Chrysler President: "If It's Political To Say I'm Proud To Be American, So Be It"

Chrysler_CAS
The 2012 election season leaves nothing untouched — even cars. Chrysler's two-minute-long Super Bowl XLVI spot starring actor Clint Eastwood had conservative pundits crying foul, while Obama's administration was quick to praise the ad and defend the 2009 auto bailout. In response to questions about the ad's political nature, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told Detroit's WJR-AM radio station on Monday that Chrysler is "as apolitical as you can make us" — and Eastwood, incidentally, doesn't even support Obama.

Chrysler division President Saad Chehab, who has lived in Detroit for more than 25 years, said the ad was just about being "damn proud" of the automaker's Detroit heritage. Chehab characterizes the automaker's current "Imported from Detroit" tagline as a "love letter" to the city.

"We're proud of this city of Detroit, and we want to go to the highest mountain and say it," he told Cars.com at this week's Chicago Auto Show. "If it's political to say I'm proud to be American, so be it."

Reality complicates things, however. Chrysler came under the control of Italian automaker Fiat in 2009, and a number of cars — the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Journey and Fiat 500 — are assembled in Canada or Mexico. Arguably, Chrysler is the least American of the Detroit Three.

Chehab fired back.

"Grand Cherokee is made in downtown Detroit — downtown Detroit, on Jefferson Avenue," he said, adding Chrysler is the only automaker with an assembly plant within Detroit city limits. "Chrysler 200 is made in Sterling Heights, Michigan, about 15 miles up the road. Most, if not all, the parts made in the 300 are made by folks in this country. In Indiana, we make the engines."

Cars assembled in Canada's Toronto area and the Detroit suburb of Windsor, Ontario, are "a way of being efficient" when the opportunity presents itself, Chehab said.

Room to Expand
Absent scuttled models like the PT Cruiser, Aspen and Pacifica, the Chrysler brand is down to just three vehicles. The 200 will be redesigned, but the name — a departure from the Sebring that preceded it — should remain the same.

"Right now I don't know of anything different," Chehab said.

Is there room for more? Absolutely, he said, but Chrysler needs to be careful. It starts with a hatchback that plays in the same segment as the Dodge Dart — the compact class, or C-segment — but has a different body style.

"The idea is that there's a discussion about a C-hatch for Chrysler and a C-sedan for Dodge," he said. "The group has to complement each other. We're in the same showroom."

By Kelsey Mays | February 10, 2012 | Comments (10)

Comments 

Highdesertcat

This from an Italian-owned company. Chrysler is now a subdivision of Italian auto manufacturer Fiat. Lest we forget the bail out and the $1.3B bribe it took for Fiat to take Chrysler's carcass off the US tax payers' hands.

Al

Considering the person writing the article made mention of the bailout, I don't think anyone forgot about it. Also, not to turn this political, but it looks like that whole deal was a success for everyone, considering the number of jobs saved and now re-created, and health of the auto-industry now. I am not saying I agreed with it, or that it was perfect, we're still not out of the woods with GM as far as selling the remaining stock, but the people who work for these companies and in the factories, and even suppliers, are surely grateful.

Alan

I'm sure the shareholders who had their stocks stolen by the illegal Obama regime are also eternally grateful.

Ditto to the GM and Chrysler dealers who were forced to close by the illegal Obama regime.

I guess imported from Detroit is at least better than imported from Kenya.

...not to turn this political or anything, of course...

Gregory

For all the teaparty haters of the bailout...you are purely idiotic if you cannot see the need to save millions of jobs...not to mention all the interconnections that would have disrupted the entire industry. As someone who worked for the Big 3 at the time of all of the chaos, I am thankful to Mr. Obama (and his predecessor Mr. Bush) for giving a lifeline to companies that face extraordinary financial times. Unless you were close enough to realize how dire the US financial system was at the time and what that would have meant for our life as we know it, I suggest you sit down and shut up about the bailout. (by thee way, I'm sure you'll have your hand out for social security at some point as well...a program that you will NEVER put in as much as you take out.)

Highdesertcat

The problem with the bail outs is not whether a person is for it or against it. Most were against it and it still happened.

The problem was the selective application of who lived and who died in business. That was wrong during Bush and it was even more wrong when Obama did it, because he had the time to work it out.

Chrysler is no longer an American company. It is no different than Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai et al, being a foreign company providing work for Americans inside America. The profits go to a foreign company.

BTW, I bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee for my wife a few months back. It was imported from Detroit and utilizes a Mercedes-designed V6 engine, transmission and suspension system also found on the ML-series.

We did the right thing bribing Fiat to take Chrysler off our hands. We should have bribed China to take GM off our hands. Same same.

WTF

It happened, move on.

Ann Carrington

I am so in love with the Chrysler 300. I will never be able to afford one but Ipray about it everyday. Have they ever made it in gold? this is my favorite color. When chrysler came out with the 300 they came out with a beautiful car.

Colen Casey

2010 srt-8 challenger (45,000.00 cash buy) at 19,000 miles the motor blows up from a defective head. 4 months later I still have no car and cant get a resolution.
Anyone else think this is rediculous

Don Engler

I have bought my trucks from Ernhardt Dodge and 5 months ago purchased a new Dodge. The Earnhardt grandson and General manager have refused to address my problem And I am presently working on my lawsuit against the dealership as we have a lemon law in Arizona. Will never buy another dodge and will advise my friends to do the same.
THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO BUILD A BUSINESS!!!

robin johnson

@ Don Engler

You are so right! Having Big issues with Gulfgate Dodge in Houston, Texas. They are not honoring their warranty! I too, am about to get an attorney involved

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