When General Motors and Chrysler entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, it was very clear that one company had a future product portfolio and one didn't. So while The General received the lion's share of government funding, Chrysler was basically given to Fiat with the hope that Team Pentastar could benefit from platform and product sharing. The early results of the Chrysler/Fiat team have been somewhat encouraging. Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and his team have made significant progress cutting costs, and the management team created a five-year plan for Chrysler that includes new, Fiat-derived platforms and re-badged Lancias and Alfa Romeos.
Will these steps be enough for Chrysler to remain the full-line manufacturer it is today? A report in Automotive News shows that Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton doesn't seem to think so. Warburton reportedly wrote in an assessment for Fiat investors that "we remain unconvinced Chrysler will survive in its current form despite Marchionne's blood, sweat and tears." Warburton cites four unnamed senior executives from Detroit.
The analyst's feelings come despite the fact that he feels Chrysler will come close to breaking even in the first quarter even with relatively poor sales. Warburton actually anticipates that Marchionne will announce Chrysler made a small profit in the month of March. So why the doom and gloom? Warburton cites Chrysler's still limited product development, light product portfolio and limited synergies between the two companies. The analyst also points to Marchionne's target for Chrysler to hit a 14 percent market share by 2014 as a reason for alarm. Chrysler hasn't been at 14 percent market share since 2000, and the Pentastar is currently just under 10 percent share.
In the report for Fiat investors, Warburton called a reasonable exit exit strategy from the situation "a slimming down of Chrysler to be just Ram, Jeep and a U.S. production base for Fiat." We're quite positive the folks in Auburn Hills, MI wouldn't like that plan. What do you think? Drop us a line or two in 'Comments.'
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty]