History of Chrysler
Stellantis North America (officially FCA US and formerly Chrysler (/ˈkraɪslər/) Group LLC) is one of the "Big Three" automobile manufacturers in the United States, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is the American subsidiary of the multinational automotive company Stellantis. In addition to the Chrysler brand, Stellantis North America sells vehicles worldwide under the Dodge, Jeep, and Ram nameplates. It also includes Mopar, its automotive parts and accessories division, and SRT, its performance automobile division.
The original Chrysler Corporation was founded in 1925 by Walter Chrysler from the remains of the Maxwell Motor Company. It was acquired by Daimler-Benz, which in 1998 renamed itself DaimlerChrysler. After Daimler divested Chrysler in 2007, the company operated as Chrysler LLC (2007–2009) and Chrysler Group LLC (2009–2014) before being acquired by Fiat S.p.A. and becoming a subsidiary of the newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ("FCA") in 2014. Chrysler in 2021 is a subsidiary of Stellantis, the company formed from the merger between FCA and PSA Group (Peugeot Société Anonyme) in 2021.
After founding the company, Walter Chrysler used the General Motors brand diversification and hierarchy strategy that he had become familiar with when he worked in the Buick division at General Motors. He then acquired Fargo Trucks and the Dodge Brothers Company, and created the Plymouth and DeSoto brands in 1928. Facing postwar declines in market share, productivity, and profitability, as GM and Ford were growing, Chrysler borrowed $250 million in 1954 from Prudential Insurance to pay for expansion and updated car designs.
Chrysler expanded into Europe by taking control of French, British, and Spanish auto companies in the 1960s; Chrysler Europe was sold in 1978 to PSA Peugeot Citroën for $1. The company struggled to adapt to changing markets, increased U.S. import competition, and safety and environmental regulation in the 1970s. It began an engineering partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, and began selling Mitsubishi vehicles branded as Dodge and Plymouth in North America. On the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1970s, it was saved by $1.5 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government. New CEO Lee Iacocca was credited with returning the company to profitability in the 1980s. In 1985, Diamond-Star Motors was created, further expanding the Chrysler-Mitsubishi relationship. In 1987, Chrysler acquired American Motors Corporation (AMC), which brought the profitable Jeep brand under the Chrysler umbrella. In 1998, Chrysler merged with German automaker Daimler-Benz to form DaimlerChrysler AG; the merger proved contentious with investors. As a result, Chrysler was sold to Cerberus Capital Management and renamed Chrysler LLC in 2007.
Like the other Big Three automobile manufacturers, Chrysler was impacted by the automotive industry crisis of 2008–2010. The company remained in business through a combination of negotiations with creditors, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on April 30, 2009, and participating in a bailout from the U.S. government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. On June 10, 2009, Chrysler emerged from the bankruptcy proceedings with the United Auto Workers pension fund, Fiat S.p.A., and the U.S. and Canadian governments as principal owners. The bankruptcy resulted in Chrysler defaulting on over $4 billion in debts. By May 24, 2011, Chrysler finished repaying its obligations to the U.S. government five years early, although the cost to the American taxpayer was $1.3 billion. Over the next few years, Fiat gradually acquired the other parties shares while removing much of the weight of the loans (which carried a 21% interest rate) in a short period.