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AutoBlog: REPORT: Fiat wants Chrysler to be a Cadillac competitor

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Filed under: Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat

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When you were a kid, there was probably a point when your mom or dad told you that you could one day be president of the United States. They probably didn't really mean it, but at least they wanted you to push yourself a little harder to achieve life's goals. Fiat appears to be in a similar situation with its new underling, Chrysler. The Italian automaker is working through a far-reaching game plan for the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, and it sees Chrysler competing in the luxury space. Chrysler brand CEO Peter Fong is setting the bar high, too, as he sees the brand being "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac."

You may recall former parent Daimler had similar aspirations for the Chrysler brand, with vehicles like the 300 and Pacifica leading the way. While the 300 had some success and commanded a reasonably high MSRP, the Pacifica was a comparative failure. Then Chrysler followed up with the Sebring, which put to bed any hopes and prayers for an upscale Chrysler brand. Fong told Automotive News that Chrysler needs to be better differentiated from Dodge; a nameplate that management wants to be known more for driving dynamics. The only marque that will likely remain largely intact after Fiat's sweeping changes is Jeep, and even then, the Jeep lineup will likely receive more small, front-wheel drive-based vehicles in an effort to satisfy increasingly stringent CAFE standards.

While we can see how a more upscale Chrysler brand would be a great idea, we're having a hard time seeing how the Pentastar's namesake will catch up to Cadillac (or its competitors) any time soon. The resurgence of the Wreath and Crest has been seven years in the making, and even now the brand's success essentially rides on one product - the CTS. New models like the BMW 3 Series-fighting ATS and large and luxurious XTS promise to rebuild some of the momentum that Cadillac has recently lost, but even that remains to be seen. Chrysler, on the other hand, currently has nothing that can reasonably be said to compete with Cadillac, and judging from comments made by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, there isn't anything in the pipeline, either. It's good to dream, though, right?

[source: Automotive News - subs req'd]

REPORT: Fiat wants Chrysler to be a Cadillac competitor originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 21 Sep 2009 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hahahaha. Fiat is clueless. I suppose they could compete with the DTS and Escalade without much trouble, but the DTS is near dead. They have nothing in their pipeline, and no idea on how to build a great car. Chrysler will be bankrupt again before they ever come close to being "a notch above Cadillac."

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Hint: *GM and Ford isn't your only competition*

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Hahahaha. Fiat is clueless. I suppose they could compete with the DTS and Escalade without much trouble, but the DTS is near dead. They have nothing in their pipeline, and no idea on how to build a great car. Chrysler will be bankrupt again before they ever come close to being "a notch above Cadillac."

Truest words you have ever spoken SMK! :thumbsup:

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I think the Chrysler brand would be better positioned as the high volume mainstream brand in the Fiat/Chrysler brand hierarchy in the U.S. The Chrysler brand has not been a true premium brand for quite some time now; the brand has been a more sedate Dodge alternative than anything remotely premium in recent history. I would give the Chrysler brand a lineup of mainstream sedans and MPVs. Dodge's lineup would consist of affordable performance coupes as well as trucks. Jeep would be established as the mainstream utility brand with a lineup of SUVs and CUVs. I would bring the Fiat brand to the U.S. with a lineup of small affordable hatchbacks that would offer Euro flair for those on a limited budget (sort of similar to a Euro version of Scion). Alfa Romeo (which has Euro cachet and less brand damage than Chrysler in the U.S.) would then be brought in to be the full scale luxury division of Fiat/Chrysler. This would give Fiat/Chrysler 4 brands (Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep) to cover the affordable end of the market in addition to a full scale luxury brand (Alfa Romeo) that would probably be more accepted in the luxury segment.

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Chrysler brand's only chance of survival is to move back upmarket. Otherwise its redundant as it currently is. It could be done, look at what Hyundai has been able to do. It just takes product.

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I have been waiting for them to announce Alfa Romeo's return to the US market. Which I also think will fail, but I thought Fiat would try it.

Chrysler's best hope, (aside from just selling rental cars) would be to sell the Fiat 500 as a Chrysler branded product, redo the Sebring (maybe with some influence from the Alfa 159), and keep the 300 and Town and Country fresh. If they combine those 4 with 3 Jeeps, they would have a complete line at Chrysler-Jeep dealers. Although personally I think Chrysler/Dodge is beyond saving, and Fiat seems weak to me as well.

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I have been waiting for them to announce Alfa Romeo's return to the US market. Which I also think will fail, but I thought Fiat would try it.

Chrysler's best hope, (aside from just selling rental cars) would be to sell the Fiat 500 as a Chrysler branded product, redo the Sebring (maybe with some influence from the Alfa 159), and keep the 300 and Town and Country fresh. If they combine those 4 with 3 Jeeps, they would have a complete line at Chrysler-Jeep dealers. Although personally I think Chrysler/Dodge is beyond saving, and Fiat seems weak to me as well.

I would buy a Chrysler 159, Pentastar badge and all...

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Hahahaha. Fiat is clueless. I suppose they could compete with the DTS and Escalade without much trouble, but the DTS is near dead. They have nothing in their pipeline, and no idea on how to build a great car. Chrysler will be bankrupt again before they ever come close to being "a notch above Cadillac."

"Fiat is clueless"....."and no idea on how to build a great car" ?

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Did you know that FIAT also owns Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari? I think they might know something about building "great", and luxurious cars.

Edited by BrewSwillis
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"Fiat is clueless"....."and no idea on how to build a great car" ?

Did you know that FIAT also owns Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari? I think they might know something about building "great", and luxurious cars.

"they have no idea how to build a great car" refers to Chrysler.

I did know that and Ferrari is pretty much operating on its own, using racing technology in their cars, not the corporate V6. I really like the Maserati GT, but the Quattroporte lags when compared to the S-class, 7-series and XJ. When you take out the exotics, Fiat/Alfa have a few decent products, but they are plagued with reliability problems.

Edited by smk4565
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and I want a Pony.

Good one.

Hint: *GM and Ford isn't your only competition*

Again, good one. Very true.

Seriously, they can't turn out cars like the Sebring anymore if they want to even have a shot.

But when I think Chrysler, I think "upscale cheap", and I phrased it that way instead of cheap upscale because I don't consider them upscale at all. I think of them as a high-end cheap-looking brand.

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High-end may be where the Chrysler brand ought to be, but getting it there seems a near-impossible task at this point.

Besides, that neighborhood is already crowded.

Fiat may want to temper this idea.

Edited by Camino LS6
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I think it could happen sooner than some expect. They could be halfway there by the time the next gen 300 and forthcoming 200 are sitting in showrooms side by side. IIRC Sebring in its current form is dead, and they were considering building the 'vert off the 200. Take those three cars, and add a stretched LY, and what you'd have is a tightly focused luxury brand that very well could be at or above Cadillac. Especially if Caddy continues moving downmarket with more FWD offerings.

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As much as I'd like to chortle about the notion of Chrysler aiming at Caddy, I have a feeling it can actually happen. The 200C's approval is already a big step in that direction.

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The last thing we need in the states is another full-line manufacturer. Dodge could be a niche affordable sport brand. Bring the 500 over and call it an SRT4. Bring an Alfa or two to round out the sport sedans and make the styling bold. There you go, bet they would sell same or fewer at a much higher margin.

We also don't need more luxury brands. If you are in the market for a 30-45k car you have more options than if you want a 15-30k new car. The trick for Chysler would be to build an inexpensive car and sell them in the bread and butter range (15-30k) as "luxury" cars. Use size as the price factor and go from a mini/500 up to a mid range car. Options would be minimal with most things standard. In essence by doing this Chrysler would be the Apple computing of cars.

Jeep, go find some business reasons for off-road vehicles and market the crud out of it. For example, highway construction. Make a vehicle that can stand up to construction debris and loose pavement as well as deliver more flexibility than a 3/4 truck. By selling to this market you'll beef the name and become a Dewalt/Caterpillar purveyor of off-pavement prowess. Again, niche.

Full-lines are covered. Chrysler will not produce profits rapidly enough to survive if they don't find markets that aren't being served. That after all IS the reason they went bankrupt. GM, to some degree needs to find just as many ways to be profitable on lower priced and lower volume cars. The market doesn't just exist at the top and even if it did better names own it.

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the corporate V6.

Which, interestingly, is from GM. The V6 used by Alfa Romeo is a 3.2L version of the block GM markets in 2.8L, 3.0L and 3.6L displacements.

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If Hyundai can make luxury sedans that have earned praise and respect as soon as they came out, there is no reason Chrysler can't turn around and reestablish itself in the luxury market in a similar way.

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High-end may be where the Chrysler brand ought to be, but getting it there seems a near-impossible task at this point.

Besides, that neighborhood is already crowded.

Fiat may want to temper this idea.

And not many years ago no one though Hyundai would have a RWD coupe, two RWD and quality awards. It can be done, it just takes product and constantly improving.

Dodge - Small cars & Trucks

Chrysler - Cars of all types

Jeep - SUVs of all types

Still has overlap, bad idea.

Dodge = bread and butter cars, CUVs, and trucks

Chrysler = premium/luxury cars and CUVs

Jeep = Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, and Patriot.

The Sebring shouldn't be replaced by teh 159, which has been around for a while anyway. It should be replaced by the RWD 200C. Chrysler hasn't had so much positive news about a concept since the Viper I bet. The midsize 200C and the Large, redesigned, more luxurious and more differentiated 300C would be the first steps to moving Chrysler upmarket.

As far as aiming for Cadillac. Nothing wron with that, so long as they are aiming more for the Standard of the World , M5 killing CTS-V and not the antiquated old fart special DTS.

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