A story made the rounds after Daimler-Benz and Chrysler got together for their ill-fated "merger of equals" a decade and a half ago. It goes like this:
Someone asked a Daimler executive how to pronounce DaimlerChrysler. "It's easy," the executive explained. "The Chrysler is silent."
After bearing Walter P. Chrysler's name in one form or another since 1925, the U.S. automaker that the great man formed has dropped the pretense of independence and become simply FCA US.
Chrysler Group joined other global subsidiaries of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in adopting a single global nomenclature: the initials FCA followed by the country in which it's located.
On the same day that Chrysler Group became FCA US, Fiat became FCA Italy.
What does this mean for Chrysler's U.S. operations? Probably not much beyond some new business cards and stationery. The former Chrysler Group's brands are unaffected, as is its newly listed stock and its dealer network.
But there is a sense of loss. The only thing left of "Chrysler" in the domestic name of a company that has served vital roles in automotive, aerospace and national defense is the letter C.
Chrysler's 2009 shotgun marriage to Fiat S.p.A. has worked out far better than one could have imagined. It is markedly different in style and substance from its union with Daimler AG. Its products, dealers and employees are all in better shape. And in this marriage with Fiat, Chrysler is definitely not silent.
Chrysler's brands now represent a majority of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' global vehicle sales. Most important, its U.S. products aren't being stripped of content to squeeze extra profits at the high cost of repeat customers.
Yes, Chrysler is Chrysler no more. For some, that's sobering and worrisome. But given the choice between the current Chrysler with a new name and the old Chrysler, the five-letter acronym is a far better deal.