Chrysler cars are manufactured by Chrysler LLC,an American automobile manufacturer that has been
producing automobiles since 1925 and from 1914 under the Dodge name. From 1998 to 2007, Chrysler and its subsidiaries were part of the German based DaimlerChrysler (now DAimler AG ) after a deal in 1998. Under DaimlerChrysler, the company was named DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC, with its U.S. operations generally referred to as the Chrysler Group
On May 14, 2007 DaimlerChrysler AG announced the sale of 80.1% of Chrysler Group to American equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., although Daimler continues to hold a 19.9% stake. Chrysler LLC
is the new name. The deal was finalized on August 3, 2007.
After the announcement of the spin-off to Cerberus, the Chrysler LLC, or "The New Chrysler", unveiled a new company logo on August 6, 2007 and launched its new website with a variation of the previously used Pentastar logo. Robert Nardelli also became Chairman and CEO of Chrysler under the ownership of Cerberus.
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The company was founded by Walter P. Chrysler on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company
was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler was hired to fix the ailing company in the early 1920s.
In January of 1924 Walter Chrysler launched the well-received Chrysler automobiles. The Chrysler was a 6-cylinder automobile, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, but at a more affordable price than they might expect.
The Maxwell was then dropped after its 1925 model year run with the company selling Chrysler cars which were basically re-engineered and rebranded Maxwells.
In 1928, Chrysler Corporation began dividing their vehicle offerings by price class and function. The Plymouth brand was introduced and aimed at the low-priced end of the market by reëngineering and rebadging Chrysler's 4-cylinder models. At the same time, the DeSoto marque was introduced in the medium-price field. Shortly thereafter, Chrysler bought the Dodge Brothers automobile and truck company and launched the Fargo range of trucks. By the late 1930s, the DeSoto and Dodge divisions would trade places in the corporate hierarchy. This proliferation of marques under Chrysler's umbrella might have been inspired by the similar strategy employed successfully by General Motors. Beginning in 1955, Imperial was a marque of its own, and in 1960, the Valiant was introduced likewise as a distinct marque. In the US market, Valiant was made a model in the Plymouth line and the DeSoto name was withdrawn for 1961. With those exceptions per applicable year and market, Chrysler cars' range from lowest to highest price from the 1940s through the 1970s was Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, and Imperial.
In 1934, the company introduced the Airflow models on its Chrysler cars, featuring an advanced streamlined body which was among the first to be designed according to scientific aerodynamic principles. Chrysler also created the industry's first wind tunnel to develop them. The unsuccessful Airflow had a chilling effect on Chrysler styling and marketing, which remained determinedly conservative through the 1940s and into the 1950s. Engineering advances continued, however, and in 1951 the firm introduced the first of a long and famous series of Hemi V8s.
In 1955, things brightened after the stodgy post-war Chryslers cars' styling with the introduction of Virgil Exner's successful Forward Look designs. With the inauguration of the second generation Forward Look cars for 1957, Torsion-Aire suspension was introduced.
Starting in the 1960 model year, Chrysler cars were built with Unibody™ (unit-body or monocoque) construction, except the Imperials which retained body-on-frame construction until 1967. Chrysler thus became the only one of the Big Three American automakers (General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler) to offer unibody construction on the vast majority of their product lines. This construction technique, which has since become the worldwide industry standard, offers advantages in vehicle rigidity, handling, and crash safety, while reducing the tendency for squeaks and rattles to develop as the vehicle ages.
In April 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda, which was a Valiant sub-model, was introduced. The huge glass rear window and sloping roof were polarizing styling features. Barracuda was released almost two weeks before Ford's Mustang, and so the Barracuda Chysler cars were chronologically the first pony cars. However, unlike the Mustang, Barracuda did not rob sales of other division's models. In spite of Barracuda's generally acknowledged better build quality, handling, braking and performance than the Mustang, the Mustang still outsold the Barracuda 10-to-1 between April 1964 and August 1965.
In the 1960s Chrysler expanded into Europe, attaining a majority interest in the British Rootes Group in 1964, Simca of France and Barreiros of Spain, to form Chrysler Europe.
More successfully, at this same time the company helped create the muscle car market in the U.S., first by producing a street version of its Hemi racing engine and then by introducing a legendary string of affordable but high-performance vehicles such as the Plymouth GTX, Plymouth Road Runner, and Dodge Charger -all well-engineered Chrysler cars. The racing success of several of these models on the NASCAR circuit burnished the company's reputation for engineering.
The 1970s brought both success and crisis. The aging but stalwart compact Chrysler cars saw a rush of sales as demand for smaller cars crested after the first gas crisis of 1973. 1974 would also mark the end of the Barracuda (and the similar Dodge Challenger) after the redesigned pony cars introduced for 1970 had failed to attract buyers in the shrinking market segment. At mid-decade, the company scored a conspicuous success with its first entry in the personal luxury car market, the Chrysler Cordoba.
In 1970, the desperately ailing company petitioned the United States government for US$1.5 billion in loan guarantees to avoid bankruptcy. At the same time, Lee Iacocca, a former Ford executive, was brought in to take the position of CEO, and proved a capable public spokesman for the firm. With such help and a few innovative Chrysler cars (such as the K-car platform), especially the invention of the minivan concept, a market where Chrysler brands are still important, Chrysler avoided bankruptcy and slowly fought its way back.
Chrysler acquired AMC in 1987, mostly for its Jeep brand although the failing Eagle Premier would be the basis for the later Chrysler LH platform sedans. This bolstered the firm further, although Chrysler was still the weakest of the Big Three. In the early 1990s, Chrysler made its first tentative steps back into Europe, setting up Chrysler cars' production in Austria, and beginning right-hand drive manufacture of certain Jeep models in a 1993 return to the UK market. The continuing popularity of Jeep, bold new Chrysler cars for the domestic market such as the Dodge Ram pickup, Dodge Viper (badged as "Chrysler Viper" in Europe) sports car, and Plymouth Prowler hot rod, and new "cab forward" front-wheel drive sedans put the company in a strong position as the decade waned.
The Plymouth brand was phased out in 2001, and plans for cost-cutting by sharing of platforms and components began. The strongly-Mercedes-influenced Chrysler Crossfire was one of the first results of this program. A return to rear-wheel drive was announced, and in 2004, a new Chrysler 300 using this technology and a new Hemi V8 appeared and became a solid hit. Financial performance began to improve somewhat, with Chrysler now providing a significant share of DaimlerChrysler profits due to restructuring efforts at the Mercedes Car Group. The long-standing partnership with Mitsubishi was dissolved as DaimlerChrysler divested its stake in the firm due to diving Mitsubishi profits and sales worldwide.
Chrysler is currently planning at least two hybrid Chrysler cars, the Chrysler Aspen hybrid and Dodge Durango hybrid, both including HEMI engines. Chrysler plans to use hybrid technology developed jointly with General Motors Corp. and BMW AG in vehicles beyond the two hybrid SUVs it had already announced that it would introduce in 2008. Chrysler has also been experimenting with a Hybrid Diesel truck for Military applications.
Established in September, 2007, Chrysler's new ENVI division will specifically deal with new hybrid vehicles not based on existing vehicles and will be lead by Lou Rhodes.