The Wall Street Journal christened the deal "the biggest industrial merger of all time." The marriage of Daimler and Chrysler promised to rock the global auto industry and draw up a blueprint for international consolidation on an epic scale.
But the union of Chrysler, the blue-collar maker of Jeeps and minivans, with Daimler, the crown jewel of German industry, didn't turn out to be a merger made in heaven. When the dust settled, Daimler had bought Chrysler, and the shock waves reverberated on both sides of the Atlantic. An American icon lost its independence, and a German giant grew in power and influence.
The DaimlerChrysler deal brought together two automotive superpowers and triggered a chain reaction among competitors seeking partners around the world. In a gripping narrative ripped from the from the daily headlines, Bill Vlasic and Bradley A. Stertz of the Detroit News go behind the scenes of the defining corporate drama of the decade. With groundbreaking reporting, they reveal the untold story behind the unsuccessful attempt to take over Chrysler by its biggest shareholder, the reclusive billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, and its legendary retired CEO, Lee Iacocca. Their startling grab for the smallest of Detroit's Big Three automakers sparked secret talks between Chrysler and Daimler on a massive joint venture. The first deal collapsed, but it set the stage for the final, intense negotiations between Chrysler chairman Robert Eaton and Daimler chairman Jurgen Schrempp. It was hailed as a historic "merger of equals," but the euphoria evaporated amid a clash of cultures, identities, and personalities.
The action moves feverishly around the world with larger-than-life characters in the high-stakes arena of international automaking. Taken for a Ride follows the twists and turns in the road to DaimlerChrysler and, in the end, emerges as a cautionary tale of the risks and rewards of going global.
Bill Vlasic is a reporter for the Detroit News and a former Business Week correspondent. He lives in Birmingham, Michigan, with his wife and three children. Bradley A. Stertz is an assistant editor of the Detroit News and a former reporter with the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife and two children.