Chrysler’s New Product Plans: Reduce Duplication Among Brands

October 10, 2011

Streamlining product lines is nothing new among automakers, but Chrysler’s plans for future products may catch some consumers by surprise. The idea is to reduce duplication across brands, eliminate customer confusion and, obviously, increase sales.

What’s on tap for Chrysler Group in the near future? Here’s the scoop, as reported by TheCarConnection via Automotive News (subscription required):

-      Only a single minivan remains. When the next-generation full-size minivan comes out, due in 2014, it will only carry the Chrysler Town & Country nameplate as Chrysler is killing off the Dodge Grand Caravan.

-      Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger will be replaced by a single crossover. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says that while the Chrysler 200 sedan gets a replacement in 2013 built on a Fiat platform, the Dodge Avenger, its fraternal twin, gets the axe. Instead, a single new mid-size crossover will be used to replace both the Grand Caravan and Avenger and is intended to appeal to Grand Caravan customers looking for space, flexibility and sportiness. The new mid-size crossover will be built on the same platform as the new Town & Country.

-      Second new crossover to replace Dodge Journey. The crossover market, Chrysler’s Marchionne believes, clearly has upside sales potential, leading to the automaker’s plans for a second new crossover to replace the Dodge Journey “after 2014.” Not much is known about this additional crossover, except that it will be smaller than the crossover that replaces the Grand Caravan.

-      New Dodge compact sedan may debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Dodge is expected to show off a new sedan at the upcoming 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The new small sedan, which replaces the outgoing Dodge Caliber hatchback, is based on the Fiat C-Evo platform, the same one that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Marchionne says that Chrysler will offer a “sort of hatchback,” but that model will be sold in Europe.

-      Fiat 500 the only subcompact to be offered. Chrysler has also scrapped plans for Fiat-built Chrysler and Dodge subcompacts originally planned for a 2013 debut in the U.S., leaving only the limited volume Fiat 500 to do battle against competitors Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. The Chrysler CEO believes that Mexico and Canada remain viable markets for subcompact cars, but that U.S. customers won’t buy them in the volumes and prices the automaker needs to make a profit.

While this may sound confusing in the short term, in the long-term U.S. consumers will see more differentiation and less product overlap from the Chrysler and Dodge brands.

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