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Breaking: Chrysler, Magna and Renault-Nissan

Wednesday, 14 January, 2009

Reuters, Bloomberg and CBS Radio are reporting this morning: Chrysler, LLC is very close to reaching a deal with Renault-Nissan who “may bid for Chrysler’s Jeep brand among other assets” [Bloomberg]. Greater-Toronto-based Magna International, Inc. is bidding for Chrysler’s Belvidere IL plant. Given the existing nature of Magna’s parts and assembly operations it is unclear whether they would become a contract manufacturer for Chrysler, or use the facility for other purposes.

In the Spring of 2007, your humble commenter noted with enthusiasm the possibility of Magna becoming the new parent of the Chrysler Division of DCX. No small part of this enthusiasm was the possibility of the region which produces the most automobiles and parts on this continent getting their own automaker. A great deal of automotive expertise is in southern Ontario.

Jeep goes to Renault-Nissan. Magna (-Steyr?) gets actual automobile assembly capacity in the United States. Chrysler goes down to two divisions, Dodge and Chrysler: Not Cute and Modestly Aspirational.

Could the perennially coming Renault Commercial vehicles be badged as Jeep? Willys? Overland? Perhaps both Nissan or Nissan Commercial and Dodge? Assuming the ’10 Titan shall be a badge-engineered ’10 Ram, perhaps the sharing of commercial vehicles will go both ways? Are the Kangoo, Trafic and Master coming to replace the Sprinter and give Dodge smaller commercials which are sorely needed in North America? (See Ford Transit Connect, and where is the Transit, Ford? Oh, yes, too many shared components with the F150 and Econoline E-series.)

Media types: Later this year Ford will introduce a C-platform vehicle called “Transit Connect”. I realize those of you based in North America find this compound name confusing and unnecessary. However, it is not acceptable to refer to this vehicle as merely “Transit”. The Ford Transit is a wholly different commercial vehicle; truck to you. The Transit is revered elsewhere. In North America, this market segment was filled with the Econoline and to a degree by the F-series. Just because you have never heard of the Ford Transit does not mean it does not exist. We have to do everything we can to no longer look like the xenophobic jackasses we are. I’m just tired of my country being a joke.

Jeep is ultimately descended from Willys-Overland. Depending upon how you look at it, the legacy begins in 1903 with Overland, 1908 when Mr. Willys purchased Overland or 1912 when the Willys-Overland company achieved its ultimate form. Based upon the theory of naming devised in the Autumn when the merger of Renault-Nissan and Chrysler was loudly rumored to be imminent, the new company could be Renault-Jeep-Nissan. However, this is a division and not a fully viable, freestanding enterprise. Therefore, Jeep may become a division of R-N.

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