Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Chrysler's Turnaround Goes Under the Radar


As most of us focus on GM paying off its remaining loans to the U.S. And Canadian government, few are paying attention to Detroit's other troubled automaker.


Today, Chrysler released its first quarter financial results, and they are encouraging. Any other time, this improvement would attract more attention. But Chrysler's decidedly understated approach is making this a stealth turnaround few are recognizing.

Take the news today that the Chrysler group posted an operating profit in the first quarter. This news came with little fanfare and as part of Fiat's financial review for the entire company.

It wasn't buried, but it certainly wasn't played up. CEO Sergio Marchionne has done just a few interviews since taking over Chrysler, and today was no different. That's one reason many are unaware of the groundwork Machionne's team is laying for turning around the company.

In many ways, you have to admire Marchionne's approach. In a nut shell it goes like this: build better vehicles, control your costs, and let the results speak for themselves. I call it a case of walking the walk and not worrying about talking the talk.

Chrysler still has a long ways to go before it gets to the point where GM is right now, with its government loans repaid, profitability in sight, and a fresh line-up of cars and trucks to attract buyers.

The fact Chrysler turned an operating profit with an old line-up is testament to the fact some of the changes at the company are starting to work. Will Chrysler have the new models to actually grow sales over the next 4 years? On paper they look promising, but you never know until they hit the showroom.

Don't be surprised if Chrysler continues to slowly deliver on the benchmarks Marchionne's team has set. if that happens, just don't expect the Chrysler CEO to get carried away trumpeting the performance. You know how he works. Walk quietly and let the results speak for themselves.


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