The No. 3 U.S. automaker turned in a week for the history books last week.
First and foremost, Chrysler reported record quarterly profits, its best showing in 13 years.
But also, it had an impressive display at the SAE Congress led by the 2013 Dodge Dart, its CEO announced that the automaker is going to rent office space in downtown Detroit, its Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) hosted a Nobel Prize winner and even the Walter P. Chrysler Museum will be hosting a reunion of the Ramchargers race team.
That’s a pretty good week by any measure, starting with those quarterly profits.
Earlier last week, Chrysler reported preliminary net income of $473 million for the first quarter of 2012, up more than 300 percent from $116 million a year ago, driven primarily by its 40 percent increase in U.S. retail sales.
“Another positive quarter – built on sales gains that have surpassed the industry average – is affirmation that the Chrysler team is maintaining its focus,” said Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC.
One analyst credits Marchionne himself for the leadership that is making Chrysler’s ongoing turnaround, following bankruptcy, as dramatic as it is right now.
“At a time when nobody else saw any value in Chrysler whatsoever and many people were saying,
‘Just let it go die,’ Sergio got the thing,” said John McElroy, auto expert and host of TV’s Autoline Detroit program.
“The turnaround he’s pulled off is spectacular, absolutely spectacular, beyond anyone’s expectations.”
McElroy further credits Chrysler’s engineering and design teams in Auburn Hills for creating some dramatic and well-received products.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango were both finalists for the 2011 Truck of the Year at the Detroit auto show that year, and have become sales leaders.
Add to that the out-of- nowhere impact of the Chrysler 200 sedan, especially following the “Eminem” Super Bowl TV commercial that ran in 2011, as well as early praise for the 2013 Dodge Dart, and you’ve got the image of an automaker that is quietly confident and on the move.
Chrysler’s turnaround is felt deeply in Southeast Michigan because so many of its assembly plants like the one in Sterling Heights and Jefferson North in Detroit are continuing to thrive.
Speaking of Jefferson North, just last Thursday afternoon, Marchionne and the plant team there hosted a notable visit by former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.
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