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Sneak peek: A screenshot of what appears to be the next Chrysler 300C, taken from a video on the Chrysler stand at the Detroit motor show.

Australia to get next Chrysler 300C, but not Dodge Charger ... for now

19 Jan 2010


AUSTRALIANS will be able to drive the next 300C, but the new Dodge Charger remains off limits.

Chrysler is preparing to launch the new 300C in the US this year and the car will be produced in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive. It will likely come to Australia next year, although the date is yet to be confirmed.

In an apparent bid to build hype for the upcoming 300C, Chrysler slipped in a cropped image of what could be the next-generation version into a video montage on its stand at the Detroit motor show. The shot seems to match a low-resolution brochure photo of the next generation 300C apparently leaked last year.

Sharing the same platform as the 300C is the new Dodge Charger, a four-door with muscular coupe-like styling that has been a big hit in the US.

Chrysler Group Australia has been pushing hard for an Australian version of the Charger, which would tap memories of two-door Chryslers that are seared in the minds of muscle-car enthusiasts, but has so far been unsuccessful.

Despite the fact that it shares the same platform as the 300C, the new Charger has been designed and engineered only for right-hand drive.

11 center imageLeft: Dodge Charger.

Chrysler Group’s lead executive for international organisation, Mike Manley, told GoAuto that the new Charger, to be introduced this year, will not be available in right-hand drive. “I would tell you that a right-hand-drive Charger, you have got zero chance of getting one of those in this cycle,” he said “But now is the time that you should be studying it for the next cycle because ... as soon as we have finished and are coming up to the launch of one we, this guy (points to Chrysler design chief Ralph Giles) is already planning (the next).” While Mr Manley seemed definitive in his answer and added that the next Charger would be at least five years away, he left the Charger door open when he said: “It is never too late for a business case at any stage in the life cycle of the vehicle “The first thing you are going to do is a business case that gives you the full revenue stream over the residual life of vehicle so the closer you get to the end of a vehicle’s life the harder it becomes.

“For a major change to a platform, which a right-hand drive would be, you have got to be right at the very beginning because you need the full runway.” Mr Manley raised the possibility that a future Charger could be engineered for right-hand-drive markets including Japan and Great Britain and Australia, instead of the 300C.

“Maybe we can go to all our right-hand drive markets,” he said. “Japan loves the styling of Dodge more than Chrysler – they like it a lot.

“Maybe we can talk to the guys in the UK about not focusing on 300 to take Charger and then you start piecing the markets together and you get enough and you can do a single homologation.” Australia is the largest right-hand drive market for the Chrysler Group and is held in high esteem at its Auburn Hills headquarters, which means there is always a small chance for the Charger or for the Dodge Ram, which Chrysler Group Australia would love to have.

“We like it (Australia) because it has been steady growing volume for us,” he said.

“We need to make sure our RHD markets work together, and we like it because we have got a good business there, so I wouldn't rule anything out.” Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who moved from Italy to Canada as a teenager, indicated Australia would not be forgotten when future product was being planned.

Asked if right-hand drive programs would be less important given the current situation of Chrysler, Mr Marchionne said: “Don’t underestimate our commitment to Australian market ... apart from the fact that I am a member of the colonies also.

“I think we will look at that (Ram and Charger) opportunity if it is available. I think that the real question is cost and the potential markets. We will look at it.” Mr Marchionne said it was simply a question of cost and volume.

“If I can make money on it, you can have it. I don’t have to make a lot of money, but I can’t lose money,” he said.

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