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Old 02-18-2010, 08:24 AM   #1
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Default Chrysler to drop Sebring name, change small, midsize models

Facing a drumbeat of doubt about its pace of new car development, Chrysler is dropping clues that changes in its small and midsize cars may be more substantial and arrive sooner, based on recent comments from CEO Sergio Marchionne

For example, a "freshening" of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, due by the end of this year, now will include at least one new name -- Sebring will be dropped -- and more extensive structural revisions.Then, last month in Italy, Marchionne said premium brands Chrysler and Lancia could "converge as early as the end of the year." That raises the prospect that the Chrysler-modified version of the Lancia Delta on display at the Detroit auto show could come to U.S. showrooms.

"In Europe, Lancia is an undersize, underdeveloped brand, with nothing bigger than the Delta," Marchionne said. "Chrysler, which has a true global reach, has nothing smaller. Put them together and you have a full line-up."
But fixing the underachieving Sebring and Avenger, sales of which tumbled 62% and 37%, respectively, in 2009, is even more important if Marchionne's turnaround is to gain traction.

Neglect and miserly cuts in product development spending by Daimler and Cerberus Capital Management left Sebring and Avenger exposed to superior competing cars. Chrysler plans a re-engineered midsize car from a Fiat underbody, but it won't reach showrooms until 2013. That means the near-term challenge is to transform two much-maligned models enough so consumers will reconsider the Chrysler or Dodge brands.

"We've rolled up our sleeves and have torn apart that architecture," Marchionne said. "You'll see a completely different animal. We're having a discussion about what name this animal should have. The jury is still out."

Chrysler's brain trust understands the urgency. Marchionne and Chrysler brand president Olivier Francois are focused on enhancing those characteristics of the midsize sedans that consumers will notice.

Stephanie Brinley, an industry analyst with AutoPacific Group in Troy, said Chrysler is somewhat limited in the changes that can be made, but even small changes can have an impact.

The changes "can make a big difference in a car's quality of ride and handling," she said.

If Chrysler can integrate Fiat's Multiair engine technology into its 2.4-liter engine, the base engine for the new midsize sedans, that could break through some of the skepticism.
Multiair adjusts timing of engine valves to maximize acceleration or fuel efficiency. Fiat and Chrysler officials said it can improve horsepower and fuel-economy by 10% -- delivering better low-end torque and reducing carbon emissions.

The technology will be part of the smaller 1.4-liter four-cylinder engines Chrysler will begin making late this year at its Dundee engine plant, and it will eventually be offered in the rest of Chrysler's engines.

But will it be ready for the Sebring replacement this year?
"We're doing things as quickly as we can, but I can't say anything specific," said Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau.
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:41 AM   #2
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Good. Chrysler needs to start fresh. Don't bring back bad memories.
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:47 PM   #3
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It's about time.

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Old 02-18-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
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Chrysler should get dropped all together.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:13 PM   #5
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This^. Bring on the Fiats. The geezers who actually like Chryslers won't live forever.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by White out View Post
It's about time.


Originally Posted by fourmicah View Post
Chrysler should get dropped all together.
^And this........I mean really, who wants to buy a Chrysler these days.........
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:17 PM   #7
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Dude, all those 22" rims have to go somewhere...
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