Chrysler is one of the nation's "Big Three" auto companies. Its passenger car brands include Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
Due to poor sales especially of trucks and SUVs, Chrysler has reported steep declines in car sales this year. The company has also eliminated leasing deals from its financial arm due to huge losses which generated a significant percentage of sales.
The company is owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital and has lost billions of dollars over the past several years.
In October, Chrysler announced it would cut 5,000 salaried workers and has made significant layoffs this year.
Chrysler is seeking up to $34 billion in loans from the federal government along with other U.S. automakers or it could face bankruptcy by 2009.
Kansas-born Walter P. Chrysler (1875-1940), the son of a locomotive engineer, lived inside the world of the transportation industry throughout his life.
In 1912 he joined General Motors as manager of its Buick manufacturing plant, becoming president of the division four years later.
After parting ways with GM in 1919, Chrysler began a second career as a "doctor of ailing automakers" and under his leadership, the Maxwell Motor Corporation was restored to health and renamed the Chrysler Corporation.
Its subsequent success was directly attributable to the success of its initial product. The 1924 Chrysler Six, an all-new car offered two significant innovations -- a light, powerful, high-compression six-cylinder engine and the first ever four-wheel hydraulic brakes, in a moderately priced vehicle.
The 1928 acquisition of the Dodge Brothers firm made Chrysler the third of Detroit's "Big Three" automakers overnight and Walter Chrysler one of the most successful industrialists of his generation.
Known for many years as Detroit's "engineering company," Chrysler Corporation gained fame for creating power steering, power windows, the alternator, electronic fuel injection, the HEMI engine and dozens of other automotive innovations.
Its famous products include the world's first streamlined car, the 1934 Chrysler Airflow; the 1955 Chrysler 300 (named for its massive HEMI V8, the first American production engine to produce 300 horsepower) and the other sleek "Forward Look" cars of the '50s.
And that doesn't even take into consideration the Dodge and Plymouth "muscle cars" of the '60s, and the Chrysler minivan which is now recognized as one of the most successful vehicles of all time.
A merger brought the world-famous Jeep brand to Chrysler in 1987 and today's Jeep vehicles maintain the reputation for durability, established by predecessor models dating back to World War II.
The company merged in 1998 with Germany's Daimler-Benz. Cerberus Capital bought an 80% stake in Chrysler from Daimler-Benz in 2007 for $7.4 billion.
Updated December 5, 2008