Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. has earned the ardor of investors and the highest U.S. safety ratings. It can also add the honor of having the best-reviewed car of the year by automobile testers at Consumer Reports.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne drove the first new Jeep Grand Cherokee off the line at a ceremony on May 21, 2010, echoing Bob Lutz's famous roll-off 18 years earlier. This time, the breakthrough did not come via a glass wall. Rather, it was what the boss had to say.
Jason Ryska, the current plant manager at Jefferson North, keeps a baseball bat in his office to remind him of the first time he made contact with the Jeep Grand Cherokee under Fiat management. It was on stage in an amphitheater at Chrysler's design and engineering center in Auburn Hills, shortly after Fiat took control in 2009. Marchionne, the new chief executive officer, handed Louisville Sluggers to Ryska and a gang of Chrysler executives who had survived bankruptcy. He told them to start swinging at the Jeep that was once the pride of the fleet. This wasn't the hot new Grand Cherokee that Ryska builds now. It was the previous model that had been compromised and cost-cut until it was stripped of its dignity and reduced to an "also-ran," as designer Ralph Gilles said. Ryska grabbed the bat and began pounding. It was a corporate catharsis.
Chuck Eddy, who has been a Chrysler dealer for 45 years, has to go back to the time of Jimmy Carter’s White House to recall when he last had a strong mid- size car to sell. That will change, he says, after this morning’s Chrysler sedan unveiling at the Detroit auto show.
Elon Musk, the billionaire co- founder of electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc., is sniping over semantics with the industry’s regulator, the latest step in what he calls a crusade to revolutionize the automobile.
In June 2009, the last auto plant in Detroit was idle, mausoleum-quiet and a symbol of failure. Weeds had grown three-feet tall around Chrysler's sprawling Jeep factory at the desolate crossroads of Jefferson and Conner as the company went dark during bankruptcy. Among the bills the near-dead automaker couldn't afford to pay: lawn service.
On a brisk January day in 1992, Chrysler's then-President Bob Lutz slid into the driver's seat of the first Jeep Grand Cherokee to roll off the assembly line at the new Jefferson North factory. Riding shotgun was Detroit's colorful and cantankerous mayor, Coleman A. Young. They were on their way to make a showstopping introduction at the Detroit auto show, but it would not be a smooth ride. As they turned onto potholed Jefferson Avenue, Lutz said: "You know, some of these streets really need attention, your honor." Young laughed and said, "What, you don't like them potholes?" As Lutz struck another road divot, he responded, "Who would?" Young laughed again, Lutz recalled, and said, "Well, you better learn to love 'em, because they're staying right where they are."