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December 2, 2016

Chrysler builds last 200

FCA US built the final Chrysler 200 on Friday, having announced the model's demise back in July, along with plans to spend US$1.48bn at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan to retool for the redesigned Ram 1500 pickup truck "and support the future growth of the Ram brand".

FCA US built the final Chrysler 200 on Friday (2 December), having announced the model’s demise back in July, along with plans to spend US$1.48bn at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan to retool for the redesigned Ram 1500 pickup truck “and support the future growth of the Ram brand”.

According to the Detroit News, the car saved the Detroit plant from closure and ushered in the automaker’s popular ‘Imported from Detroit’ tagline.

The Motown paper said most of the nearly 1,700 hourly workers remaining at the plant following a shift elimination in July are on temporary layoffs – or will be – as the company retools for the Ram 1500, a job expected to take much of 2017. The end of 200 production has seen interiors jobs go at four plants run by supplier Faurecia.

Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson confirmed to the Detroit News the end of production of the 200. She stressed that FCA US had said the Ram 1500 would result in more jobs overall being added to Sterling Heights.

According to just-auto‘s Product Lifecycle Database (PLDB), this replacement for the Chrysler 200 sedan entered production in March 2014. It had made its global debut two months previously at the Detroit show. Right-hand drive was reportedly part of the development programme but RHD would be some way off, Chrysler officials reportedly told (Australian) media at the Detroit show.

The slow-selling 200 Convertible and its Lancia Flavia twin were not replaced, nor was the former 200 sedan’s twin, the Dodge Avenger. However, the Avenger was eventually replaced by the Dodge Dart.

Unlike the Chrysler 300, the 200 was not available with Lancia badges. This followed Fiat’s decision to wind down this brand.

SHAP, the Sterling Heights plant which built the car, underwent a five-week shutdown on 1 July 2013. This allowed Chrysler to prepare for the model. It used the closure to link the assembly plant with newly built paint and body shops.

The 200, new for North America’s 2015 model year, had a far better quality interior than the old-shape car. There was a standard rotating dial to replace the conventional transmission gear selector, as well as a Volvo-style ‘floating’ centre stack design. Cupholders could be slid along a console for the most convenient positioning. As part of the ‘Imported From Detroit’ marketing theme that was started with the 300 sedan, the Detroit skyline was etched into a rubber mat which lined a storage tray beneath the centre console.

Technical highlights included a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox, and all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring as standard with the 295hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. Front-wheel drive cars were powered by a 184hp 2.4-litre Tigershark four-cylinder engine.

The 200 was launched in North America in two forms: 200C and 200S. The latter had a blacked-out grille, black wheels, dual exhausts, sport suspension, paddle shifters and sport seats with leather trim. The four-cylinder engine was standard for both 200C and 200S. Stop-start came as standard on cars with the 2.4-litre engine.

There were only minor changes for North America’s 2016 model year. The same was true for the 2017 model year 200.

In an extraordinary development, FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne told the media in January 2016 that the 200 and Dart would “run their course’, which implied that FCA US would withdraw from the compact segment. FCA will use the plants used for the Dart and 200 to build higher margin pick-ups and SUVs: future small cars will be outsourced to another manufacturer.

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