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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-19-2011, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Dodge small car on the way

Chrysler missing small car sales opportunity

Jun. 18, 2011




Chrysler, for all of its recent improvements, is missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of the year: a chance to grab a larger slice of the small-car segment while Japanese automakers try to rebuild their car supplies after the March earthquake and tsunami that disrupted operations.

Sales of the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic -- typically the industry's small- car leaders -- slipped more than 35% last month, giving Detroit automakers with new small cars a shot at the small-car market long dominated by the Japanese.

In May, the Chevrolet Cruze was the top-selling compact car, beating the second-place Ford Focus by just about 400 cars, according to Autodata. Overall, domestic share of the small-car market jumped 8 percentage points to 31% last month.

The gains come as the demand for small cars has been increasing because of rising gas prices.

Compact car sales through May 30



"I think it's been one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities" for Ford and GM, said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO ofEdmunds.com.

Chrysler, meanwhile, lags far behind the pack, with the Dodge Caliber hatchback, which received a new interior in 2010 but is otherwise the same as the version introduced in 2006.

Joe Veltri, Chrysler's vice president of product planning, is well aware of the void and intends to fill it early next year with a new Dodge compact sedan.

"We are eager to get one out there, but we also have very good products in many other segments that are doing incredibly well," Veltri said.For now, Veltri points out that, in May, Chrysler was the only Detroit automaker to report a sales increase and gain market share.
Crucial Dodge compact to be built on Fiat platform

The new Dodge compact car that Chrysler launches next year will be the company's first based on a Fiat platform.

That will make it a closely watched centerpiece of the new Chrysler-Fiat linkup and one that is critical for the Auburn Hills automaker to finally break its over-reliance on trucks.

Through May, 74.6% of Chrysler's U.S. sales were of light trucks, a category that includes vans, pickups, SUVs and crossovers. That compares with 58.1% for General Motors and 62.7% for Ford.

The new Dodge sedan will give Chrysler a chance to do what Ford and GM have done already -- offer an attractive, fuel-efficient compact car that competes with stalwart nameplates like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.

Having a competitive compact car is important for automakers because it is the second-largest vehicle segment in the U.S. with annual sales of about 2 million.

But it's been a long time since Chrysler has had a credible compact car in the U.S.. Before the Caliber, Chrysler built the Dodge Neon, which was discontinued in 2005.

Chrysler also needs to catch up on subcompact cars. Ford launched the Fiesta last summer and GM will launch the Chevrolet Sonic this fall.

While sales of the Fiesta still lag behind the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, the car has helped Ford gain customers in markets such as California where it has traditionally been weak.

GM, meanwhile, said last week it will sell the sedan version of the Sonic at a starting price of $14,495 and is counting on it to round out its passenger car lineup.

Joe Veltri, Chrysler's vice president of product planning, said one of the main goals of the five-year plan Chrysler devised with Fiat is to use the Italian automaker's platforms and engines to quickly rebalance Chrysler's car and truck lineup. "You are not going to tackle this thing all at once," Veltri said. "We are putting ourselves in a position to achieve the plan that we laid out ... which is to get to worldwide sales of 2.8 million units by 2014."



Dodge small car on the way

Veltri said Dodge's new compact sedan will be a sporty, fun-to-drive, fuel-efficient car.

"When we designed the car, one of the priorities was fuel economy," Veltri said. "We focused on it in the design, in the aerodynamics of the design, in the weight, and we focused on it in the powertrain."

While Veltri declined to reveal Chrysler's fuel economy goal, competitors such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra all get 40 m.p.g. on the highway with at least one version of their compact models.

The compact Dodge, to be built at Chrysler's plant in Belvidere, Ill., will be the first of several vehicles Chrysler plans to build on a widened version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta -- a sculpted hatchback with a distinctive triangular grille that Fiat sells in Europe.

The same platform will likely be used for a new compact car for Chrysler in 2012 and could serve as the basis for the U.S. reintroduction of the Alfa Romeo brand in 2013.

"It will be very, very important for Chrysler to get this car right," said Ed Kim, director of industry analysis for consulting firm Auto Pacific. "And it will really serve as the first barometer of just how well the whole Fiat and Chrysler tie-up is going."

The new Dodge, if it meets certain fuel-economy standards, also could play a role in the ongoing consolidation of Fiat and Chrysler. Under Chrysler and Fiat's 2009 agreement with shareholders, Fiat is able to increase its ownership stake in Chrysler by another 5% when it launches a vehicle in the U.S. with a combined, unadjusted 40 m.p.g. rating by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Unadjusted" refers to the raw mileage data generated in EPA testing before it is adjusted downward by roughly 25% to get a more realistic real-world driving number for the window sticker.

More small cars to follow

Important as it will be, the new Dodge is just one of several small cars, advanced engines and fuel-efficient technologies that Chrysler plans to launch over the next several years, Veltri said.

Using Fiat platforms, the automaker plans to introduce subcompacts for Dodge and Chrysler in 2013 and a replacement for the midsize Chrysler 200 in 2013. Jeep, meanwhile, will get a new subcompact model in 2013 while the compact-sized Compass and Patriot will be replaced by one SUV in 2013.

What's more, Chrysler will introduce eight-speed transmissions on its Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger this fall that will help the automaker improve its fuel efficiency 25% by 2014.

All told, by 2014, Chrysler will have six all-new compact or subcompact vehicles on the road as well as its Fiat 500, giving the automaker a far more balanced portfolio than it has today.

"That's where they have been lacking and where the competition is really strong," said Tracy Handler, senior analyst with IHS Automotive.


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Chrysler Prepares to Build Small Car That May Increase Fiat Stake
By Tim Higgins - Jun 24, 2011

Chrysler Group LLC said it plans to begin test production in the second half of this year of the small car that will trigger U.S. government requirements to increase Fiat SpA (F)’s ownership stake.

Tooling for the small Dodge brand car goes into Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant in August, Fred Goedtel, head of Chrysler’s assembly operations, said in an interview this week in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

“We’ll start pilots in the fall” and official production begins “sometime” in the first quarter, he said.


Design work on the car, which is the vehicle Chrysler expects will trigger the final government ownership milestone, is done, Ralph Gilles, head of Chrysler design, said in an interview in Chelsea, Michigan, yesterday. “The company is really focused on it,” he said of the vehicle.

Turin, Italy-based Fiat is consolidating control over Chrysler. Fiat is buying the U.S. Treasury Department’s final stake in the U.S. automaker, acquired as part of Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. That purchase will raise Fiat’s stake to 52 percent on a fully diluted basis. Chrysler must test and commit to building a vehicle in the U.S. that achieves 40 mpg to gain another 5 percent stake.

Its deal with the U.S. and Canada allowed Fiat to gain as much as 35 percent in Chrysler without paying cash in exchange for giving management experience and technology to Chrysler and achieving various performance milestones. The 40 mpg vehicle is the final such milestone.

Fiat also exercised an option to purchase 16 percent of the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company after Chrysler repaid the U.S. and Canadian government loans in May.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both automakers, has said he expects Fiat will get its final 5 percent tied to the 40 mpg car by year’s end. The small Dodge car is being based on Fiat’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta technology, Marchionne has said.

Gilles said the new Dodge model’s name was decided earlier this week. He declined to provide the name.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-25-2011, 06:55 AM
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Hope they stay away from"omni". What a piece of junk that was.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-25-2011, 03:51 PM
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While they are waiting for a totally new car, why not bring back the Neon and the PT Cruiser on a short term basis? These could be sold alongside the Caliber until the replacement is ready for the market. I still don'y understand why these were cancelled.





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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Jul 07, 2011
Fiat's 40-mpg Dodge compact about 31 on sticker





A few more details are emerging about a U.S.-built 40-mile-per-gallon car that Italy's Fiat promised to build as part of the rescue package that gave it control of Chrysler in 2009.


Over lunch this week, Drive On wheedled a few tidbits about what Fiat has in mind for the new car. Here's what we now know:

It will replace the Dodge Caliber, a small hatchback.
It will be a sedan, not a hatch, because sedans sell better in the U.S.
It will be built at Belvidere, Ill., where Chrysler also builds the small Jeeps -- Compass and Patriot, as well as the soon-to-be-discontinued Caliber.
It is expected the first half next year.
It is based on Fiat's overseas-market Alfa Romeo Giulietta.


It won't necessarily say "40 mpg" on the window sticker mileage rating. Why?:

Because that 40 mpg is the raw, uncorrected rating that comes from EPA tests. Those test-lab results are used to enforce what the government says automakers must average -- 35.5 mpg by 2016, for example . It's 40 mpg by that standard that Fiat must meet (also known as the CAFE standard, for corporate average fuel economy).


By Alfa Romeo


But those test numbers are wildly optimistic compared to what people really achieve.

Over the years, the EPA has several times adjusted the numbers downward for use on new-car window stickers -- reduced them more and more until now they are supposed to really, truly be about what you get.

So, the combined city/highway rating (the most useful number) on the car's window sticker will read about 31 mpg if the Fiat-based Dodge gets 40 mpg in the EPA tests.

In return for building the car, Fiat gets another 5% ownership stake in Chrysler from an amount that has been set aside. Its stake went to 52% recently when Fiat bought out the U.S. government's Chrysler holding.



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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhnhopkins View Post
Hope they stay away from"omni". What a piece of junk that was.
My Dad had a Horizon - I drove it a few times, and thought it was decent. I always wanted a GLH, but the stars were never aligned in my favor!





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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-08-2011, 04:50 PM
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Saw a new 500 this morning in, i guess an electric blue. Looked nice, perhaps that's where Fiat want the Dodge small car to be headed.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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July 12, 2011 Autos Insider | Hatchback models opening new door with U.S. buyers | The Detroit News

Hatchback models opening new door with U.S. buyers

Models gain despite traditional stigma



Ford Motor Co. is finding Americans do like hatchbacks — at least in small cars.

About half of the retail sales of Ford Fiestas are hatchback models, and so are 41 percent of retail sales of the new 2012 Ford Focus, which has been on the market only a few months.

Buyers are plunking down large deposits and ordering high trim levels and many features, said Robert Parker, Ford's group marketing manager.

"Between the fuel economy, the technology we're putting in the vehicles and the flexibility a five-door offers, we're seeing a lot more interest in our products," Parker said Monday.

Hatchbacks traditionally have been popular in Canada and Europe, but have not resonated well with American consumers. That appears to be changing. Data from WardsAuto.com shows the number of hatchbacks sold in the U.S. increased by 63 percent for the 2006-10 model years, from 291,853 to 475,048. Total car sales fell 23 percent in that period.

Europeans and Canadians, with less disposable income, often had a small car as the family vehicle. A hatchback offered more cargo space for the money. In the U.S., however, hatchbacks became synonymous with cheap cars, small engines and boring design.

"The hatch was the vehicle for college kids with no money; and they were usually ugly," said analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor. But "the hatch stigma is disappearing," he said. Today they have "European flair and a lot of utility and good gas mileage."

"American car buyers have become appreciative of the convenience and flexibility that hatchback body styles offer after years of owning SUVs and crossovers," said Ford sales analyst George Pipas.

Sullivan argues that in reality, crossover drivers are driving hatchbacks — they just aren't calling it that.

Ford initially expected about 40 percent of Fiesta buyers would choose the five-door, but it has been trending as high as 60 percent and could end the year that way, Parker said. The unexpectedly high demand for the Fiesta hatch, he said, led Ford to adjust its sales projections for the Focus. The expectation now is a 50-50 split between the two body styles.

General Motors Co. offers a Chevrolet Cruze hatch in Europe, but didn't think there was enough demand to offer it here. Sullivan wonders whether GM could sell 30 percent more Cruzes if it offered a hatchback.

Chrysler Group LLC offers a compact hatch, the Dodge Caliber, but its sales paled compared with its predecessor, the Neon sedan. The replacement for the Caliber, due early next year, will be a Dodge sedan.

Ford plans to add the Focus ST performance hatch to its U.S. lineup next year.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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2013 Dodge Small Car Spy Photos - Future Cars
It probably won’t be called “Hornet,” and we also doubt “Giulietta” is in the running.



July 2011




Every previous look at the upcoming Dodge Caliber replacement (commonly called the Hornet by folks who hope it adopts the blocky looks of the 2006 Geneva concept) has shown the car wearing a black, undisguised Alfa Romeo Giulietta body. That changes now with these first photos of a disguised Alfa. No, we don’t think Dodge has engineered a car that can move back in time through development, and we’re quite sure it isn’t all an elaborate “reverse engineering” joke. The front end is now covered because the car has its very own Dodge crosshair grille in place of the Alfa’s triangular piece. Despite also wearing camo, the headlamps—complete with four-bulb LED running lights—seem to be unchanged from the Giulietta’s.

Stretched and Widened Alfa Platform

Look closer and you’ll notice a few other things are off, though, like that dark strip along the center of the hood and roof. Yes, it seems that the engineers cut a Giulietta in half and widened it by a few inches. In addition, the rear doors are longer, likely in the name of back-seat legroom. It isn’t often that changes to an architecture are so clearly laid bare; the car will be built on Fiat’s C-Wide platform to cater to space-lovin’ Americans. This is a modified version of the C-Evo platform that underpins a number of European models, and this wider version will find itself carrying the next-generation Jeep Patriot, as well as the next Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200. For those last two vehicles, the length and width will again be increased.

We’re torn about what to predict for the car’s styling. It won’t be as boxy as the Hornet concept, but we also doubt it will head to production looking like a badge-engineered Alfa Romeo. The altered panels indicate the car will have to use several new stampings, so we’re optimistic that the Dodge will get its own body. (A sedan version would make some sense, too.) Those hopes are supported further by the fact that the Alfa’s hood creases flow off the corners of the original grille, meaning they’ll look downright silly with the wider Dodge crosshairs. Plus, Alfa’s U.S. comeback is supposed to include the Giulietta, so how much sense does it make to produce an identical Dodge?



Our spy photographer’s peek at the interior doesn’t help the case, however. As far as we can see, this mule is still using a largely unchanged Giulietta cabin. We’re not sure how it still fits in the wider car, but, hey, engineers tend to have excellent MacGyver skills.

MultiAir in Its Future—Maybe an SRT Version, Too?

The car has many question marks, but the biggest one has to be in the powertrain department. We can think of nothing worse than the new car using the Caliber’s sluggish, inefficient 2.4-liter GEMA engine, and we hope Sergio Marchionne feels the same way. In the hunt for competitive fuel efficiency, we see the car adopting Fiat’s 1.4-liter four with MultiAir valve-lift technology. That engine just arrived stateside courtesy of the Fiat 500, where it pumps out a mighty 101 hp, but turbocharged versions make between 135 and 170. The Caliber’s uninspiring continuously variable transmission will almost assuredly be retired in favor of the new ZF-engineered nine-speed automatic.

Since the Chrysler Group has officially split off its SRT operation as a separate brand, we expect dedication to go-fast models will remain strong, and that a sporty, small Dodge will be birthed to compete with the likes of the Ford Focus ST, the Mazdaspeed 3, and the Volkswagen GTI. The top-level Giulietta currently on sale in Europe uses a 1.8-liter turbocharged four; its 235 horses would be suitable for an SRT4 model.

When will we see the real thing? It’s hard to say; Dodge surely would like to make a big splash in January at its home show in Detroit, but the debut (probably as a concept) could be pushed to next April’s New York affair. That would allow a little more planning time—as well as potentially create some buzz in a major metropolis where Dodge doesn’t currently sell a whole lot of anything, much less compact cars. Either way, with the dreadful Caliber currently representing Dodge in the small-car arena, this replacement can’t arrive soon enough.




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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Ralph Gilles: SRT model for upcoming C-segment car "absolutely paramount"

Jul 19th 2011




First comes word that a Magnum revival could be in the works, and now we hear that the SRT team over at Dodge is eager to add a C-segment brawler to its revitalized product lineup. That word doesn't come from the mouth of just anyone either, as Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of the SRT brand, tells Ward's Auto that it's "absolutely paramount" to add a sports compact to the family.

Dodge is already working on the non-SRT version, and it is expected to be underpinned by the platform currently employed on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. While a Hemi is highly unlikely for the upcoming compact SRT, we wouldn't rule out the idea of a turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engine.



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