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Chrysler name to be dropped for European market, Dodge to be niche brand

by Bill Cawthon on

Lancia Musa

The Chrysler badge will be replaced by the Lancia logo in Continental Europe next year and Dodge will be reserved for a few performance models. The Chrysler brand will still appear on cars sold in Great Britain and Ireland where Lancia hasn’t been offered since 1991.

Fiat S.p.A. which controls Chrysler Group LLC, folded Chrysler’s European distribution network into its own organization last March. The new plan covers 1,151 Chrysler and Lancia dealers with a total of 1,535 showrooms. Dealers have been informed their current franchises will expire March 31, 2011.

Fiat sales chief Lorenzo Sistino is touting the change as a benefit of blending the Chrysler and Lancia lines to offer dealers a full line of vehicles beginning in May. Chrysler-sourced vehicles will include the 300C, Town & Country (sold as the Voyager in Europe) and the replacements for the PT Cruiser and Sebring. Lancia contributions consist of the Musa, the small minivan shown above, Delta compact hatch and the new Ypsilon subcompact due in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Not all current dealers will be offered a new franchise. As happened in the U.S., Fiat is cutting back the number of dealers to 800 with a total of 1,000 showrooms, a reduction of more than 30 percent.

Dodge offerings in Europe will include only the Challenger, Charger and Viper.

Sistino said Chrysler dealers that currently carry the Jeep line will be offered a dedicated Jeep franchise. In those area where there is no Jeep presence, franchises will be offered to Alfa Romeo and Lancia dealers.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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