In an announcement that should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the woes of Detroit's Big Three, Chrysler Group LLC is dumping product lines while making room on its showroom floors for products from Fiat. There was no reason that Fiat SpA would have partnered up with the dinosaur if not to gain a foothold in the American market.
According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the auto maker will announce in early November plans to begin building upscale Alfa Romeos, a Fiat-owned brand, in North America to distribute through the Chrysler network by 2012. The MiTo compact is scheduled to be the first off the assembly line.
On the import slate for 2011 is the 500, a minicar in the class of the VW Beetle and BMW Mini, built by Fiat in Poland.
Other new vehicles are being planned using Fiat technology and design expertise to replace Chrysler's tired brands. On the chopping block are Dodge products Caliber, Nitro and Avenger. Why? I bet you couldn't recognize one of these; I know I couldn't. Say bye-bye also to the Chrysler Sebring, PT Cruiser, Grand Voyager minivan, and many Jeep products, which will be gone by 2012.
The open question is if Chrysler can survive until the new products are ready for sale (presuming, of course, that they will be appealing). With the auto competition from India and China heading our way, I have my doubts. Then again, Fiat had all but been consigned to the grave before making an astounding comeback, known as the Miracle at Turin, so I won't order flowers for Chrysler just yet.
Chrysler to announce Fiatification plans: say arrivederci to some brands