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American Motors Corporation (AMC) was an American automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. A.
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American Motors Corporation (AMC) was an American automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in U.S. history.
George W. Mason was the architect of the merger to reap benefits from the strengths of the two firms to battle the much larger Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler). Within a year George W. Romney took over, reorganizing the company and focusing AMCs future on a new small car line. By the end of 1957 the original Nash and Hudson brands were completely phased out. The company struggled at first, but Rambler sales took off. A Rambler won the 1959 Mobil Economy Run and by 1960, was the third most popular Brand of Automobile in the USA, behind Ford and Chevy. After two model years, 1963 and 1964 of only producing compact cars, AMC focused back to larger and more profitable car like the Ambassador line from the perceived negative of the Ramblers economy car image. In the face of deteriorating financial and market positions, Roy D. Chapin, Jr., took charge to revitalize the company, and designer Richard A. Teague economized by developing several vehicles from common stampings. While prices and costs were cut, new and more sporty automobiles were introduced, and from 1968 AMC became known for the Javelin and AMX muscle cars.
AMC purchased Kaisers Jeep utility vehicle operations in 1970 to complement their existing passenger car business. Beginning in the early 1970s, they moved towards all-new compact car designs based on the Hornet, including the Hornet itself and the Gremlin. Other new models in the 1970s included the Matador and Pacer. In an effort to become create a more efficient cost structure, in the 1979 model year, AMC eliminated the Matador line and then in the 1980 model year, eliminated the Pacer, AMC focus almost exclusively on their Hornet-based cars and the Jeep line. While the new lines of the late 1970s, such as the Spirit and Concord, were variations on the Hornets platform, the company continued with innovations on existing designs: the 4-wheel-drive AMC Eagle, introduced in 1979, was one of the first true crossovers.
From 1980, AMC partnered with Frances Renault to help finance their manufacturing operations, obtain much-needed capital, and source subcompact vehicles. By 1983 Renault had a controlling interest in AMC. In the 1983 model year, the AMC brand focused entirely on AWD autos and stopped producing two wheel drive cars. AMC facilities were used to produce Renault Alliance and Encore compact and subcompact cars. In 1985 Chrysler entered an agreement with AMC to product Dodge Diplomats and Plymouth Fury as well as Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons in AMCs Kenosha Wisconsin plant. At the time, AMC had excess manufacturing capacity thus contract manufacturing for Chrysler made sense. In 1987, after further new vehicle development that included the Medallion and, by Giorgietto Giugiaros Italdesign the new full-size front-drive sedan that became the Eagle Premier, Renault sold its 47 ownership stake in AMC to Chrysler. Chrysler made a public offer to purchase all the remaining outstanding shares of AMC stock on the NYSE. Renault left the USA Market completely as a brand in 1987. The Renault Medallion was sold thru the newly formed Jeep Eagle Division of Chrysler as an Eagle, not a Renault. AMCs badge would be used on the Eagle Sports Wagon thru the 1988 model year then be eliminated entirely. The Jeep/Eagle division of Chrysler Corporation was formed from the AMC Jeep Renault dealer network. The Jeep and Eagle vehicles were marketed primarily by former AMC dealers. Ultimately, the Eagle Brand of car would be phased out like Chryslers DeSoto, Plymouth and Imperial by 1998.