Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's chief design officer and the CEO of the Dodge brand, shared how Chrysler Group emulates Apple Computer and how Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had provided the inspiration to return the company to greatness.
Gilles was given the task of addressing the Economic Club of Chicago's annual Chicago Auto Show when Marchionne was called away to sign a deal creating a joint venture to produce vehicles in Russia.
Gilles explained that the carmaker seeks to regain its spirit of innovation by emulating Apple Computer. On a personal note, Gilles said that Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, is his hero.
In addition, Gilles provided glimpses of future products, including the next-generation Chrysler 300 sedan, due in December. Gilles said that he's predicting that people will tear up a bit when they see the car and hopefully, people will say, "Go, America." Also shown were pictures of the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is due in three months.
Gilles also mentioned the company's attempts at winning over a new generation of "millennial" customers. He describes this generation to be those who are more interested in social networking than a car's appearance.
Gilles shared that his design studios are now packed with designers in their early 20s who understand the market better. Chrysler's great heritage of inventing segments was cited but Gilles said that regaining that ability won't be enough. Gilles said that those vehicles were one-hit wonders, which Chrysler doesn't want to do any more.