An interview in July’s Automobile magazine has Sergio Marchionne putting to rest a number of future product plans for Chrysler, among them, the definitive fate of the minivan.
Speculation has been brewing over which of the current minivan twins will live on, and which will be come a crossover. Sergio himself claims that “the owner of the minivan is Dodge”, and that the new Grand Caravan will be a more exciting vehicle, despite retaining the classic minivan features. The Town & Country will become a Mercedes R-Class type vehicle that will be more European luxury than updated Chrysler Pacifica. A range of 4-cylinder and V6 engines as well as front and all-wheel drive will be available for both vehicles when they launch around 2015.
The next Chrysler 200 will be based on the same architecture as the Dodge Dart (i.e. the Alfa Giulietta platform) and be sized roughly in line with the Audi A4. A sedan, coupe and convertible will all be available, with 4 and 6-cylinder options. Chrysler will continue to provide vehicles for Lancia, but the brand’s future seems dim, with Marchionne expressing little interest in investing resources into Lancia. The Chrysler 100 hatch will take a while to appear – Automobile cites a launch date of 2016, which seems like far too long.
Jeep is considered by Marchionne to be one of the two “global brands” (along with Alfa Romeo), and Marchionne says that all future products will have a Trail Rated version. The new Liberty, based on the Giulietta architecture, will launch in Detroit next year, with a host of other products to follow. Among them are a new “Jeepster” (a subcompact with an Alfa version), a new Compass and a full-size SUV dubbed the “Grand Wagoneer”.
Dodge will lose the Durango, Avenger and Caliber as Marchionne seeks to trim the brand lineups to around 5 vehicles each, while Fiat will continue along with a 500-based lineup, including a 500 Zagato, 500L, 500XL (presumably the 7-seat version) and the 500X crossover, similar to the Mini Countryman. And finally, Marchionne says more is coming from SRT. The article doesn’t quote him on anything, but suggests SRT versions of the Dart, Journey and a possible SRT Barracuda that could also give way to a new Alfa sedan using the same platform. Marchionne did stress that the Dodge muscle cars need to evolve, rather than re-invent themselves. As far as accuracy goes, the article more or less confirmed the MX-5 based Alfa Spider, and was presumably written long before the announcement was made. Hopefully the rest is just as accurate.