Driv­ing force

Chrysler is gear­ing up for an as­sault on the Aussie mar­ket

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

Some mod­els are al­ready shared— in­clud­ing an ugly Lan­cia-badged Chrysler 300C in Europe— but the next step is to­tal con­sol­i­da­tion that re­flects the re­cent move in Aus­tralia to put the op­er­a­tions of the Amer­i­can and Ital­ian brands un­der one roof at a new cor­po­rate head­quar­ters in Mel­bourne.

‘‘ Chrysler is un­der­go­ing a re­newal un­der Fiat. There is a whole lot of prod­uct in the pipe­line and com­ing through,’’ says spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher.

‘‘ It’s def­i­nitely all hap­pen­ing here. We have up­dates, lim­it­ededi­tion cars and all-new mod­els.’’

The SRT ver­sions of the 300C and Jeep Grand Chero­kee are ar­riv­ing soon and Fletcher says there will be more Fiat mod­els to stretch the ap­peal of the baby 500 in Aus­tralia.

Fur­ther ahead, Aus­tralians can expect a wider choice of cars with more per­son­al­ity and, thanks to Fiat’s cash, bet­ter qual­ity in the Amer­i­can mod­els.

Fletcher says re­cent talk about an un­cer­tain fu­ture for the Chrysler Town&Coun­try (sold here as the Voy­ager peo­ple-mover) and Jeep Com­pass— fol­low­ing com­ments by Fiat boss Ser­gio Mar­chionne— might not be rel­e­vant for Aus­tralia.

‘‘ Those ve­hi­cles are just go­ing through their nat­u­ral prod­uct life cy­cle. We have not heard any­thing about them be­ing dropped,’’ she says.

There is spec­u­la­tion in the US that Chrysler plans to down­size its peo­ple-mover line-up, start­ing with the Grand Voy­ager, but at the Detroit show in Jan­uary it showed a full-size con­cept re­flected only a more SUV-type look.

Dodge is also un­cer­tain, with a global wind-back on the cards, but even that could change in Aus­tralia if the ma­cho ap­peal of the badge can be jus­ti­fied.

Fletcher says all prod­uct choices for Aus­tralia will be made to boost the ap­peal and sales of the Fiat Chrysler range.

‘‘ There should be no fears that there won’t be a ter­rific line-up from Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, and Alfa Romeo and Fiat.

‘‘ Nat­u­rally we’ll be look­ing at what­ever prod­ucts be­come avail­able and eval­u­at­ing their suit­abil­ity for Aus­tralia.

‘‘ We are re­ally at the mo­ment look­ing at the Chrysler and Jeep line-ups. We’re just about to launch the Chrysler 300 and we’re very pos­i­tive about our vol­ume ex­pec­ta­tions in the next year.’’

She also de­nied Fiat and Alfa Romeo flopped in the show­room in May de­spite this week’s of­fi­cial VFacts fig­ures show­ing zero sales for them.

‘‘ Due to sys­temic is­sues (in) the changeover from local dis­trib­u­tor Ateco Au­to­mo­tive to the Fiat Chrysler fac­tory group, no sales were regis­tered for the Fiat or Alfa Romeo brands dur­ing May. The rel­e­vant fig­ures will be in­cluded in next month’s re­port.’’

Op­ti­mism: Fiat has an SRT vari­ant of the Chrysler 300C due in Aus­tralia soon

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