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AutoBlog: Fiat surprised by Chrysler's condition, new business plan coming in November

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Filed under: Chrysler, Fiat

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Bad news travels fast. That old adage was first coined hundreds of years before the Internet, and we'd say the phrase holds more true than ever in the age of Twitter, Facebook and, well, Autoblog. We're but one of many car sites that have mentioned the dearth of new product coming out of Auburn Hills, Michigan over the next couple years, but someone forgot to tell Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. The Pentastar's new chief executive reportedly told reporters in Frankfurt this week that he was "surprised" at how little was going on over at Chrysler the past 24 months. Surprised? Really? Did Marchionne actually ask Chrysler brass which new products were hitting the streets in 2010 and 2011?

As a result of the dearth of product, Marchionne and his team are going back to work on Chrysler's business plan, with a new plan to be announced sometime in November. Marchionne told Automotive News that the management team had to be "absolutely clear about what we want to do with Chrysler and where the organization is going to be in five years."

Car Concepts Automotive analyst Todd Turner told CNN that he too had a hard time believing that Marchionne was blissfully unaware of Chrysler's plight, adding that Marchionne is using the extra time to announce drastic actions to right the Pentastar ship. Turner went as far as to say that Chrysler could pull the plug on the slow-selling Chrysler brand all together within the next five years or perhaps simply rebadge Fiat models as Chrysler products. That would leave Fiat's Detroit operations with the Dodge and Jeep brands.

Chrysler's newest beast master paid precisely zero dollars (or Euros or Lira or gold cougerans) for its pet project, and Marchionne reiterated that Fiat intended to keep it that way. Marchionne added that he didn't plan any outside investments for Chrysler but added that if total sales in the U.S. market don't hit about 11 million units in 2010, Chrysler may have to close more plants. We're just hoping Chrysler can make it through the next couple of years to actually get to the point where it is selling rebadged Fiats.

[source: CNN Money | Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty]

Fiat surprised by Chrysler's condition, new business plan coming in November originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Sep 2009 11:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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i say just crank up the production run of sebrings and avengers.

Agreed. If priced right, they could compete well against Versas and Accents.

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Sure...lets sell the hell out of Avenger / Sebring, at around $17K out the door...that actually sounds nice. Lots of buyers (who now drive hoopties) probably see the Avenger / Sebring as a step up, and would be delighted to drive a new midsize car for the price of a small car.

Really, though...Chrysler needs fresh product ..uhhhh...like yesterday. With competitors offering visibly "new & improved" models for 2010 and 2011, Chrysler can only rely on the limited momentum of the Challenger and Ram to draw savvy buyers into showrooms.

Meanwhile, everything else in the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep lineup should have received (at a minimum) a styling freshening for 2010 in order to distract buyers from the unrefined powertrains, wallowy suspensions, and crappy interiors.

Lets hope the Chrysler engineers will put in a few extra hours to rebadge and tweak a few FIAT models ...and get them into the hands of hungry US dealers within the next 6 months or so. The engineer's jobs may depend on it!

Edited by jlgolden
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