DETROIT –LLC is keen to find partners, but there are no ongoing discussions to sell assets to the - Alliance, Magna International Inc. or a China-based auto maker, sources tell Ward’s.
, in a statement today from Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda, confirms the auto maker’s “non-earning assets” are on the market. Among them is its former assembly site in Newark, DE, which closed last year.
In addition, he quashes longstanding speculation Chrysler is shopping what many consider its most viable brand.
“We are not in discussions to sell the Jeep brand,” says LaSorda, who has responsibility for manufacturing and alliances. “We’re not going to separate the brands from the company.”
Asource tells Ward’s the supplier is not contemplating an asset acquition involving Chrysler, however Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst declines comment.
But a seniorexecutive also says during the North American International Auto Show here the supplier is not contemplating an asset acquisition involving Chrysler.
The strident denials come in the wake of a media report that says cash-strapped Chrysler is accelerating efforts to generate revenue through asset disposal. The statement also reflects a new forcefulness in the auto maker’s communications, a tone also displayed by Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli.
“Given the state of the environment, it’s prudent for us to be willing to look for alliances and partnerships, not only to advance our ability to bring products and technology, but equally take advantage of excess capacity to try and cover some of that fixed cost (by) producing vehicles for others,” Nardelli tells journalists here at the North American International Auto Show.
He cites the auto maker’s contract-assembly deals withAG and Motor Co. Ltd. Chrysler builds VW’s Routan minivan at its assembly plant in Windsor, ON, Canada, and in 2011 it will produce pickups for Nissan at its plant in Saltillo, Mexico.
Conversely, in 2010, Nissan will begin supplying small cars for Chrysler, including – senior executives confirm – one that revives the Hornet nameplate. That car was inspired by a concept car of the same name, unveiled at the 2006 Geneva auto show.
“We’re trying to break out of the traditional paradigm that we can be all things to all people,” Nardelli says. “We’re not into that ‘not-invented-here’ syndrome. We’re looking for global partnerships where we share to win.”
Nardelli also pours cold water on the prospect of a merger or acquisition involving Chrysler – a suggestion made most recently by Sen. Bob Corder (R-TN), one of the most vociferous critics of Detroit auto makers.
“We don’t think we need that,” Nardelli says. “There is no merger discussions on the table.”
The auto maker will introduce eight new or significantly refreshed products in the next 18 months, at least three of which will bow in 2009, LaSorda tells Ward’s.
Meanwhile, there are no plans to eliminate nameplates this calendar year.
“As each lifecycle comes due, we will stick with one nameplate,” says Steve Landry, executive vice president-North America sales.
This will affect platform-mates such as the Dodge Nitro cross/utility vehicle and the Jeep Liberty SUV, Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring midsize sedans, and Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.
Says Vice Chairman and President Jim Press, who has responsibility for product planning;
“Our goal is (to) be a better, smaller company.”