Two years ago I walked across the Chrysler stand here at the Cobo Hall and it looked like someone had randomly parked some rent-a-cars on some carpet.
Last year things were a little better - it was when we got to see a Lancia Delta wearing a Chrysler badge just after Fiat had taken charge.
This year things were a little different. Chrysler (and Lancia’s) boss Olivier Francois had a definite swagger when he appeared on stage to show us the heavily facelifted 300C, Town and Country and 200 models. All of which will be heading to Europe in some form or another.
It’s the 300 that has the most resonance as it’s already arguably got some sort of iconic status. This latest version has been heavily upgraded technically, quality has been boosted and it’s sporting what will become the new corporate grille (although apparently MOPAR will sell you the old ‘Bentley grille’ if you prefer).
It looks promising it must be said and Francois accompanied its reveal with plenty of tub thumping, playing to the home crowd with phrases such as “Chrysler is back on the automotive stage”, “there’s no need to cross the ocean to get quality” and “Detroit will never give up”. Good stuff and a simple message - buy American because it’s as good as anybody else.
It’s too early to say whether all of that is true - and there’s still plenty of evidence to the contrary. But it does seem that through Fiat’s investment and leadership Chrysler is getting its mojo back. Sales are encouraging too. Although you get the feeling that they are still only really producing cars to please America and not really the full ticket in Europe and elsewhere.
Either way. It’s good to see Chrysler’s confidence back. The alternative would have been grim.