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Chrysler to double model range by 2018

Comeback trail: The new Chrysler 200 heralds a more focused approach from the brand, which will expand to include a new 100 small-car and two new SUV models by 2018.

Small-car and two SUVs to join Chrysler range while sporty Dodge brand re-aligned

8 May 2014

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will double the Chrysler brand's model line-up by 2018 and axe a pair of overlapping Dodge nameplates to end an “internal brand turf war” between the pair.

The Chrysler brand will be better-positioned as FCA's mainstream passenger brand principally for North America, with a mandate to go after the likes of Ford, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet and Toyota armed with a prospective line-up that will cover 65 per cent of all market segments.

Speaking in Detroit at FCA's Investor Day this week, Chrysler CEO Al Gardner outlined a plan to more than double global sales from 350,000 last year to 800,000 in 2018, returning it to the heights it scaled in 2005 when it enjoyed 7.7 per cent US market share.

This growth is expected to come not just from improvements to its existing line-up of the 200, 300 and Town and Country/Grand Voyager, but also incrementally through the addition of three new nameplates between 2016 and 2018.

First off the rank will be a Corolla-rivalling small-car in 2016 called the 100, followed in 2017 by a crossover rival for the Nissan Pathfinder/Toyota Kluger (replete with a plug-in hybrid option) and a mid-sized SUV in 2018.

GoAuto has contacted Fiat Chrysler Australia to see if any of these models are in the running for the local market. The company has previously ruled out the 200, but does offer the current 300 and Grand Voyager.

Chrysler also revealed the three-year old current-generation 300 range would get a mid-life update later this year, pointing to a freshened version touching down in Australia during 2015, before an all-new iteration enters production in 2018.

A new-generation Town and Country MPV, replete with a brand-first PHEV option, will arrive in 2016.

US-centric Dodge, meanwhile, will be repositioned as a more aspirational performance brand and will take the SRT subsidiary back under its wing, with hotted-up SRT-badged versions of the Dart and next-generation Journey in the works for 2016/17.

As part of FCA's desire to erase any overlaps with Chrysler, two current core models, the Avenger mid-sized sedan and Grand Caravan, will be axed in 2014 and 2016 respectively because the 200 and Town and Country already cover those segments.

This strategy also calls into question the future of the Dart nameplate beyond its current generation, because the Chrysler 100 will sit within the same segment. Dodge's small-car has failed to set US sales charts alight since it went on sale in 2012.

Five Dodge vehicles have been named as part of “strategic vision” to make “most loved vehicles in America”, these being the Dart/Dart SRT, next-generation Journey (2016), plus new-generation Challenger and Charger models, and an all-new B-segment sedan and hatch model in 2018.

In a remarkable statement, Dodge said it aimed to re-inject passion into what it called an ambivalent American customer lulled into a state of disconnect by bland imported mainstream cars.

“We think the car has been commoditised and that America's drivers have been abandoned. We think the blame for America's ambivalence toward cars goes to import brands,” it said.

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