EXCLUSIVE: ITALY: Avenger and Sebring joining Chrysler line in Europe
More details are emerging concerning the continuing rapid expansion of the Chrysler group in Europe, with two new models set to be unveiled to the public soon, joining a rapidly mushrooming range.
Last month as Chrysler's Dodge division unveiled its first mainstream model for Europe, the Caliber C-segment car, executives hinted that two new lines would rapidly follow it to market.
While one will be the Nitro SUV, shown in production form at this year's Geneva motor show, just-auto has now learned the second will be the D-segment car dubbed the Dodge Avenger - reviving an old nameplate once attached to a Rootes Group-designed model line sold world-wide in the '70s under brands such as Hillman, Chrysler, Dodge and Talbot. It was also sold - briefly - as the Plymouth Cricket in the US.
Like the smaller Caliber, the new Avenger is based on a Mitsubishi platform, in this case the next Galant, developed before DaimlerChrysler ended its partnership with the Japanese manufacturer.
The Avenger name appeared on a concept model at last year's Detroit show. Like the Caliber, it was very much a car/SUV crossover model, and the production car is thought to share many of the concept's looks. The Avenger is likely to be launched in Europe next year.
Meanwhile Chrysler will add a third convertible, the Sebring, which lines up beside the updated right-hand-drive PT Cruiser cabriolet, about to go on sale in Europe, and the German-built Crossfire drop-top on sale since 2004. A few units of the previous Sebring convertible line have previously been sold in Europe and the UK; the UK cars were left-hand-drive only, like the pre-facelift Cruiser convertible.
The redesigned Sebring is a sister car to the Dodge Avenger, and the name has also been used on a sedan/convertible range on sale in America for some years (but only ever sold in limited numbers outside the US).
The new Sebring coupe-cabriolet will replace the fabric hood of previous versions with a folding metal hard-top similar to that of the Mercedes SL range and US rival GM's similarly-sized Pontiac G6 (which has yet to go on sale despite being shown at motor shows for over two years).
Just-auto understands that the unveiling of the production Sebring drop-top is likely to take place within the next few months.
Such rapid expansion is giving Chrysler group's European dealers some headaches as they seek to accommodate the many new models.
The Chrysler 300C saloon and Touring (an Austrian-built export-only wagon version combining the US market Dodge Magnum body with the 300C sedan nose and cabin), PT Cruiser cabriolet, Jeep Commander and Overland, and the Dodge Caliber have all either arrived in recent months or are about to.
Measures taken by Chrysler in the UK to assist dealers include the creation of a central vehicle storage pool, so that there is no longer a need to keep a wide range of model variations on increasingly crowded forecourts.