In a column released this week on LinkedIn.com, former CEO Bob Nardelli takes credit for turning around Chrysler Corp. and guiding it back to where it is today.
Nardelli’s column, “What I learned leading a Company like Chrysler through Bankruptcy -- and Revitalization,” is the type of revisionist history that would do the former Soviet Union’s Pravda proud.
So on behalf of hundreds of thousands of current and former Chrysler employees, shareholders, bondholders, dealers, et al, I have a simple and succinct response.
No, Bob. No.
No, it wasn’t your business acumen that got Chrysler out of bankruptcy. It was your lack of any substantive knowledge of the automotive industry that helped put it into bankruptcy.
No, you didn’t leave Chrysler “with a good healthy balance sheet between cost out and revenue growth.”
You left it not just dying, but actually dead.
No, you did not have “a viable plan for operations that could move forward post-bankruptcy.”
You left a 5.3 million-square-foot headquarters largely dark and gutted, a series of factories woefully outdated and a workforce devoid of morale.
No, Bob, you cannot take credit for “bringing new life to the Jeep brand; producing the RAM 1500, Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year; creating the new Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger and Durango; and producing the new Challenger in a record 18 months.”
Other people did that -- many of them just before they walked out the door for the last time.
And no, you had not “established a company with no debt, no accounts payable, and an enhanced dealer network.”
I won’t even presume to argue this point. There are just too many bodies. Instead, I’ll let the financial chaos you left in your wake speak for itself.
And speaking of speaking for oneself, perhaps your former spokesman, Jason Vines, said it best when he responded to this column on social media.
“It is the exact same ‘G.E. Speak’ Bobby was spewing from day one at Chrysler,” Vines wrote. “The fact that he took credit for the products he listed in his piece -- well along in the pipeline before he moved into his Chrysler-paid suite at swanky Townsend Hotel in Birmingham -- is precious.”
Like its products, Chrysler’s had a few great CEOs over the years, and a number of clunkers.
Nardelli’s column recalled for me one of his biggest achievements during his tenure: Chrysler’s smoke-and-mirrors ENVI electrification program, which promised with much fanfare in September 2008 a fleet of electric vehicles on the road by 2010.
It didn’t have any substance either.