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First look: Next-gen 300C and Grand Cherokee laid bare

Fresh look: Chrysler revealed this image of its next 300C in its presentation to the US treasury.

Chrysler presents product plan to US Congress, including new SUV and sedan flagships

19 Feb 2009

NEW-LOOK replacements for the successful Chrysler 300C large sedan and Jeep’s flagship Grand Cherokee SUV have been revealed as part of a long-awaited viability plan presented to US Congress by America’s crippled number three car-maker yesterday (February 17).

The official Chrysler LLC document, titled Restructuring Plan for Long-Term Viability, effectively lays out the company’s entire future product and technology plan to 2015, including a number of Fiat-based models to be sold in the US.

As well as next-generation versions of the 300C and Grand Cherokee in 2010, other “near-term core product launches” include a redesigned Dodge Charger sedan and a new monococque-chassis Durango SUV.

If its “standalone business plan” proves successful, the same year should also see the company launch its first electric vehicle (EV) in the all-new Dodge Circuit roadster, which will be followed by Chrysler’s first extended-range EV (plug-in hybrid), based on technology previewed by the 2009 Detroit motor show’s 200C concept, in 2011.

Chrysler plans to launch more pure-electric EVs in 2013, but before then hopes to use its newly formed alliance with Italy’s largest car-maker to make available a number of small Fiat-based models in the US in 2011, including A and B-segment hatchbacks and a compact petrol-electric model.

11 center imageLeft: Jeep Grand Cherokee and 300C interior (bottom).

Chrysler, which is the world’s 10th largest car-maker and last year sold 73 per cent of the vehicles it built in the US, is seeking a total of $US9 billion ($A14b) from the US Department of Treasury, $US4 billion ($A6.2b) of which it has already received.

It plans to share purchasing, distribution and technology with Fiat Group to gain instant access to a new range of small cars for the US and to increase the presence of its own Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands in Europe.

If approved by the US Administration, the arrangement would see Fiat Group obtain a 35 per cent equity in Chrysler (with an option to acquire 20 per cent based on achieving-performance metrics), and produce an alliance that would be the world’s sixth-largest global car-maker by volume, with combined vehicle sales of more than four million units.

Chrysler says its flagship 300C sedan, which has proved highly popular in Australia, will be completely redesigned and launched in 2010.

The 2010 Chrysler 300C will feature new interior and exterior designs, 22 per cent better fuel consumption via a new V6 petrol engine alongside its Hemi V8 and new safety technology including the Rear Cross Path and Blind Spot Monitoring systems introduced in the US on the 2009 Voyager.

Expect the new 300C to also feature the Active Transfer Case and Front Axle Disconnect (all-wheel drive) System that features on the 2009 300C and Charger in the US.

Meantime, Chrysler said Jeep’s fourth-generation Grand Cherokee will offer a 19 per cent reduction in fuel consumption (presumably via the same new petrol V6 as seen in the new 300C) and a best-in-class interior.

As with the MkII 300C, next year’s renewed Jeep flagship features an evolutionary, cleaner and less slab-sided take on its current exterior design, plus a contemporary new cabin layout. Both models will continue with their trademark grille designs, flanked by new-look headlights.

Chrysler Australia’s general manager of marketing and product strategy Craig Bradshaw told GoAuto that exact local launch dates for both replacement models were as yet unavailable, but would logically occur within six months of their US launches.

“We don’t have absolute confirmed (Australian launch) timing because of the restructuring plan process, but I know that in terms of the US it is late 2010 for the 300C and some time in early 2011 for the Grand Cherokee. I would expect Australian sales would follow in three to six months,” he said.

Mr Bradshaw said there were no plans to produce right-hand drive versions of the new Dodge Charger or Durango, as is the case with the current generation of both models.

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