Seventy-five years ago, Mopar began as a name for an antifreeze product, but it has since grown into the global automobile parts and service arm of Chrysler Group LLC. On Monday it announced another expansion of its global footprint.
Chrysler said Monday it will open Mopar parts distribution and service centers in Argentina and Brazil, continuing to expand its presence in emerging markets.
Yeah, wow. That was a long time ago, said Pietro Gorlier, Mopar's president and CEO, in a phone interview Monday. When you look at Mopar, there is something that is more invisible to the customer, and something that is more visible.
The invisible part to the consumer is the basis of Mopar's expansion into General Rodriguez, Buenos Aires, and Louveira, Sao Paulo. The new centers in Argentina and Brazil will add to more than 50 parts-distribution facilities around the world. Mopar now distributes 280,000 parts and accessories around the world, and it aims to expand its global presence.
Chrysler, the U.S. auto maker majority owned by Fiat SpA, opened Mopar facilities, known as regional hubs, in Shanghai and the Dubai in December in its drive to make inroads in more global markets and reduce its reliance on U.S. markets, following in the footsteps of U.S. competitors General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.
Turin, Italy-based Fiat took a majority stake in Chrysler after the U.S. auto maker went through a bankruptcy restructuring process in 2009 with aid from the U.S. government. Gorlier said the expansion of Mopar is a direct result of the success of the Fiat-Chrysler partnership.
There is the evidence that the sales of Fiat and Chrysler are growing as a consequence of their partnership internationally, Gorlier said. And so you need to have a stronger logistic after-sales footprint. That is why we have launched the warehouses in Shanghai, in Dubai, and now in Brazil and Argentina.
The Mopar center in Brazil will supply more than 20,000 parts to 30 dealers, Chrysler said. The Argentina facility will distribute more than 10,000 parts for more than 25 dealers.
Mopar has more than 50 parts distribution centers open worldwide, supplying 500,000 parts for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat brands. Gorlier said that combined, the Fiat and Chrysler brands account for 70 million cars currently in operation worldwide.
The Dodge Dart, which Chrysler introduced early last month at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is one example Gorlier cited as evidence of the need for Mopar to grow globally along with Fiat and Chrysler. The Dart is built on an Alfa Romeo, Fiat-inspired design.
You need to have an integrated after-sales, so that the company can make the decisions about where to send products, etc., without having to spend additional money or additional complexity in regards to the after-sales processes, Gorlier said. You don't want to have dealers that have to buy different systems to support the different brands.
Mopar originally had a regional base in Japan, but opened its regional hub Shanghai to take advantage of the expanding Chinese market. Chrysler's sales grew 64 percent in China in 2011. The Dubai regional was opened to better serve Mopar's expanding presence in the Middle East.
We have a pretty clear target of having these regional hubs, he said.
Early this month, Chrysler reported its first full-year profit since 1997, posting a 2011 net income of $183 million compared with a loss of $652 million in 2010. Sales reached $54.98 billion, a 31 percent increase from 2010.