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Chrysler 200 may be headed for UK, European markets

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler 200 - Europe

The new Chrysler 200 may headed across the Atlantic to do battle with cars from Volkswagen, Ford and GM’s Opel subsidiary. Fiat, which handles distribution of Chrysler products in Europe, wants a bigger piece of the lucrative fleet market in Germany and Great Britain. Unlike the U.S., where “fleet” means low-profit sales to rental companies and government agencies, overseas fleet sales includes deliveries to business customers such as company personnel who receive a company-paid vehicle as part of their compensation. It is this last group that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to penetrate. Current market leaders are the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo and Opel Insignia (marketed as the Vauxhall Insignia in England).

As was previously announced, like all Chrysler products, the new 200 would be badged as a Chrysler in the UK and Ireland and as a Lancia in Continental Europe.

One of the potential roadblocks on the small Chrysler’s path overseas is the fact it is currently not offered with a diesel engine, a real disadvantage in a market segment where more than half of the new cars delivered have diesels. It would cost Chrysler an estimated $70 million to adapt the 200 to a diesel powerplant and Olivier François, CEO of the Chrysler and Lancia brands, isn’t sure there is a business case for the investment because the new 200 will only be in production for a bit over two years before a Fiat-based replacement arrives.

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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