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Five Minutes with Thomas R. Marinelli, VP, Chrysler Global Brand Center

Europe is a tough, competitive market. It’s even tougher when you have no new product and no Europe-only product. Even though these are all true for the Chrysler brand, Thomas R. Marinelli, vice president, Chrysler Global Brand Center, seems optimistic about the region. ANd that optimism is in the face of European sales that are down 14 percent for January to April.

He recently talked to Automotive Industries about what is new in the market and how a new marketing strategy is bringing the U.S. in line with Europe.

Q. How are you doing in Europe right now?
We are holding our own. Without any new product our sales are flat. But it is a tough market in Europe. Crossfire will be our first product in quite a while.

Q. When does the Crossfire go on sale in Europe?
Crossfire goes on sale in the U.S. in July and in Europe basically in August. It’s pretty much the same time.

Q. What is the reason for no Pacifica sales in Europe?
A. It was felt by our European colleagues that it didn’t fit the marketplace. The size was some of it.

Q. Are you going to concentrate more on Europe now that the U.S. is stabilizing?
A. I think we have been concentrating on Europe. It’s still the same strategy. We’re not going to do what GM and Ford have in unique product planning and product development process for Europe. We’re not going to do that. But we are taking a pretty aggressive adaptive product planning strategy in Europe. On every product we’re looking at right hand drive, we’re looking at engine sizes, we’re looking at diesel technology. All the things you really need for Europe.

Q. There won’t be any Europe-only products?
A. Correct. There are no plans for Europe-only product.

Q. Will you use the same brand positioning in other markets that you are starting in the U.S.?
A. Our brand — particularly in Europe — is positioned more premium than it is in the U.S. In a way the U.S. position in coming more in line with Europe. Some of the things we’ve learned in Europe, because of the positioning there, have been helpful. So it’s really more of a global positioning. It’s the best opportunity we’ve had so far for global positioning. We do slightly adapt the positioning by country or by region of the world depending on currency trade values and what the product portfolio is in that country. So it’s going to be a little different in Japan than it is in Australia then it is in Germany. Frankly, the European colleagues are delighted with the new strategy. There are several that will most likely be using at least the music of (spokeperson) Celine Dion, which is available to them.

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