Chrysler – a 93-year institution in the US, and one of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ namesake brands – isn’t set to go away, despite warnings from industry pundits who feared that the brand’s cancellation could be part of FCA’s five-year-plan presentation last week. However, the future of the brand does remain murky, as FCA indicated at just a single new future Chrysler product amidst a frenzy of new vehicle announcements for the likes of Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati.
That said, Fiat Chrysler does seem to have a mission in mind for the historic brand: mobility. During his presentation on Friday, CEO Sergio Marchionne said that Dodge and Chrysler will officially stick around, with Dodge continuing to fill “the particular space as a performance brand,” and Chrysler filling both “the minivan business space [and] the mobility solution in the US market.”
“Those two brands are not in question but they’re local NAFTA brands, and need to be developed for local market conditions,” Marchionne told investors Friday. “Our view is that 70 percent of the US market is already non-sedan, so to try and build traditional sedans is not helpful. Brands like Dodge can play a role there because of their performance heritage.”
Chrysler’s forthcoming new vehicle could be the anticipated Pacifica-based “Aspen” crossover – although based on Sergio Marchionne’s comments, it could just as well be a new minivan instead. Of course, at the same time that Chrysler gains a new vehicle, it might say goodbye to another; the Dodge Charger and Challenger are slated to undergo a thorough redesign before 2022, and there’s little indication that the Chrysler-branded 300 sedan will survive the transition.
But FCA is starting to get its feet a bit more wet in the autonomy pool, and that could represent an opportunity for the Chrysler brand in the US. Already, the automaker has announced that it’s entered a deal to supply up to 62k additional Pacifica Hybrid minivans to self-driving car outfit Waymo, and the companies’ partnership could grow even deeper as FCA discusses the possibility of selling Waymo-powered autonomous vehicles to the public. Chrysler might also be among the first brands to benefit from the automaker’s work with with BMW and Aptiv to create semi-autonomous driving systems.