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Chrysler 300 to stay: FCA Australia

Still here: Reports of the death of right-hand drive Chrysler and Dodge vehicles such as the Chrysler 300 have been greatly exaggerated, FCA Australia says.

FCA Australia says right-hand drive Chrysler 300 to continue for now

18 Oct 2017

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia says it will continue to sell a right-hand drive Chrysler 300 in Australia, despite South African reports that global right-hand-drive Chrysler and Dodge production has been axed.

Not only that, but the Australian outpost of FCA says it is continuing to pursue a business case for the reintroduction of Dodge models here.

Reports of the axing of RHD Chrysler and Dodge vehicles surfaced in South Africa where FCA South Africa CEO Robin van Rensburg was quoted as saying the Chrysler and Dodge brands were leaving that market permanently.

“This unfortunate situation has arisen from our principals in the USA no longer building Chrysler or Dodge vehicles in right-hand drive configuration,” he reportedly said.

But approached for comment by GoAuto, FCA Australia PR and communications manager Alessia Terranova responded: “I am not at liberty to comment on South Africa’s decision. What I can tell you is that Australia will continue to sell RHD Chrysler 300 as an ongoing product in our line-up.

“With respect to any plans for Dodge, at this stage, this brand is represented as a parts and service operation only. However, as widely reported, we do have a live business case with the US in relation to new RHD Dodge models.”

The big Chrysler 300 sedan is the sole remaining factory imported Chrysler-badged model on the Australian market.

It is also about to become the last remaining contender in the upper-large passenger car market segment in Australia, as its only rival, Holden’s Caprice, is also on its way out after the closure of Holden local manufacturing.

Sales of both these large sedans have struggled in recent years as consumers switch to SUVs and pick-ups.

This year, Chrysler 300 sales have fallen 43.4 per cent, to 209 vehicles at the end of September, just 10 per cent of the rate of four years ago when sales peaked at 2508 units.

In 2015, FCA announced that the United Kingdom would cease taking Chrysler models by 2017. As the UK is one of the largest RHD markets in the world, it was hard to see a business case for the Chrysler 300 in smaller markets such as Australia and New Zealand, despite traditional appeal of big cars in those markets.

The current Chrysler 300 dates from 2012, meaning it is almost due for renewal.

It was late to market back then due to the global financial crisis that skittled Chrysler finances and sent the company into chapter 11 bankruptcy and into the arms of Fiat.

Chrysler all but disappeared in the Australian sales charts in 2012, but the arrival of the second-generation Chrysler 300, with diesel, V6 petrol and hot Hemi V8 powertrains, breathed new life into the brand.

However, indifferent quality and a lack of Chrysler range depth – including the absence of halo models such as the Charger muscle car – have taken their toll.

The Chrysler badge has disappeared from Australia once before, in the early 1980s when Chrysler Corporation sold its South Australian factory – home to the Chrysler Valiant – to Mitsubishi.

The brand made a comeback here as an importer in 1994 with a range of new models, including the PT Cruiser, Crossfire, Voyager and Sebring, all of which have since passed on, along with Dodge models such as the Caliber and Journey.

FCA’s other iconic American brand, Jeep, has had better fortunes in Australia, continuing on with an expanded and renewed range.

The Ram truck brand also remains on sale via independent RHD conversion specialists American Special Vehicles (ASV) – a collaboration between Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Ateco Automotive.

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