Chrylser acquired numerous companies through the years to better leverage itself in the changing landscape of the American and international automobile markets. Although consumers tend to be familiar with Chrysler's house brands, as of 2010 the company has a diverse portfolio, including its Mopar parts arm and an electric vehicle company.
Walter Chrysler founded the company that bears his name in 1925, after restructuring the Maxwell Motor Company. Between 1998 and 2007, Chrysler operated as part of the German-based DaimlerChrysler AG. Starting in May of 2007, the American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management acquired a stake of 80.1 percent in what became Chrysler LLC. Less than two years later on April 30, 2009, Chrysler LLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and formed a partnership with the Italian auto manufacturer Fiat. Fiat has the option of eventually owning a 51 percent of the company. Chrysler immediately began restructuring its operations, in part with $6.6 billion in federal aid received on June 10, 2009.
Chrysler has six automobile models in its 2010 lineup: the Town and Country, Chrysler 300, Sebring Convertible, Sebring Sedan, and PT Cruiser. The name Chrysler refers to both the automobile brand and the parent company that includes Jeep, Dodge, Mopar and GEM.
Chrysler acquired Jeep from the American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987. Jeep is the oldest brand of off-road vehicles. Although Chrysler has gone through numerous rounds of restructuring, the Jeep brand has endured these challenges. The 2010 Jeep lineup features seven models: the Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot, Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited.
Dodge has been a part of the Chrysler family of brands since 1928. The company was originally founded by Horace and John Dodge to supply Detroit's assembly lines with automobile parts. In 1914 the Dodge brothers began manufacturing complete cars. Through the years, Dodge has endured the transitions and restructuring Chrysler has initiated. The 2010 Dodge lineup includes the Avenger, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Viper, Nitro, Grand Caravan and Journey. Dodge also manufactured pickups until 2009.
Mopar is the parts and service subsidiary of Chrysler. The Mopar name has been in use continuously since the brand's inception in the 1920s. Mopar is also commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to Chrysler and any of its brands, such as Jeep and Dodge.
Global Electric Motorcars
Chrysler expanded into the electric vehicle market through its Fargo-based Global Electric Motorcars (GEM). GEM has manufactured electric vehicles since April 1998 and focuses on the production of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved these vehicles for use on public roads pending certain safety requirements. The requirements for NEVs mirror those of conventional automobiles, and include headlamps, windshield wipers, safety glass and safety belts.