Speculation has run rampant about Chrysler's future lineup for months now, and has only increased since the struggling American carmaker announced its plans to tie-up with Italian automaker Fiat. That speculation gets a new focus today, as Automotive News is revealing some details about the vehicles that will be born out of the alliance.
Chrysler badly needs to fill its voids in small car segments. To address this issue, Chrysler will retool its Toluca, Mexico plant-which currently builds the Dodge Journey and Chrysler PT Cruiser-to start building the Fiat 500 minicar. Chrysler will also sell a version of the Fiat Panda 5-door mini hatchback, likely with a Chrysler or Dodge badge on it. The Fiat Panda and Fiat 500 are the best-selling and second-best-selling small cars in Europe. The 500 could be sold as soon as 2012.
Fiat will supply Chrysler with two subcompacts, another segment in which Chrysler has no presence. The Alfa Romeo MiTo will be sold, along with a Chrysler or Dodge vehicle based on the same platform. Chrysler will also have access to Fiat's 1.4-liter and 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines to power these small cars. The engines could be built at the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Michigan, where Chrysler currently builds 1.0, 1.8 and 2.4-liter engines in cooperation with Hyundai and Mitsubishi.
In the compact segment, Chrysler's offerings are notoriously sub-par: the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. Fiat's upcoming C-Evo platform, which will spawn a successor for the Alfa Romeo 147 to be sold in the U.S., may also be used to build a replacement for the Dodge Caliber. Both vehicles will be built at a U.S. plant. The Jeeps are likely to be killed off.
Chrysler's mid-sized sedans, the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, have also been criticized as disappointing and lackluster. A redesigned Sebring/Avenger could be built upon a stretched version of the C-Evo platform. Fiat hasn't decided what it will use the stretched C-Evo platform for, so the Chrysler mid-sized sedans would be its first application.
Fiat may sell the Journey and Dodge Dakota in Latin America, as well. Its main benefit in the deal with Chrysler is cheap manufacturing and distribution in the North American market. Fiat has had no presence in the U.S. since Alfa Romeo withdrew in the mid-1990s. It will also gain access to Chrysler's upcoming Phoenix V-6 engines.
The two automakers hope to have the proposed alliance deal finalized by April 30.
Source: Automotive News