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Chrysler brand to return in July

300 not out: The second-generation 300C sedan will re-launch Chrysler in Australia in July.

Having almost disappeared, Chrysler will be back mid-year with new 300C

13 Apr 2012

CHRYSLER as a brand may have almost disappeared from Australian sales charts – it sold just three vehicles nationally last month – but it will return “very strongly” in July when the next-generation 300C in launched.

With the 300C and Sebring Cabrio having been discontinued last year and the Grand Voyager slowing to a trickle – it accounted for Chrysler’s only 17 sales in the first quarter of this year – virtually no fresh Chrysler-badged product will be available for three months.

However, Chrysler Australia corporate affairs director Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto that “there could be a lot of new product” coming after the new 300C make its debut here July.

“We will be back absolutely – and very strongly – with the new 300C in July, and there are other models that we are shopping for,” said Ms Fletcher.

She said a replacement for the slow-selling Grand Voyager large people-mover was unlikely to be one of them.

Coming so long after the 300C was launched in the US late last year, the second-generation large car will be launched with a full range of variants, including a new diesel and the high-performance SRT8.

 center imageLeft: Chrysler Grand Voyager Chrysler Sebring Cabrio Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The new 6.4-litre SRT8 V8 engine, which replaces the outgoing 6.1-litre unit, was first seen in the Dodge Challenger and produces 347kW of power and 630Nm of torque, which represents increases of 30kW and 61Nm, pushing the big sedan from 0-100km/h in less than five seconds.

Base models will be powered by Chrysler’s new 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6, which produces 215kW and 350Nm of torque – 32kW and 10Nm more than the old V6 – or the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that produces 177kW and 550Nm in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, while the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 carries over from the old model and produces 265kW and 528Nm.

In the absence of the 300C and Sebring for most of 2011, Chrysler brand sales dropped 60.4 per cent to just 580 units last year, but the Chrysler Group was saved by its Jeep and Dodge brands, which were up 44.7 per cent and 41 per cent respectively, bringing the group’s sales total close to 12,000 units.

With the Nitro having gone out of production, Dodge sales have slipped 22.9 per cent this year, but Jeep has more than compensated by more than doubling, with a 136.9 per cent increase in the first quarter to 4105 sales.

Chrysler group sales are therefore well on track for a record year, at least since the company built cars locally.

“Jeep is going gangbusters for us, and we can maintain that momentum,” said Ms Fletcher.

“The dealers are very happy because they’re very busy. We’ve just had our best quarter on record and we’ve been setting records all over the place – best January, best February, best March and best sales months for Compass, Patriot and Grand Cherokee.” Ms Fletcher said the reasons for Jeep’s recent success included the latest “I bought a Jeep” TV commercial, which cleverly and subtly sets out to attract more women buyers to what has traditionally been a male-dominated brand.

“Jeep sales have always been male-dominated, but the ‘I bought a Jeep’ program really appeals to women and has resulted in a turnaround in attitude, so that’s pushing people into dealerships,” she said.

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