2011 Chrysler Review – Chrysler barely survived 2009, only staying alive thanks to an arranged marriage to Italy’s Fiat. Aside from the fast-tracked Fiat 500, most fruits of this union won’t reach dealer showrooms for some time, but the new ownership has already breathed signs of life into the Pentastar’s once-dormant product pipeline.
In Detroit, Chrysler showed a rebadged version of the Lancia Delta. Such rebadges would be one way to quickly give Chrysler some more fresh product, especially with the U.S. return of Alfa Romeo in doubt once again.
Here’s what the future holds in store for Chrysler beyond the aforementioned 500 and upcoming 2011 300:
CAN FIAT SAVE CHRYSLER?
Small, midsize Fiat platforms, Multiair engines for Chrysler, Chrysler’s V-6, rear-drive platform for Alfa
Sergio Marchionne saved Chrysler from certain postbankruptcy death last year. Outsiders have placed a lot of faith in Fiat’s superstar chief, although his five-year plan revealed last November raises the question of whether Chrysler will soon be selling much more than rebadged Fiats, Alfa Romeos, and Lancias.
While North American Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram dealers have been consolidating in order to reduce product overlap, three of those brands now will share small Fiat underpinnings across several model lines.
Brand president Olivier Francois says Chrysler will share exterior styling with Lancia, of which Francois also is president. Ralph Gilles, still in charge of Chrysler Group design, also leads Dodge Brand and plans to upgrade its image and interiors, with variations ranging from “sweet and simple” to “uptown luxury” and “ultimate performance” SRT. How will “uptown luxury” Dodge differ from Lancia-based Chrysler? Probably in marketing more than material difference.
Fiat will apply its Multiair technology to Chrysler’s new line of larger-than-2.0-liter fours and its new Pentastar V-6. And Chrysler will build Fiat’s Multiair 1.4-liter four in its Dundee, Michigan, engine plant, and share its larger fours and Pentastar V-6 with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia. The Pentastar is “protected” for downsizing to smaller displacements, important for Europe. It features a cast-aluminum block and dual-continuously variable cam phasing.