Reid Bigland, Chrysler's U.S. sales chief, took a trip down Chrysler's memory lane on Wednesday, and it wasn't pretty.
Bigland, speaking at an automotive conference in Detroit, recalled Chrysler's situation in 2008 when oil was heading toward $150 per barrel and Chrysler had no cars or trucks with fuel economy greater than 31 m.p.g. on the highway.
"Our roof was starting to cave in and it was caving in fast," Bigland said during a speech at Automotive News World Congress.
By 2009, Chrysler's share of U.S. retail sales was down to just 5.5%, Bigland said.
"We really hit rock bottom," he said. "Our company image and reputation was really dragged through the mud ... but when you get knocked down, what matters is if you get back up again."
Since June 2009, when Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the help of U.S. and Canadian emergency loans and a partnership with Fiat, Chrysler has rapidly rebounded.
In addition to those loans, Bigland credited Fiat's management expertise along with the fuel efficient engines and small car technology for helping Chrysler to revamp its product lineup and boost sales.
The company's monthly U.S. sales have increased for 33 consecutive months and the company finished 2012 with 10.2% of U.S. retail sales.
"We have almost doubled the size of our retail sales in four years," Bigland said.
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