You thought DaimlerChrysler was dead? The vehicles on FCA US dealer lots today, more than a decade after the merger's unceremonious demise, say otherwise.
Every Dodge in the lineup, two Jeep nameplates and the iconic Chrysler 300 sedan are either the direct result of the nine-year marriage of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, or descendants from it.
Over the past 11 years, the DaimlerChrysler name has been painted over on tractor trailers, pulled off signs outside plants, and ripped off the pedestal outside the FCA US headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
But products generated by the laughably misrepresented "merger of equals" are far from exorcised. Even though they've all undergone some degree of intervention and improvement since Daimler cast off Chrysler in May 2007, they remain fundamental, foundational pieces of the lineup.
How intertwined does Daimler remain in the FCA US lineup? So much so that it is impossible to say that the DaimlerChrysler era is truly over in Auburn Hills.
The Dodge Charger and Challenger, along with the Chrysler 300, are descendants of the 1990s Mercedes E class.
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The Dodge Journey, though it rides on a Mitsubishi platform, was developed by DaimlerChrysler, though it debuted a year after the breakup in 2008.
The Dodge Grand Caravan, which survived a planned phaseout last year to live on for a while longer, was last redesigned in 2007 by DaimlerChrysler.
The Dodge Durango, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, shares a platform with the Mercedes M class.
The Jeep Wrangler JK was easily the greatest single product decision made (adding two doors to create the Wrangler Unlimited) during the entire DaimlerChrysler era. The last JK came off the line April 27 after a run that began in 2006.
And it's not just vehicles and platforms.
Under most FCA hoods is the Pentastar 3.6-liter, V-6 engine. Its development began in 2004, near the midpoint of the DaimlerChrysler era, and continued through both the divorce and the fire sale that followed with Chrysler's ill-suited, improvident interim owner, Cerberus Capital Management.
The Pentastar — Chrysler's best engine since the Slant Six and the Hemi V-8 — debuted on the automaker's first Fiat-era product, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Since then, the engine has proliferated across the lineup, into Jeeps, minivans, full-size pickups and sedans, and is the automaker's best-selling engine in the U.S. and Canada.
Also on the engine front, the current 2.4-liter Tigershark is a much-modified descendant of the ill-fated World Gas Engine, itself a byproduct of a failed joint venture attempted by DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
Though it's not nearly as widely used as the Pentastar, the I-4 Tigershark still lives on with technology devolved directly from DaimlerChrysler.
And even though one of the first decisions Fiat made when it showed up in 2009 was to move the entire lineup onto ZF 8-speed rear-wheel-drive and 9-speed front-wheel-drive transmissions, the Jeep JK Wrangler and the Dodge Charger Pursuit law enforcement vehicle still used a rugged Mercedes five-speed automatic — until late last month. Now that the JK has ended production, only the Pursuit remains on the five-speed.
What does it all mean?
According to Dave Sullivan, senior analyst with AutoPacific, it means that the biggest beneficiary of the ill-fated union between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler was (are you ready for it?) Fiat.
"Daimler and Chrysler were strange bedfellows, but their offspring, with tooling amortized many years ago, continues to print money," Sullivan said. "DaimlerChrysler is a gift that keeps on giving, even in 2018. DaimlerChrysler bit into an apple, spit out the seeds, and the tree is still bearing fruit."
And it means one other thing: that even failed marriages can produce beautiful offspring. a
The culture clash heard 'round the world
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Automotive News Cover
Il 7 maggio di 20 anni fa veniva annunciata la fusione tra Daimler e Chrysler, uno dei più disastrosi esperimenti della storia automotive. Automotive news ragiona su cosa sia rimasto nella gamma Chrysler di quella disgrazia, stranamente moltissimo. Complice il lentissimo rinnovo dei modelli ( TM Marchionne) ancora oggi a ormai 11 anni dalla fuga precipitosa dei tedeschi da Detroit Journey, 300 C, motori, cambi, etc... sono ancora di quell’epoca che è finita nei libri di storia come uno dei peggiori fallimenti economici non solo nel settore automotive. Marchionne ringrazia.