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Research Firms Says Chrysler May Build Lancia Thesis Replacement and Challenger-Based Alfa Romeo in Canada


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Research Firms Says Chrysler May Build Lancia Thesis Replacement and Challenger-Based Alfa Romeo in Canada

TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2010

After last week's [official] announcement that the Fiat Group will drop the Chrysler nameplate in Europe as its models will be rebadged integrated into the Lancia brand, a forecasting firm now says that the automaker will begin building Lancias and possibly Alfa Romeos at its Brampton plant in Canada beginning from 2012.

U.S.-based industry research company AutomotiveCompass said that Chrysler will produce a Lancia Thesis replacement based on the soon-to-revealed 2011 300 sedan, which will continue to make use of the previous generation Mercedes architecture .

Doug Shepard, forecasting manager for the research firm said that the Lancia version of the redesigned Chrysler 300 won't differ radically in appearance from the American sedan.

"There will be cosmetic changes like the distinctive Lancia grill but otherwise nothing major," said Shepard adding that that the Brampton plant, which currently builds Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Charger models, will probably target annual output of 10,000 to 12,000 Lancia-badged cars.

The report goes on to say it's also possible that the Fiat / Chrysler group may also build an Alfa Romeo convertible off of the Dodge Challenger muscle car.

While a Challenger-based Alfa sports car sounds a bit far-fetched, a Lancia "300" has been on the table ever since the Fiat Group took over Chrysler.

In fact, in a December '09 meeting with representatives of the Italian government and trade unions in Rome, the group's CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans for a new flagship luxury sedan for the Lancia brand to be launched in 2011, without, however, going into any more details.



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Chrysler to build Lancia luxury car in Brampton

Forecasting firm says automaker has selected niche vehicle for output here for delivery to Europe. Company could still make Alfa Romeo convertible at same plant off of Challenger.

Published On Wed Jun 09 2010

Tony Van Alphen

Business Reporter

Chrysler will build a Lancia flagship luxury model at its Brampton assembly plant in about 18 months, according to an industry research and forecasting agency.

U.S,-based AutomotiveCompass says in a global product program update that the company will start assembling the niche Lancia sedan to replace the Thesis nameplate at the plant just northwest of Toronto in the first week of January 2012.

Doug Shepard, forecasting manager for AutomotiveCompass, said Wednesday the plant will probably target annual output of 10,000 to 12,000 Lancia models, which would represent only a small fraction of the plant’s capacity of about 300,000.

“It will be something like the icing on the cake for that plant,” he said.

The plant currently builds the Chrysler 300 full-size sedan, Dodge Challenger and Charger sports cars.

Shepard said the Lancia will be similar to the new generation of the luxury 300 model which starts production late this year. The models will be built on the same LX platform or chassis

“There will be cosmetic changes like the distinctive Lancia grill but otherwise nothing major,” he added.

A Chrysler spokesperson could not be reached for comment but the company normally does not announce a model until it sets a production launch date.

Fiat, which gained operational control over struggling Chrysler last year, has gradually clarified its product strategy for the next five years but it has not formally identified any new products for it two major Canadian assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton.

Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s chief executive officer, initially hinted the companies would assemble a sports car from the iconic Alfa Romeo brand in Brampton.

Without making any commitments, Marchionne, who was born in Italy and raised in Toronto, said here last month that the automaker has interest in the “platform for the 300” and what it could do for Fiat.

Shepard said clarity in Fiat’s corporate strategy in recent months and information from sources in the parts supply industry indicates the company will make the Lancia in Brampton. Production of the Lancia model will continue until the middle of 2018, according to Automotive Compass.

Lancia, which is Fiat’s luxury division, currently builds all its models at its Mirafiori plant in Italy. The Thesis stopped production in March last year but the partnership between Fiat and Chrysler created an opportunity for a revival, Shepard noted.

Meanwhile, an Alfa Romeo car may still emerge in some form in Brampton. Fiat released information at an investor day in Italy in April that suggested it could build an Alfa Romeo convertible off the Challenger sports car.



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