'Unprecedented' bankruptcy

David Lewis, professor emeritus of business history at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, says Chrysler can turn itself around: "It has a way of coming through. Particularly now, with the government committed."

And with Fiat on board. Obama criticized Chrysler for having moved too slowly in the past, and for building cars that aren't fuel-efficient. Fiat has promised to bring a car to the U.S. that goes 40 miles per gallon, likely the Fiat 500, which could be imported in as soon as 18 months.

The automaker celebrated Cerberus' takeover with a big party on the company's front lawn.

Just 21 months later, with the company in shambles, Nardelli says he can't help but try to figure out what went wrong.

"You always as a management team look back and say, 'Coulda, woulda, shoulda.' But I think the rate at which the industry fell off due to the financial crisis ... I don't know if we could've done more than we did."

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