A couple of years ago, there was great speculation about how Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler Corp. were going to merge their cultures and their staffs and end up as one very big and powerful global car company.
Well, it appears that they have finally figured it out. The best thing for the customers and the employees of both companies is just to leave it alone.
Those folks in Stuttgart make some of the great cars of the world. They are not global cars; they are very German. The Mercedes brand is known throughout the world, perhaps as well known as Coca-Cola.
Chrysler has done a great job in the USA. That's why it was such an attractive partner for Mercedes-Benz. Chrysler has a unique corporate culture that is the envy of the automotive world. It is quick to market, innovative and seems to have a unique, warm and trusting relationship with its suppliers and its dealers. Chrysler has been unique under Bob Eaton and will continue to be under Jim Holden.
So why in heaven's name would you try to mix those two jewels together? In retrospect, there weren't many good reasons. Sure, do what you want with the back shop, but don't muck up those two unique and marvelous entities.
Well, they tried. But luckily for everyone, it simply didn't work. And with even more luck, they finally figured that out. Try to merge purchasing. Take advantage of technology. But quit messing with two rather unique and special companies. Let them run their own businesses, and don't worry that everyone isn't going to eat hot dogs and drink beer.
Jurgen Schrempp may go down in history as the guy who took two eagles and tried to turn them into a turkey. Renault's Louis Schweitzer understood that to be successful, Nissan must do it on its own, with a little help. Schrempp doesn't understand the strength and unique character of the two previous companies. And shareholder value suffered.
But now the powers that be seem to understand the error of their ways. Mercedes has survived and appears none the worse for it. It continues to maintain that unique place among brands. And on this side of the Atlantic, the Chrysler group continues to be the strong North American company that it has been for the past decade.
It was an interesting experiment that seems to have a happy ending.