Chrysler’s Two-Year Gap

September 28th, 2009
2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Special Edition: for Australia only

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Special Edition: for Australia only

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.

2010 Chrysler SebringSo, 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.

—jgoods

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  1. September 30th, 2009 at 15:54 | #1

    Chrysler Australia is currently having a huge spring break sale trying desperately to get rid of its Jeep range at cheap prices for this part of the world but $5 gallon gas is the norm down here in NZ/ Aus so how successful will they be. Daimler must have looked at redeveloping Chryslers range they did come up with the crossfire and 300 using old Mercedes bits but the economics of the task wernt viable so they sold it how long before Fiat does the same.Ford build good cars in Europe and have the Australian Falcon range to import to th US market so theyll survive GM has its Australian Holden range and the Commodore badged as a Pontiac G8 was a success already GMs award winning Euro Chassis range is being made in Korea so thats available for the US market. This stuff is designed for markets where fuel is already expensive if theyre smart which is debateable theyll slap US badges on them and have them at a dealer near you soon.

  2. randy
    September 30th, 2009 at 06:52 | #2

    Bonk, remember that those engineers and assembly workers have no real say in the product selection process. What you’re seeing now is a direct result of Daimler’s ownership of Chrysler and their selection of products that was based on an economy that no longer exists. In other words, they bet the farm on $2.25 cent gas and easy credit. That’s a double shame since Daimler could have developed some high-quality small and midsize cars based on their European products. Isn’t the Smart a Daimler product? Chrysler could have imported it, but instead one of the worlds smartest car guys, Roger Penske, did it instead. (Watch what he does with Saturn.) At this point, given the public sentiment against more bailouts, I simply don’t think either Chrysler or GM will survive the next two years. Everything GM does is stupid, and they only way they seem to be able to sell cars is if the government gives people five large to buy one.

  3. Bonk
    September 29th, 2009 at 14:11 | #3

    I am bewildered at just how thousands of engineers, executives and even assembly workers at Chrysler could not foresee the critcal drubbing and evaporating market share which was about to greet their new small and mid-size offerings. The Sebring, Avenger, Caliber and Compass are truly foul and lousy. Remeber in the 90’s when Chryler’s cars were hardly reliable but still were competitive, even exciting?

  4. tgriffith
    September 28th, 2009 at 19:10 | #4

    As far as I know, Australians are smart people. I agree with Bryce… I’m thinking they are smart enough to not drop $30K on a $15K car. This is going to be a rough two years for the Pentastar.

  5. September 28th, 2009 at 18:57 | #5

    What on earth has convinced Chrysler that Australians will want crap like this.

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