European buyers will no longer be able to get their hands on a car with Chrysler’s winged badge unless they have a source on the grey market.
Starting today, all products that were formally marketed under the Chrysler name will now be rebadged Lancia.
That’s the latest step in an evolving global strategy bringing Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat ever closer together. With the European maker planning to control more than 51% of the once-bankrupt American automaker before year-end, Chrysler and Fiat are rapidly consolidating product development, distribution and finances.
The decision to abandon the Chrysler brand name in Europe wasn’t entirely a surprise. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, revealed plans to pair the brand with the long-struggling Lancia during a November 2009 media and analyst briefing. At the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, a number of Chrysler models, including the Town and Country minivan, as well as the small 200 and larger 300 sedans, were unveiled wearing the Lancia badge.
“We couldn’t maintain the two brands everywhere so we had to decide,” Olivier Francois, the executive overseeing the two brands, told Bloomberg news service. “Lancia has a higher awareness in Europe, while for the U.S. and the rest of the world, Chrysler is a more global brand.”