How the Stellantis Merger Can Help the Future of Chrysler
At present, the Chrysler brand lineup consists of merely three models — the Voyager, 300, and top-of-the-heap Pacifica minivan. While the Chrysler 300 is a luxurious sedan that hearkens to days gone by, the Voyager and Pacifica are essentially vehicles that are two sides of the same coin. The Voyager model is a scaled back entry-level minivan, while the Chrysler Pacifica remains a top-of-its-class minivan that continues to redefine its segment.
Now that the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) merger with PSA Groupe is complete, the newly-minted Stellantis is officially the world’s fourth-largest automaker. Fans of the brand are wondering what its future holds, whether the latest merger indicates a possible shakeup or a lineup overhaul. Here’s what experts are saying about the future of Chrysler.
David Kelleher, currently serving as chairman of the Stellantis National Dealer Council, thinks the latest merger can do for Chrysler what the merger with FIAT did for notorious sister brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati. After all, the merger was born from a need to regroup and collaborate across brand lines to make the automotive industry more efficient via platform-sharing. The good thing about merging and sharing platforms is that it requires no additional investment from the automaker.
“This whole thing started with Chrysler. I don’t want to get emotional about a brand, that’s not the case. But I don’t want to see a brand like that left at the sideline and just thrown out to pasture,” said Kelleher. He even went as far as to add that he would feel “violated” if the classic brand ceased to exist.
Stellantis, much like neighboring Detroit automakers GM and Ford, is in the process of embarking on an aggressive electrification plan. No details are available as of yet given that the merger was just completed (January 2021), but sister brand Jeep has had an electrification plan in the works since 2018, thus indicating there’s a precedent when it comes to being bold about an electrified future. Kelleher also touched on the importance of educating not only consumers, but also dealers, when it comes to electric vehicles. Chrysler recently launched an ad campaign with actress Kathyrn Hahn dedicated to busting myths about electric cars, so the effort to educate consumers in a fun and comprehensive way is currently in full swing.
Kelleher had this to say about bringing electrification knowledge to showrooms: “In fairness, the manufacturer should have every right to expect their dealer body is prepared to sell whatever they build. So as a network, our dealers have become a lot better than we probably are now at selling electric. We need to invest in infrastructure, train our personnel and adapt out processes.”
Chrysler is no stranger to electrified vehicles thanks to the excellent Pacifica Hybrid model that debuted in 2016. Powered by a modified 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gasoline engine that’s paired with two battery-powered motors, the Pacifica Hybrid offers a seamless driving experience with an all-electric range of 32 miles and a combined range of 520 miles. Impressive figures to say the least. Electrified premium vehicles are Chrysler’s way to regain some traction in the automotive segment in the coming years, and now with the formation of Stellantis the brand should have access to platforms that can make an electrified future a reality.
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