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Chrysler brand exits Australia, again

CHRYSLER, BYE CHRYSLER: The American brand has official connections with Australia dating back to 1935.

For the second time in 40 years, Chrysler will bid farewell to the land Down Under


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19 Nov 2021

THE Chrysler brand is officially exiting the local market, with Fiat Chrysler Australia citing the  “global push towards electrification and focus on SUVs” as the rationale for the American brand’s decision to retire from its last remaining right-hand drive market. 


Chrysler Australia was formed in 1951 when the Chrysler Corporation acquired Chrysler Dodge Distributors Pty Ltd, an entity that can trace its local origins back to 1935. 


The brand made a considerable mark in Australia during the 1950s and 60s. Having consolidated its operations in Adelaide, it initially produced American-sourced cars and trucks under DeSoto, Dodge, Plymouth and Sicma mastheads (from CKD kits), after which it ramped up its Australian-sourced content and acquired the British Rootes Group in 1966.


With its Valiant by Chrysler models proving popular in Australia, Chrysler concentrated on producing vehicles powered by its unique-to-Australia HEMI six. 


The powerful engine outperformed numerous local six- and eight-cylinder units from Ford and Holden and was topped by the memorable VH-series Charger R/T E49 and its 225-kW HEMI – that engine’s output remained unsurpassed by another six-cylinder’s output until Porsche introduced its 911 Turbo in 1975.


The Valiant full-size range, a competitor to the Ford Falcon and Holden Kingswood, was joined by the Centura mid-size model in the mid 1970s, but the model failed to generate significant sales compared to Ford’s Cortina, Holden’s Torana, as well as a rising number of locally built and imported Japanese rivals.


Toward the end of the 1970s, Chrysler’s failure to keep with the times saw it hand the keys to its Adelaide facility to Mitsubishi Motors; the Japanese Sigma was badged as a Chrysler until 1981. Chrysler left Australia at this time, with Mitsubishi Motors following in 2008. 


The American badge returned to local showrooms in 1994, initially with the imported Jeep Cherokee and later the Chrysler Neon, Grand Cherokee, Jeep Commander, PT Cruiser, Crossfire, 300C, Voyager and Dodge Caliber models. 


Fiat Chrysler Australia took over distribution of Alfa Romeo and Fiat models in 2012 and recently became part of the Stellatis Group, which incorporates Peugeot, Citroen and Opel.


At the time of its departure from Australia, Chrysler has only one range for sale in the local market – the 300 sedan, offered in 300 C Luxury and hard charging 300 SRT derivatives. 


“Chrysler has held a special place in the heart of many Australians, and we are very proud of its history here,” FCA Australia managing director Kevin Flynn said.


The Jeep brand will continue to fly the American flag in Australia with Compass, Cherokee, Gladiator, and Wrangler models available in showrooms countrywide. Jeep also introduce its Grand Cherokee L seven-seat SUV and plug-in hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe in 2022.


“We are very excited about this new era of mobility. Stellantis is dedicated to becoming the market leader in low-emission vehicles and committed to developing the most capable and sustainable high-performing and four-wheel drive vehicles in the world,” Mr Flynn added.


“We have a hugely positive year ahead of us, focusing on electrification and moving into a very premium offering with our all-new, two- and three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as the PHEV Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. These models represent real advancements in terms of technology, luxury, efficiency and capability.”


FCA Australia remains committed to the supply of parts and authorised servicing for Chrysler vehicles; all Jeep dealerships across the country will continue to service Chrysler vehicles.

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