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The new compacts are coming

by David Zatz on

jeep trailduster

In early 2012, Chrysler will be launching their first cars based on modified Fiat dimensions and using numerous Fiat-compatible components. These cars are large by Fiat standards, and small by Chrysler standards, essentially replacing the Neon (which may have been the only car ever sold by Chrysler under all three car brands at once; it was a Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler Neon).

First to come out will be codes PF and PK, compact cars sold under the Chrysler and Dodge nameplates. These are being built at the Belvidere (Illinois) plant where the Neon was once made; Belvidere currently pumps out Patriots, Compasses, and Calibers.

Next, we will see a B-sized Jeep entry-level crossover utility, whose competencies are currently unknown. This car will be heavily scrutinized and almost certainly slammed by the Jeep community, given its Fiat origins and the unknown extent of Jeep engineers’ involvement. While the compact cars are in the CUSW dimensions — that is, a widened version of Fiat’s C-EVO — the Jeep shares the basic platform of the Fiat 500. It will, like the 500, be made in Toluca, Mexico, which also produces the Dodge Journey and until recently was the sole source of PT Cruisers. Before that, Toluca produced Neons.

While these launch, Chrysler will be laying the groundwork for the unveiling seven other models, all to take place later in 2012. The pace continues through 2013.

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