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Jeep Compass, Chrysler Voyager to be dropped

Off the Compass: The recently-facelifted Jeep Compass is one of the Fiat-Chrysler products targeted for termination in a bid to streamline the product line-up.

Sergio Marchionne outlines plan to reduce overlapping Fiat-Chrysler models by 2014

Jeep logo30 May 2012

FIAT-CHRYSLER CEO Sergio Marchionne has outlined plans to reduce the number of overlapping models in the company’s line-up by 2014, naming the Jeep Compass SUV and Chrysler Voyager people-mover among those in the firing line.

Speaking at a recent US media event at Chrysler’s Belvedere assembly plant in Illinois, and in a recent interview with Automobile magazine, Mr Marchionne also confirmed a high-performance SRT variant of the Dodge Dart sedan is under development and an electric Fiat 500 will be introduced to North America later this year.

He told employees at Belvedere there are “a number of candidates” to replace the Compass, although it is not clear whether this was in reference to a replacement product or simply that another vehicle will take its place on the production line.

A smaller, upmarket crossover – rumoured to resemble the Mercedes-Benz R-Class – will supersede the Voyager (known in North America as the Town and Country), while the next-generation Dodge Grand Caravan will continue as Fiat-Chrysler’s people-mover entrant.

Removing the Voyager could again reduce the number of Chrysler products sold in Australia to one – it is the brand’s sole product here until the new 300C arrives in July – although Lancia-based premium light and small cars in the shape of the Ypsilon and Delta could arrive to bolster the line-up by 2014.

While the number of re-badged and duplicated models will be reduced across all brands under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella in order to boost each brand’s identity, the company is also aiming to cut costs by sharing platforms.

For example, an SUV based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta-derived Compact US Wide (CUSW) platform that underpins the Holden Cruze-sized Dart will replace the Jeep Cherokee (known as Liberty in markets outside Australia).

9 center imageFrom top: Jeep Compass Dodge Dart Chrysler Voyager.

Dodge’s Caliber crossover (based on twins-under-the-skin Jeep Compass and Patriot) and Nitro SUV (based on the Jeep Cherokee) have already ceased production, but Mr Marchionne has not indicated how the Patriot fits into the equation.

The Compass and Patriot will continue to be built alongside the new Dart in Belvidere until August 2014.

Mr Marchionne suggested the SRT Dart is in the advanced stages of development, saying “the only thing we’re fighting over now is to determine how big an engine we stick in it”.

A prime candidate would be the Alfa Romeo-developed 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine announced in 2011, which the brand claims has a power output of 224kW and is set to enter production next year.

This would make the Dart the first four-cylinder SRT model since the Caliber SRT4, which debuted in 2006 with a 223kW/353Nm turbocharged 2.4-litre petrol engine and was discontinued in 2009.

But Australia is unlikely to see the SRT Dart as the Dodge brand is set to disappear when stocks of the Caliber and Nitro run out, with the Journey coming back as the Fiat Freemont – although there is a chance for the Dart-based, Chinese-built Fiat Viaggio to be imported.

Regarding the electric version of the Fiat 500, Mr Marchionne said the company will “lose money on every car we make” and admitted it is only being built to comply with requirements in some US states for electrified vehicles, and to familiarise engineers with electric drivetrains.

However, by 2017 the company plans to introduce alternative drivetrains such as hybrids and compressed natural gas combustion engines, the first of which will emerge later this year in the form of a CNG-powered Ram truck.

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