Chrysler has a charismatic, focused leader, Sergio Marchionne, who laid out an ambitious and detailed plan to recapture lost glory, profits and market share. But sales remain in free fall. Redesigned vehicles are months, even years away.
It may face mission impossible, but Marchionne's leadership team is ready to run through walls.
GM Chairman Ed Whitacre jettisoned Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson and took his title on opening day of the Los Angeles Auto Show, dampening buzz around the 2011 Buick Regal and triggering new anxiety among employees who already have endured substantial turmoil.
But GM is stabilizing its U.S. market share, even as it phases out Saturn, Pontiac, Saab and Hummer. New products such as the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Traverse are selling well. "I'd take GM's situation in a heartbeat," said IHS Global Insight analyst John Wolkonowicz. "GM has a cold. Chrysler has pneumonia."
In the end, success might be a matter of which leader delivers the appropriate medicine.
GM, Chrysler healthier
Believers and skeptics of General Motors Co.'s and Chrysler Group's government-backed rescues can agree: Both companies are better off today than they were a year ago.
Their respective reinventions, however, are in different stages.
GM seems impatient with itself, incapable of enjoying small successes on its road to recovery. Detroit Free Press