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Chrysler ‘safe’ in Australia, despite being axed in UK

Reinforcement: Chrysler’s facelifted 300 is on its way to Australia where FCA says it has no plans to follow the example of its British sister company and axe the Chrysler brand.

FCA Australia says it is committed to the Chrysler and Dodge brands in this market


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18 Mar 2015

THE Chrysler brand will continue in Australia, despite a decision to withdraw the famous ‘pentastar’ badge from the right-hand drive British market and concentrate on Jeep there from 2017.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia president and CEO Pat Dougherty said today that his company was “absolutely committed” to the Chrysler brand.

He confirmed that right-hand-drive Chrysler products would continue for markets such as Australia where FCA was considering expanding its line-up.

“From a strategic point of view, each of the company’s regions are independent,” he said. “Within the Asia Pacific region, Australia is joined by other major markets including India and Japan in forming an important right-hand drive audience for Chrysler internationally.

“Australia is currently reviewing plans to bring more vehicles to the market, and the Chrysler brand plays an important role in accessing this future product.”

FCA Australia has also ruled out an early demise of the Dodge brand here, even though it currently sells only one Dodge product, the Journey.

It has hinted that – like Chrysler – more Dodge products might be considered to bolster the line-up. Knowing Mr Dougherty’s professed keenness on Dodge, GoAuto would not be surprised if the new Dodge Charger muscle car lands in Australian showrooms as a rival for the Ford Mustang.

In recent times, the Chrysler and Dodge ranges have been progressively wound back in Australia to just two Chrysler models – the 300 large sedan and ageing Voyager people-mover – and the one Dodge, the Journey.

However, a major facelift for the 300 – unveiled late last year at the Los Angeles motor show – is set to be launched in Australia “soon”.

That range will include the potent SRT V8 version engineered exclusively for Australia.

By 2017, an all-new 300 is set to be released, presumably for Australia too.

While the Chrysler 300 will continue on, the future of the Voyager is less certain, with FCA Australia yet to make a decision on whether it will put up its hand for the all-new model that is set for launch in the US within 12 months.

Once one of the top-selling people-movers on the Australian market, the Voyager has been quietly evaporating, winning just 15 buyers so far this year.

Last year, Australian sales of Chrysler-badged vehicles slumped 38.1 per cent to just 1657 units while Jeep sales soared 37.2 per cent, to 30,408 units.

This year, sales of the run-out Chrysler 300 are down 53.5 per cent, to an average of about 50 a month, compared with 115 a month at this time last year.

In the UK, FCA sold just 1982 Chrysler vehicles last year, representing a fall of 21 per cent.

Apart from the 300 and Voyager, Chrysler UK’s range includes two rebadged passenger cars from its Italian Lancia stable, the Ypsilon and Delta.

From 2017, FCA will concentrate on its Jeep brand in the UK, alongside its Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari lines.

This is in line with FCA’s stated policy that Jeep and Alfa Romeo will be promoted as the company’s global mainstream brands, with others such as Chrysler, Fiat and Dodge marketed only where they make sense.

In Australia, Chrysler was once ranked number three in sales behind Holden and Ford, when it was a manufacturer churning out cars such as the Valiant and its coupe spin-off, the Charger, from a factory in South Australia.

Its best sales year was 1969 when 66,948 Chrysler-badged cars were sold here.

The Chrysler brand went into hiatus locally in 1980 when Mitsubishi bought out Chrysler Australia and re-branded its vehicles Mitsubishi.

Chrysler returned to Australia as an importer in the 1990s, first with the Jeep brand and later with cars such as the Neon, Grand Voyager, PT Cruiser, Crossfire, Sebring and 300C.

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