Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who Killed the Chrysler Imperial? Wolfgang Bernhard, Report Says

The Detroit News reports today, on the eve of the final sale papersChrysler_imperial_240_2 being signed for Chrysler, that Wolfgang Bernhard, the former Chrysler COO and reportedly soon-to-be chairman of the New Chrysler, had the final say on the future of the Chrysler Imperial concept.

The large luxury sedan, unveiled as a concept car at the Detroit auto show in 2006 and set to go into production as a 2009 model, was reportedly scrapped in July as inappropriate in this era of likely stiffer fuel economy and emissions standards.

In gripping detail, the newspaper reports how Bernhard had the final say in the death of the Imperial, providing a glimpse into how Chrysler will operate under ownership of private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management, which could become official as early as Friday.

The Detroit News writes:

“Business plans had been written, and Chrysler Group executives had debated for months whether to build the flagship luxury sedan.

“But it would be up to Wolfgang Bernhard to ultimately approve or kill the Chrysler Imperial.

“In mid-July, the incoming chairman of Chrysler made his call in dramatic fashion at a final product review, according to people familiar with the event. "That car," Bernhard said, "will never see the light of day."

The newspaper declares this anecdote –- and Bernhard’s swift decision -- is a preview of how Chrysler will be run by private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management.

The paper predicts Chrysler “is expected to move quickly and forcefully to turn around its sagging domestic operations and grow its international business.” The Detroit News reports it has learned that the future of the New Chrysler includes the possibility of an expanded alliance with Hyundai and a deal to build cars in Russia.

Indeed, as the paper declares, this is the deal of the decade in the global auto industry and the beginning of a new era for Chrysler and the industry. That era could start tomorrow if all of the details are finalized.

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