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'Luxury Brand' Chrysler Considers A 100 Model

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On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 3:56PM | By: Chris Weiss

'Luxury Brand' Chrysler Considers A 100 Model

When Fiat took over at Chrysler, it announced plans to move Chrysler back to the position of luxury automaker that it enjoyed years ago before muddying its image with more plebeian models. While Chrysler still falls short of other luxury brands, the unification of the naming and styling of the new 300 and 200 was a move in the right direction.

Now Fiat/Chrysler may do a complete 180 and start to undo their own handiwork. A new report says that a '100' model is under consideration.

The 2012 Chrysler 200 starts at $18,995 - well below what you'll pay for an entry level luxury sedan at other US-market luxury brands. For instance, the 2012 Audi A4 starts at $32,500 and the A3, a hatchback, starts at $27,270. Heck, Chrysler's flagship 2012 300 starts at $100 less than the A3. Similarly, the 2012 Lincoln MKZ starts at $34,755 and the 2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan costs $35,915.

In other words, legitimate luxury brands don't dip below the high $20s, let alone the teens. Despite Fiat's lip service to making Chrysler a luxury brand, the brand really doesn't compete in the same markets as a true luxury marque.

If Chrysler does indeed introduce a 100, as USA Today reports Fiat is considering, it will have to price it below the $19,000 200 - we're thinking somewhere around $15,000. That makes the idea of a Chrysler luxury brand more of a punchline than a plan.

When we saw the 300 Luxury Series in Detroit, it seemed like Chrysler was using 2012 to make a firm move toward luxury. The idea of a Chrysler 100 is a complete about-face that will anchor Chrysler's reputation as a mainstream Ford/Chevy-type brand even deeper. Nothing wrong with that, but if Chrysler really expects to ever be a "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac," as a Chrysler exec said in 2009, they should be looking to put some models at the other end of the line (400, 500?).

It seems that Fiat is torn between properly defining the Chrysler brands and securing sales with established, existing models. The same USA Today report implies that Fiat will keep the Chrysler Town & Country minivan - another vehicle that screams the pure opposite of "luxury" - along with its brother the Dodge Grand Caravan to preserve sales.

Fiat CEO Marchionne told the paper, "Retention and growth of volume is key. I've got to protect (the golden) goose."

Maybe Chrysler should just aim to be an "aspiring class" brand like Buick. Right now, it's not even that.



Stephy21 | 10:25AM (Tue, Jan 31, 2012)

I dont think Chrysler will ever become a luxury brand so i think they should just stick with the cars they have now and be happy.


Sami18 | 10:32AM (Tue, Jan 31, 2012)

I hope Chrysler does become a luxury brand one day but i hope they know they have a lot of work to do before they get to that stage.


dwalter | 10:05AM (Wed, Feb 1, 2012)

It's quite a stretch to call a Chrysler Sebring (re-branded as a "200") a luxury car - let alone something a step below it

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