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Discussion Starter #1
This report recently came out about Sergio's product strategies for Dodge and Chrysler:
Link: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111010/CARNEWS/111019999, Source: Auto Week.

According to the report:
1) The current Dodge Avenger midsize sedan won't be replaced.
2) The Dodge Grand Caravan minivan will be replaced by a crossover.
3) Chrysler will get a replacement for the current midsize 200 sedan.
4) Chrysler will get a replacement for the current Town & Country minivan.
5) The next gen Dodge Journey will be a little smaller.
6) The future lineups for Chrysler and Dodge doesn't include subcompact products.
7) Dodge will get a compact sedan while Chrysler will get a compact "sort of hatchback" on the same platform.

Based on this info, I'm starting to wonder if Sergio has second thoughts about moving the Chrysler brand back upmarket. He may intend to aim both brands (Chrysler and Dodge) at the mainstream end of the market. It looks like he may be placing a product under the brand that best represents the intent, purpose, and mission of the product. For example, Dodge's sportier image isn't really compatible with a minivan, but it's perfect for a compact sedan (usually a younger demographic that prefers sportier styling and driving dynamics). Chrysler's more sedate image would be more suitable for the midsize sedan and minivan (more mature and family oriented demographic). Since Chrysler has been all over the map in regards to its market position, it could conceivably offer trim levels on its products that could cover everything from affordable mainstream to near luxury (which would be perfect for the midsize sedan and minivan). I think Dodge is rather limited with how far upmarket it could go.

That being said, I sort of question giving Chrysler a "sort of hatchback" model. My only guess is that this "sort of hatchback" will be a taller hatchback that may be marketed as a "segment buster". Chrysler did have some success with the initial launch of the PT Cruiser (before it was allowed to get stale, outdated, and outclassed), a product that it clearly marketed as a "segment buster". I'm assuming that this Chrysler hatchback will align with the next gen Lancia Delta, which is already a bit tall at 59 inches. If the next gen Lancia Delta gets a little taller, it will definitely fall into the same "glorified hatchback" segment as the Dodge Caliber and Toyota Matrix. Maybe Sergio thinks Chrysler will have more luck with this type of vehicle since it had quite a bit of early success with the PT Cruiser. He may not be giving it to Dodge since it pretty much failed with the Caliber. The only thing he may not be taking into consideration is that the Caliber didn't fail because it was a Dodge; it failed because it was poorly executed. Conversely; the PT Cruiser didn't make a big initial impact in the market because it was a Chrysler (it was actually initially intended to be a Plymouth), but because it was a cleverly designed novelty that resonated with the imagination of the buying public. It will be interesting to see what this product is and how well it sells.

Note on subcompacts: Sergio specifically mentioned the Dodge and Chrysler brands when he was referring to an absence of subcompact products. He didn't mention Fiat or Jeep. I still think it's entirely feasible that he may expand Fiat's lineup with subcompact and compact models. The next gen Punto 3-door/5-door would be a perfect product for Fiat in the US market. There has also already been reports about a B-platform based Jeep product too. I think he may have meant that Dodge and Chrysler wouldn't be carrying any subcompact products in the US in the near future, but Fiat (who already offers the 500 city car) and Jeep possibly would offer them. I guess that means no Chrysler badged Lancia Ypsilon in our future (which is fine since that car isn't what I would classify as "good looking).

This is all speculation on my part, but the product strategies in the report seem to possibly suggest what I'm proposing.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Based on reports mixed with a little speculation, I think the US lineups may unfold in this manner:

CARS:
Fiat 500/500C: City car.
Fiat Punto: Subcompact 3-door/5-door. Sergio has stated that the Chrysler and Dodge brands wouldn't be carrying subcompact models in the US market, but I think it would be foolish to keep the next gen Punto out of Fiat's US lineup. Fiat is supposed to serve as Fiat/Chrysler's small car specialist in the US market, so a subcompact model to slot above the 500 in size makes perfect sense.
Dodge Avenger: Compact sedan built on the C-Evo Wide platform. I would give the current midsize Avenger an abbreviated 2012 model year and discontinue it when this sedan debuts. Here are the reasons: 1) Reports suggest that this may be the only sedan to slot below the Charger in Dodge's lineup, so reassigning the name to this new sedan seems appropriate, 2) Fiat/Chrysler already owns the rights to the name and the name is already established in the market, so why not reuse it on this sedan, 3) I believe this sedan may actually straddle the compact and midsize sedan segments, so applying the name to this new sedan wouldn't be a stretch for the model name.
Chrysler 100: Compact 5-door hatchback on the C-Evo Wide platform. Reports indicate that the Chrysler brand would receive a "sort of hatchback" on this platform. My guess is that this will be the next gen Lancia Delta. I'm also speculating that this car may be a rather tall hatchback and Chrysler may market it as a "segment buster", much like Chrysler did with the PT Cruiser. The current Delta is already 59 inches tall, so I wouldn't be surprised if the next gen version would be at least this tall if not an inch or two taller.
Chrysler 200: Midsize sedan on the D-Evo (C-Evo Wide Plus) platform. I'm speculating that the next gen 200 will grow in size and straddle the midsize and large sedan segments, much like the current Accord. Trim levels may allow the new 200 to be equipped like a mainstream midsize or a near luxury sedan.
Dodge Challenger: RWD sports coupe.
Dodge Charger: Large RWD sports sedan.
Chrysler 300: Large RWD near luxury sedan.
Dodge Viper: RWD flagship 2-seater sports coupe.

CROSSOVERS/MPVS:
Fiat 500X: Miniature MPV. The 500X is actually the new gen Fiat Panda that has been rechristened for the US market. The "500" name is being established in the US market and my guess would be that Fiat would like to build and expand on that name recognition. Besides, I don't see a lot of people really wanting to drive something called "Panda". If I understand correctly, the new gen Panda is built on the 500 platform; so this small MPV could be viewed as an extension of the 500 line.
Fiat Bravo: Compact crossover built on the C-Evo Wide platform. Reports indicate that Sergio wants to morph the next gen Bravo into a compact crossover to rival the Euro market Nissan Qashqai. The new gen Bravo would serve as Fiat/Chrysler's compact crossover and as the flagship for the Fiat brand in the US market.
Dodge Journey: Midsize crossover built on the D-Evo platform. Reports indicate that the next gen Journey may shrink a little. My guess is that it will move to the D-Evo platform, but still serve as Fiat/Chrysler's 3-row Highlander/Pilot competitor.
Dodge Magnum: Reports suggest that there won't be a replacement for the current Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. A crossover that shares its platform (E-Evo perhaps?) with the next gen Chrysler brand minivan is supposed to take its place. I think we may be looking at a large 3-row crossover that's intended to rival the Chevrolet Traverse. Although there is a lot of market equity built up in the "Caravan" name, Dodge may still decide to go with a different name since "Caravan" may be linked too closely to the concept of a minivan in the minds of the general public.
Chrysler 400: Rechristened next gen Town & Country minivan built on the E-Evo(?) platform. Like the new gen 200 sedan, the new 400 minivan may offer trim levels to allow it to be equipped like a mainstream minivan or a near luxury tourer. The top trim level might even be called the "400 Town & Country" so that buyers understand it's intent. Why a model name change?: "400" ties in with the numeric nomenclature of other Chrysler brand models and "Town & Country" seems to suggest an expensively loaded/luxurious vehicle. The new 400 minivan will have to cover the void created by the absence of the Grand Caravan as well as serving as a replacement for the current Town & Country.

SUVs:
Jeep Willys: Subcompact SUV built on Fiat's B-platform. The new Willys would be a small 5-door SUV featuring "mini-Wrangler" styling.
Jeep Compass: Compact SUV built on the C-Evo Wide platform. The new gen Compass would feature "mini-Grand Cherokee" styling. It would replace the current Patriot as well as the current Compass.
Jeep Wrangler: The quintessential iconic Jeep available in a endless array of configurations.
Jeep Cherokee: Midsize SUV built on the D-Evo platform. The new Cherokee would replace the current Liberty in Jeep's lineup. It would slot below the Grand Cherokee in size and price. Unlike its Dodge Journey platform mate, the Cherokee will only feature 2-row seating. Styling would be influenced by the Grand Cherokee.
Jeep Grand Cherokee: With the new gen Cherokee taking over a more affordable position in Jeep's lineup, the current Grand Cherokee can be taken back upmarket a bit. It won't need to offer any sort of value trim levels to lower its price.
Dodge Durango: Large 3-row SUV aimed at on-road duties and use. To differentiate the Durango from the possibly similarly sized Magnum, the Durango will be marketed as an SUV while the Magnum will be marketed as a CUV.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer: Large 3-row SUV built on the Durango platform. The Grand Wagoneer will be more expensive than the Durango and will be engineered and designed to accommodate off-road use.
Side Note: Why a Jeep over a similar type of vehicle from Fiat or Dodge? I'm a little confused about this myself. I'm guessing that Fiat/Chrysler will differentiate the Jeep vehicles by marketing all of them as SUVs (although most of them are clearly crossovers), designing the Jeep products to be off-road capable (the Fiat Bravo and Dodge Journey/Magnum/Durango won't be), and making the Jeep products more upmarket and expensive.

TRUCKS/COMMERCIAL VEHICLES:
The RAM brand was spun off to handle these vehicles. It appears as though Fiat has 4 different sized vans (Fiorino, Doblo', Scudo, and Ducato) that could serve as commercial vans for the RAM brand. Fiat also has a small car based pickup called "Strada" that could possibly be added to RAM's lineup. There has also been talk of adding a car based midsize pickup to replace the Dakota that may be similar in concept to the Honda Ridgeline. Of course, RAM currently has the RAM 1500/2500/3500/Chassis Cab pickup lines also. RAM also sells a commercial version of the current Dodge Grand Caravan called the RAM C/V. I have to admit that my interest in this brand and these types of vehicles is rather limited.

I want to emphasize that this entire post is purely speculation and hypothesis on my part. Some of the info is based on reports that I have read. Most of it are guesses that I'm making based on that info. None of this post should be taken as rock solid fact because it's not. I just think it's fun to speculate and guess about the future based on the tidbits of info that gets released.
 

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...Based on this info, I'm starting to wonder if Sergio has second thoughts about moving the Chrysler brand back upmarket. He may intend to aim both brands (Chrysler and Dodge) at the mainstream end of the market...
...That being said, I sort of question giving Chrysler a "sort of hatchback" model. My only guess is that this "sort of hatchback" will be a taller hatchback that may be marketed as a "segment buster"...
as I didn't quite say in the Dodge compact thread,
I'm confused by what's happening with Chrysler & Dodge...

...could that be because Marchione is sure yet either?
 

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Yeah I agree killing the caravan does not sound like a good idea, unless they plan on lowering the price of the T&C. But then how does that look for Chrysler when Marchionne said he wanted Chrysler on the same level as Lincoln and Cadillac
 

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A few Q's
500X / Panda same or different skin?
and Jeep Willies any source for that name and for liberty returning to Cherokee?
I would assume the Fiat vans would replace the CV/RAM as the FIAT ones are ground up engineered as cargo haulers
and I assume the car based DEKOTA would be a RAM Dekota
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A few Q's
500X / Panda same or different skin?
and Jeep Willies any source for that name and for liberty returning to Cherokee?
I would assume the Fiat vans would replace the CV/RAM as the FIAT ones are ground up engineered as cargo haulers
and I assume the car based DEKOTA would be a RAM Dekota
Basically, using the "500X", "Willys", and "Cherokee" names were my ideas or personal preferences.

The 500X would simply be a rechristened Panda. There would be no other major changes to the Panda except the name. I did base the "500X" name on reports that I had read that Fiat was planning on expanding the 500 line with a tallish 5-door model. If I understand correctly, the new gen Panda is built on the 500 platform and it's definitely a tallish (61 inches, I think?) 5-door model. I could see it sporting the "500X" name in the US market, but there are no definite reports or sources that indicate that we are getting the Panda or that it will be called "500X". For all I know, Fiat could actually be working on a separate tallish 5-door model that looks like a 500 on steroids (sort of like the Countryman looks like a Mini Cooper on steroids). I personally think that would be a waste of resources since the new gen Panda is funky enough to serve as an extension of the 500 line in the US and it's basically ready to go.

If Jeep's B-platform model turns out to look like a miniature Wrangler, then I think reviving the "Willys" name would be totally appropriate. Again, this is speculation on my part, so there is no report or source to back this up. Given the success of the Kia Soul, I could definitely see Jeep coming out with its own boxy subcompact to compete with it. The difference would be that the Jeep product could be somewhat off-road capable and the design would have a history of iconic Jeep styling to make it seem more authentic.

As far as using the "Cherokee" name, that was my personal preference. I think Chrysler was foolish in throwing away all the equity it had in that name when it introduced the 1st gen Liberty in 2001. Chrysler continued to use the "Cherokee" name in foreign markets, though. I think it's time to resurrect the name in the US. Again, there are no sources or reports to back this up because it's strictly my personal preference.

I agree that the RAM C/V could eventually be replaced by a Fiat commercial van when the next gen minivan arrives on the scene. I also agree that the proposed car based midsize pickup should be sold under the RAM brand as a new gen Dakota.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah I agree killing the caravan does not sound like a good idea, unless they plan on lowering the price of the T&C. But then how does that look for Chrysler when Marchionne said he wanted Chrysler on the same level as Lincoln and Cadillac
I still think that Sergio has somewhat backed off on trying to take the Chrysler brand back upmarket in the US. The fact that reports suggest that the brand will carry Fiat/Chrysler's sole entries in the midsize sedan and minivan segments in the US seems to back that up. I can see the next gen of both products offering a variety of trim levels to cover everything from affordable mainstream to near luxury (similar to what Chrysler already does with the current 200 sedan). With Dodge trying to take on a more sporty nature, I do think there is some merit in putting the more mature family oriented offerings in Chrysler's lineup. I don't think most midsize sedan or minivan shoppers choose these types of products based on their sporty styling and handling. Of course, I think adding a dose of style to the formula can't hurt (the current "Sonata" being a prime example), but I think that other aspects of these types of products probably rank higher on the priorities list of midsize sedan and minivan shoppers (namely space, utility, and price).

Since the next gen Chrysler branded minivan would need to cover the same ground as the current Grand Caravan/Town & Country, I question whether the next gen minivan should use the "Town & Country" moniker. To me, the "Town & Country" moniker strictly suggests a luxury oriented/equipped product. My assumption is that there would need to be affordable mainstream trim levels of the next gen Chrysler branded minivan to cover the absence of the Grand Caravan. I just can't see affordable mainstream versions carrying the "Town & Country" name. If Chrysler is sticking to a numeric moniker system, then I would christen the next gen minivan as the "400". "Town & Country" would then be reserved for the top trim level, which would then be called the "400 Town & Country". The more affordable versions would be the "400 Touring" and "400 Limited".

I'm not a big fan of the numeric monikers, but I could see Chrysler going in this direction if the current gen 200 midsize sedan manages to reverse the brand's fortunes in the US market. Chrysler would be wise to build on the positive momentum of this name change in the North American market by applying it to other vehicles in the brand's lineup.

Giving the Chrysler brand a compact "sort of hatchback" product in the US market still has me a little stumped, especially if Sergio plans on simply letting Chrysler be more of a mainstream family vehicle oriented brand instead of a premium brand. The only possible way I could see this working is if the next gen Lancia Delta is a few inches taller than the current version and Chrysler can market this product as a "segment buster" competitor to the Toyota Venza (although the next gen Lancia Delta would be somewhat smaller than the Venza). I'm still not quite following the logic on this one. I think Chrysler could use a smaller MPV to slot below the next gen minivan, but this smaller MPV would probably need to be built off the D-Evo platform and still need to offer some sort of optional 3rd row seating (I don't think optional 3rd row seating would be a possibility for the Delta or any other C-Evo Wide based product). Basically, I think Chrysler could use a product similar in size and purpose to the Chevrolet Orlando, Opel Zafira, Ford Grand C-Max, Mazda5, or Kia Carens/Rondo.
 

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Basically, using the "500X", "Willys", and "Cherokee" names were my ideas or personal preferences.

The 500X would simply be a rechristened Panda. There would be no other major changes to the Panda except the name. I did base the "500X" name on reports that I had read that Fiat was planning on expanding the 500 line with a tallish 5-door model. If I understand correctly, the new gen Panda is built on the 500 platform and it's definitely a tallish (61 inches, I think?) 5-door model. I could see it sporting the "500X" name in the US market, but there are no definite reports or sources that indicate that we are getting the Panda or that it will be called "500X". For all I know, Fiat could actually be working on a separate tallish 5-door model that looks like a 500 on steroids (sort of like the Countryman looks like a Mini Cooper on steroids). I personally think that would be a waste of resources since the new gen Panda is funky enough to serve as an extension of the 500 line in the US and it's basically ready to go.

If Jeep's B-platform model turns out to look like a miniature Wrangler, then I think reviving the "Willys" name would be totally appropriate. Again, this is speculation on my part, so there is no report or source to back this up. Given the success of the Kia Soul, I could definitely see Jeep coming out with its own boxy subcompact to compete with it. The difference would be that the Jeep product could be somewhat off-road capable and the design would have a history of iconic Jeep styling to make it seem more authentic.

As far as using the "Cherokee" name, that was my personal preference. I think Chrysler was foolish in throwing away all the equity it had in that name when it introduced the 1st gen Liberty in 2001. Chrysler continued to use the "Cherokee" name in foreign markets, though. I think it's time to resurrect the name in the US. Again, there are no sources or reports to back this up because it's strictly my personal preference.

I agree that the RAM C/V could eventually be replaced by a Fiat commercial van when the next gen minivan arrives on the scene. I also agree that the proposed car based midsize pickup should be sold under the RAM brand as a new gen Dakota.
short comment for a long quote...
imho when 2-or-more possible-&-good names exist for a single model
just let the unused ones be trim-levels
 
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