FCA is giving the axe to the Chrysler brand – in the U.K., that is. It plans to pull the iconic brand out of the British market by 2017 due to steadily dwindling sales.
Instead, the Euro-American automaker plans to put the focus on its other brands, most notably Jeep, which has been scoring big sales gains around the world the last several years.
The Chrysler brand spent years struggling to build a presence outside of the American home market, largely without success. Sales dwindled to 1,982 in the U.K. last year, down 21% from the year before, and barely half the 3,500 vehicles Chrysler sold there in 2012, according to the trade group, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.
The brand has already largely vanished, anyway. Chrysler had already pulled from showrooms both the 300C sedan and the Grand Voyager minivan. The only model that was being offered in recent months was the Ypsilon, actually a rebadged, Italian-made Lancia minicar.
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Even as the Chrysler brand winds down, FCA is building up Jeep. It has scored an initial hit with the Renegade, its smallest SUV ever – and the first to be produced in Europe. Jeep plans to add several other models to its European line-up over the next few years, from a compact model aimed to compete with Nissan’s European Qashqai, to a full-sized model expected to revive the old Grand Wagoneer badge.
(Click Here for details Jeep’s sales expectations for 2015.)
The decision to phase out Chrysler in the U.K. reflects a broader realignment in the FCA brand family. The Lancia marque will largely be abandoned but for a small line-up offered exclusively in the home Italian market. Meanwhile, FCA also has scaled back the product range offered by the once-broad Fiat brand. It will now focus exclusively on small products like the 500, 500L and 500X.
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These moves are not unique to Chrysler. General Motors this week announced it would all but abandon Russia due to the high cost of competing in that troubled market. Chevrolet will be limited there to a handful of models and Opel will pull out entirely.
Several other makers have pared back brand offerings in weaker markets around the world, a trend expected to continue in the years ahead.