The only domestic automaker to gain market share in 2012, Chrysler is betting it will need a new product blitz to keep its momentum going.
And it has plenty of new cars, trucks and crossovers on the drawing board – 47 all-new or significantly refreshed models coming to market over the next four years, according to CEO Sergio Marchionne, including six from the Italian Alfa Romeo brand which is scheduled to make its return to the U.S. market late in 2013.
“We are overspending, and we understand this. But we are doing this with a very clear agenda and a very clear intent,” Marchionne said during a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We’ve earned a lot of goodwill by providing a dramatic improvement in the quality of our products and by launching what we have launched. I still think that we need to continue to pound the ground.”
The maker unleashed an assortment of new Jeep models during the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit, an event that also saw the Ram 1500 pickup named North American Truck of the Year by a jury of 49 U.S. and Canadian journalists.
(Chrysler earnings soar for Q4, all of 2012. Click Here for details.)
But Chrysler has also taken some criticism from analysts who believe it still hasn’t done enough to replace the line-up it had when it plunged into bankruptcy in 2009, rescued only with the help of a federal bail-out and the move by Italian automaker Fiat to effectively take over control of the U.S. manufacturer.
Fiat, which had abandoned the American market two decades earlier, made its return in 2011 and after a slow start became one of last year’s fastest-growing brands with variations of the initial Fiat 500 microcar. It has already confirmed plans for a second, larger model, the 500L, and a third, the 500X crossover, is expected to follow.
Alfa, meanwhile, is finally on track to return to the U.S. market after its own long absence, Marchionne confirmed earlier this month. It will start out with an Americanized version of the sporty Alfa 4C, but a range of offerings now appear to be in the works, according to the CEO.
With the addition of the Fiat and Alfa brands, Chrysler now operates under more brand names than any other maker in the U.S. market – and it appears the blitz will feed the need to keep all of those mouths happy.
(For more on Alfa Romeo’s planned return to the U.S., Click Here.)
Jeep will not only get an updated version of the Grand Cherokee, Patriot and Compass models but a replacement for the mid-range Liberty model that it plans to unveil soon.
Even the Mopar brand, long focused on providing replacement and aftermarket parts, is getting into the act. It will unveil the latest in a series of low-volume replacement models, dubbed the Moper ’13 Dart, at the upcoming Chicago Auto Show.
The Dodge Dart was introduced last year to a strong, initial response, reviving a nameplate Chrysler hadn’t used in decades. But it has been less of the success Chrysler officials had hoped for, in part due to the lack of a peppy top-range engine, Marchionne has acknowledged.
(Click Here for more on that story.)
Chrysler will add a new 2.4-liter powertrain to the Dart line later this year, underscoring the role that new and upgraded powertrains will also play in the planned product blitz.
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