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Discussion Starter #261
SUVs but what about iconic Dodge and Chrysler models?

2/11/2021


Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares laid out a plan that’s good news for the development of pickups and SUVs at the company’s Auburn Hills tech center Wednesday, but the future of other iconic Chrysler and Dodge vehicles is an open question.

“We expect pickups and SUVs to be developed in the Auburn Hills,” Tavares said following a visit to the former Fiat Chrysler’s Detroit manufacturing complex. The Oakland County tech center also will develop electrified versions of those vehicles, he said.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (left) and Detroit Assembly Complex – Mack plant manager Michael Brieda inspect the steel body of a Jeep® Grand Cherokee L built at the facility as part of a tour on Feb. 9, 2021. Tavares and other members of the Stellantis leadership team visited Mack and the Detroit Assembly Complex – Jefferson plant, home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango, to meet with employees and get a firsthand look at those operations, marking their first North American visit since the Stellantis merger was completed last month.


Beloved, but slower-selling models like the Chrysler 300 sedan, Chrysler Pacifica minivan, Dodge Charger sedan and Challenger coupe were not mentioned.

Auburn Hills engineers’ main job will be developing pickups and SUVs.

That’s the most important thing for the U.S. role in the newly created Stellantis. By engineering and building many of the company’s most profitable and best-selling vehicles, Auburn Hills, and thereby Detroit, is assured a significant voice in investment, management and corporate strategy for what just became the biggest car company in town.

The savior of lost brands?
Just as they did under FCA, DaimlerChrysler and when Chrysler was independent, sales of Jeeps and pickups will determine Auburn Hills’ fate, and the company’s role in Michigan and America’s economies.

That doesn’t make the 300, Pacifica, Charger and Challenger disposable, though.

2021 Chrysler 300S


Each is, in its own way, a legitimate icon. Chrysler invented the minivan, and has always built one of the best, persisting as competitors dropped out of the market. The 300 reinvented the exciting American sedan in 2005.

Dodge has built a unique brand image around the Charger and Challenger’s styling bravado, performance and value. Who would’ve thought a brand could get away with commercials showing George Washington leading a charge at the wheel of a muscle car? Who wouldn’t hesitate before walking away from that image?

Not Carlos Tavares.

One of Stellantis’s early surprises has been the CEO’s enthusiasm for brands conventional wisdom said were doomed. He breathed new life into Opel after acquiring the German brand from General Motors. Now he speaks almost rapturously about Chrysler: “We’re very keen on supporting a Chrysler brand rebound,” adding Stellantis values and loves the brand. You don’t hear a lot of that. Trust me.

“We are going to fully use the tech center in Auburn Hills to engineer all products focused on the U.S. market,” Tavares said.

What’s next for 300, Charger, Pacifica?
That doesn’t mean the Pacifica or the big sedans and coupes are going away, IHS Markit analyst Stephanie Brinley said.

“Stellantis’ mission is not to slice and dice the brands and make them smaller,” Brinley said. “The goal is to do things better, not to do less.”

That means the long-awaited next-gen 300/Charger et al. are likely still coming on a modified version of the outstanding Giorgio platform FCA developed for the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio sport sedan and SUV. That should keep the iconic names and their performance profile alive for at least another five or six years. Beyond that, the survival of modern muscle cars like that will depend on advances in electric vehicles and whether Alfa Romeo can justify its survival after the middle of the decade.

Similarly, developing a new Pacifica should be relatively easy. Peugeot has built large front-wheel-drive cars and minivans that use the same kind of underpinnings as Chrysler minivans for decades.

“Where the engineering of a modular platform took place won’t be relevant,” Brinley said. “Stellantis’s scale can allow them to provide each brand with what it needs more efficiently.”

It took years for Chrysler’s model line to dwindle to its current paltry state. Rebuilding it will take years, too.

 

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Discussion Starter #262
Reborn Ram Dakota Truck Reportedly Canceled
by Jay Traugott 02/21/2021

Stellantis has other plans in mind?


Ever since the arrival of the reborn Ford Ranger there have been reports here and there Ram also intends to re-enter the midsize truck segment. The Dodge Dakota was discontinued in 2011 following a nearly 25-year production run, and Ram, now the official truck brand, wants in on the action and profit. The Jeep Gladiator is officially classified as a midsize, but its styling is not for everyone. A more conventional design offering would only broaden Ram's appeal. Or would it?
GM Authority is now claiming "sources from within Stellantis" indicate the Dakota project has been canceled. No other details have been provided, so this should be taken with a grain of salt for the time being.

 
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