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Chrysler name will disappear from Europe in dealer shake-up

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Chrysler name will disappear from Europe in dealer shake-up

Luca Ciferri

Automotive News Europe -- June 4, 2010 06:01 CET

TURIN – The Chrysler and Lancia European dealer network will shrink by about 350 dealers and the Chrysler name will disappear from showrooms in mainland Europe under a big shake-up of distribution activities planned by Fiat S.p.A.

Nearly 1,200 Chrysler and Lancia dealers in Europe have been notified that their contracts will end on May 31, 2011, in a step toward creating a single European sales network for the two brands.

By 2011, Chrysler cars will be sold under the Lancia badge all over Europe except in the UK and Ireland where Lancia does not sell its cars. There the Chrysler name will remain.

The contract cancellations affect 1,150 Lancia and Chrysler dealers and take effect in 12 months to comply with European Union rules that require dealers to be given a year's notice when their contracts are rescinded.

Currently, Lancia has 595 dealers with 785 showrooms in continental Europe. The brand stopped selling cars in the UK and Ireland in 1991.

Chrysler, whose dealer contract also includes the Dodge and Jeep brands, has 556 dealers with about 750 showrooms.

“Our plan is to have in place by May 2011 a Lancia/Chrysler integrated network comprising about 800 dealers and over 1,000 dealerships,” Chrysler and Lancia CEO Olivier Francois told Automotive News Europe by e-mail.

Lancia, Fiat's near-premium brand, sells most of its cars in its Italian home market. The brand sold 121,000 new cars in Europe last year, of which 102,000 were bought in Italy.

Chrysler's European sales in 2009 were just 11,500.

Dealers will benefit

Fiat's sales chief Lorenzo Sistino said the change will benefit dealers because the combined product portfolio of the two brands will amount to a full lineup. “It will be a much more appealing franchise,” Sistino said at the Automotive Dealer Day automotive distribution and after-sales event in Verona, Italy, on May 26.

Sistino said Chrysler's Dodge brand will become a niche player in Europe, importing only muscle-cars such as the Charger large sedan, Challenger large coupe and Viper sportscar.

He said most of current Chrysler dealers that also sell Jeep models will be given a new, dedicated franchise contract for Jeep. Where there are gaps in the Jeep dealer network in Europe, Fiat, Alfa and Lancia dealers will be offered a Jeep franchise.

Lancia dealers that remain after 2012 will need to find a way to increase their showroom space, as they will move to an eight model range by 2013 from a four model range, Sistino said.

Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne's five-year strategic plan calls for Lancia-Chrysler to sell a combined 300,000 units in Europe in 2014, up from 132,500 last year.

The Lancia lineup will include the brand's Musa small minivan, Delta compact hatchback and the new generation of the Ypsilon subcompact, due late next year.

Chrysler cars sold in Europe under the Lancia badge will be Chrysler's new compact and mid-sized sedans that will replace the PT Cruiser and Sebring, as well as the new 300C large sedan and a revised Voyager large minivan (sold as the Town & Country in the United States).

Fiat, which owns 20 percent of Chrysler, became Chrysler' general distributor for Europe in March when Chrysler's European sales organization was folded into Fiat's national sales companies.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100604/ANE/100609946/1193#ixzz0puCnoje4

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By Andrew Ganz

In an effort to streamline its global operations, Chrysler parent Fiat says that the Michigan automaker’s name will no longer be marketed in Europe.

Fiat has already said that it plans to combine Chrysler and Lancia’s global product lineups and now the Italian automaker has confirmed that only one brand will be marketed across Europe: Lancia. Fiat will trim about 350 Chrysler and Lancia dealers from Europe to reduce market overlap; the eventual goal is to have about 800 Lancia retailers across Europe. Overall, Fiat says that it hopes the combined and boosted efforts will increase Lancia sales to around 300,000 units across Europe.

Chrysler’s 300C, PT Cruiser, Sebring and Voyager (Town & Country in North America) will all be rebadged as Lancias for Europe.

The Chrysler brand will, however, remain in Europe’s right-hand-drive markets, the United Kingdom and Ireland, where Lancias are not sold. Fiat hasn’t specified exactly what it plans to do for those markets, although a lineup of Chrysler-badged Chryslers and Lancias similar to that offered in North America seems likely.

Dealership cleanup

Lancia is marketed as a lower level near-premium brand in Europe, occupying a step below near-premium brands like Alfa Romeo, Saab and Volvo, but a step above mainstream brands like Ford and Fiat. The biggest challenge for Fiat will be making the historic Lancia brand appealing to Europe’s largest new car markets – namely France and Germany. Most new Lancias were sold in Italy last year – about 102,000 of the 121,000 vehicles the marque delivered were sold in its home country.

The automaker hopes that buyers will consider Chrysler to be about the same level in North America.

Existing Chrysler dealers will continue to offer North American-market Dodge products as niche vehicles; the Viper, Challenger and 2011 Charger will be the brand’s primary offerings.

Perhaps the most historically lucrative American export is Jeep. Fiat says that existing Chrysler dealers will keep the brand, although a separated, dedicated franchise contract will be required. Certain small markets not served by Chrysler dealers that have Fiat or Lancia stores will be offered Jeep franchises.



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Chrysler is the next to go in the US after Mercury.

It'll be Dodge (maybe), Jeep, Ram, Fiat, and Alfa

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Ideally, Chrysler products would merge with Alfa Romeo, but Fiat seems too protective of and aspirational for their flagship brand (short of Maserati and Ferrari), aligning Chrysler with Lancia instead.

Imagine a Chrysler 159 or Brera or Giulietta - that would be sweet - but Fiat wants to build the Alfa brand globally (that means selling it in the US) to compete with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes.

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I'm surprised Chrysler has so many dealers over there. The general perception of the brand in Europe can't be very good. Also the Lancia name is being further sullied it seems...

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