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No extended-wheelbase 300 coming

by David Zatz on

Insiders have told Allpar that there will be no extended-wheelbase Chrysler 300 model, though it would practically guarantee tens of thousands of fleet sales to car services.

Car services have been relying on the Lincoln Town Car as a relatively inexpensive vehicle whose otherwise obsolete body is capable of dealing with city streets for many miles. While generally seen as a poor choice for civilian use, the Town Car has been a mainstay for car services. Cadillac reportedly does not have anything appropriate for the class, and Chrysler’s 300, while seen as desirable in most ways, does not have a sufficiently large rear seat or trunk for the industry. In addition, one representative said the rear seat area was not sufficiently “dressed up.” The ride may also be on the firm side, at least for the higher-trim 300C.

Chrysler 300C

While fleet sales could be an opportunity for Chrysler, using an aftermarket body shop to lengthen the vehicle could be embarrassing if the revised body was not sufficiently strong for hundreds of thousands of miles of city driving (without outright failure or noise), if the ride was not comfortable, and if the resulting vehicle failed safety tests. Beyond that, the expense of an outsourced version would likely push the cost of an extended wheelbase 300C beyond the pale. Building an extended wheelbase 300 or 300C would be fraught with problems as well, with an already stretched engineering staff, similar longevity and safety issues, and the possibility that another manufacturer would compete — as well as the problem of being seen as a “fleet car.” (In recent decades, vehicles used extensively as fleet cars have tended to have poor civilian sales — Dodge Diplomat, Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car — though this is more likely due to differences in what fleet owners and retail customers want. Each of these cars was generally seen as outdated and a poor choice before or as they became fleet standards.)

While the Toyota Avalon would seem like a natural fit, an industry representative told us it had been tried but had failed to survive in long term reliability and customer approval. One fleet buyer told us, “We’re really at wit’s end. We’ve asked Chrysler to come up with something based on the 300 for us, but they didn’t seem interested. The new Lincoln doesn’t work for us and Cadillac no longer has anything suitable.”

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