By on June 22, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCAThe American new vehicle market is evolving. Indeed, the rate of evolution suggests it may be evolving fast enough to be deemed a revolution.

Passenger car market share is down to 37 percent through the first five months of 2017. We’re not even a decade removed from a time when passenger cars accounted for more than half of all U.S. auto sales. Cars have lost 4 percentage points of U.S. market share in just the last year. While pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers added 225,000 sales, year-over-year, in the first five months of 2017, passenger car volume tumbled by more than 145,000 units.

As a result, automakers are giving up on cars. Not wholeheartedly, not across the board, not routinely. But in specific areas. And this couldn’t be more obvious at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, where the company no longer has entries in the two largest passenger car sectors. Heading into 2018, FCA’s car branch will market two Dodges, one Chrysler, and a handful of Fiats, Maseratis, and Alfa Romeos.

Is that enough? Or does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles need more cars?

Gone from FCA’s car lineup are the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, the lone remaining compact and midsize cars in the automaker’s U.S. lineup.

This leaves two full-size sedans: Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 and a full-size coupe, the Dodge Challenger, in the mainstream section of the lineup. That trio of cars accounts for just 3 percent of America’s passenger car market.

The Fiat 500 will be FCA’s lone remaining small car of note. The Fiat 500L is an afterthought that generates barely more than 100 sales per month. The Fiat 124 Spider joins the Dodge Challenger on the sporty side of the lineup. Then there’s the Alfa Romeo Giulia and 4C, the former of which is still ramping up. (883 were sold in May.) Maserati also markets a trio of cars: two sedans plus the GranTurismo.

Together, all of these cars and the discontinued models produced 123,588 U.S. sales in the first five months of 2017, 41,993 (25 percent) fewer than during the same period of 2016. For perspective, Toyota and Lexus combine for roughly 84,000 car sales per month, Hyundai and Kia combine for 72,000 monthly car sales, General Motors and American Honda each sell roughly 64,000 cars per month, and the Ford Motor Company sells nearly 52,000 cars per month.

14 percent of FCA’s year-to-date U.S. sales volume is car-derived.

Should FCA forge ahead without a proper car lineup, safe in the knowledge that consumers want Jeeps and Rams, Grand Caravans and Pacificas? Safe in the knowledge that it would be a wasted effort because car consumers don’t want Dodge and Chrysler cars?

Or should FCA work harder to find a way to expand its car portfolio through midsize and compact partnerships?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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107 Comments on “QOTD: Does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Need More Cars?...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m still reeling from the death of the 200. How did it flop? On paper it was competitive, and IMO it’s still the best looking car in the class, front to back. I haven’t driven a car with the ZF9, but from people who own it I hear the complaints are overblown. Is the Chrysler dealership experience just that awful?

    As for the QOTD, the car market in general is shrinking, culling the herd. So if the market doesn’t want mainstream Dodges and Chryslers, FCA shouldn’t bother with them. I think they’d have much more success rejuvinating the Charger/Challenger/300 with the Giulia’s platform.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The 200 was a small midsize v the competition. This made it a hard sell to anyone but a Chrysler loyalist.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        As a Mopar loyalist, I would not get a new 200. The center console is laid out is such an awful fashion. The visibility is worse than the old avenger. It rides nice enough and it is a nice looking car on the outside. It is a competent car and the interior materials are fine but it isn’t a nice place to be. Almost as bad as the new Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      RangerM

      I’d say the 200 flopped for not being anything special–save for maybe the 3.6L model.

      It’s not enough to be competitive; especially when people can still remember the Cirrus/Sebring they owned/rented.

      Chrysler needs a modern-day 1986 Taurus or K-car, but I don’t know if that’s possible in today’s market.

      The 300 seems close to this, but it seems to be dying from neglect.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        People remember the Sebring 200 they rented, and the new car had the same name on it. That was a bad idea. Not to mention both old and new style 200s were in lots of rental fleets at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I had one as a rental a few times. I did not find the experience to be terrible either.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      The 200 was a good car with a terrible roofline. Entry into the back seat brought back memories of the Mercury space capsule. With a sunroof headroom in the front was severely compromised as well. If only they had given it a more conventional roof similar in shape to the 300 I believe they could have had a winner. Instead they were slaves to the wind tunnel and ended up with something that looked indistinguishable from Fusion, Sonata, Accord, Malibu etc.

      By the time the 200 arrived the issues with the 9-speed were mostly resolved. The trans in our early ’14 Cherokee was never exactly bad, but a couple software updates have made it excellent.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “The 200 was a good car with a terrible roofline. Entry into the back seat brought back memories of the Mercury space capsule.”

        ALL cars are going this way, for reasons I cannot understand.

        Look at the current Prius, and compare it to the 05-09 models. This is SUPPOSED to be a passenger-friendly car, but somehow the powers that be think they have to compete in the “I have to pretend I’m a coupe, sedans are uncool” game.

        I was pleasantly stunned to see the new Camry go away from this trend.

        And I’d like to go see a Giulia simply because it eschews this trend as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          The stylists aren’t behind this. Space for the rear passengers’ heads increases wind resistance. Looking like a coupe is incidental.

          As so much else that’s worse than it needs to be about modern cars, save your thanks for the EPA.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’m not so sure.

            The Charger and 300 have the same EPA ratings despite having different rooflines.

            And the swoopy 200 V6 was 1 MPG better than the more upright Sebring-based 200 V6, which probably has more to do with the transmission differences than rooflines.

            Comparisons in other brands give similar results so if the coupe-looking profile is supposed to have fuel economy benefits, the EPA numbers aren’t showing it.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            They have the same EPA ratings thanks to the loophole wherein derived models sharing a powertrain don’t need to be tested again. This is the same scam that Ford used to advertise the tall and stubby C-Max as achieving the same mileage as the Fusion, with eventually litigious consequences.

            FCA publishes drag coefficients in their media kits. The Charger’s is .302. The 300 less the Kamm back is .320.

        • 0 avatar
          YeOldeMobile

          From what a lot of armchair car designers and engineers have posted on the internet, the main reasons for declining headroom are:
          1. Crash regulations for more and more edge cases requiring stronger and thus wider pillars with the current fad for low-weight aluminum bodies and frames.
          2. Fuel efficiency and emissions requirements forcing sleeker and more streamlined shapes onto engineers and designers.
          3. An increasingly asocial populace that drives alone or in pairs that rarely uses the backseat, especially among professionals who just lease their cars because they have good jobs.
          4. A market that wants sleek, sexy cars with low rooflines and a swooping shape, ala the Evoque or Velar, even when impractical.

          But these are all just theories from the Internet. It’d be great to see some interviews with the designers responsible.

          • 0 avatar
            RS

            IMO…
            1. True, but it is more flexible. They made some poor decisions between styling and usability. See SUV’s rooflines – with the same regs.
            2. Again see SUV/CUV’s that are designed with the same regs.
            3. Not sure about that one, but keep in mind that 2 door coupes have just about disappeared from sales sheets.
            4. Yes. Impractical is the direction of styling these days. Poor headroom, bad ingress/egress, trunk lids that are not much bigger than the door covering the gas cap. All poor decisions that made SUV’s sales great.

          • 0 avatar
            Whatnext

            I’d argue that plumeeting midsize car sales are a strong that market segment does NOT want sexy cars with low rooflines and a swooping shape.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          “ALL cars are going this way, for reasons I cannot understand.” True, but the 200 is terrible even within that context. It’s worst in class. (And yes, I actually have tried the sit-behind-myself test in the 200. It’s the worst four-door vehicle I’ve ever sat in in terms of rear headroom.)

          It’s too bad. I have a friend who rents a midsize two to four times per month for work, and he likes the way the 200 drives. It’s a nice looking car, and my sense is that the Pentastar and the Tigershark serve real-world users well (even if jaded reviewers grouse, probably illegitimately, about the transmission and the Tigershark).

          Essentially, the 200 is (was) a Verano competitor rather than a Camcordibu competitor.

          – – –

          Haven’t sat in the 4th-gen Prius yet, but I share your concern. A friend has a 3rd-gen, and my only serious criticism of it is that my scalp touches the rear-seat headliner. It’s adequate, but barely.

          I’m guessing the 4th-gen’s rear seat is a no-go for anyone who’s 5’10” or over and isn’t Slouchy McSlouch.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      How did the 200 flop?

      Here’s a hint: it was far smaller than its’ main competitors, but weighed about as much. The culprit was the (kinda) ancient Alfa platform it was built on. Imagine how much that thing would have weighed if it was actually sized like an Accord.

      FCA did the 200 (and the Dart) on the cheap, and while I’d say they actually did a pretty remarkable job with the old bones, they tossed a so-so product into the most competitive segment in automobiledom. The result wasn’t difficult to predict.

      And they also blew it by pumping a massive percentage of early 200s into rental fleets. It made their short term “sales” figures look good, but the minute that tens of thousands of ex-rentals hit used car lots, new ones became basically un-sellable. I mean, how do you sell a new one for $25,000 when there’s a lightly used one 200 feet away selling for $10,000 less?

      So much fail…

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        2010 isn’t ancient as far as platforms go. Plus, it was reworked for the Dart and 200 (CUSW). Neither was an inexpensive vehicle to engineer/produce. If they were cheap like the Neon, FCA would probably still be building them.

        If anything, the 200 and Dart were way too expensive and upmarket for the brands that were selling them.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Ah, I heard the platform was older. Thanks for the info.

          Either way, though, this platform was heavy. A Dart with the 2.4 and an automatic weighs almost as much as an Accord.

          And I don’t think it was the cost of the Dart and 200 that killed them. If they’d been dynamite vehicles, they could have sold for what FCA was asking. Instead, they were merely competent. Toyota can get away with merely competent compacts and midsizers. FCA can’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            They were never going to sell for what FCA was asking. No matter what. The 200 could have been the greatest car ever and people would have been all, “LOLSebring”.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You’re right, but it takes a long time to build a brand for a nameplate. Once upon a time, “Hyundai Sonata” was a joke. It isn’t anymore. Hyundai made the car from a joke into a player over time. They stuck with it and improved the car.

            If the 200 and Dart had been truly great cars, FCA could have built that business over time, which they clearly had no patience for. Feels like they just slapped these cars together and tossed them into the market.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They were made on an expensive Alfa derived platform, with expensive interiors which made selling them at traditional Chrysler price points unprofitable.

      In that space, it’s all about the payment. The Sonata and Altima were absolutely worse vehicles, yet were able to be sold for less to credit challenged people who would drive whatever fit their payment.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Truth bomb right there. As Buick competitors, the 200 slotted in nicely between the Verano and Regal in size, and tromped them in interior materials and infotainment. If you didn’t have kids older then 10, the back seat was fine. My kid didn’t complain on a 880-mile road trip, and he sat behind my 6 foot wife. He even had his feet propped up.

        The 200 is the screaming orphan car deal of the decade IF YOU LIKE IT. If not, nothing will sell you on it. But if the odd size and rear doors work for you, the car is a helluva used bargain. Get a nice fat Maxcare extended warranty and enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      kurkosdr

      The first generation Chrysler 200 was a Sebring underneath, complete with the old JS platform and whatnot.

      The second generation was based on the Fiat Compact platform, which brings the question why they bothered, since the Dart is also based on that platform and isn’t linked to the Sebring in customer’s minds.

      Not that the Dart fared any better. Probably because the platform’s reliability isn’t very good, which reinforces customer perceptions about unreliable Dodge and Chrysler vehicles.

      “At least it’s not a Sebring underneath” is not enough to win in today’s car market.

  • avatar
    donnyindelaware

    FCA put rushed two vehicles out before they should have. The Dart had a lot of quality problems and didnt have the right engine and transmissions available. The 200 had transmission issues and it did not help that the stupid CEO talked ill of both vehicles and it seems thats when sales went down on the 200. He should have made the cars in Mexico where the cost to build would be much cheaper. The Chrysler brand is positioned wrong and will never compete in the mainstream world. It should have been positioned against Buick. He doesnt want to invest in these brands. Dodge should have been the mainstream muscle brand that competed with Toyota with some added muscle.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Take some of those profits from Jeep and Ram and invest in the car lineup. Yes sedan sales are shrinking, yes cars aren’t glamorous anymore but when gas prices go back up you don’t want to be caught flat footed. Right now Fiat/Chrysler is in the situation of “our trucks and Jeeps are great but we only build cars because we feel like we have too.”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Does FCA need more cars? Sure, but look at their track record:

    Dart – fail.
    200 – fail.
    500 – failing.

    They either need a “good” mid-sized car or a compact CUV that doesn’t say “Jeep”.

    What that vehicle could be, I have no idea, but anything else based on a Fiat platform won’t do the job. I wish them the best.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Globally, yes FCA does need cars and Fiat has a lot of compact and subcompact in its global portfolio.

    In the US, they should probably focus on higher margin areas.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Of course they do. But let’s be honest – what FCA needs more than passenger cars is a merger partner.

    • 0 avatar
      donnyindelaware

      Mazda would be ideal imo

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        So you hate Mazda? Because an FCA-Mazda merger would just ruin Mazda, and FCA would remain unchanged.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Said it before and I’ll say it again: FCA can’t merge with any company that has an existing American dealer base. What would be done with all the overlapping Mazda, Chrysler and Dodge dealers? There are hundreds of these dealerships that are right down the street from each other, and not all of them could remain open. That would take immense amounts of money. Mazda could engineer small cars and midsizers for FCA to sell, but a merger would make no sense.

        This underscores why GM had no interest in a FCA merger. What does it gain – trucks? It already has them. Jeep would be great to add to their company, but again…they’d end up with thousands of Chrysler and Dodge dealers, most of which are a couple of doors down from GM dealerships. It’d cost a fortune to resolve that.

        The merger has to be with an “outsider” to the market. And it’ll be from China.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think Chrysler made a smart move ditching sedans with its limited resources particularly the way the market has swung in favor of crossovers and pickups and continued low fuel prices. However, if you are a global automaker, I think you need to compete in these sectors that they have abandoned. In the US they should ALWAYS have a C and D segment vehicle, even if it doesn’t sell in huge numbers.

    The problem is, particularly with the Dart and 200, is that those are segments that people just don’t go to Fiat/Chrysler for. Period. They have never been strong there….well, not in decades. But you will never be strong there if you don’t even try to compete.

    I would recommend one of two courses.

    First, go the 2018 Buick Regal route. Offer something different that the competition does not such as a liftback, or even a crossover sedan like the Volvo XC60 sedan (think that’s what they call it). Make them AWD only. Then a be sure to offer it in a wagon/crossover variant with additional ground clearance that can check the box for crossover shoppers while keeping the factories humming with additional sales for the same platform/essentially the same vehicle.

    Or, partner up with Mazda, rebadge the 6 and 3 and sell them as Chrysler/Dodges. Maybe even stick the 3.6 in the Chrysler version of the Mazda 6.

    Right now ditching cars makes total sense, but consumer preferences change as we are seeing with crossovers presently. If there is a shift away from pickups and crossovers, Chrysler is dead in the Water. Also, by moving away from cars completely, they are basically sending some of their Chrysler loyalists into the waiting arms of a competitor. Not everyone wants a Jeep, Pickup or large portly RWD sedan. Not by a long shot.

    Giving up on cars is a short term boon at the cost of long term vision.

    I hate to say it, but it probably makes the most sense to partner with a large, cash rich Chinese firm that wants to break into the US Market and or go global. The traditional global automakers don’t want FCA or its brands. They might take Jeep and Ram, but I don’t think any of Chrysler’s other brands bring anything to the table for full line global automakers. A Chinese parent company makes the most sense in terms of global long-term vision.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Problem is also that FCA’s crossover offerings are not the best either. The Journey is a cruel joke and a relic. For 2 rows they are OK, but not great. The Cherokee is competitive, but ridiculously heavy for no reason. And the Grand Cherokee is a good bit more expensive than something like a Murano or Edge. The subcompact (is it the Compass now?) is pretty good though. But FCA needs a crossover lineup that fits in directly with the market. That’s what Sergio should have spent the Alfa money on. The 200 would have been a smash as a crossover.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        But..JEEP!!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Journey serves a purpose. I hate it, but it sells well after a decade. Journey sales may end up being the best EVER this year.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Multiple choice: what are Journey sales attributable to?

          1) a FICO score under 600
          2) automotive equivalent to the Blue Light Special
          3) MOAAARRRRRR CUV!
          4) National Rent A Car

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            5) On a ten year old vehicle that shares a platform with the previous gen minivan, has all of its cost fully amortized, and costs FCA next to nothing, it doesn’t matter what the sales are attributed to.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            6) A nice state of affairs that can’t last forever, unfortunately.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The market needs a vehicle in that space. With every new generation of CUV increasing dramatically in price, a price leader like the Journey gives the bottom rung something with a warranty to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          The Journey doesn’t actually look so bad on the outside in upper trim levels with larger wheels and LEDs. I haven’t been inside one since the year it launched. At the time, I recall thinking it was horrible for a brand new vehicle. Mostly due to the interior but also due to non-existent handling. I don’t think I have ever seen a more haphazardly constructed interior before or since. The one thing that stands out in my mind so many years later was my tester had a headliner that was not connected at the windshield and the frayed edge hung down ever so slightly and appeared as though it was cut out with a leatherman. That being said, I am sure there have been improvements, hopefully many.

          There is something to be said for cheap reliable transportation. There is a big part of the population that puts that high on their shopping list and they don’t care how many are sold to rental fleets.

      • 0 avatar

        FCA is the leader or close to the top spot for combined SUV/CUV sales.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      “Maybe even stick the 3.6 in the Chrysler version of the Mazda 6.”

      You just made me…physically excited.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I thought the 200 was a really attractive car, inside and out. I had one as a rental (a pretty base example) and it was quiet and comfortable. The backseat wasn’t enormous but, frankly, most people only use the back seat occasionally or for children, so I don’t think that was the primary issue that killed it.

    I don’t know exactly why it flopped, but the name certainly didn’t help. They needed to differentiate it more from the previous 200 which wasn’t even a competitive rental fleet car. A new name would have announced how new the car really was.

    Chrysler resale value certainly didn’t help, either. It’s hard to sell a car with a similar sticker price to the competition like Accords and Camrys when they will be worth half as much after a year or two. Then again, other than developing a better track record for ongoing quality, I don’t know that FCA could have done much about this… they already offered huge rebates on the cars.

    Did many people know about the car? I don’t really recall a lot of advertising for it.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Ride was a little firm. Idle shake was terrible, and idle speed not adjustable! Poor headroom and toe room in the back. A shade pricey. Heavy for its size; accompanying MPG and acceleration penalties largely dodged by using 9 speed auto, but that trans doesn’t have many friends.

      But nice inside, dead sexy outside, and well priced used.

      If I needed a wrong-sized car with a bit of luxury, good road manners, and and a bargain price, it would be this or a used Buick Regal.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Now what is a drug dealer doing parked on a misty country lane like that?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    FCA doesn’t really have the money to play around in markets that aren’t profitable. So…I say they forge ahead with a predominantly-crossover lineup. Why isn’t there a Chrysler crossover? Something slightly larger than the Cherokee…maybe the size of the Murano, Edge and Santa Fe…might go over extremely well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, if they intend to go it alone, they really don’t have much choice but to move ahead they way they are…and hope the economy stays good, and gas prices stay low.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    No. Who buys cars anymore? Just sell another Jeep CUV.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    They would be foolish to spend a pile of money trying to compete in the commodity-car business against the likes of the Civic or Camry etc. It is suicide. They will never make money on a car that is not somehow niche.

    That is why they make so much money on the Jeep, which is an awesome unique vehicle that is also an overpriced pile of crap in many ways.

    What they really need to do is sell Jeep and Ram while they are hot, burn down the rest of the company for the insurance payment, and then flee to a country that does not extradite.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    NEEDS MOAR ALFA.

    That fixes everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Bringing hot Italian beauties to the US is never a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I dunno, 28, if they can fix the quality problems, they might have something with Alfa.

      Wait a minute…it’s Alfa. What the f**k am I saying?

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      The Giulia is on my wishlist as the next vehicle I’ll lease. Reliability is only meaningful when it’s put in context, like electronics our transmission or what have you. Really, in this day and age, having a car deemed reliable is more about buying peace of mind.

    • 0 avatar

      There was a Giulia, in the elementary school drop off lane yesterday morning. Which is interesting because I live in a working class town in a wealthy state. There are luxury cars in the drop off lane but mostly of the Lexus and Acura variety and the occasional MB.
      Can’t remember the last time I saw something expensive and sporty there.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    They need to ditch the Dart, or at least turn it into a sporty hatchback, and give it a decent power train other than the current offerings. Cars are too heavy these days for anything less than 180 hp. Something along the lines of the current Ford Focus, with varying power trains and combinations. Plus, offer a performance model similar to the ST version, with wheel and tire sizes that meet current sport compact specs. Offering a 200 plus hp performance model with crap suspension and 6.5 or 7 inch wide wheels simply won’t cut it when the competition is offering an 8 inch wheel. Performance and handling matter…

  • avatar
    John R

    The article inspired me to troll cars.com for low mileage 300’s with the V8 and oh my are there some deals if you’re looking for a decent road trip car. 20k mile examples can be had in the low $20’s.

    Don’t buy this car new.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Given FCA’s reliability, I wouldn’t buy it used either. And given the lousy residuals, it’d be a bad deal to lease.

      Best move is to just rent them, I say. Shame, because the 300 is a terrific car.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Why would it be a bad idea to lease? If they have a warranty, have money on the hood, and lease out for a good price, leasing is great. Some of the FCA lease deals are tremendous right now.

        300 (V6/AWD) lease for the general public is about $250/month with less than $1000 down.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I just looked on Chrysler’s site, and it looks like $300/mo with $3500 down for a more basic model, so probably in the neighborhood of $425/mo with taxes, zero cap cost. For a FCA product.

          I’ll pass. Is a base 300 really *that* much better than, say, an Accord?

          The deals weren’t all that good last fall either.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Yeah, go talk to a dealer. Ain’t no one leasing a basic 300 for $425/month.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I checked for ads in my area, Adam…not seeing any for the 300 that I’d hop on (found $219/mo for a 300S, but it’s with three grand down, 10K/yr, 48 months, plus you add another $30-40 a month for taxes…again, I’ll pass). Plenty of deals on Jeeps, though.

            Just saying.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            RAM lease deal is even better.

          • 0 avatar

            $199 ram leases round here. Push till you catch Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        FCA is subsidizing leases on the 300 big time right now.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        The 300 has perfectly average reliability. Trans is possibly the best auto ever made, and the Pentastar is proving to be a long term engine. Other than those it’s onsie-twosie problems you’ll find on any loaded-up car, and even those systems are outsourced to Bosch, Philips and other suppliers. I read the forums deeply and thoroughly before taking the dive on a 300. The first-gen is crap because the front end is an FCA design, but the 2nd and 3rd gen use a S-class front end. So everything ages as expected now: average reliability. If you’re considering a 300 don’t let reliability stop you. It’s no Honda but it’s also no VW.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          “Trans is possibly the best auto ever made”

          Now hold on.

          • 0 avatar
            bryanska

            The 8 speed ZF? Best so far baby! The “8HP” is used in Rolls Royces and Bentleys for pete’s sake, as well as the A8 and Aston Martins. Plus the damn things live a long, long time and shift like butter. I can’t remember the last time one component was used from the bottom (Dodge) to the top (Rolls Royce) and everywhere in between. From all of the Jags to freaking Ram trucks. Of course the fluid changes are $400 in materials but what a hot tranny! Nice gearbox too.

    • 0 avatar

      You can find a CPO Hemi 300 for around 20k have the dealer add care plus warranty for 7-70 or lifetime powertrain and still be out the door around 22k if the dealer will deal.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Preach it. I always tell people “if you like the car don’t let the brand scare you. It’s depreciated for a reason; apply part of those savings to a cushy extended warranty and enjoy the car you want”. You might need to take it in a couple times a year, but Jag drivers swear it’s worth it.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Yes, and they either need to be cheap (Dodge Neon aka Fiat Tipo, and others from Dodge’s Mexican lineup) or rebadged from another automaker.

    Wild prediction: FCA will be gobbled up by the Ghosen Alliance (Renault-Nissan and now Mitsubishi). New Dodge sedan = rebadged Nissan built in Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      I don’t think that it is a wild prediction. FCA will be bought by someone (and it will called a merger). The Germans don’t want them. The Japanese, Americans (Ford and GM), and Koreans don’t want them. So that leaves either the “Ghosen Alliance” or some Chinese automaker.

      Or maybe FCA goes under. And then it gets split up and bought piecemeal. Jeep and RAM are the high value pieces. You may get companies like Peugeot snapping up some small bits. The Italian government might step in to save the Fiat division.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Question: why would Renault want to buy FCA? I can think of any number of FCA products that compete directly with Nissans.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    More cars isn’t necessarily more market share. How much of FCA’s sales are conquests from other brands as opposed to loyalists or cannibalization within FCA?

    What FCA needs is some way to combat the impression that all their cars are unreliable deathtraps. That should be a combination of better parts availability in the US, as well as better, more comprehensive warranties, and some better quality control at the factory.

    Chrysler would benefit from a 200 replacement, even if it’s just a slightly modified 200 with more reliable parts, creature comforts, and a name that means something. But that’s it; they’re not in a position to blow more cash on such an uncertainty.

    As others have said, they do need to offer some substantial uniqueness beyond Italian styling. For Dodge, they seem to be trying to be affordable sporty. For Chrysler, they seem to want to be the affordable premium brand below Alfa Romeo, but they aren’t really building an identity off the 300. They’re trying to create a new one with the styling of the 200 and Pacifica, which might be the wrong choice.

    Maserati is not going to be a big player within the luxury market with their current strategy. More cars wouldn’t help.

    FIAT I know almost nothing about, except that the 500s look like more affordable Minis. Would more cars in America help? I’m doubtful.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I don’t know about FCA’s cars being deathtraps, but their reliability reputation – or lack of it may never be overcome.

      It appears the market has spoken, too.

      Sell Jeep to Ford and it’ll be a vehicle you can really be proud of and shut down the rest once and for all. That’s a real shame, but I’d never have another Chrysler product, even if I do like a few of their vehicles. But with my money? No.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        OK, let’s say Ford buys Jeep. What do they do with the thousands of Dodge/Ram/Chrysler dealers that are mostly with earshot of Ford stores?

        I’d have to think Ford would be required to buy them all out. And what about all those FCA factories?

        Too much duplication between the two companies, if you ask me. Same would be true of GM, or any other established brand that would merge with FCA.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Simple answer: Dodge/Ram/Chrysler repair centers.

          Not quite the same as GM that still has Saturn service centers – one is attached to my local Chevy dealership.

          I don’t really know what to do about FCA. If they could find a partner with pockets deep enough to improve the product, that would possibly be a solution, but perhaps they just need to sell out to someone that gradually fades out the brand completely. The market continues to speak, and in the long term, I don’t see much good for FCA. Sad.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            So…the folks who own Dodge/Ram/Chrysler dealers would be relegated to running “repair centers”?

            If I were a dealer, I’d deep-six that notion unless it came with a fat, fat payout.

  • avatar
    deanst

    When was the last really successful vehicle from FCA launched? The ram pickup, 300 and grand Cherokee are the only real competitive vehicles FCA has, and they were launched eons ago. (Someone can argue for the Pacifica if they want.). The fact is that jeep survives on its name, fiat is pure crap, and Alfa may have potential – but it’s had “potential” for decades, and people are still waiting.

    Theoretically, a good solution would be for FCA to get Mazda to build some cars in china for them. More realistically, they should get some flexible plants that can make a car/ elevated station wagon/ CUV and adjust the mix as the market demands. Put that plant in whatever low cost nation that doesn’t attract the attention of el trumpo.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Pretty much every Jeep they’ve done has been successful.

    • 0 avatar

      Cherokee is a top 10 CUV
      Grand Cherokee sells big time
      Ram is catching Silverado
      Wrangeler sells crazy amount for what it is.
      Old compatriot sold like crazy have to see what the new one does.
      Renegade is a class leader in sales.
      Pro Master sells well for a ugly rebadged euro van.
      Grand Caravan still sells a ton even with age
      Same with Journey.
      Challenger does well considering it’s age.

      The rest well you know.

  • avatar
    slap

    OK, cars that might help FCA. How about an outback-ized Mazda 6 wagon with a V6?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Jeep? Ram? Just keep hauling in those wheelbarrows of money. Maserati/Alfa? Keep pushing Italian design/exclusivity. Yeah, Corneliani suits don’t ave belt loops. 300? Challenger? Charger? Keep advetsing “HEMI!!! MOAR POWER!!!” and sell lots of sweet Pentastar v-6’s. Fiat? The unruly hipster wanna-be brand? Sell them cheaper than Toyota/Honda/Kia/Hyundai. Give them a 10yr, 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. Big hint: Hire someone from Lexus to handle warranty work. Think “My Fiat dealer fixes something fore free before it became a Problem” word of mouth. Tell Sergio to get some Milan suits.

  • avatar

    Jeep survives under another owner.

    Ram is purchased by another entity.

    Fiat/Maserati/Alfa Romeo go back to Italy or retrench to boutique stores in major cities.

    Dodge and Chrysler are euthanized. To turn either around would take two decades and FCA has neither the gumption nor the time.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I think it is a conundrum. Jeep, regardless of how anyone feels, sells well, so does the Ram pick-up (it outsold the Chevrolet Silverado in May) but Chrysler & Dodge don’t seem to have focus or a specific target market and the CUV/SUV models all seem destined to Jeep. It appears that combining Chrysler & Dodge models may have some streamlining value but again, they wouldn’t have what sells (CUV/SUV’s) if the strategy is to have all of those under the Jeep brand.

    I know Alfa gets a lot of people excited but in the scheme of things it is low volume and even lower reliability so what does it bring to the table from a salvation perspective?

    I do believe there is still value in a “C” segment car but it needs to be done right and show real value vs. the competition (road manners, workmanship, parts quality, ease of entry, fuel economy technology (PHEV or all electric?) et al and that’s a real tall order.

    Definitely a tough nut to crack.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    FCA isn’t going to spend the money on a sedan right now, especially when they’re in the middle of a factory shuffle.

    Belvidere is starting to come online with Cherokee production although very slowly. It sounds like 2018 model year will be a short one for the Cherokee as it’s going through an MCE for 2019.

    SHAP is being re-tooled to run Ram Trucks.

    Toledo is being re-tooled for the next Wrangler and now confirmed Wrangler Truck.

    Windsor just launched the Pacifica and everyone expects a CUV based on the RS platform to go into Chrysler showrooms.

    Warren Truck will build a new larger Jeep which is a step above the Grand Cherokee once the current Ram is built out and production shifts to SHAP.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Crossovers and SUVs have a lower CAFE bar to step over, so fewer fines, and customers will pay higher prices for them. So that’s where the smart money goes instead of small cars.

    The large cars are quite profitable however. Those will mostly stick around and get investment. In spite of a stagnant segment, they’ve carved out quite a niche.

  • avatar
    stodge

    I’m sad to see the 200 go. It could have been something with a bit more money thrown at it for a refresh.

    They could have increased rear head room by creating a wagon. Wouldn’t that be something? A Chrysler wagon? Move over Volvo! ;)

    I drove the 200s and that suspension/tyre combo was brutally hard over potholed roads. Brutal. But it was fun and the 3.6 sounded great and pulled hard.

    The available AWD was a great option for those of us in the great white north. 3.6 V6 + AWD? Nice.

    I thought the interior was too cramped; I had to fix the driver’s seat at a weird angle to keep my head away from the roof, which meant I wasn’t comfortable at all. The interior design was quirky and oddly acceptable. It was nice to see something a bit different. Rear legroom and head room were tight and as others have pointed out, rear entry (ooer missus!) was very tight.

    In my few test drives the 9 speed wasn’t too bad. Later models (2015+?) were better than the original year once they sorted out the problems. It may not be a perfect transmission but it was “ok”.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    What Chrysler needs is a large crossover (as much as I dislike them). The 300 styling cues would transfer very nicely to that body style (think F-Pace). I’d also love to see a new two door Imperial based of the Challenger as a halo car. Yeah its a dying segment, but does it a big luxury coupe at a reasonable price.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      The LX platform is still highly differentiated. Sometimes “unique” means “weird” but in this case they tapped the right vein. Sales were flat for three years (win!) but are tapering in 2017.

      I’d work really hard on a new 300 that doesn’t change its core appeal, and continue to alienate everyone who’s already alienated by it. The LX platform still rides best-in-class.

    • 0 avatar
      donnyindelaware

      Thats actually a good idea and may give the Chrysler brand a much needed resurgence

  • avatar
    seanx37

    FCA can’t sell the cars it already makes. Not without serious MASSIVE discounts, or extremely low leases.
    The thing is, no one else can either. I think the day of the car might be over. CUV’s and SUVs for everyone, it appears. FCA should have spent the money they probably wasted on Alfa on a new Grand Cherokee. It’s old. And sales have fallen to all the newer competition.

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