Chrysler Polishes Brand With Loan Repayments

Originally published on May 22, 2011 1:49 pm
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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

NPR's Sonari Glinton has more on the latest sign of the company's resurgence.

SONARI GLINTON: For a long time, when people talked about the American auto industry, there was General Motors, Ford and uh, uh... yeah, Chrysler. That began to change on Sunday, February 6th, 2011, Super Bowl Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

W: Now, we're from America but this isn't New York City or the Windy City or Sin City and we're certainly no one's Emerald City.

RICK WANCHELL: I think it's smart for Chrysler to draw upon that connection with Detroit, and using Eminem is really a brilliant way to do that.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

EMINEM: This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.

GLINTON: Rick Wanchell(ph) is an analyst with AutoTrader.com. He says Chrysler's brilliant marketing is really helping it to shrug off its stodgy image, even if it is with a middle-aged rapper.

WANCHELL: Eminem represents that swagger. He represents the swagger of Detroit, the underdog quality of it and rising above the troubles that that city has had.

GLINTON: Wanchell says that swagger is only good if Chrysler has cars that people want to buy once they get into the showroom.

WANCHELL: What's holding them back in a way is that they really don't have a signature vehicle that they can point to that symbolizes their resurgence.

GLINTON: David Champion is the head of auto testing at Consumer Reports. He says Chrysler has suffered from shifts in management and a lack of a single vision.

DAVID CHAMPION: Now, there is a direction that we have seen within Chrysler to produce really, really good cars.

GLINTON: Part of the direction comes from the Italian carmaker Fiat, which has an ownership stake. Champion says Chrysler is on the right track in terms of quality because years ago, when his friends and family would ask him about buying a Chrysler, he'd say...

CHAMPION: Don't even touch it with a barge pole. Nowadays you'd say, well, the new 200, yes, it's a pretty nice car. You know, there's probably better ones out there but, yes, it's a consideration.

GLINTON: Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.