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Avenger to be third Aussie Dodge

New medium: Avenger will aim directly at Camry customers.

Dodge's Australian model portfolio fills out as Avenger and more emerge in Paris

5 Oct 2006

By MARTON PETTENDY in PARIS

DODGE’S Caliber has proved a sell-out success in Australia since the small crossover hatch relaunched the historic American brand here in August, and Chrysler Group Australia/Pacific (CGAP) officials are equally upbeat about the 2007 sales prospects of its Nitro SUV and the Avenger sedan which was launched in concept guise in Paris last week.

"While the Avenger concept only hints at the next vehicle from Dodge, it will do what Caliber has done as a crossover hatch and what Nitro promises to do in the mid-sized 4x4 segment – it offers a unique, stand-out alternative to the competition," said CGAP managing director Gerry Jenkins.

"The car-buying public have switched on to the Dodge Caliber since it arrived for sale so we are expecting great things from our two new Dodge vehicles next year." Mr Jenkins and CGAP general manager of marketing and product strategy Mike Ross told GoAuto the production version of the mid-sized Avenger sedan would be a direct rival for Toyota’s top-selling Camry, with prices ranging from the low $30,000s to $40,000.

Chrysler’s sister model, the Sebring sedan, will compete with more expensive Japanese models like Mazda6, Subaru Liberty and Honda Accord, priced from about $35,000 and extending to about $45,000. Sebring will appear here first, in April or May 2007, before it morphs into a folding metal-roofed four-seat cabriolet version that should go on sale in November or December next year, following its expected debut at Detroit in January.

Due on sale in Europe by early 2007, Avenger, like Sebring, will be available with turbo-diesel, 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 2.7-litre V6 power, as well as an automatic transmission. Sebring will be available with niceties like a voice-activated and touch-screen DVD navigation and audio system.

41 center imageFrom top: Dodge Hornet concept, Dodge Nitro, Jeep Compass and Wrangler.

Though it is not yet confirmed for production, Avenger is expected to be the third Dodge model to go on sale in Australia – by September 2007, following the mid-year release of the mid-sized, V6-only Nitro SUV.

Further afield, expect production versions of the light-sized Hornet hatch and the Challenger coupe, which does not enter production until late 2008.

Mr Ross said while neither model has been confirmed for right-hand drive production, Challenger makes more sense for Australia than Dodge’s current Charger sedan because the latter would compete with Chrysler’s own 300C here.

"A two-door sports coupe wouldn’t be a bad play for us – it’s an icon product we’d love to have, but unfortunately we need other right-hand drive markets to go with us," he said.

Mr Jenkins said he recently spent two days in meetings with Chrysler Group executives in an attempt to secure greater Australian supplies of Caliber, production of which is currently 80,000 vehicles short of global demand.

"Caliber has the most potential of all our models – but only if we can get we want," he said. Diesel and 2.4-litre R/T-badged variants of the small hatch are due on sale in November, but the supercharged SRT version is yet to be RHD-approved.

While the high-performance 300C SRT8 currently had a 200-strong waiting list and the Grand Cherokee SRT8 was also popular, SRT versions of the Dodge Nitro and Avenger were not on the horizon.

The CGAP boss said he expected the forthcoming Jeep Compass (aimed at compact crossovers like CR-V and RAV4 and due here by March/April) and Jeep Patriot (aimed at harder-core off-roaders like X-Trail and due here by August/September) would provide the next big sales growth for CGAP.

Jeep’s next new model will be the redesigned Wrangler 4x4, available in both two-door and four-door guises here by March.

What's coming from Chrysler Group:
Jeep Wrangler SUV March/April 2007
Jeep Compass SUV March/April 2007
Chrysler Sebring sedan April/May 2007
Dodge Nitro SUV Mid-2007
Dodge Avenger sedan Aug/Sep 2007
Chrysler Sebring cabrio Nov/Dec 2007
Dodge Hornet hatch 2008
Dodge Challenger coupe 2009

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