The Chrysler 200 may have gotten an inspired start with an advertising campaign featuring rapper Eminem, but apparently the new nameplate is going to have a very short shelf life, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.
Chrysler executives recently picked some new names for the next-generation models that will roll out of the company’s assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where the 200 sedan and convertible are currently assembled.
The designs for the new C/D-sized cars, (compact in lay terms), which will be based on architecture from Fiat, have been frozen for some time and the names were finalized within the past week, suggesting Chrysler is completing plans for launching the new vehicles in roughly the next nine months or so.
The Chrysler 200 name itself was a stop gap after the automaker retired the Sebring badge, which had become badly tarnished by a poorly executed offering developed as part of the aborted three-way alliance between Daimler, Chrysler and Mitsubishi.
Chrysler executives are refusing to offer any hints about whether the names will come from the company’s traditional portfolio or shift into an entirely new direction. Retaining the 200 name would have a couple advantages: for one thing, it signifies a step down from Chrysler’s current flagship model, the 300 – though it would make it difficult to slot a midsize product in-between those two offerings.
There’s also the issue of cost: marketing an all-new mainstream nameplate can initially cost about $80 million to $100 million more than simply maintaining awareness for an existing name, industry marketers estimate. Just the well-received Super Bowl ad featuring Eminem, used to establish the 200 last January, cost about $10 million to produce and air.
But the downside is getting motorists to change their perceptions about a weak product, which appears to have convinced Chrysler planners that it will be better to start all over once the new line-up comes to market.
Meanwhile, Chrysler Group LLC is set to begin construction of a new $850 million paint shop at its assembly plant in Sterling Heights.
The official groundbreaking is set for Tuesday and follows the automaker’s announcement in October 2010 that it planned to overhaul the plant with a state-of-the-art paint shop for the production of future products.
Construction of the paint shop underscores the turnaround over the past two years in the fortunes of the plant, which currently employs approximately 2,000.
During the bankruptcy in 2009, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was assigned to the “old” Chrysler and was scheduled to close permanently sometime this year.
Chrysler bought the plant back from the entity disposing of its old assets in early 2010. It is now seen as a cornerstone of the “new” Chrysler, something CEO Sergio Marchionne underscored last month, when he used the Sterling Heights plant as a backdrop for the news conference announcing the automaker had paid off its remaining bailout loans.
Tags: Chrysler-fiat, Sergio Marchionne, auto news, car news, chrysler 200, chrysler 200 nameplate, chrysler compact, chrysler eminem, chrysler marketing, chrysler names, chrysler news, chrysler sterling heights, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau