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New Avenger may join 200

by David Zatz on

News analysis.  How can these events be related?

  1. Detroit News predicted that the slow-selling Dodge Avenger would be continued by several years, even as the 2015 Chrysler 200 (or 200 replacement) made it obsolete.
  2. Development of a new mid-sized rear wheel drive Dodge sedan was announced.
  3. Christopher Chrouch, who snapped the first spy photos of a new car assumed to be the 200, said there were two different cars under the camouflage.
  4. Newer spy shots show a Dodge-like interior (which could be Chrysler’s new design direction; it is heavily 200C-concept influenced.)
  5. The “Dodge Barracuda” name was rejected.

We do not have official information, but here is our theory:

To keep the Avenger name in use until the 2016 car arrives, which should help sales as current and past Avengers return to upgrade their cars, there will be a Dodge Avenger produced in the interim.

We believe this was a last-minute decision, and that is why the Avenger body looks so much like the Chrysler 200. Chrysler has the flex manufacturing ability to make two cars with completely different “top hats” on the same assembly line at Sterling Heights, but with very limited time, the Dodge will end up looking much like the Chrysler again. Indeed, it might be built off an earlier proposal for the 200 itself.

Chrysler could deal with this by tuning the Avenger severely for performance handling, perhaps giving it a different axle ratio so it would have higher off-the-line performance, giving it the 300 horsepower V6, and in general tweaking it for muscle rather than comfort and economy. The Chrysler, in addition, could be sold with more standard features, at a higher price point. This would explain all the odd events in our list.

Was Detroit News correct in predicting that the current Avenger will be continued? It’s an option we looked at a while ago. On the plus side, it would give the company a cheap sedan to keep attracting new and less-than-affluent buyers; it would help the plant to keep its volume high, and it would reduce demand on Indiana’s transmission plants for the new nine-speed But on the down side, this is a strategy that really can’t work well in the long term as competitors move forward and Avenger stays in place. The company might still launch Chrysler 200 first, and hold off on Avenger for months to make the launch easier.

Additional notes: Several sources have referred to the 200’s replacement as being called the 200, though this is not official. The various plans show a new Chrysler being launched. The Avenger was announced as being officially dropped by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne some time ago. Likewise, the new rear drive D-car was mentioned by Mr. Marchionne in connection with Alfa Romeo — a brand set to be relaunched in the U.S. during 2014 — and he mentioned that the hookup with Dodge made it economically viable.

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