Chrysler's Marchionne says only one minivan per brand, C-Max competitor coming

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the automaker plans to only offer one minivan in the future, eliminating either the Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan by 2013. Additionally, the company is working on a smaller "people mover," that will go to whichever marque doesn't retain the minivan.

"If our Project Genesis [a plan to have all Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep showrooms at a single dealership] goes to its conclusion, which is the plan, then it makes no sense to offer consumers two minivans differentiated only by equipment," Marchionne said in an interview with reporters at the North American International Auto Show.

The smaller "people mover" is being engineered from a new architecture that will underpin several new vehicles in the Fiat and Chrysler lineups. Though Marchionne didn't get into specifics, the platform is likely to be developed for the Fiat Giulietta, with Chrysler and Fiat engineers planning to expand and adapt the chassis to serve as the basis for a replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot, among other vehicles.

Inititally, Marchionne indicated that he would prefer to keep the Dodge Caravan and make the micro-van a Chrysler. In Canada, 80% of the minivan mix is comprised of the Dodge Caravan. But the Town and Country outsells the Caravan in the U.S. and other markets. "We will have to look at the branding, but we are absolutely going to one minivan." One consideration for Chrysler planners will be that it would be difficult to get the premium price points – over $40,000 for the top-of-the-line Town and Country – for a Dodge branded minivan. LIkewise, it will be difficult to get prices North of 30,000 for even a loaded Chrysler micro-van.

Marchionne also said that both the minivan, and the micro-van would be built at the company's Windsor, Ontario plant where the minivans are currently produced and designed to compete against the Mazda5 and Ford Grand C-Max.

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