Chrysler's short lived merger with Mercedes and current FIAT alliance

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Chrysler's short lived merger with Mercedes and current FIAT alliance

The automaker community is and has always been rather cutthroat – with one brand or manufacturer seeing what has worked well for their competitor and adding those distinctive looks or features to their own models moving forward. But the act of mimicking the work of others (or even borrowing successful design and technical features) does not always come about because of corporate espionage or consumer reaction.

In fact, there are numerous examples since as far back as the dawn of the automotive revolution that brought rivals together to work towards a singular goal. Sometimes, these are joint ventures and other times we find them arise as a result of corporate mergers or partnerships.

From the time of automotive antiquity straight through to the modern day there have been some interesting, and occasionally terrible results of these collaborations. In the case of Mercedes and FIAT, well, here’s an interesting story, filled with all the high-strung characters and situations you’d expect to find in a Shakespearean tragedy.

Okay, that might have been a little overly dramatic, but the truth of what occurred is no less important.

In 1998, a deal was struck that saw Daimler-Benz purchase Chrysler for an impressive US$36 billion – which, even in the decades since, is one of the largest industrial mergers of all time.

Why didn’t it work then? They seem like a match made in automotive heaven – with the luxury brands under Daimler-Benz, supported by the wide-reaching vehicle lines under the Chrysler corporate umbrella. It is said that the biggest pitfall came from Daimler-Benz, who, misunderstanding the price-conscious concerns of Chrysler were troubled by sharing Mercedes components and, in turn, undermine the marque they had commanded for over a century.

Chrysler, at the same time, was experiencing its share of economic pressures and financial complications from a notable dip in the U.S. car market. So it was that the newly formed DaimlerChrysler, with 420,000 thousand employees across the world began to see internal strife.

Chrysler's short lived merger with Mercedes and current FIAT alliance

Daimler-Benz broke their shareholder agreement, Daimler-Benz effectively paid an additional US$650 million in 2007 to Cerberus Capital Management to take control of Chrysler.

Now, enjoying their merger as they did (ha!) Chrysler’s move in 2009 to purchase the FIAT group was one that saw some interesting results – including the Dodge Dart. Autonews describes some of the more notable collaborative features on the Dart:

“The Dart's platform, known as CUSW, is a slightly larger version of the platform that underlies the current Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Before that, the Giulietta platform had been used on the FIAT Bravo and later on the Lancia Delta.

The fuel-efficient 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine -- optional on all but the R/T trim levels and producing 160 hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque -- is the same engine that powers the North American version of the FIAT 500 Abarth.

Chrysler is using a FIAT-sourced six-speed manual transmission as the Dart's standard gearbox, and an optional six-speed dual dry clutch transmission from FIAT will be available on some models this year.”

Moving forward, we can expect a lot of vehicles to start taking cues from these two powerful brands – we’ll keep you posted as more develops!

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