When the U.S. auto industry collapsed, it seemed likely that the Detroit Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) would become the Big Two—and even more likely that the automaker that wouldn’t survive the so-called “Carmageddon” would be Chrysler. But it is Chrysler that has staged the most miraculous comeback of all. Since emerging from bankruptcy and repaying its government loans in 2009, the smaller of the Detroit Three is now leading the pack. In January, Chrysler was the top-selling car brand in Canada, with sales up 22 per cent. In the U.S., sales jumped 44 per cent, the biggest rise among major automakers. Chrysler’s controlling company, Italy’s Fiat, recently reported it more than doubled its net income in 2011—all thanks to Chrysler’s performance. Chrysler achieved all of this without rolling out any revolutionary new vehicles, like the GM Volt. To the contrary, its sales went up thanks to its Jeep brand models, Ram trucks and its existing sedans, like the Chrysler 300 (assembled in Brampton, Ont.). Next up for Chrysler: an even better 2012, forecasts Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is preparing the company for an initial public offering and the launch of an anticipated new line of vehicles based on Fiat models.
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