During Chrysler’s seven hour press conference explaining the direction of the company over the next few years, it became increasingly clear that the new Fiat ownership is planning to build up the Chrysler group of brands using Fiat products. Much of the news isn’t entirely new, but it has now been confirmed and the extent to which Fiat intends to wipe clean Chrysler’s slate of underperforming cars is clear.
Many of the initial changes will be in the Dodge brand and will occur in 2012-13, with a new compact car based on a Fiat platform to be introduced. No specifics were given, but it is likely that this new model would replace the Caliber. Another Fiat platform will replace the Avenger (and presumably the Chrysler Sebring). On top of that, a Fiat-based hatchback model will also be introduced in the sub-compact segment. It is not clear if this is the Fiat 500 or, considering that car’s diminutive size, if it will be a slightly larger vehicle to compete with cars like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and the upcoming Chevy Spark and Ford Fiesta.
With the 500, Fiat/Chrysler will introduce two new engines aimed at meeting the strict CAFE standard of 35.5 mpg by 2016. The first is a 1.4-liter gasoline engine, while the second is a diesel offering.
On top of this, a new dodge crossover will enter the segment late in 2010 for the 2011 product year. It will be a large vehicle with seven-seat capability.
Sadly, the Dodge Viper will be eliminated at the end of next summer. The good news, however, is that Fiat does intend to bring a new sports car into the market by 2012.
From the press conference we also learned, contrary to reports, the Dodge will focus on branding its vehicles less on their performance characteristics.
As for the new Ram brand, much will stay the same with the current pickup quite new in the marketplace and the new heavy duty trucks having just been introduced this year. Impressively, Ram brand CEO Fred Diaz commented that Ram is looking at building a full-sized 18-wheeler rig.
[Source: Automotive News]