The last time Chrysler made a serious attempt at the C-segment was in 1995 with the Neon. High initial sales were soon followed by less-than-stellar crash scores, a redesign that put off buyers, the death of the Plymouth brand, and the unholy offspring that was the Dodge Caliber. With Fiat needing to add a “40 MPG CAFE” vehicle to the fleet to continue their acquisition, the Dodge Dart was born. This first fruit of the Fiat/Dodge marriage isn’t just a rebadged Alfa Romeo Giulietta (pronounced Juliet-ta), and there’s a reason for that. Dodge wants a bigger part of the pie since sedans account for 80% of the compact segment. Rather than “sedanify” the Giulietta, Dodge took the extra step of crafting an entirely new vehicle that shares little with the Italian organ donor. Can some Italian spice give Dodge what they need to compete with the growing compact sedan segment? Dodge invited us to a regional preview event to find out.
Tag: Alfa Romeo
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.
Back when I was searching for my first car, I briefly found an Alfa Romeo Spider that looked like it would be in passable condition. Before I could even call the number from the classified ad, my father chimed in with his usual wisdom. “Oh, you don’t want to start with those. They were crap! Just get a Miata and finish!”.
An article in Automotive News lavishing praise on the Chrysler/Fiat
merger of equals marriage inadvertently spilled the beans on a couple upcoming products from Marchionne’s minions.
Maserati will be lending a hand to baby bro Alfa Romeo when the brand launches its 4C sports car in 2013. Having previously been tasked with production of the ultra-low volume 8C, Maserati will handle the annual assembly of the 2,500 4C coupes, that will supposedly serve as a halo for Alfa’s U.S. re-launch (stop me if you’ve heard this one before).
Alfa Romeo debuted as a brand on the Guangzhou Auto Show and they brought… only two cars, and a concept car. Those were the MiTo, the Giulietta and the 4C. Sales are said to begin sometime in 2012. Fiat doesn’t have a working joint venture in China, production at the new Guangzhou-Fiat JV is still at least two years away, so all Alfa’s will be imported and therefore expensive. Will the Chinese buy them? (Read More…)
It’s becoming increasingly clear as time goes on that the Chrysler five year plan promulgated in November 2009 was merely a stopgap strategy aimed at stabilizing the then-recently-acquired firm while CEO Sergio Marchionne plotted a strategic course globally. Now, with news that Alfa is going to be re-launched with the US as its major focus (possibly replacing Dodge), we’re getting a better and better picture of where the Sergio Show is headed with his transatlantic alliance. In an interview with Automotive News Europe [sub], Marchionne gives the latest snapshot
In his vision, Alfa Romeo and Jeep both have the DNA and the rich history capable to make them the alliance’s two global brands. “We need to continue to globalize Jeep and Alfa, so the development of architectures and engines that are designed to support these two brands is crucial, and everything else becomes almost secondary,” he said.
Chrysler clearly won’t be a global brand, as its products are rebadged as Lancias in Italy. Fiat will offer full lineups in Europe and South America, but only the Fiat 500 will be a truly global brand, in a role Marchionne compares to BMW’s MINI. Dodge doesn’t even rate a mention in this interview, which can only be interpreted as more evidence that it will be lucky to survive at all.
With Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep brands consolidating into single dealerships as part of Chrysler’s “Project Genesis” dealer overhaul, CEO Sergio Marchionne is voting overlapping models off the island, starting with Dodge’s Grand Caravan and Avenger. Automotive New [sub] quotes Marchionne saying
We cannot have the same type of vehicle in the showroom because the consumer is not stupid. We’re not going to create the confusion and conflict in the showroom.
Dodge’s minivan (which outsells its Chrysler T&C sibling, albeit at lower margins) and midsized sedan will be replaced in 2013 by a single crossover, based on the next-generation minivan platform. A compact crossover, based on a Fiat platform, will replace the Avenger “after 2014.” Oh, and the subcompact is definitely off. In other words, you can pretty much forget the product plans unveiled two years ago at Chrysler’s five year business plan.
In 1979, American car buyers could spend $10,220 on a new Corvette weighing 3,372 pounds and packing a 195-horsepower pushrod V8 under the hood… or $9,695 on a 2,700-pound sedan with an 111-horsepower DOHC four-cylinder engine, rear-mounted transaxle, and Italian style. More than 50,000 of those car shoppers chose the Corvette. I estimate that 18 adventurous souls chose the Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan. One of the 18 now languishes in a Denver junkyard, offering its parts up to lucky Alfetta owners. (Read More…)
You want the truth? The Alfa Romeo brand sounds like it’s pretty much in chaos at this point. Since Fiat first got a toehold on the North American continent, we’ve heard so many variations of the Alfa-Romeo invasion plans, each one succeeded by a new and different set of plans, that I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Back in 2010, the brand was talking about a 2012 launch and 85k annual units in the US by 2014, with the initial launch lead by the Giulia midsized sedan. Then, earlier this year, the Giulia was delayed until “mid-2013″ as CEO Sergio Marchionne “was not pleased with proposals he has seen from Alfa’s creative team in Turin.” Then, in June we got a “product plan” PowerPoint slide that was supposed to guide the new new Alfa invasion plan, which had the bulk of new products arriving in the US in 2013. Then, in July we heard that the Giulia was bumped to “the end of 2013 at the earliest” and the plans were changing again. Now, Alfa CEO Harald Wester tells Automotive News [sub] that there won’t be a single Alfa in the US until 2013, and that the bulk won’t arrive until 2014. Oh, and the rear-drive flagship that Alfa denied earlier this year is back on for “after 2014.”
And the worst part of this latest change in plans? They forgot to tell the dealers…
Bloomberg reports that Fiat is considering moving production of planned Alfa/Jeep-branded compact CUVs from its Italian Mirafiori plant to the US, as a rising Euro forces tough production choices. Production of some 280,000 units per year were planned to start at Mirafiori in late 2012, but Fiat may now build an as-yet unannounced subcompact there instead. According to Bloomberg’s reporting, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio
Marchionne, while confirming his commitment to invest at the Turin facility, told Piedmont Region President Roberto Cota Aug. 29 that he may change the production plans for the plant.
“Fiat is evaluating which model it will build at Mirafiori,” Cota said after meeting the CEO.
I’ve never owned an Alfa, and every time I see one in the junkyard I feel a twinge of guilt for never having rescued some poor abandoned Spider project prior to the inevitable ride to the junkyard that all such Alfas take after a decade or two spent sitting under a tarp in the driveway. Here’s yet another rust-free Spider that’s going to get eaten by The Crusher because nobody was willing to save it. (Read More…)
According to Automotive News [sub]‘s latest breakdown of Chrysler-Fiat’s product plans, a lot has changed since the big Five Year Plan product cadence guide was released in late 2009 [PDF here]. The Chrysler brand’s C-segment offering appears to have been pushed back a year, its 2014MY B-segment car is AWOL and there’s no sign of a planned MY2014 “Midsized Crossover” or T&C. Planned MY2013 “Major Modifications” for Ram Light Duty, Heavy Duty and Chassis Cab are also nowhere in sight, although the “under consideration” MY2012 minivan-based pickup is back on, likely for MY2014. A MY2012 Challenger refresh is also off, according to these plans. And what’s taking up the slack? Alfa Romeos, and lots of them. Sergio and company didn’t mention Alfas during the seven hours of PowerPoint presentations back in late ’09, but it’s clear that his priority is on bringing Alfa’s 5-door subcompact MiTo, Giulietta compact, Giulia midsizer and Compact CUV to the US. Which means the cupboard will be largely bare over the next year, and thereafter another rush of products will launch across all six mass-market brands. Chrysler’s sales are growing at the moment, but can this plan maintain the momentum? The folks in Auburn Hills certainly hope so…