Chrysler’s Short-Term Product Plan
Holding the fort down until the Fiat cavalry rides to the rescue
Almost all of Chrysler’s cars will be Fiats by 2014, according to the final version of the Chrysler five-year plan released earlier today, but what is Chrysler going to sell until those new platforms show up?
Indeed, what are they going to sell?
Chrysler (read, Fiat) has a plan.
Strongest brand first:
Jeep gets a new 2011 Grand Cherokee in May, 2010. This next-generation Grand Cherokee has been in the pipe for quite awhile, so Fiat will have very little to do with it over the next seven months.
The Patriot and Compass crossovers get a mild refresh next year. The Wrangler small SUV gets a cosmetic refresh in 2010 and a new interior and some mechanical upgrades in 2011.
In 2013, the Jeep Patriot goes away and is replaced by a small SUV based on a Fiat small car platform. Jeep also gets two new crossovers that same year, one based on the Fiat Panda, and one on a new platform.
Dodge trucks are well-regarded by the Fiat brass, and there is a considerable amount of support to push an expansion of the Dodge Ram brand into commercial-size trucks. Dodge Ram will also get existing (and well-regarded) small and large commercial vans from Fiat, renamed as Dodge Rams.
The Ram pickup truck will continue on with minor revisions until the next generation. Dakota goes away in 2011.
Dodge cars see updates in 2010, including a redesign of the Dodge Charger, and a refresh of the Journey and Avenger. A new full-size crossover based on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee shows up next year as well.
In 2012, the Caliber goes away and is replaced by a new car on a platform already in the pipeline. In 2013, the Avenger goes away and is replaced by both a small and mid-sized car based on a Fiat platform. In 2014, the new Grand Caravan arrives.
The Chrysler brand (as opposed to the Chrysler company) car line sees the estimable Sebring get a much-needed new interior, as well as just-as-needed power and suspension improvements in 2010. The 2011 Chrysler 300 gets a redesign and shows up in 2010. A completely new compact sedan makes its debut in 2012. A new small car, based on a Fiat platform, will make its appearance in 2013. A new mid-size car will replace the Sebring, and a new mid-size crossover will also make an appearance.
In 2014, the new Town and Country minivan joins its new Grand Caravan twin as both vehicles debut in their next generation iteration.
So, that’s the plan; the plan that Chrysler (read, Fiat) says will take them from 950,000 unit sales to 2 million units by 2014, when most of the Chrysler cars and a couple of the trucks will be on a Fiat platform. Chrysler states that 56% of Chrysler vehicles will be on Fiat platforms by then, which sounds about right, considering the mix between cars and trucks in the Chrysler lineup.
Its an aggressive plan, considering the market conditions, the competition and Chrysler’s recent plunge in sales and reputation, but Fiat thinks it is feasible given Chrysler’s new management.
Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, was nothing if not relentlessly positive these past two days while coordinating the public presentation of the five-year plan, although at the same time cautioning against expecting “miracles” in terms of Chrysler’s revitalization, and it is obvious he believes Chrysler will thrive once the Fiat hardware shows up in the cars.
But, Chrysler needs some buyers back in the fold before then, and they’re going to have to get those buyers with current product that’s been warmed-over – at least for the next 24 months, anyway.
It is an open question whether they can generate enough sales in this fashion to stay on plan, and only the passage of time will give us the answer.
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