By on September 19, 2018

The appearance of the unabashedly traditional, square-rigged Chrysler 300 in the mid-2000s inspired high-fives among car lovers sickened by the 1990s Ovoid Era. It’s unlikely those same revellers feel the same way about the 300 biting the dust to make room for a tech-savvy, electric minivan.

And yet, that’s what we’re hearing. In 2020, the last Chrysler passenger car will reportedly give way to a second Chrysler minivan, keeping the shrunken brand’s two-vehicle lineup intact. If only we could say the same for its heritage.

According to Automotive News Canada (subscription required), the Chrysler brand’s dropping of the dwindling 300 opens the door for a production version of the Chrysler Portal concept car — a highly configurable, six-passenger, zero-emission, minivan-like vehicle based on the Chrysler Pacifica. The concept debuted at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show.

There’s more evidence to support the claim than refute it. For starters, FCA execs, including former CEO Sergio Marchionne, were loathe to discuss the 300’s future. Discussions about the future of its platform mates, the Dodge Challenger and Charger, failed to include the Chrysler sibling. (It seems the next generation of those vehicle will likely adopt a revamped version of the existing platform, rather than a modern Italian architecture, as had been long rumored.)

fca-portal-concept

Bolstering this report, in June Marchionne said the Chrysler division would become a “people mover” brand under the automaker’s new five-year plan, with Dodge continuing on as a purveyor of performance vehicles (and Journeys). Also, the extremely long-in-the-tooth Dodge Grand Caravan needs to take that eternal slumber. It was only expected to kick around for another couple of years after the appearance of the Pacifica, which rolls out of the same Windsor, Ontario assembly plant. Go figure, buyers still love the Grand Caravan.

Suffice it to say, no one expects another generation of 300. Year to date, 300 volume in the U.S. is down 14 percent, and the model’s sales barely register in Canada, its country of origin. Last year’s U.S. tally of 51,237 vehicles pales in comparison to its first full year on the market (2005), when some 144,048 Americans stopped at a dealer to pick up their retro ride.

fca-portal-concept-rear

There’s equal evidence that the Portal is a vehicle FCA wants to build. Despite its concept car trappings — doors that slide open from the middle, retractable steering wheel — the Portal served as a Millennial-focused, tech-laden showpiece. Its electric drivetrain was something all OEMs feel people desire in a futuristic new car, while features like voice and facial recognition, plus the capability of Level 3 autonomy, covered the personalization and safety angles. No one expects a production Portal to boast all of these features.

Marchionne himself claimed he wanted another front-drive, minivan-type vehicle built in Windsor to replace the Grand Caravan, using the same architecture as the Pacifica. Also, FCA needs a serious EV (that isn’t the Fiat 500e) to save face with other automakers and placate the EPA.

For now, FCA isn’t talking about future products, so this report remains under the heading of “unconfirmed.”

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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75 Comments on “Report: Stately, Ancient Chrysler 300 to Be Replaced by an Electric Minivan...”


  • avatar
    stingray65

    Weird looking EV for the declining minivan segment – looks like a sure-fire high volume product that the Chrysler brand needs to stay viable.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The 300 must die for a 125MPGe MPV so that the V8 Dakota can live.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Yeah! An electric minivan! Mopar Rules! Who did FCA farm out the concept design to, LG? Good grief.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s just a transition of the former Chrysler Corporation from “FCA” to Jeep Corporation. Eventually, the Chrysler vans will become Ram, and with a small Jeep pickup in the works, Ram will then become Jeep too. Dodge? What’s that?

  • avatar
    NoID

    As much as I’m a fan of the 300, if the production Portal retains the concept’s 6-seat configuration and sub-minivan proportions it would be a perfect corporate replacement for my beloved Mazda 5. On the balance, I approve of this decision (if true.)

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’m not surprised. It’s not like Mercedes were going to just give Fiat another old E class platform.

    And after Ford’s bungling of the S-type/LS sharing and Fiat’s own mess cobbling the Dart together from Alfa bits I don’t think anything like the new Guila (temperamental as it seems to be) can be de-engineered into a Chrysler or Dodge product.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    https://tenor.com/view/snoopy-gif-8753985

    Well shoot…

    My head wants a 300S V8 but my heart realizes that a 300C V8 likely more in line with my personality.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This sounds like vapor to me…just like the supposed midsize Chrysler CUV that’s coming out for 2019 (i.e., a couple of months).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If they built a 175-inch-long electric CUV with a 250-mile range, then we’d be talking. But as the Sweater always alluded to, it’s hard to make any money on such a creation.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    “If you can find a better electric minivan, buy it.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ehem.

    I told you so.

    *mic drop*

    Out.

  • avatar

    FCA is considered by many to be the world’s worst major carmaker. At this point does it really matter what they do?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Here’s a hythetical that has lot of holes but that will make for interesting discussion. FCA sells Chrysler Dodge Ram – and maybe Jeep to Tesla for restricted stock. Fiat can’t sell it all at once. Tesla will get all the production capacity it needs for a couple generations of vehicles, will get some experienced manufacturing and mass-market engineering talent as well as a second-rate dealer network that it can either use for Teslla-brand vehicles or not. Jeep can be the subject of a creative deal to make something happen. This would mean a divorce from Fiat, but the Fiat/Chrysler alliance has served its purpose and seems to be of no real value today.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Another cool car is goner

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      I’ve never liked the 2005+ Chrysler 300.

      Belt line too high, roof too low. I simply am not a fan of the chopped look of it.

      I wish someone would make a vehicle that combines the best of a van (shape; sliding doors) with the best of an SUV (larger engine; ride height)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It was inevitable.

      The LX platform is beyond ancient at this point (it’s older than 14 model years because it was a Mercedes before it was a Chrysler).

      FCA has no appetite to invest in a class competitive RWD/AWD platform for the near-luxury/mainstream marketplace because there is no market.

      They have no available platform to share, and previous attempts to cobble together offerings from the parts bin failed miserably.

      With the production volume of the 300 going away the handwriting is on the wall for the Charger and Challenger.

      • 0 avatar

        Who told you LX was Mercedes? As far as I know it was developed by Chrysler. Idea or blueprints might even come from AMC originally. There are few bits from Mercedes used in LX and thats all. I am not sure where Maserati comes from though but probably it could be utilized only as new Imperial. Actually, why not – lot of fan – another retro-mobile.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    hypothetical. Where is spellcheck when you need it?

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    “the Portal served as a Millennial-focused, tech-laden showpiece”

    err, if Millennials all love big dorky-looking minivans, why aren’t they buying them now? There’s several on offer as we speak…

    Also, the Nissan article says Gen Z loves sedans. So then what? Bring back the 300 when they reach peak car-buying age?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      So you suggest soldiering on the LX platform for another 15 years? Ya, Gen Z will be all over a 30 year old architecture. Hey kids, your dad drove it.

      That strategy worked so well for GM with the W-bodies…

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        The LX is competitive if not class leading as is. Exactly how can it be made better in a ground up reboot? As it sits, refining it further to chase out any lingering issues is the way to go unless theres some goal in mind that it cant achieve as is. Doing something ‘new’ without making it ‘better’ is just idiotic. Like electrics and hybrids. They offer lots of ‘newness’ but do nothing ‘better’ without some massive tradeoff for a net loss overall.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          A proper re-styling on the same basic platform is not unheard of. Rather than trying to keep it looking the same, give it some new looks and a new interior while keeping the overall size and form factor. A little sleeker, like a proper modernization of a full-sized luxury car, could carry it another 10 years at least.

        • 0 avatar
          stuckonthetrain

          Agreed, though I suspect there’s only so much additional safety and MPG/weight efficiencies that can be wrung out of the LX to stay reasonably competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Gen Z will be all over a 30 year old architecture. Hey kids, your dad drove it.”

        No one that isn’t on TTAC gives a hoot about what architecture is used, but what is true is that the LX based cars (Charger and Challenger especially) are seen as genuinely cool and desirable cars, perhaps just not to latte sipping urbanites, who shun cars altogether anyways.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          gtem, I’m not a millenial urbanite (though I do like a good latte), and I’d see the LX cars as far more cool and desirable with interiors that weren’t straight outta 2010.

          This is probably why the most common name on registrations for these cars is “Mr. Hertz.”

          FCA let these cars rot on the vine for YEARS with practically no updates. Shame on them.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            See my response below. I’d argue they kept them plenty relevant, it’s not like people were complaining the hemis were too low-tech or not powerful enough. Very nice and modern 8spd autos since 2015, seems very much up to date IMO. Have you sat in a ’15+ Charger? It’s no Bimmer but I thought the interior was perfectly usable and made with decent materials and didn’t wreak of cheap (like a 2018 Camry does to me).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Panther and to some extent W-body both became profit centers for this reason (it may be argued W-body never recouped the cost of GM10 in inflation adjusted dollars). I say keep selling them until they are no longer profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If they can still make money for FCA even at reduced volume and a heavier fleet sales mix then I absolutely think they should continue on with the LX platform until it is as old as the Panther or W-body.

        If they’re making money keep it basically as is, if it’s losing money then kill it. I don’t think investing in this segment is necessary.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Newsflash APaGttH- almost no one cares at all what platform a car is on. Almost no one knows what platform a car is on. People do not buy cars based on platforms.

        People who dislike a brand use platforms as a buzzword to revel in the narcissism of small differences.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Big mistake on FCA’s part.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    HUGE mistake. The 300 is still selling strong at 50K-ish per year and its highly profitable. They aren’t selling more because they don’t market the thing! Dropping the SRT and not offering it with Hellcat power puts a serious ding in its street creds.

    No one is buying hybrids and electrics! They’re a tiny fraction of the market and its going nowhere. The few eggheads who are desperately clinging to these things already have all the supply the market will buy. As for placating the EPA…seriously, who gives a sh!t about a bunch of tax leach beauracrats who bring literally NOTHING of value to the table? They sure as hell aren’t gonna step up and actually buy enough of these nerdmobiles to make it worthwhile and even if they did, itd be with the money they already stole in the form of taxes so that makes sense…how?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Chrysler 300 sells 51k units last year

      TTAC – “REEE it’s a dying segment and that’s not enough to justify its existence despite being extremely profitable”

      Chevrolet Bolt sells 23k units last year

      TTAC – “OmG it’s the future of all cars it’s perfect in every way just ignore it loses money to produce; all cars should be electric because someone will buy them, just not me.”

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >>Chrysler 300 sells 51k units last year
        That’s 980 combustion powered cars a week.

        >>Chevrolet Bolt sells 23k units last year
        That’s 442 units a week.

        Tesla builds 4,000 to 5,000 Model 3 EVs a week. No one wants EVs??

        Loses money? For a $28k Chrysler 300, you’re probably right. They’d lose money. Tesla isn’t losing money because the average transaction price on the Model 3 is $60k and Munro estimates it costs $28k to build. Maybe they could make a deal with Tesla for the rights to build the upcoming cost reduced 1.1 version of the Model 3 drivetrain along with Supercharger Access. It would be a win for both companies.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Almost every new 300 I see here in Denver has the telltale red and white fleet plates. I can find 100 used 2017s and 2018s within a few hundred miles of my zip on cars.com.

      Yeah, Chrysler sells a ton of these…to rental agencies. Same is almost certainly true of the Dodge Charger.

      Shame, because I like this car, and FCA let it wither on the fine with no real updates for YEARS, pumping tens of thousands of them more or less directly onto used car lots.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “FCA let it wither on the fine with no real updates for YEARS”

        Adding the Pentastar in 2011 with the updated styling and initial interior update totally gave them a new lease on life, then in ’15 the more recent styling update (IMO) improved them even further, the 8spd makes even the Pentastar cars genuinely quick (not to mention impressively efficient), and the latest round of interior improvements were quite nice as well. I really liked the Charger SXT I test drove, the ride/handling/powertrain were sublime. My criticism extends only to the front seat shape, the slightly undersized trunk, and classic LX-platform bunker sightlines.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I checked a 300 not too long ago (didn’t drive it). I’d appreciate an 8-speed, but the interior looked exactly the same as the ones I saw when they were introduced eight years ago, right down to the cheap door plastic that looks like it has a layer of white film stuck in the graining.

          The salesman told me he couldn’t unload new 300s to save his life. Why? Because there are tons of used ones out that you can get into for twenty grand or so. Meanwhile, the one I looked at stickered out at well over forty.

          Just looked and felt like a left-behind, cost-cut model to me. A nicer, more up to date interior would have done wonders for this car.

          Better, fresher stuff’s out there.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Freed, where do you live again?

            Within 250 miles of me it is common to see a V8 300 advertised for $10 off of MSRP. You could slip into a 300S/300C with V8 for not much more than what a Charger R/T is selling for.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Better, fresher stuff’s out there.”

            If you want a V8/RWD sedan then FCA is the only game in town until you get up to the $57K G80. Even if you aren’t rigid on the V8/RWD combo you’ll have to sacrifice speed, space, or dollars with the alternative.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Dan:
            You can’t find V8 300s around here – they’re RWD only, apparently. Good luck selling that in Denver, even if it’s ten grand off. So, what you’re looking at as configured for the local market is a V-6. Plenty of big V-6 sedans are available in the market, and none of them have the circa-2010 styling (and interior).

            @ajla:
            You’re right, but if the 300/Charger is the only game in town, then fewer and fewer people are playing. I think these buyers are taking pickups.

            In any case, if Chrysler has to put ten grand on the hood of this car to move it, then that speaks to exactly what I’m talking about – fresher stuff is out there.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @MoparRocker: You know, I was all set to agree with you until you said, “No one is buying hybrids and electrics! They’re a tiny fraction of the market and its going nowhere.” I recommend some research because globally, the sales of BEVs in particular have more than doubled…exceeding 3% of the global market already and Tesla owns almost half of that at the moment.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    “Win on Sunday, sell it on Monday” has become “Charge it all day Sunday, drive it on Monday”.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    This is just sad. Time to restart the Chrysler deathwatch.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Well, maybe this new creation can carry adult American males in the back seat. When the 300 took a haircut for aerodynamics some years back, it lost its reason to exist.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Just spoke to someone this morning who bought a new 2019 RAM with the additional electric motor on the power train. He liked the idea of extra torque when needed. He put 60 miles on it and the truck literally broke down on the side of the road. Something to due with the new electronic assist.

    The dealer has had it ten days and it’s not fixed yet.

    So-I don’t now how much faith one should put in to their all electric or Hybrid power systems.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I recently upgraded to one of these while in Vegas with two other people, because I’d always wanted to try one, and I have to say we all loved it. Spacious with a large trunk and an AC system that easily kept up with 106 degree weather. Sure, the interior wasn’t “luxurious” by Mercedes or BMW standards…lots of hard plastics around, but it was nonetheless a nice place to spend some time.

    It also drove very nicely (RWD for the win) and the 8 spd tranny was just as good here as in my 320i. I could easily see myself getting one of these as the modern day equivalent of my late but much beloved Grand Marquis.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    Definitely a mistake !!! I’m sure Sergio wouldn’t have agreed with this move ? FCA could have easily gotten another 5 years (with minor refresh) out of the car with decent sales (especially with Ford exiting the sedan business)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      1)Sergio likely initiated or at least approved of this plan.

      2)Decent sales isn’t 50k a year, declining in double digits steadily, even with a very heavy portion going to rental fleets.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    An electric minivan is exactly what I need and want!

    // Proud father of three
    // Tech guy

    I’m obviously not the target market for the 300, and can’t be bothered to give a f*ck about it, beyond respecting the fact that some people like that car for reasons I can’t relate to.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    The Automotive News product forecast said the Charger and Challenger may also be discontinued in 2021.

  • avatar
    northshoreman1

    Quite some time ago, Allpar.com reported internal FCA speculation that the next version of the 300 would be built on the Pacifica platform. Charger/Challenger would remain performance RWD, while the new 300 would be a “traditional” FWD luxury-aspiring sedan. It’s an intriguing concept, and would allow electrification of a large sedan at (perhaps) minimal cost.
    Regardless, I hate to see the 300 go. In terms of value it’s an OK buy as new (check a loaded Impala or LaCrosse price). As a used vehicle, it’s remarkable.
    And, as a personal peeve of mine, where were all the auto snobs who viewed Camrys and Avalons as God’s gift, but never mentioned that its platform was last redone in 2002 until this year’s model appeared? Amazing that no one complained about the age of that platform. And, FCA has done updates to the 300 since it’s 2005 intro, including adapting new technology, just like Toyota did.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    @northshoreman1

    +1 !!

  • avatar
    PwrdbyM

    Really unfortunate the 300 will go away but we all knew the demise of the RWD American sedan has already occurred. I don’t feel that 51k sales per year is really that bad, time will tell if some EV van can eclipse that number, but I’m doubtful. The 300 takes a lot of unnecessary crap from journalists and enthusiasts but I always found this to be more of an assumption based on decades old reputation than actual knowledge. I’m a European car guy but had a 300C V8 as a lease for 3 years; what an amazing car. It was a pleasure to have and totally reliable, I changed the old twice and handed the keys back, nothing more.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Glad to hear your 300 was reliable. That’s generally what happens when you make modest changes year after year to the same platform, yet Fiat-Chrysler takes all sorts of crap from the cognicenti for the “ancient” platform. The thing that makes me the most sad is that if the LX cars go away, you’ll only be able to buy a large, RWD sedan if you’re a member of the 1% because it will only be the Europeans left standing in that arena.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    If you’re going to produce a Charger and Challenger off a revised version of the old platform, why not just keep making the 300?

    • 0 avatar
      FWD Donuts

      Get enough MBAs into meeting after meeting and they’ll come up with some incredibly stupid decisions where common sense was purged during the process. Team GroupThink rears its ugly, ugly head.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    You can get a Chrysler 300 Touring with the Sport Appearance Package for $20K plus taxes and fees. 300hp six banger. Nice cloth interior. Very attractive car as it looks just like the S with its nice tinted chrome wheels. An absolute bargain with the crazy rebates and discounts currently available.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    So basically this is the vehicle that Chrysler should have saved the Pacifica badge for.

  • avatar
    CanadaCraig

    I wouldn’t count the 300 out just yet. [No matter how sure of the rumors you may be] It basically owns the full-sized ‘American’ sedan market. And sales are UP for 2018.

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