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Chrysler, Dodge cancel right-hand-drive

by Chris Vander Doelen on

Fiat Chrysler has quietly ended production of all right-hand-drive Chrysler and Dodge products, disappointing customers in South Africa, Australia, and elsewhere.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles South Africa has announced it has ended sales of the Chrysler and Dodge nameplates in the country due to cancellation of right-hand-drive builds in Windsor and Brampton, Ont.

The cancellation was reported Oct. 6 by several South African automotive sources, quoting the new head of Fiat and Chrysler, which have remained separate financial entities in S.A. until consolidating this year. The “integration” does not take full effect until early 2018, and includes both companies moving into a shared new headquarters.

While the company intends to expand by adding four new dealerships in South Africa next year, the company will be bidding a “fond farewell” to the Chrysler or Dodge nameplates, according to Women on Wheels magazine, South Africa.

Wheels24, another South African automotive site, quotes new FCASA CEO Robin van Rensburg as saying the Chrysler and Dodge brands are leaving S.A. permanently. “This unfortunate situation has arisen from our principals in the USA no longer building Chrysler or Dodge vehicles in Right Hand Drive configuration.”

The right-hand-drive products are all assembled in Canada: the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Challenger in Brampton, Ont., just north of Toronto, and the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan in Windsor, Ont.

FCA isn’t the only company to give up on South Africa recently. Chevrolet and Citroen both made similar announcements early this year. Cadillac pulled out in 2010, Daihatsu in 2015, SEAT in 2008.

Despite the sad news for Chrysler and Dodge fans in that country, FCA will continue expanding its product lineup in South Africa, van Rensburg said. Alfa Romeo Giuilia launched in March this year, the Fiat Tipo in May, followed by Fiat Panda.

Alfa’s Stelvio will launch before the end of 2017, with the 2019 Wrangler JL and JLU coming in the spring of 2018, along with the all-new Jeep Compass and “the stonking Grand Cherokee Tomahawk.” (Stonking being high praise in South Africa’s British-derived car jargon).

It was not clear how many right-hand-drive units are being dropped from production by FCA’s decision, although the number is not likely significant. A spokesperson for FCA’s Canadian operations could not be reached Thursday morning.

Other countries potentially affected by the end of right-hand-drive production include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia, plus a dozen tiny markets elsewhere in Africa and South America.

Chris Vander Doelen was Opinion Editor and columnist of The Windsor Star until December, 2016; He was the Star's automotive reporter and columnist for seven years, and had also covered the political and gambling beats. With his wife, Veronique Mandal, he wrote the book Chasing Lightning (1999). Chris won a National Newspaper Award in 1997 and more than a dozen provincial news awards. There is a Chrysler 300 in his driveway.

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