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Chrysler considering big changes to branding strategy

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Chrysler LLC is considering wide-ranging branding changes that would streamline its product offerings and eliminate as many as 1,000 dealers, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A plan currently under discussion calls for Chrysler dealers to sell all of the automaker's passenger cars under the Chrysler name. Dodge dealers would sell only pickup and commercial trucks, and Jeep dealers would sell only Jeep and sport-utility vehicles, three dealers familiar with the discussions told the Journal for its online edition.

One of the dealers said the proposal was just one of several being considered, and that the company hoped to have a decision in place by the end of the year, the Journal reported. The dealers asked not to be identified because the plan has not been released publicly.

The plan would allow Chrysler, which seeks to return to profitability by 2009, to drop some of its overlapping products. That in turn would eliminate underperforming dealerships carrying excess inventory and using incentives that cut into profitability.

Chrysler chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli said in September that he planned to keep the automaker's three brands but could drop some products as he leads the company through a restructuring. He wouldn't say which vehicles might go.

``I think we have to right-size the revenue, and that means we have to make intelligent decisions about the products and the brands,'' Nardelli said. ``We can't just have emotional attachments about some of the products and brands that are out there.''

Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP bought an 80.1 per cent stake in Chrysler from its former corporate partner, Daimler AG, in August.

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Chrysler considering big changes to branding strategy
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