FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said a future Viper could be built on Alfa Romeo's new rear-drive Giorgio platform , which is set to underpin all future Alfas and Maseratis, as well as SUVs from Dodge and Jeep and the next-gen Dodge Challenger and Charger.
Ransom E. Olds had left the company four years before that, dismayed that the company was turning toward manufacturing high-end cars in contrast to his own vision of building inexpensive cars for the masses, said Bob Casey, transportation curator for the Henry Ford Museum.
8 As the Dodge brothers decided to produce their own vehicle, John Dodge was once quoted as saying, "Someday, people who own a Ford are going to want an automobile", 9 and introduced their first car in 1914. The most valuable asset for what would be left of FCA would be its U.S. dealer body, and that might be something that could be sold to an emerging Chinese automaker, or perhaps a company like France's PSA.
Dodge had already been marketing its vehicles in South Korea since 2004, starting with the Dakota. Every auto executive wishes its competitors would shut plants, or just go out of business, to end the curse of too many vehicles chasing too few buyers. A second problem that Chrysler had in this area was that, unlike its competitors, Chrysler would produce automobiles on speculation versus building the cars as the orders were received by the dealers.
This basic format of a dual line with Six and Eight models continued through 1933, and the cars were gradually streamlined and lengthened in step with prevailing trends of the day. The Italian automaker won't put any money into the deal but will give Chrysler billions worth of small car and engine technology.
It emerged as a new company, 58.5 percent of which automaker Fiat S.p.A. of Italy now partly owned. And in the U.K. Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study for 2014, FCA's flagship semi-luxury brand Alfa Romeo ranks 25th out of 26 models surveyed. Early last year, Fiat Chrysler completed a spinoff of its Detroit Free press luxury-car brand Ferrari , and its shares have since soared.
Thanks to laws passed almost 50 years ago to prevent company owners from creating bogus tax shelters—and to ensure for-profit companies remain focused on making money—a private foundation isn't allowed to own more than 35 percent of a for-profit company for more than five years.
But it's pretty clear that Marchionne's game plan before he retires in 2019 is to complete an arc for FCA that began in 2009, when Fiat took the bankrupt Chrysler off the US federal government's hands. Significantly, officials at rival Ford this month noted that SUV sales in the U.S. have gone from 28 percent to 40 percent of the American market since 2006, and forecast that could hit 50 percent in five years.
But for most of the past two years, Fiat Chrysler has been openly seeking a merger partner to survive as a long-term player in the global auto industry. Declining sales and increased competition during the 1970s eventually forced the company to drop its medium- and heavy-duty models, an arena the company has only recently begun to reenter.
In 1979, Chrysler specialized in making large cars, vans and recreational vehicles. The present iteration of the Ram 's-head logo appeared in late 1992 on the 1993 Intrepid, standardizing on that logo in 1996 for all vehicles except the Viper , which uses the Viper's Head.
Industry analysts believe Fiat Chrysler is in a weak business position compared with much larger rivals like Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors. The January 19, 2009 article in The Washington Post, "U.S. Expands Aid to Auto Industry," reports that it had also asked for $6 billion from the Energy Department to retool for more energy efficient vehicles.