Chrysler Group Vehicles May Get Euro Flavor Under New Deal


  • 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

    2014 Chrysler Town and Country

    The next Chrysler Town & Country minivan may feature Euro-inspired styling. | January 03, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Car shoppers likely will see Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles with European-influenced styling after Fiat takes full control of Chrysler Group.
  • Fiat will spend $4.35 billion to gain full control of Chrysler Group in a deal announced this week.
  • Future Chrysler Group vehicles may have a longer list of standard equipment, said Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst.

DETROIT — Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles likely will be the beneficiaries of European-influenced styling, an expanded vehicle line, and models that have a longer list of standard equipment after Fiat takes full control of Chrysler Group.

Fiat will spend $4.35 billion to gain full control of Chrysler Group. The United Auto Workers' healthcare trust currently owns 41 percent of the automaker, which will be purchased by Fiat. The Italian automaker made the announcement January 1, saying the sale will take place January 20.

"The U.S. consumer has seen some changes from the [Fiat-Chrysler] merger back in 2009, but [the transition] has been slow," said Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst. "It has taken some time to get up to speed. But now that they are truly one, it won't be as difficult to make those changes" and respond quicker to the marketplace.

The two companies had already started on that path.

The redesigned 2014 Jeep Cherokee shares a front-drive platform with several Fiat models. The redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200 and a subcompact Jeep model also share Fiat front-drive platforms with Fiat. Both are expected to debut in the first quarter of 2014. A small Ram van based on a Fiat model also is expected.

But Caldwell said car shoppers probably won't see the full impact of Fiat's acquisition for about three years.

"In the global auto scene they are two smaller companies that want to merge to become a larger entity," she said. "So it does seem as if there will be good synergies that will come out of this. But I think like anything in life, it is not going to be immediate."

One of the eventual benefits, Caldwell believes, is that future Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles may have a longer list of standard equipment, the result of further economic efficiencies in product development and manufacturing that will reduce the automaker's costs. For example, the companies likely will be able to share more parts.

Additionally, she believes the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep product lines may be expanded by developing more vehicles from Fiat platforms. This will mean more choices for buyers in U.S. showrooms.

"If you look at the Chrysler brand, there are really only three cars at this point, the 200, 300 and Town & Country, so there certainly seems like there could be some expansion," she said.

Finally, Fiat, which is based in Italy, could have a greater impact on Chrysler, Dodge and possibly Jeep styling.

"It does seem as if the American consumer responds well to European styling," Caldwell said. "So I think that will have a positive impact on Chrysler.

"But I think Jeep probably has to have some autonomy in terms of its styling. I know the Cherokee's redo was a bit controversial. People thought it looked a little too Alfa Romeo, more Italian. I think that there is probably a fine line that you can't cross so it still maintains that American, tough, go-anywhere image. [That's] what people abroad have liked about it."

Edmunds says: Your future Chrysler 200, 300 and Town & Country may have a little Italian spice.

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