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What’s in Chrysler’s future?

by David Zatz on

Chrysler is down to just two vehicles — the Pacifica minivan and the 300 sedan. Both are solid successes, if not home runs; the Pacifica has been gathering steam, and the 300 continues to do well in the small full-size, mid-priced/mild-premium segment.

It would be easy, though, for FCA to kill the Chrysler brand entirely and sell the Pacifica as a new Dodge Caravan, and direct 300 buyers to a soft-tuned Charger. Many pundits have been speculating that’s exactly what FCA will do — but the time to do it would have been before, not after, launching the Pacifica.

Sources within FCA have told us to expect two new Chryslers, most likely using an adaptation of the Portal styling (adapted to the 300 body-style in a rendering by DarkSky).  One of these will be a Pacifica off-shoot, and the other will be based on the Chinese “K8.”

Jeep K8

The K8 doesn’t have the offroad chops to be sold as a Jeep in the US, or the muscle to be a Dodge, but it could be a Chrysler. Based on the Cherokee, but larger and modified beyond just “adding a few inches,” the K8 was too expensive to develop for FCA to sell it in just one market.

Americans have moved into crossovers, and many analysts see sedans taking a role similar to minivans today: still healthy for some companies, but a niche, as SUVs were twenty years ago. Moving Chrysler into the crossover world would let Jeep stay true to its original mission, while Chrysler took over the softer-crossover market — assuming that Chrysler could eventually command the price premiums that Jeep does today.

There is one more wildcard — the “Chrysler 100.” The last time we saw that project, which was essentially making a more American version of the Fiat Tipo, it had been killed off; but that might no longer be true.  The platform is likely better for the purpose than CUSW was for the Dart; the success of the Renegade and Compass is proof of that.

There was a rush project to determine the viability of the Tipo in the US, equipped with a 1.4 liter Fiat turbo engine (á la Dodge Dart and Jeep Renegade),  we haven’t heard anything about that, either.

Reports of the 300’s future are mixed and conflicting — between staying paired with the Charger, moving to FWD (based on the Pacifica, as the VW Touareg and Phaeton were matched), or being dropped entirely. We haven’t heard anything definitive yet but it looks as though keeping the status quo into the next generation is most likely.

Sergio Marchionne has generally been unwilling to end brands if they could be turned around in the future. There’s no reason to think the Chrysler brand would be dropped now, especially given the bad feelings that would bring about here — just as losing Lancia would hurt Italian morale. If Chrysler can be brought back from the brink, with cars more suited to both American and European tastes, it’s possible that Lancia will also see a new life — again paired with Chrysler, but less obviously than before.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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