We journeyed down the road to Auburn Hills today to visit the American end of the German-American hybrid of DaimlerChrysler, and witnessed what may be the most bizarre event of the week — a Chrysler Group function to kick off the employee corporate campaign for United Way of Southeast Michigan. The highlight (lowlight, perhaps — depending on whether you happen to see the picture of Chrysler Group PR main man Jason Vines in some very interesting garb) of the event was the very un-Olympic-like games set up team-style, with one captained by Chrysler Group CEO and Prez Tom LaSorda (blue team) and Senior Veep of Employee Relations John Franciosi (purple-maroon-plum team). The games were at best, juvenile — and involved carrying sponge-squeezed water on one's head to fill a bucket and some sort of golf-like thing. Whatever you want to call it, it was hilarious — and unlike Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom understanding the importance of letting the boss win, Franciosi kicked LaSorda's CEO butt. We'll have video up from the event tomorrow late in the AM, but for the meantime, you'll have to content yourself with the picture gallery below.
But wait — what the hell were we doing dropping in on some touchy-feely-do-gooder type of event — that's totally not how we normally roll, right? Well — it wasn't entirely selfless as we were able to score some press scrum time with none other than Tom "Water-Weight Silver Medalist of the World" LaSorda and got a chance to ask some questions on third and fourth quarter production and...
...about the issues they've been having selling them thar big ol' SUV's and Trucks outta the Dodge Group.
As far as production goes, LaSorda says Chrysler is standing by the previous cuts announced earlier, which were inclusive of both the third and fourth quarter and amounted to a 10% cut in production. But he did add that:
"we've had a swing of about 4% from trucks, big SUV's to mid-size SUV's and smaller cars. We're adjusting production from bigger vehicles to the smaller ones...when we project into the future, we tell our product teams to think about $3, $4 a gallon...the ones...most adversely affected...would be those big SUV's, trucks..."
To which we asked if the majority of the cut was coming from the SUV's or the trucks. LaSorda's response:
"the only big SUV [the Chrysler Group is cutting production of] is the Durango, so it would be more trucks than SUV's..."
Interesting Tom — very interesting. So, Chrysler's not "cutting production" much more per se...they're just moving it from the high-profit trucks and SUV's to the lower-profit cars and mid-size SUV's. Right, cause those are totally equivalent. They'd better plan on selling a hella lot more small cars and mid-size SUV's than they've sold so far if they want to meet Tom's goal of profitability in the final quarter of the year. But LaSorda did have more to say on some other interesting topics, and we'll have that up shortly...or we may just get really bored and see how the video of Vines getting dumped into a childrens swimming pool turned out — cause you know — that was more funny than this whole "news" crap.