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On FCA US’ carline gaps

by David Zatz on

Recently, long-time Allpar source “RedRiderBob” posted the following opinion, which crystallizes some thought on why the US does not have a Chrysler 100, Dodge Dart or Neon, or Chrysler 200, and why they are not bringing over Tipos or Giuliettas to fill in the gap.

The new Mexican Neon (Fiat Tipo) was brought to the  committee, with an eye to selling it in the US and Canada.

However, with the sedan market dropping over 25% in the last ten years, and the only sedans gaining market share being performance cars like the Dodge Charger (which is up 40% since that time), it didn’t make sense to spend the money to meet crash testing and emissions, when the crossover phase is in motion.  Not to mention the fact that FCA is trying to eliminate net debt by 2018, and still bring a trio of performance vehicles to market (Demon, Hellcat Widebody, and Durango SRT) along with the new Compass and Wrangler JL, with a new Ram coming soon after.

Brands like Ford and Chevrolet are nearly in every market around the world today. Dodge and Chrysler aren’t; and in many situations leapfrog one another. So GM and Ford can  bring vehicles like the slow-selling Chevrolet Spark from Asia, to show they have a vehicle in that niche.

Chevrolet brought over the Trax microcrossover, because of how well their Buick Encore micro-crossover is selling. Ford is taking its EcoSport micro-crossover to the US, too, because crossovers are hot sellers. That is why Jeep jumped into that market with the Renegade (a worldwide Jeep).

FCA isn’t going to jump into each market, though.

Why I don’t agree with everything FCA is doing, the company looks at it this way. You want an entry level vehicle (similar to what Plymouth was), you have Fiat; and Fiat has a halo car in the 124, so it doesn’t seem like all entry level cars (Plymouth did a similar thing with the Prowler).

Dodge is the performance brand, shifting away from people movers; Chrysler will take over those entries. Dodge has had a lot of success over the past few years in this niche.

Chrysler is the mainstream brand. Yes, only three cars are in showrooms for 2017, and only two for 2018. However, Chrysler is bringing at least four new vehicles to market in the next four years.

If you want a crossover or SUV, obviously Jeep is where you will look. Instead of being the hardcore SUV offroad brand, it has branched out several ways in the past decade, including two performance models with the Grand Cherokee SRT and Trackhawk. Most are unibody FWD designs, still capable offroad. That is a huge corner of Jeep’s market, though: non-offroad based FWD crossovers.

If you want luxury, FCA wants you to look at Alfa Romeo or Maserati.

Even if we don’t like it, Alfa and Fiat are under the Mopar banner. The funny thing is that here, we all know what Mopar stood for as a term, and a brand, for the old Chrysler Corporation. But if you look elsewhere in the world, Alfa Romeo owners and Fiat owners are embracing the Mopar banner.

It’s weird to hardcore diehards like me, but it is saving the Mopar brand for generations to come and introducing it to new markets. Times have changed. Change is sometimes bad, change is sometimes good… however, as fans we have to embrace it ourselves and hold on to the past as we look forward to the future.

Got an objection, or do you agree? Take it to our forum.

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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