It sounds like Chrysler won’t be killing off any of its models in the near future: according to a USA Today interview with CEO Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler will roll out a new 200 sedan, Dodge will have a successor to the Avenger sedan, and Jeep will have both a new Liberty and Compass for the 2013 model year – all of which will be built on the same platform at the 2013 Dodge Dart.
The quartet of new vehicles will be based off the new CUSW (Compact U.S. Wide) platform that debuted under the 2013 Dart at this year’s Detroit auto show. Those underpinnings are actually an enlarged version of the one that the Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback.
Despite sharing platforms, the new cars will not all be built on the same line as the Dart, which will be manufactured at Chrysler’s facility in Belvedere, Illinois. According to this interview, they’ll all be manufactured in Toledo, Ohio, in the same plant that currently builds the Jeep Liberty. To date, Chrysler has only publicly confirmed this facility will manufacture the new CUSW-based Jeep crossover in Toledo. We’ve yet to see the finished product, but we’ve already seen Alfa Romeo-based mules — like the one pictured above — testing on public roads.
Though they’ll be trying to fit six different models on the same platform, it may be a challenge for engineers to modify the architecture in a way that appeases Jeep buyers. The brand’s last attempt at making car-based vehicles – the current Compass and Patriot – was met lackluster enthusiasm in the marketplace. Says Marchionne: “It’s gonna be a trail-rated, full-blooded Jeep that has its origins in the architecture of a sports car. ”
Marchionne faces a number of other challenges, including what to do with the next-generation of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. “Retention and growth of volume is key. I’ve got to protect (the golden) goose,” he told USA Today. We’ve reported that the Dodge variant and Avenger sedan may be dropped altogether and replaced with a crossover or that one van will be made, but sold as a Chrysler in the U.S. and a Dodge in Canada (where the Grand Caravan has 70 percent of the minivan market).
Also on the table is the expansion of the Chrysler brand. Marchionne mentioned the possibility of a compact hatchback wearing the 100 badge, though he did not expand further. Shortly after Fiat acquired Chrysler, it showed off a Lancia Delta midsized hatchback bedecked in Chrysler badges, and the new-last-year Lancia Ypsilon could be an easy rebadge for the U.S. market. Both of those cars are actually sold under the Chrysler banner in the U.K.
Crucially, one of the biggest hurdles for Marchionne has been the much-delayed return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S. While its technology may be here soon in the Dart, the brand’s cars are not due until sometime in 2013. “We had to make sure they were lightweight, fast cars with Alfa powertrains,” said Marchionne. A new Giulia sedan will replace the outdated 159 in Europe, and contend with rivals like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A4. Marchionne also told USA Today that he plans to build Alfa Romeos in the U.S. to help meet volume demands and export them to Europe.
Source: USA Today