Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will officially mark the start of production of the 2015 Chrysler 200 with a ceremony Friday at the company’s suburban Detroit Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. It’s the same factory the Detroit maker planned to close after emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 and now, along with the new 200 sedan, has become a critical part of Chrysler’s turnaround.
The maker – now part of the newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – is betting on the 200 to help it gain a foothold in the huge but highly competitive midsize segment where it will go up against tough competitors like the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu, as well as such imports as the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota’s traditionally best-selling Camry.
An earlier version of the 200, launched with the help of a widely seen 2011 Super Bowl commercial featuring rapper Eminem, helped gain some traction for the midsize model – and saved the Sterling Heights plant. Chrysler’s bankruptcy plan called for permanently shutting it, any cash from the sale of the property going to the maker’s creditors. (more…)