The Chrysler Group is an automobile manufacturer, based in Detroit, Michigan. The group was founded in June 1925 by Walter Chrysler but is now privately owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, and DaimlerChrysler. The merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz, a German automobile manufacturer in 1998 was considered originally a merger of equals, but the Germans took full charge and lost billions of dollars. In 2007 the Daimler and Chrysler separated again, although the Daimler still owns 20% of the new company. In 2008 sales plummeted for all car companies, and worst of all for Chrysler. Losses escalated and the company verged on bankruptcy, getting temporary relief of $4 billion from the U.S. government in December, 2009, on condition it produce a viable business plan in spring 2009. See Recession of 2008
Major Brands of the Chrysler Group are Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep although the financial arm of the company also provides a large source of income to the company.
Chrysler faced bankruptcy in the late 1970s following the oil shocks (steep rise in the price of gasoline) and cheaper imports from Japanese and German car companies. Chrysler survived thanks to federally guaranteed loans, which came with stiff conditions. Conservatives at the time opposed the loans, which were made by the liberal Jimmy Carter administration. Chrysler, led by the dynamic celebrity Lee Iacocca repaid the loans and made profits again in the mid 1980s. It grew big enough to buy American Motors Corp, for $2 billion in 1987. Chrysler created some of the more innovative vehicles, including the Minivan, and the high powered Dodge Viper. Chrysler sells the largest proportion of its vehicles in America.
It entered a joint manufacturing venture with France's Renault in the late 1970s, but left it in the 1980s, due to the assassination of Georges Besse, a Renault executive in support of the cooperarion, by a Communist terror group. Chrysler also became successful enough during America's truck-crazy days for Germany's Daimler-Benz to buy it for $40 billion in 1998. In 2007 the Germans, having lost heavily, sold Chrysler Cerberus Capital Management, a Wall Street investment firm. Losses have escalated.