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Chrysler Future Heavily Tied With Italian Brand Lancia

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Chrysler’s lineup, both in North America and Europe, is in for a major shakeup over the next couple of years now that the expanding Fiat Group and its demanding CEO, Sergio Marchionne, are pulling all the strings. We’ve already seen hints of some of the plans with the unveiling of the Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta hatchback at this year’s 2010 Detroit Auto Show, and Marchionne pretty much gave it all away when he announced that the Chrysler and Lancia divisions were to be merged--in fact, the Chrysler brand has already been axed in some parts of Europe, replaced instead by Lancia.

The plan is to convert Chrysler into a near-luxury brand, similar to what GM has done with Buick and what Ford hoped Mercury could have been. The two brands already share a CEO in the form of Olivier Francois, and in the near future they will also share platforms and models.

The new Chrysler-Lancia lineup is currently being styled collaboratively in Detroit and Turin, Italy, where Fiat is headquartered.

It will include a new subcompact car to be derived from a current Fiat platform and due for sale in 2013. This model will compete with the likes of the 2011 Ford Fiesta and upcoming 2012 Chevrolet Aveo.

Due in 2011 will be a new compact car, also based on a current Fiat platform and available in both hatchback and sedan bodystyles.

Later this year will be the introduction of a heavily facelifted Sebring, which will still be available in sedan and convertible bodystyles but will sport a brand new dual clutch transmission borrowed from Fiat. This will be matched to Chrysler’s new Pentastar V-6 engine. The revised Sebring’s lifespan will be short, however, as a replacement is due in 2013.

The next-generation Chrysler 300 arrives early next year complete with a fresh new look, eight-speed automatic transmission and an optional 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine reserved for a high-performance SRT8 model. Expect a new level of luxury and quality not seen before in a Chrysler vehicle.

Also in the works is a new mid-sized crossover that should arrive in local showrooms around 2013. Few details are known about this model but there’s a chance that it will share its underpinnings with the new Dodge Durango that’s set to go on sale early next year.

Finally, the Town & Country minivan will undergo a major overhaul later this year, picking up the new Pentastar V-6 engine as well as a revised interior. A replacement for this model isn’t due until 2014 at the earliest.

[Automotive News, sub req’d]

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Comments (5)
  1. The best thing that Fiat could do now is to offer the Daimler V-6 clean diesel, that is already certified, as an option in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 until it can get a range of clean diesel engines certified for North America. It is a shame that the mid-size car to replace the Sebring and Avenger can't be fast tracked before 2013 instead of spending money on a two year major revamp of them. As the show crossover demonstrates, styling will be back with Chrysler soon. The next to last version of the Chrysler minivan was much better looking than the Daimler designed current version. I hope that the PT Cruiser body can return on an all wheel drive Fiat platform along with a clean diesel engine option. Like the Beetle is to VW, the PT Cruiser is an icon to Chrysler.

  2. VV, you have a few of you statements slightly off. Chrysler will supply Lancia with American designed and built large cars to be rebadged in MOST, but not ALL European markets. The Italian platforms delivered to Chrysler (not shipped finished or complete) will be essencially re-developed, and designed, upon arrival,primarily by Chrysler engineers for the American market. They will be almost new cars which are sold as Chrysler world-wide in many markets.
    Chrysler will retain much autonomy in this merger and Marchionne is one smart executive to allow a proud company an equal role in this potential automotive giants' future.
    Chrysler, the company and the car, are alive, well and ready to roar into the future as a real "player" in the world-wide luxury market

  3. AGREE with Mr.D..... a redesigned PT Cruiser built on a more capable FIAT small car platform would be a winner, and would NOT cannibalize the FIAT 500 sales... PT is a practical little 4 door wagon (it created it's own class when introduced 10 years ago), while the 500 is a stylish 2 door hatchback (ala MINI & the Beatle). The PT could be a global player for Chrysler if it had the right powertrain (tighter Euro suspension and FIAT small engines including a diesel). It deserves a chance and I think would be at least as popular as a refreshed FIAT Panda or Lancia-whatever little wagon they end up badging as a Chrylser.....

  4. You can tie me with this Italian model anytime :-)

  5. It is nice hearing your point of view about FIAT Group Brands. For sure this is a sign of globalization. Merger of Chrysler and FIAT is very interesting since we are great designer and you have great cars. Personally I would be very happy to buy an american based SUV or Jeep, now.
    Let's see and wait for the real models.

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