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Chrysler’s Future: Weak Sister Or Comeback Kid?

2011 Chrysler 300

2011 Chrysler 300

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Is the Chrysler brand positioned for a Ford-like recovery or a continued decline in sales? The recent past is worrisome. While most other carmakers posted a healthy increase in sales last month over the previous year, the Chrysler brand saw sales decline by 9 percent.

Initially, this looks bad; especially when compared to Chrysler Group LLC product lines that are doing well. Take a look at the numbers:

  • A 65-percent increase in sales for Jeep after introducing a redesigned Grand Cherokee.
  • The Ram truck division increased sales 29 percent.
  • Even Dodge posted a 14-percent gain.

However, a deeper look at Chrysler’s situation reveals the potential for a comeback that, if it happens, will put smiles on the faces of Chrysler dealers around the country.

Chrysler’s underperformance

A major reason for the Chrysler brand’s recent decline is the loss of discontinued models, including the PT Cruiser, Aspen, and Pacifica. A slowdown in minivan sales has also played a part in Chrysler’s weakened position.  

The Chrysler brand is now down to just three product lines:

  • The full-sized Chrysler 300. This redesigned luxury car has been late in getting to dealers, which helped to keep a lid on sales so far this year.
  • The Chrysler 200. It replaced the mid-sized Sebring.
  • The recently improved Town & Country minivan that’s recording less than stellar sales.

You may count the Chrysler 200 convertible as a fourth product line. The 200 convertible is hitting dealerships just in time for warmer weather.

On a positive note

What is working in Chrysler’s favor is a new and improved marketing campaign. “Imported from Detroit” began with a Super Bowl commercial featuring Eminem. The next phase of this campaign is underway with more heavyweights in front of the camera for Chrysler, including rapper Dr. Dre and Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.

Redesigned cars and a new and successful marketing pitch hold the potential for a turnaround for the Chrysler brand. Some Chrysler dealers around the country are already reporting increased traffic and are hopeful that summer sales will improve dramatically.

Time will tell if design and marketing changes translate into a reversal of the loss of market share that’s plagued the Chrysler brand in recent years.

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Comments (4)
  1. Talk of Dodge using the Alfa Romeo Giulietta's underpinnings as a backdrop for making their own new subcompact got some of us excited, and hopefully they still will produce a worthy Caliber replacement of some sort.

  2. The type of transition in market placement, product range and image building that Chrysler is undergoing takes time to be enduring. The Chrysler "name" still carries a solid reputation and a loyal following. The key to expanding its market will be building and enhancing that "name". The country club crowd once drove proudly to social functions behind the wheel of their Chryslers and there is little reason to doubt that Chrysler can once again be a player in this segment.
    What Chrysler needs is appropriate, distinctive luxury product. Daimler, for all it's faults did a decient job with Chrysler with the 300C, the Pacifica and the Crossfire. Fiat must replace these offerings,bring back an "Imperial Flagship" and never venture into ecoboxes.

  3. Product is the key. Upgrading the current lineup is keeping the lights on at the dealerships, but it will take the new small cars from Fiat - Alfa to give the company its wings.

  4. Where is the "new" Fiat 500? I have not seen any adds in the local Sacramento paper for one. I would suggest Fiat/Chrysler rebadge it as a Chrysler or Dodge 50 or at least sell them in all Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealers, rather that just a selected few. Also, if they want to grab back a good market share, offer a diesel option as they do for all Fiat/Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep cars sold in Europe but still made in the USA & advertise the financial savings diesel offers. There are a number of diesel lovers out there including myself who value fuel economy way ahead of how fast you can get from 0 to 60 MPH.

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