What’s going on at Chrysler?
What’s going on at FCA US—or, as many still say, though the company no longer exists, at Chrysler?
The late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive Sergio Marchionne set out a strategy years ago, which set a small number of brands apart as “global”—Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep, and Maserati. Lancia has been dropped back to a single, geofenced car; and Chrysler has dropped down to two vehicles, again geographically limited. Ram, on the other hand, is being expanded into a global brand, even though its main products in much of the world have little in common with the US-based big pickups.
The next Chrysler 300 is expected to be a crossover
Dodge was, by now, supposed to have a wider produce range, including a replacement for the ancient Dodge Journey crossover—most likely something along the lines of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, but longer, more spacious, and less expensive; and a replacement for the old Dodge Magnum, a
station wagon crossover based on the 300 and similar to the Charger. Since then, the rumor mill has claimed that the next-generation 300 will be the crossover, not a sedan; and that Dodge would continue with a new Charger sedan and Challenger coupe.
The direct Journey replacement, since it would have to be relatively inexpensive and since front wheel drive is better for most buyers, was long expected to be a facelifted and Americanized version of the Jeep Grand Commander, which is a kind of cross between the Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler Pacifica in size, design, and dimensions.
None of these cars has arrived yet. Development has been slow; Sergio Marchionne made frequent changes, budgets have been restrained to avoid cash shortages in the predicted recession, and new products have to be assigned to assembly lines which may or may not be ready for them. Development of cars has to match funding and factories.
Since Fiat Chrysler doesn’t leak many secrets, the public isn’t likely to know for sure what’s coming until just before it arrives. But many are expecting Chrysler to be sidelined like Lancia is, maybe just having a minivan as its sole product, and for Dodge to be surviving until the next major fuel crisis hits. It’s clear that Jeep and Ram are the favorites, since both have a global attraction and high profit margin. It’s less clear what’s going to happen to Alfa Romeo without Sergio Marchionne as its champion, and Fiat leaders are probably on tenterhooks while they wait for sales figures on their updates crossovers. In the meantime, expect old rumors to resurface, new ones to grab headlines, and more renderings.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.