The most interesting news coming out of Detroit is still from Chrysler. So we’re going to give you another dose. By now, you have probably heard the drill: Any totally-new, Fiat-based product is two years away, and that leaves the company facing some very difficult times. What it has in the pipeline, except for the new Dodge Ram line, is unexciting, to say the least, and just isn’t selling, to say the most.
There’s a big question as to whether Chrysler can survive this drought and much discussion about what it can and should do. Apparently, the brand strategy, as we reported, is to go big-time luxo with the Chrysler marque (yes, I can hear the laughter from the gallery), sporty driver’s-car with Dodge (where the Fiat-based product will fit best), with Jeep remaining, well, Jeep. Minivans may fill a bit of the two-year gap but not much.
So, we learn today, the Sebring and the Avenger will be reborn in 2011. These dorky cars not only deserved to die, but their names should be forever banished from the Chrysler catalogue. Carport Confidential, like many other blogs, pillories the Sebring:
Ranked dead last in Consumer Reports compilation of 39 family sedans, this meager challenger in the critical mid-size segment has sold a whopping 34,700 units to date in 2009. Compare that with the 238,000 Camrys told by Toyota and you begin to see what sloppy engineering and deplorable design begets.
This is a godawful situation, and about as comfortable for Chrysler as Hugo Chavez at a Sarah Palin family picnic.
But the company appears to be stuck with it, and there was news last week that it would continue the facelift process with other cars too.
The Detroit Free Press reported last week that Marchionne wants to face-lift several other models by mid-2011. Those include the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan and Caliber small car, the Jeep Compass and Patriot crossovers and the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Regarding the latter, if you live in Australia, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can now buy the new PT Cruiser Special Edition, all tricked out, for around $30K. Maybe that should be the strategy: Rebadge and recycle old product for foreign/subsidiary markets, and let the rest of us buy Camrys.
Can Chrysler survive the two-year drought? Give us your thoughts.