THE DAIMLER-CHRYSLER DEAL : Here Comes The Road Test

The $40 billion merger of two legendary auto brands underlines the dramatic game of survival being played out among the world's carmakers

It was kind of cute, actually, how they came to be an item: following some small talk last year over a possible joint venture in Latin America or maybe Asia, Juergen Schrempp, 53, chairman of doughty Daimler-Benz, invited Chrysler chief Robert Eaton, 58, to spend some quiet time alone during the crowded Detroit Auto Show in January. Schrempp said he liked Chrysler a lot and suggested that maybe they should consider going all the way.

"I've been thinking about the same thing," replied Eaton, chairman of the once dented but lookin'-pretty-good-these-days American automaker. And so began a rapid courtship, replete with...

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