Timeline: Tracing Chrysler's History

1924: Walter Chrysler, former president of Buick Motor Co. and former vice president of General Motors, launches the Chrysler Six B-70. The six-cylinder automobile is an affordable luxury car that can reach speeds of 70 mph and helps establish the Chrysler brand's strength in engineering.

1925: Walter Chrysler founds the Chrysler Corp., absorbing the assets of the Maxwell Motor Corp.

1928: Chrysler rolls out the low-priced Plymouth and medium-priced DeSoto brands, which have conventional body styles. The brands prove popular with the public throughout the Depression.

1934: The company introduces the Chrysler Airflow, featuring a streamlined, aerodynamic body. The public's poor reception of the model helps stifle innovation and marketing at Chrysler for years.

1940s: Like other U.S. automobile manufacturers during World War II, Chrysler joins the war effort, producing items for the U.S. military such as guns and ammunition, trucks, tanks and aircraft parts. In response to a military request for "a light reconnaissance vehicle," several automakers come up with what is now known as the Jeep. Chrysler acquires the Jeep trademark when it buys AMC in 1987.

1960s: Chrysler expands into the European automobile market.

1970s: Chrysler invests heavily in full-sized cars, a decision that proves disastrous. The oil embargo of 1973 leads to gasoline shortages in the United States, and consumers turn to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Between 1973 and 1974, Chrysler's auto production plummets by 26 percent.

1979: CEO Lee Iacocca initiates a government bailout of the nearly bankrupt Chrysler Corp.

1980: Congress passes and President Jimmy Carter signs a loan guarantee act for Chrysler, in which the government essentially acts as a co-signer of a $1.5 billion loan for the company. During the next few years, Chrysler reports record profits.

1983: Chrysler pays off its federally guaranteed loans seven years early. The company introduces minivans, creating a new market niche with the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan.

1996: Buoyed by the company's highly profitable lineup of minivans and Jeeps, Chrysler's share of the combined U.S. and Canada retail car and truck market reaches 16.2 percent — its highest point since 1957.

1998: Chrysler Corp. merges with German automaker Daimler-Benz to become DaimlerChrysler AG in a $36 billion takeover deal.

2001: In response to massive losses, shrinking markets and stiff competition, DaimlerChrysler announces a plan to cut 26,000 jobs and idle six plants.

2005: Chrysler Group earns $2 billion in profit, boosted by sales of the stylish Chrysler 300 sedan, the Dodge Magnum wagon, featuring rear-wheel drive, and the Dodge Ram pickup.

2006: Chrysler Group reports a net loss of $1.5 billion.

February 2007: Chrysler announces plan to cut 13,000 jobs — or 16 percent of its work force — under a new restructuring plan.

May 14, 2007: DaimlerChrysler announces that the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management will take over 80 percent of Chrysler for $7.4 billion.

Sources: Compiled from NPR staff reports, DaimlerChrysler's company chronology and Associated Press reports.

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