It was in November 2009 that Sergio Marchionne and the rest of the Chrysler/Fiat politburo detonated a PowerPoint explosion detailing the next several years’ worth of product plans for the new Fiat and Chrysler family. Since then, the two companies have toed the line and insisted that the full array of vehicles is still on track for the originally scheduled launches; this included a Chrysler-badged subcompact and compact for the U.S. market.
Now, however, the company is tweaking the strategy. In speaking with Chrysler/Lancia brand president Olivier Francois at this week’s New York auto show, we learned that the plan to launch a B-segment Chrysler here—something about the size of a Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta—is as good as dead. The vehicle would have been a rebadged version of the newly launched Lancia Ypsilon; the Yp is closely related to the Fiat 500, though, and Francois says the company sees the two as being too similar to offer both here.
There also were plans to sell Americans a compact sedan wearing the Chrysler wings, something along the lines of the Honda Civic or Ford Focus. This, too, looks to be a no-go. Francois explains that the project is “under review” indefinitely, and that only one American brand—Dodge or Chrysler—would end up with the car. Ralph Gilles confirmed that Dodge will definitely get a compact car to replace the Caliber, meaning the music has stopped and the Chrysler brand likely will be left without a chair. On the upside, Gilles promises that the Dodge sedan will be “very competitive,” especially in the fuel-economy department, and that it will draw on Fiat’s expansive bin of efficient four-cylinder engines.Tags: 2011 New York auto show, auto shows, Chrysler, Dodge, Lancia |