Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925.
On June 10, 2009, Chrysler Group LLC emerged from a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy and was sold to the Italian automaker Fiat. Fiat holds a 46% stake in the new company, with an option to increase its stake up to 51%, if it meets financial and developmental goals for the company. Fiat's stake cannot go beyond 49% until the government has been paid back in full.
The company was founded by Walter Chrysler (1875–1940) on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.
Walter Chrysler arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s. He was hired to overhaul the company's troubled operations (after a similar rescue job at the Willys car company). In late 1923 production of the Chalmers automobile was ended.
In January 1924, Walter Chrysler launched the well-received Chrysler automobile. The Chrysler was a 6-cylinder automobile, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, but at a more affordable price than they might expect. (Elements of this car are traceable to a prototype which had been under development at Willys during Chrysler's tenure). The original 1924 Chrysler included a carburetor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and an oil filter, features absent from most autos at the time. Among the innovations in its early years were the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a system nearly completely engineered by Chrysler with patents assigned to Lockheed, and rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration. Chrysler also developed a wheel with a ridged rim, designed to keep a deflated tire from flying off the wheel. This wheel was eventually adopted by the auto industry worldwide.
Following the introduction of the Chrysler, the Maxwell was dropped after its 1925 model year run, although in truth the new line of lower-priced 4-cylinder Chryslers which were then introduced for the 1926 model year were basically Maxwells which had been re-engineered and rebranded. It was during this time period of the early 1920s that Walter Chrysler assumed the presidency of Maxwell, with the company then ultimately incorporated under the Chrysler name.
In 1998, Chrysler and its subsidiaries entered into a partnership dubbed a "merger of equals" with German-based Daimler-Benz AG, creating the combined entity DaimlerChrysler AG. Daimler subsequently acquired Chrysler, to the surprise of many stockholders, after the retirement of Chrysler CEO Bob Eaton. Under DaimlerChrysler, the company was named DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC, with its US operations generally called the "Chrysler Group". On May 14, 2007, DaimlerChrysler announced the sale of 80.1% of Chrysler Group to American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., therefore being known as Chrysler LLC, although Daimler (renamed as Daimler AG) continued to hold a 19.9% stake. The deal was finalized on August 3, 2007. On April 27, 2009, Daimler AG signed a binding agreement to give up its 19.9% remaining stake in Chrysler LLC to Cerberus Capital Management and pay as much as $600 million into the automaker's pension fund.
On June 10, 2009, the sale of most of Chrysler assets to "New Chrysler", formally known as Chrysler Group LLC was completed. The federal government financed the deal with US$6.6 billion in financing, paid to the "Old Chrysler", a new company called Old Carco LLC was set up to take over the remaining assets and liabilities, which remained in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The transfer does not include eight manufacturing locations, nor many parcels of real estate, nor equipment leases. Contracts with 789 US auto dealerships, who are being dropped, were not transferred. On May 24, 2011, Chrysler repaid its $7.6 billion loans to United States and Canadian governments.
In 2007, Chrysler began to offer vehicle lifetime powertrain warranty for the first registered owner or retail lessee. The deal covered owner or lessee in US, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, for 2009 model year vehicles, and 2006, 2007 and 2008 model year vehicles purchased on or after July 26, 2007. Covered vehicles excluded SRT models, Diesel vehicles, Sprinter models, Ram Chassis Cab, Hybrid System components (including transmission), and certain fleet vehicles. The warranty is non-transferable. After Chrysler's restructuring, the warranty program was replaced by five-year/100,000 mile transferrable warranty for 2010 or later vehicles. As of October 5, 2009, Dodge's car and truck line are now split into two, "Dodge" for cars, minivans and crossovers and "Ram" for light and medium duty trucks and other commercial-use vehicles.
Chrysler plans for Lancia to codevelop products, with some vehicles being shared. Olivier Francois, Lancia's CEO, was appointed to the Chrysler division in October 2009. Francois plans to reestablish the Chrysler brand as an upscale brand.
In 2011, Chrysler unveil their new "Imported From Detroit" campaign with ads feature in Detroit Rapper Eminem airing during the Super Bowl. The campaign highlights the rejuvenation of the entire product lineup, which includes the new, redesigned and repackaged 2011 200 sedan and 200 convertible, the Chrysler 300 sedan and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.