Chrysler is one of the “big three” automakers based in Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 1925, Chrysler continues to sell vehicles under that brand as well as the Dodge, Jeep and Ram badges in the United States and around the world. After a decades-long process that began in the 90s with a merger (with Daimler-Benz) and ended with bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, the majority of Chrysler is now owned by Italian automaker Fiat. The remainder of the company is owned by the United Autoworkers Union health care trust fund.
History of Chrysler
Chrysler was founded in 1925 in Auburn Heights, MI, a city that is located in Metro Detroit. The company had its genesis in the reorganization of the Maxwell Motor Company. After successfully reworking the then-failing Willys-Overland company, Walter Chrysler was brought in to turn Maxwell around. As one part of bringing the company back from the brink, Chrysler ceased production of the Chalmers line and introduced a new vehicle that bore his own name.
Within a few years of Chrysler’s arrival at Maxwell-Chalmers, the Maxwell line was also discontinued. Rather than releasing the 1926 Maxwell, those vehicles were re-badged as Chryslers. The company itself was also reorganized in 1925. The newly reorganized Chrysler Corporation would go on to become one of the “big three” automakers in Detroit, MI.
Chrysler’s practice of selling many of the same vehicles under different badges started in 1928, when the Plymouth division was founded. The 4-cylinder Chrylser (which itself was a re-badged Maxwell) was re-badged as a Plymouth and marketed as a budget model. At around the same time, Chrysler introduced the DeSoto brand to target the mid-priced market. Chrysler also purchased the Dodge Brothers Company and the Fargo Motor Car Company at around this time, both of which were added to its growing stable of marquees.
Throughout the years, Chrysler continued to introduce new lines, spin off models (like the Imperial and Valiant) as marquees of their own, and purchase automakers like AMC (from which it would form the Jeep/Eagle divifsion.) Old brands (like DeSoto) were periodically phased out in favor of new ones, and the long-lived Plymouth brand was finally discontinued in 2001.
After initially merging with Daimler-Benz in 1997 to form DaimlerChrysler AG, the Chrysler portion of the new company was spun off and sold to a privately-held American equity firm in 2007. This newly reorganized Chrysler LLC operated until 2009, when it declared bankruptcy. After going through bankruptcy proceedings, the company emerged with a mixture of ownership that included the governments of the United States and Canada and a trust managed by the UAW. Today, Italian automaker Fiat owns a majority stake in the company with tentative plans to eventually obtain the rest of the shares held by the UAW-managed healthcare trust.
Founded: Auburn Hills, US (1925)
Current headquarters: Auburn Hills, Michigan
Yearly production: 1,466,059 vehicles (2012)
Owner: Fiat, UAW healthcare trust
Chrysler Contact Information
Chrysler Group Customer Care
Auburn Hills, MI