Chrysler's Recovery Shocks Even its Harshest Critics

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Republicans and Mitt Romney, that'd be you.

It was political poison at the time. Bailing out General Motors and Chrysler was arguably one of the least popular things a sitting US president could do. Well, two sitting US presidents, actually. Both Bush and Obama bailed them out. Anyway, the carmakers emerged from bankruptcy in much better shape and are thriving today. But it's the Chrysler Group that's been the massive success story. Now known as FCA US, the automaker has every month, for the past 56 months, sold more new cars and trucks than the comparable month from the previous year.

"Back in the summer of 2009, when we emerged from bankruptcy going into 2010…a lot of people had Fiat Chrysler completely written off," stated Reid Bigland, head of US sales. "And yet we continued to keep our head down." For quite some time, analysts assumed Chrysler's increased sales were attributed to incentives and the general fact they had nowhere to go but up considering just how bad they were during the recession. Both reasons are somewhat correct, but they leave out a key thing: new products, and lots of them. The reborn Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 200, and the Ram 1500 all significantly contributed to the success, not to mention the numerous existing models that were heavily refreshed and improved.

However – and this is important – part of FCA US's success is due to the fact it's been willing to provide car loans and leases to people with sub-prime, or risky credit scores. That could backfire over the long term. Low gas prices have also helped its truck and SUV sales, but that also won't last forever. For now though, Chrysler has proven its critics wrong. It's alive, thriving, and innovating.

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