When you were a kid, there was probably a point when your mom or dad told you that you could one day be president of the United States. They probably didn't really mean it, but at least they wanted you to push yourself a little harder to achieve life's goals. Fiat appears to be in a similar situation with its new underling, Chrysler. The Italian automaker is working through a far-reaching game plan for the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, and it sees Chrysler competing in the luxury space. Chrysler brand CEO Peter Fong is setting the bar high, too, as he sees the brand being "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac."
You may recall former parent Daimler had similar aspirations for the Chrysler brand, with vehicles like the 300 and Pacifica leading the way. While the 300 had some success and commanded a reasonably high MSRP, the Pacifica was a comparative failure. Then Chrysler followed up with the Sebring, which put to bed any hopes and prayers for an upscale Chrysler brand. Fong told Automotive News that Chrysler needs to be better differentiated from Dodge; a nameplate that management wants to be known more for driving dynamics. The only marque that will likely remain largely intact after Fiat's sweeping changes is Jeep, and even then, the Jeep lineup will likely receive more small, front-wheel drive-based vehicles in an effort to satisfy increasingly stringent CAFE standards.
While we can see how a more upscale Chrysler brand would be a great idea, we're having a hard time seeing how the Pentastar's namesake will catch up to Cadillac (or its competitors) any time soon. The resurgence of the Wreath and Crest has been seven years in the making, and even now the brand's success essentially rides on one product – the CTS. New models like the BMW 3 Series-fighting ATS and large and luxurious XTS promise to rebuild some of the momentum that Cadillac has recently lost, but even that remains to be seen. Chrysler, on the other hand, currently has nothing that can reasonably be said to compete with Cadillac, and judging from comments made by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, there isn't anything in the pipeline, either. It's good to dream, though, right?
[Source: Automotive News - subs req'd]