Last week we took the counter-intuitive step of calling out Chrysler for refusing to hype its forthcoming products. “Let’s face it:” we wrote at the time, “Chrysler needs buzz, hype, awareness, or some kind of excitement surrounding its future generally and its forthcoming products in specific (if only in the irritating “teaser” format) almost as much as it needs anything else.” Well our wish has been granted, sort of, as this rendering of a 2013 B-segment Dodge hatchback has hit the internet [via AutoBirdBlog] to inspire rare optimism about the Chrysler Group’s future. For a number of reasons though, this is not the buzz-builder we were looking for.
First off, Chrysler has a huge hill to climb to even survive until this vehicle’s 2013 launch date. Chrysler had promised not to show any vehicles until three months before they go to market, so instead they’re showing pictures of a vehicle that’s three years out? Fiat’s Chrysler experiment will live or die with the 14 “interventions” they’ve got planned for the second half of this year. Because these vehicles are based on Chrysler’s current, uncompetitive stable, there is plenty of reason to be pessimistic about the actual improvements they will offer. Moreover, Chrysler will be dependent on these warmed-up leftovers until about 2013, when Fiat-platformed vehicles begin to replace the entire lineup.
Moreover, we’ve seen this particular Dodge subcompact before. The Hornet concept of 2006 showed the way to a Dodge subcompact hatchback, back when Chrysler was trying to get it built on a Chery or Nissan Versa platform. This new rendering looks distinctly different from the Hornet, but we’ve known for some time that Dodge wanted a vehicle like this in its lineup. And looking at the differences between the Hornet and this latest rendering offer yet another reason for Fiatsler pessimism: the new-look Hornet is “inspired” by Fiat’s European-model styling to the point that first impressions are of a re-grilled, re-tweaked Grand Punto. Equally troubling: its underpinning will likely be identical to the Alfa Romeo MiTo, which is sure to spearhead the rumored return of Alfa to the US (if it comes to pass).
Since Chrysler may or may not be listening, we’ll be way more specific this time: the fate of Chrysler rests on the “refreshed” vehicles debuting in the second half of this year. These are the products that will have to inspire faith in Fiat’s leadership of Chrysler, and therefore, these are the products that need to start being teased. Otherwise, the company won’t be around to capitalize on the hype generated by teasers like this one.