Chrysler Future Products: Only One Minivan, no Jeep Compass
By Larry P. Vellequette, Automotive News
The changes are part of a long-term effort by Marchionne to give each Chrysler Group brand a more distinct identity and eliminate product overlaps.
The Compass is similar to the Jeep Patriot, and the Town & Country shares many attributes with the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. A smaller Chrysler-brand crossover will replace the Town & Country and may retain the name.
The Town & Country changes mean that Chrysler--creator of the traditional minivan--will field just one minivan, the Grand Caravan. In 2009 the company said it planned only one traditional minivan, then seemed to hedge that statement. Marchionne reaffirmed the original plan.
Although Marchionne is pruning models, he has been adding brands, too. Since 2009 he has introduced three to North America: Ram, Fiat and SRT.
-- The Compass and Patriot will continue to be built alongside the new Dodge Dart in Belvidere through August 2014. After that, Marchionne told plant employees, "There are a number of candidates to take the place of the Compass." He was not specific and did not discuss the Patriot's future.
-- Chrysler is developing an SRT version of the Dart, Marchionne said. "The only thing we're fighting over now is to determine how big an engine we stick in it."
Racing enthusiasts requested a high-performance version of the four-cylinder Dart before it was revealed in January. Chrysler hasn't had a four-cylinder vehicle in its SRT lineup since the Dodge Caliber SRT4 was dropped in 2009.
-- The Grand Caravan will be Chrysler's only minivan when the platform it shares with the upscale Town & Country is replaced in 2014. The Chrysler-branded minivan will be replaced with an upscale crossover, Marchionne told the magazine. Some media reports have suggested that the crossover could resemble the Mercedes-Benz R-class. Mercedes is dropping the R-class from the U.S. market.
-- Chrysler continues to work on alternative powertrains, including hybrids and those powered by compressed natural gas, to meet tougher fuel economy standards. Those vehicles will be available by 2017, Marchionne said, though the automaker introduced a Ram pickup powered by compressed natural gas this year.
-- Chrysler will introduce an electric version of the Fiat 500 for North America later this year and "will lose money on every car we make."
Marchionne said the electric Fiat 500 is being done only to comply with requirements in California and other states for electrified vehicles and to familiarize Chrysler engineers with electric powertrains.
The Compass and Patriot are identical vehicles except for styling and share a platform with the now-departed Caliber.
While Chrysler drops nameplates, it still seeks economies of scale by using single platforms to underpin several vehicles in the Chrysler and Fiat families, cutting development costs.
For example, the CUSW platform that underpins the Dart also will be used for the replacement of the Liberty, which is expected to be revealed in January.
The CUSW platform eventually will underpin about eight small and mid-sized cars and crossovers for Chrysler and Fiat.
Content provided by Autoweek.
I like the overall direction Chrysler is going. Their current lineup is great. A few more things I would like to see from them are:
1. The Liberty replacement to go back to the original Cherokees roots, or just dropped. The 4 door wrangler fills this spot fine.
2. All 2wd Jeeps dropped, Jeeps are for dirt.
3. The Dart based SRT to not only get a turbo, but an AWD option to compete against the Lancer EVO, and the Imprezza WRX.
4. The 200 convertible to be replaced with a luxury roadster, and the sedan dropped, as it overlaps with the Avenger. Perhaps the Avenger could get a lower cost (than the 200) convertible.)
5. The Town and Country replacement to be luxurious on par with the new 300.
6. The Ram trucks to get more cab and bed options, such as an extended cab long bed 1500.
7. Better fuel economy, perhaps through a better CVT.
8. A few 2 door options in the various segments.
9. A voucher in my mailbox for a free 2013 Viper.
While I understand Chrysler will probably not do all of these, I hope they make # 9 a priority.
I also don't think there is any problem with a compact SUV being a Jeep. Logically, it would make a lot of sense for Jeep to become FIAT-Chrysler's "SUV's only brand". Just again, they don't need two or three copies of the same car in the same showrooms. It does not surprise me in the least that they chose the Compass to be axed; the Patriot always looked more Jeep-ish anyways.
It also makes sense for Chrysler to consolidate into one minivan since most showrooms now carry both the Dodge and Chrysler brands. Chrysler moving into a CUV instead, where the Pacifica left off, makes sense as well. They used to sell over 90,000 Pacificas a year. One of the reasons they dropped it was to make room on the line for the VW Routan minivan, which has been a failure by Chrysler's standards, selling less than 15,000 units last year. However, for VW, it's a hit compared to the old Eurovan. They only sold 1331 of those in 2000. Maybe because the V6 was rated at 15 MPG city on premium unleaded.
It's no surprise Chrysler has the best selling minivans in the industry. The Chrysler Town & Country has had the highest owner loyalty for 10 years running, followed closely by the Dodge Grand Caravan. They were also rated as having the highest quality in the minivan segment by J. D. Power., beating out Toyota, Nissan and Honda....and the bottom feeder Kia Sedona (which has been canceled like its twin, the Hyundai Entourage).
Although people love the Compass, that thing is FU'GLY and once the Liberty was restyled to match the Nitro, it ( the Nitro )was pretty much a DOA. No tears shed over the demise of either although they turned out to be pretty good vehicles.
Meanwhile, having just seen a Dart in the flesh ( so to speak ) last week, I can't wait till Chrysler starts shipping them. Ooh, I want to spank that turbo powered rascal.
from a article earlier this year i thought they claimed the dodge grand caravan was going to be axed and only the chrysler town and country was to be produced!!!???
(for there mini-van)
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