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Fiat And Bankrupt Chrysler In Bed; Business As Usual In The Short Term For Chrysler Australia Photo:
 
 
Tim O'Brien | May, 01 2009 | 1 Comment

WHAT WILL US CHRYSLER'S Chapter 11 filing and global strategic alliance with Fiat mean for Chrysler Australia and its Australian customers? TMR spoke with Jerry Stamoulis, Manager Public Relations, Chrysler Australia.

"The most important thing to understand is that the bankruptcy filing only involves Chrysler US: Chrysler Australia does not fall under the bankruptcy," Mr Stamoulis said.

"For us here, it is business as usual; we are not looking to close any part of our operation and our servicing and sales are not affected," he said.

"There is no change at all from a negative standpoint, we see this (the Chapter 11) as a positive."

While the Fiat alliance (it's a global strategic alliance remember) will impact at some stage on the local operation, how and when is unclear.

chryslerfiat_thumb

Chrysler US and Fiat's immediate objective is to work together on the US market and for Fiat to expand its future with Chrysler. For Chrysler Australia, "It's is just too early to say - we simply need to wait," Stamoulis said.

With Chrysler and Daimler housed together and sharing a number of functions in the Australian market, and with Daimler having divested its 19.9 percent stake in Chrysler LLC, there are further complexities in the new marriage (and recent divorce) for the operations here.

Not least of which will be what the future holds for the Fiat brand in this market, currently held by importer Ateco.

Certainly, what will happen, in time, is a revitalisation of the Chrysler Australia brand line-up. And, just as certain, there will be casualties among Chrysler LLC's US brands and models.

"As to what happens from a brand perspective (in the US market), we may have some indications as soon as Monday (when most of Chrysler's manufacturing operations will be temporarily suspended)," Mr Stamoulis said.

"From our position here in Australia, we don't see any changes to our model line-up in the immediate term, but a lot will depend on what happens in the US."

2008 Fiat 500

Chrysler Australia, with some strong models such as the iconic 300C shackled to some serial underperformers, will be looking to the Fiat tie-up to bring some fresh new models into local Chrysler showrooms.

"We're always aiming for better vehicles, better suited to Australia. It's something we're doing almost on a weekly basis," he said.

"There are a lot of vehicles on our wish list, but if they're exclusivley left-hand-drive, it makes it hard unless we can get together with other right hand markets. We'll do anything we can to make the business case.

"The beauty of the Fiat deal is that it will give us access to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. We don't currently have many vehicles in the small-car range; in today's market you need smaller cars as part of the mix.

"Having sales at this end of the market gives us the opportunity to have the larger cars which may not have small car volumes."

So, while still a matter of 'watch this space', expect some interesting announcements, and eventually some interesting vehicles arriving under a Chrysler badge in the weeks, months and years ahead.

 
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