Recent announcements from FCA indicate that the small Chrysler 100 sedan may share its core platform with the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X rather than with the Dodge Dart. This would allow the car to be smaller and lighter, giving it better gas mileage and separating it further from the nearly-midsized Dart.
Chances are the Chrysler 100 would be positioned at the top off the segment in features and feel, but mid-market in price.
If Chrysler values its premium image (among some customers) and sales over fuel economy, the 100 is likely to forgo Fiat’s 1.4 liter engines in the United States and Canada, in favor of the domestic 2.0 or 2.4 liter four-cylinder; Americans have shown little patience for the 1.4 liter Fiat engines, turbocharged or not, in anything that weighs more than the 500. The 2.0 would provide better economy than the 2.4, and the nine-speed transmission would make it work.
The turbocharged Hurricane Four could be a late addition, if it can be made to fit (and survive, given its extra heat) especially if the base four-cylinder is criticized.
Susan Rand’s image, above, is based on the dimensions of the Fiat 500X.
The new Jeep Compass will, according to recent announcements, not share with the Cherokee’s “CUSW” platform, but will share its basic body design with the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X.
While the Jeep Compass’ styling will reportedly mimic the Jeep Grand Cherokee, JackRatchett’s rendering is based on Renegade and Fiat 500X to show the basic shape, minus a Grand Cherokee grille treatment.
The Compass will need major (largely invisible) changes from the 500X to be a Jeep, but Renegade has already shown how that can be done, though it did not go far enough. Jeep CEO Mike Manley has likely pushed for a combination that will get the Compass, unlike the Renegade, into strong enough form to conquer the Rubicon Trail — either the “real” one or Chrysler’s carefully built replication of key Trail sections as it stood some years ago.
Partly to help with that, and partly because the Fiat 1.4 Turbo has been a sales nightmare here, American buyers should expect the next Compass to be powered by a 2.4 liter Chrysler four-cylinder, with a possible 2.0 liter Hurricane Four on the high end. A nine-speed is likely, with a possible six-speed manual. International versions will no doubt have the Fiat engines, both gasoline and diesel, with South Americans seeing the evolved-from-Neon e.TorQ.
According to a Windsor insider, upgrades to the sole Chrysler minivan plant are “different from any change I have ever seen. I returned to work to see the long, empty Pacifica body shop full of robots and conveyors. Windsor has an astounding amount of floor space that has been unused for years.”
The 2016 model year Chrysler Town & Country is reportedly to stay in production until January 2016, with its replacing coming in that month for resale vehicles. Production of the next-generation “RU” vans is actually start in late November 2015 or early December, but these will be advance testing and press vehicles, not for sale to the public.
The current Dodge Caravan, according to sources, is to be built until March 2016. At that point, the nameplate will reportedly be laid to rest in the United States, after being attached to minivans for 32 years (the Voyager name, which is still used in Europe, was attached to Plymouth B-vans before being used for minivans, and has an even longer history).
Given that Dodge Caravan is responsible for roughly 80% of Canadian minivan sales, there is a possibility that the Town & Country will be marketed as the Chrysler Caravan or Dodge Caravan in Canada, but this remains unknown. Chrysler Canada has a history of selling cars under different names, from the original M-body Caravelle to the Chrysler Daytona and Chrysler Neon.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne answered reporters’ questions at a press conference held yesterday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
There are already numerous stories about what was said at the press conference, covering issues like the future of the Wrangler in Toledo, new product for the Windsor plant and rationalization of the various FCA brands.
However, it’s important to know what was actually said. FCA recorded the press conference and has made it available in a three-part video. The total run time is about 44 minutes.
With the 2014 Jeep Cherokee only recently entering international markets and closing its first full year of sales, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the next version has already been done — and it appears to be more than the usual refresh.
Today, he said:
I can tell you right now that we already have the next phase – the next evolution of the Cherokee done. We’re working through the details and the last changes, so the car should be coming out within a period of 24 to 30 months.
Obviously application of the nine-speed transmission on that vehicle has been a very painful application. It’s something that in hindsight we should’ve probably applied it to a passenger car as opposed to applying it to as sophisticated and complex a vehicle as the Cherokee.
But I’m pleased with what we’ve done. I think it can do more. I think the next phase – the next version or the next MCA of the vehicle will outperform the current one. I think it’s a better-looking, better-performing kind of the current Cherokee. But I think you need to wait two-and-a-half years to get it, so buy one now.