for now. Chrysler raised some eyebrows yesterday and has genuinely moved the electric car game along a little with what it has shown. 'Proof of the pudding...' obviously still applies, but it's good to see signs of life and innovation going on inside Chrysler.

To a company in trouble, yesterday provided one of those valuable commodities, the importance of which is not to be underestimated: Hope. 

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