Chrysler’s Fiat-Based Compact Models Ahead of Schedule, Could Launch by 2012

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It’s no secret that Chrysler is planning on launching several new compact vehicles based on Fiat platforms, but the launch timing is a little surprising. The automaker had originally planned on introducing the new models well after 2012, but it may be able to launch them before that.

One of the voids found in Chrysler’s lineup is the lack of a compact sedan. The company presently has three crossover-type compact vehicles -- Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass, and Patriot -- but the Fiat-based compacts would add a sedan to the mix. Other body styles could be in the works as well, but Chrysler Group and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is being coy on the details.

According to Marchionne, the compact Fiat-based Chrysler vehicles could hit U.S. shores as soon as the fourth quarter of next year. Marchionne says this new launch date is due to the extensive design work already completed.

“We’ve run extensive clinics on the first vehicles,” Marchionne said during a conference call yesterday. “We’re 98-percent there on styling. My expectation today is we’ll be able to get this car into the market Q4 2011. We continue to work pretty aggressively on timing.”

Chrysler is also moving quickly to renovate its aging midsize sedans, the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger. According to the CEO, the two vehicles will receive significant updates this year and will be “significant improvements” over the current cars.

“We have carried out significant surgery on the architecture of those cars and made significant improvements of the interiors,” he said.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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