By on April 23, 2011

The slide above shows Chrysler’s product plan for the 2010-2014 timeframe, and as it shows, after the new 300 and “refreshed” 200 and T&C, the next Chrysler was supposed to be a C-segment compact sedan. But, reports C&D’s Justin Berkowitz, the subcompact car (essentially a rebadged Lancia Ypsilon) has already been canceled for being positioned too close to the Fiat 500. Meanwhile, it seems that now only one of Chrysler Group’s brands will get a forthcoming compact sedan, and since Dodge has confirmed that it will get a Fiat-based Caliber replacement next year, it seems Chrysler won’t be getting any help in one of the most important segments in the market. So, without a subcompact or compact car coming down the pipe, what does Chrysler have to look forward to? Another crack at the D-segment, come 2013, and a crossover based on the same platform. Apparently the Chrysler brand, which is supposed to be a Lancia-style luxury brand in the Fiat empire, doesn’t need more than four products.

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28 Comments on “Chrysler Brand Cancels Compact, Subcompact Cars: Now What?...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Who says that ever brand has to compete in every single segment?  Isn’t that what we (myself included) blast GM for all the time?  I hate that say, a brand like Cadillac thinks it has to have a product for every purse and everything from an A-series (BMW-1 fighter) to a shadow of a flagship XTS.  If Chrysler concentrates on fewer products and actually makes them worth a damn, then that would be truly something worth reporting.  I’d like to see if fewer products actually makes the things they do sell better. 

    Dodge should have a car in each class from the Challenger down to the Caliber (and perhaps smaller) simply because with no Plymouth they have to have a car for those with smaller budgets. Chrysler should move upmarket and only sell a small car that’s extremely well appointed. Buick having the Verano (soon) bugs me on principle cause it looks like Buick is trying to be Chevy (with a product at every level) but I’ll reserve that judgement for driving it and seeing if it is worthy of the Buick name.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      Buster Brew

      When I was a kid, Chrysler had Newport, Town & Country, New Yorker (sometimes Imperial) and got along fine.  The smaller segments were covered by Plymouth.  It was when Chrysler began crossing into Plymouth’s territory (the PT Cruiser was intended to be a Plymouth for instance), that both brands suffered and Plymouth died on the vine.  As you point out, Chrysler now shares a showroom with Dodge and neither needs to, nor should, field a product in every segment.

      Are you listening Buick?  I saw your Cruze clone at the auto show…  it’s a mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Agreed!  I have always thought that was the entire point of multiple brands under the same corporation, i.e. GM having Cadillac and Buick for higher end luxury brands, Chevrolet for low-mid priced, etc.

      The new streamlined Fiat/Chrysler could use this opportunity to regroup… Dodge for mid-priced regular cars, and muscle cars of course, Chrysler for large luxury cars, Fiat for small compacts and sporty cars, RAM for trucks and Jeep for SUVs

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      I’ve been arguing that point about Chrysler for years. And traditionally, they never did attempt to cover all segments. I’d further argue that attempting to do so is part of what got them in trouble in the first place.

      As long as Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps are all sold under one roof, there should be no attempt to cover all segments among the three brands. I think it’s called brand segmentation….

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I could never figure out how dropping Plymouth made any sense. Chrysler was for the New Yorker, Town & Country, 300, etc.

      Dodge was supposed to be trucks, Caravan, Charger, Challenger.

      Plymouth? Fury, PT Cruiser, Sebring, Voyager.

      What would be the problem with that? Little chrome badge cost? C’mon, now!

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      I agree with Dan 100%.

  • avatar
    Doc

    I have no problem with Chrysler not entering this market but during the bail out, we were told that Fiat was going to bring all of this wonderful small car technology to Chrysler. This was part of the bail out will green-up the auto companies BS that we were sold. It appears that the small car technology consists of the Fiat 500 alone.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yes, Chrysler the corporation . . . . not Chrysler the individual marque.  Quite frankly, I don’t see why Chrysler should be competing in the B class market – let that to Fiat and Dodge.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I don’t see this as a problem.  Chrysler’s tendency has been to overextend its brands with badge-engineered derivatives.  If they’ve consolidated most Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler dealers then why isn’t it viable for Chrysler to drift up market?  The Chrysler brand had the most cache when it only offered full-sized cars (up through the mid-70s).

  • avatar
    mjz

    With gas at $4-5 per gallon, why would they CANCEL the B and C segment cars? They will regret this decision. Who is going to be buying those Hemi powered behemoths? Even if Dodge gets the B and C segment cars, there would certainly be room for upscale small Chryslers. Dumb decision.

    • 0 avatar
      LXbuilder

      Most likely the very same people that buy Hemi power today will buy them tomorrow.
      Gas is already more than $5.50 a gallon up here in Canada and plenty of folks still drive Hemi powered cars and tons of Ram trucks.
      I drive @ 50k kilometers a year (30k miles) and I need a decent size car that can hold my family and stay on the road in windy winter highway commutes. The extra fuel a Hemi would use over my current V6 would only increase my fuel cost by 10-15%, not really a deal breaker for alot of people.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    It’s not a dumb decision at all. As mentioned Chrysler dealerships are now consolidated with Dodge. Why would you need two models of the same car in one showroom? This is Chrysler’s opportunity to be an upper scale brand and let the Dodge brand cover the lower spectrum of the scale. Fiat is giving Chrysler (as a company) their small car technology if a Fiat 500 based Caliber is on the way. Speaking of which a Fiat 500 based Caliber is going to have to be price competitive with other cars in that segment so I wonder how Fiat intends to continue selling the overpriced 500?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Speaking of which a Fiat 500 based Caliber is going to have to be price competitive with other cars in that segment so I wonder how Fiat intends to continue selling the overpriced 500?

      Well I assume that the 500 is going to stay 3 door hatch only so if the Caliber replacement is 5-door hatch or 4 door sedan or small wagon or whatever the heck you call it, there’s your product differentiation right there. 

  • avatar
    eldard

    This is simply a strategy to make room for Fiat cars. Ghadaffi approves.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Exactly my thoughts. Also, if someone can comment on the consequences of canceling production of small cars for meeting CAFE standards, then that would be interesting as well.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    No big deal.  Not sure of the wisdom of a compact Chrysler (or Buick or Lincoln) anyway unless it’s a high-tech fuel sipper that appeals to early adopters or latte-sipping DINK techno geeks.  The D-segment crossover, on the other hand, seems like a better bet.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The Caliber replacement is not based on the Fiat 500. It will be a sedan built off the widened C-Evo platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The 500 is being marketed as a “boutique” brand like the MINI. The Caliber replacement will be a “mass-market” model.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    None the less it’s Fiat’s small car technology being given to Chrysler.
     
    Don’t know about everybody else but it makes me chuckle every time I think about the Fiat 500.
     
    An overpriced under powered elcheapo interior vehicle being marketed as anything but what it really is. Don’t think it will take long for the U.S. market to not buy it in droves until they lower the price.
     
    What is really laughable is that it’s being marketed as a MINI competitor.
     
    It’s not that I inherently dislike the 500 I just think the pricing is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The paucity of Dodge models is more of a concern than the Chrysler brand, which may have to share the up-market with Lancia and Alfa. I think Sergio is making room, at Dodge’s expense, for Fiat models at the low end. Fiat will compete in the European market with economies of scale from Chrysler and Dodge, and run head to head here in the A , B and C markets against Hyundai/Kia.
     
    When Sergio gets a majority of the stock, he’s not going to cash out through an IPO, as originally thought, but in effect merge Chrysler’s operations with Fiat, using the Chrysler IPO for capital and the access to credit markets that a public stock listing brings. It will still be two companies initially, but with Sergio heading both and running them as one outfit until he can finagle a merger past the Italians.

    At least that’s how I see it.  Getting from here to there is going to be the interesting part, especially since it looks like Sergio is working out the details on the fly.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    How long has Justin been writing for C&D?  And is it a shame that I hadn’t noticed?  Is it even the same Justin?

    I ask because there’s little of the TTAC (and certainly the Metacars) flair there.

  • avatar
    nels2727

    The Chrysler brand needs to be further differentiated from Dodge, avoiding the more plebian segments is a good start.  Chrysler has a lot of potential.  GM doesn’t know what it wants Buick to be in the US.  Cadillac is essentially a 2 car brand with another dissapointing large car on the way.  Ford is well on its way to ending Lincoln.  Infinit can’t seem to make people buy their large car offerings.  Audi’s have gotten just as expensive as their full luxury counterparts.   Acura’s have been softened, and Lexus continues to offer CUV’s for rich moms, and old man’s cars.  Their is a gaping hole in the premium car market that the Chryler (and Jeep) brand(s) are well suited to fill.  The new 300 offers 3 impressive engines, RWD/rear biased AWD, a smooth ride, E-class, 5 series, and A6 size, and finally a nice interior for far less than the true luxury brands.  The Grand Cherokee achieves the same feat for Jeep.  Chrysler should be focused on getting affluent echo boomers (Gen Yers) into their premium cars.  The next 200 should be RWD and larger than a 3 series; the new V6 gives them the opportunity to go after Infiniti’s G on vlaue.   A crossover is important to attract female drivers to the brand.   Above all they need to build brand equity, they finally have some product worthy of the near-luxury/premium segement that the other manufacturers have written off.  The Executive edition 300C, unveiled in NYC is a good start.  The old Firepower! concept (hemi-powered, Viper platformed, poorman’s Aston Martin) should be seriously reconsidered, albeit with a better name.  They should also seriously reconsider the 2007 Imperial concept to offer a true large American luxury car at a value price.  I don’t mean to pump my own tire here, but I run in the circle of the next big market of premium/luxury car buyers.  Americans in their mid-20′s today are the next largest population band to move through the market.  We come in two distinct groups, 1 is highly educated and already earning an income that far outpaces teh national median, and the other is largely unemployed.  The latest economic downturn has left an impression on us.  We are more like our grandparents than we are our parents.  The label still matters, but their will be a large market for a comparably equipped vehicle that costs 30% less than the German offering.  This is a smart move, let the Chrysler brand fill the premium brand void.            

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Well said, but they can avoid again being the butt of all automotive jokes by avoiding, at all costs, that monstrosity Imperial concept from 07. With all due respect it had all the luxury “cache” of that Chinese London Taxi concept shown in another TTAC thread.

      And please don’t exhume the Imperial name again. It’s last best year was nineteen frigging fifty seven. Let it die already.

      But I have no disagreement with anything else you said. Nice post.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Chrysler brand model line-up with $5 gas:
    -Chrysler Chianti: (Lancia Ypsilon) Premium FWD B-segment hatchback
    (but please no center mounted dash gauges!).
    -Chrysler 100: (Lancia Delta Sedan) Upscale FWD C-segment sedan
    (capable of Holy Grail 40 mpg).
    -Chrysler 200/200C: RWD/AWD D-segment sedan built off shortened 300 platform.
    -Chrysler 300/300C: RWD/AWD E-segment executive sedan.
    -Chrysler Town & Country: FWD/AWD Full-size mini-van.
    -Chryslar Pacifica: RWD/AWD D-segment crossover.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Good start, good start….
    Now they just need to scrap the mid-size cars, the full size cars, the SUVs and… well, the mini-van can stay (Jack liked it).


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