How To Rebrand Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles: Chrysler
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has issues. The merged company has long not known what to do with the brands they own but the issue hit critical mass in June 2018 when the FCA unveiled their five-year plan. Some brands like Maserati got a plan that would help turn the direction it was headed in for the better. Other brands got plans that would help continue or add on to their current success. However, the brands that you could arguably say matter the most, Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge, didn’t get plans that would showcase & ensure their future, rather laying the seeds for these brands demise. So this article is part four of an eight-part series, showcasing how I would position the brands the FCA owns to be better successful. Previously, I explained how to rebrand Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and SRT. This article, however, is particularly about how to resurrect Chrysler as a proper luxury brand that can truly challenge the German high powers.
Mildly Better Times
Firstly, however, it needs to be explained why Chrysler is in such dire straits. I’m not going to overlook the 2008 economic crisis, Mercedes selling it to a bank. And Fiat ultimately acquiring it. No, we will start this in the modern age: Fall of 2014. Chrysler, as both a brand and a part of the FCA Corporation, has continuously had its struggles. The FCA struggles are vast, and while ill cover them more in depth in other articles, they all boil down to a lack of competitive vehicles, a lack of segment coverage, and constantly making promises that never really pan out. Reminds me of Infiniti but on a smaller scale. Chrysler, as a brand, tried to become a luxury brand and ultimately failed. Then they tried to make Chrysler into a regular car brand with the introduction of the Chrysler 200, just so it could be discontinued two years later in 2016. It was never a viable contender to the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. The Town & Country was also discontinued, replaced by the Pacifica in a questionable marketing decision. And don’t get me started on all the supposed five-year plans that got trashed. According to one, Chrysler was supposed to expand the lineup of three models – 300, 200 and the Pacifica, to six models by 2018 with the addition of a compact car, a midsize crossover and a full-size crossover.
We are making Chrysler into a mainstream brand. The other domestics have walked away from being an American brand. We are American and can go head to head with the best. We’re ready to take on the world.
Those were the specific words of Al Gardner, chief executive of Chrysler at the time. For anyone doing the math, I’m writing this in 2019, there are no new vehicles and the Chrysler 200 is dead. So much for going head to head, they couldn’t even manage that. I think maybe that’s why Chrysler got no mention in the recent FCA 5-year plan. Maybe they took advice from the Cheat Codes: “Promise Me No Promises.”
So where do we go from here? Chrysler needs to find itself again and establish a brand identity. It tried ounce to be a luxury brand and I feel it should try again. No point in occupying the same space as Dodge, especially when Dodge does it better. But as a luxury brand, how should it stand out? The answer would be to follow in the steps of Tesla and Rivian: go all electric. For anyone opposed to this idea, it’s better than what is currently happening but makes sense. They have a partnership with Waymo that would benefit more if this happened. I would even go so far as to say Chrysler should try to buy Waymo from Alphabet or develop an even deeper connection with Waymo. It would also truly make Chrysler stand out while finally giving the FCA that foray into territories it’s only vaguely waddled in with concepts and a minivan. Their partnership with BMW AG and Aptiv Plc should be strengthened to include development beyond hybrid and A.I technology. However, Chrysler as a company that makes vehicles with engines should go out with a bang. It should not slowly decline as a “people-carrier brand” but go out by HEMI-ing everything. The transitional process should happen around now, with the 300 being the initial focus. Screw the Pacifica, but continue to sell it. We still need a cash cow lol. Dealerships should be revamped to show the change to a true luxury brand. And the vehicles will also reflect such a change. And for those saying investing in a sedan is a horrible idea in 2019, your bloody right but we are already losing money, might as well have fun and change brand perception. In the end, you’ll make all that cash back and then some.
About the 300
So about the Chrysler 300, rumor has it that it might not be around much longer. That 2020 is its last year. However, the Dodge Charger and Challenger are sticking around so the 300 will too. At least now, we know what to do with it. The luxury refresh for the 300 spares it from the ax that killed the Ford Taurus, Buick Lacrosse, and Chevrolet Impala. Embracing its size, it’s an E-segment vehicle now, rather competing with the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Which means it needs the powertrains and interior quality to match. A minor exterior refresh is done for the 2020 model year, with new color options and new 20’ and 21’ inch rim options. The engines and trim levels are also shifted around and simplified to match these changes. Starting with the base 300, the new 300 C will use a 2.0L I4 derived from the 1.8L engine to make 250 HP. A C Hybrid trim level slots above it making 260 total system power, paring the 2.0L I4 with a 10 HP hybrid system. Slotting above that is the 300 L, utilizing a 4.0L V6 derived from the 3.6L Pentastar V6, making 360 HP. A 370 HP version is used in the S trim level that slot above the L. The Limited trim level slots above that, utilizing a 6.0L HEMI V8 derived from the 5.7L eagle engine, making 420 HP. Finally, above slots the Touring trim level, utilizing the 6.4L HEMI V8 from the Charger R/T Scat Pack making 485 HP.
All trim levels are available with AWD except for the hybrids, in which AWD is standard. To make it more the ride quality and interior comfort up to par, Maserati should be brought in to handle that. For those wondering why Maserati is even helping, think back to the Chrysler TC by Maserati in the late ’80s. It’s been done before and it only makes sense now. All of the 300’s trim levels also come with a retune of the ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic, with the TCU and gearing being handled by a joint Maserati/SRT group, as well as the exhaust for various exhaust modes. Suspension tuning should also be done by a joint Maserati/SRT group for more customizable ride experiences. The interior gets a complete redesign to look more modern and luxurious inside while keeping subtle retro styling, making it more Maserati but keeping it distinctly Chrysler. The interior should cut down on the use of plastic as much as possible, however, while adding real wood, carbon fiber, metals, Nappa leather, and Alcantara to make it truly competitive. A reskinned mixture of the infotainment systems from Alfa Romeo and Maserati should be incorporated into the car as well. The final touches would be standardization of all safety features and an offering of the best powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties in its class. That said, the Cadillac CTS-V is going out of production meaning there is no overpowered car to terrorize this segment anymore. Let’s fix that, shall we? Introducing the 2021 Chrysler 300 SRT.
Now hold up just a minute Joshua. In your last article, you said no cars should have an SRT badge but new SRT brand cars. Indeed I did, but the 300 is an exception. It won’t be around for long and there is no point in coming up with a new name for a performance division like Jeep did by renaming SRT’s Trackhawks or Dodge reverting to R/T’s. For now, SRT will be striking fear into German hearts. At its core is the Hellcat 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 making a monstrous 707 HP. I personally feel, in dealing with this much power, a favor should be called in from Ferrari to truly make the 300 apex ready. It is only available in AWD with the trick being that it is RWD 85% of the time with it being AWD during launch and in corners. Suspension tuning and a reworking of the tranny is done by the prancing horse while the Luxury inside is upped by Maserati ounce more. The SRT boys do their thang in other areas, in what is truly a lovely group project. Also introduced in 2021 are the Chrysler 300 coupe, hardtop convertible, and Estate body styles, which all get trim levels matching the sedans, including the SRT. The 300 Estate SRT does get AWD however, making it an American ballistic missile by all means. The convertible and coupe also get styling from the 2000 Chrysler 300 HEMI C concept, mostly in how the rear of the cars is designed. It’s truly a time for the world to start buzzing about Chrysler. But we not done. It’s time for a pair of hardtop roadsters.
300 Coupe and the Hemi C Concept
The 2022 Chrysler Crossfire returns, with more trim levels than ever before. Developed by SRT, it’s a front-engined, RWD, balanced 2+2 hardtop roadster that delivers on its promise of performance. The engine powering the entry-level “Touring” trim is the 2.0L I4 making 260 HP in this vehicle. Slotting above that, the “C” trim level makes 390 HP from its 3.0L V6. Above that, the “S” trim level uses a 5.0L HEMI V8 to make 420 HP. A “Grand Touring” trim makes 490 HP from a 6.0L HEMI V8. A hardcore, track-oriented, hardtop coupe version, the Crossfire SRT uses a 7.0L HEMI making 525 HP. This version, however, is limited to a 700 car limited run production. All versions of the Crossfire are mated to the ZF 8HP automatic and AWD is optional on the I4 and V6 versions. The interior of the Crossfire takes after the new luxury vein that is the joint Maserati/Chrysler partnership. And the transmission, suspension, and exhaust are all tuned and adjusted by Ferrari, making this a true sports grand tourer.
Packing Extra Firepower
The other hardtop roadster also has a coupe version, and it’s called the Chrysler Firepower. If this name rings any bells, that’s because this was a concept car back in 2005. And the styling is taken from that concept, with a more refined modern twist to it. The designs of both the new Crossfire and Firepower were jointly handled by Pinafarina and SRT designers. The Firepower is Chrysler’s shot at Bentley and Aston Martin, putting forth a car that heavily challenges them. For all the Italian influence thrown into this car, it’s still very American at heart. Slotted in size between the Mercedes-AMG GT C and the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, it's the base trim, the Firepower Touring, that has a Twin-Turbo 6.0L HEMI making 590 HP. More than current rivals and probably will still be more than rivals at the time. The trim above that, the Grand Touring, uses a Twin-Turbo 6.2L HEMI V8 making 680 HP. Probably the most intriguing part of this is the range-topping, SRT. The last FCA vehicle to use a Hellcat engine, this one uses the most powerful version. The 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 makes 797 HP, thoroughly attacking the Ferrari 812 Superfast or whatever replaces it. The bad news is, the car is hardtop coupe only. Good news is, it’s RWD. And even still, Chrysler is not done setting an example. Its last car with an engine bares another name that will sound familiar: ME 412.
This is the mid-engined Hypercar that Chrysler always needed. A Mid-engine, hyperactive luxurious beast that preys on Bugatti’s. While only 412 will be made (wink, wink), the specifications alone speak volumes. Harking back to the Daimler-Chrysler days, the V12 is sourced from AMG. 888 HP ladies and gentleman. A quad turbo setup, two of those four which are electric. And this is mated to a hybrid system making 712 HP for a complete system output of 1600 HP. Carbon Fiber and Aluminum are all that is needed to propel this machine. Styling is influenced by the concept with more production ready touches by Pinafarina. Ultimately, this is Chryslers Halo car but it’s also a showcase of things to come. Oh, and did I mention that they are handmade.
But let’s backtrack. You may be wondering what happened to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Well, it too got a luxury redone interior and a minor facelift for its 2020 model year. What’s even better is it also has an SRT variant. After having a skunkworks team play around with its suspension, engine, and electronics, the Pacifica SRT is officially the world’s fastest and most powerful production minivan. Slightly more aggressive styling, a 3.0L V6 that makes 400 HP mated to a hybrid system making 20 HP makes a complete system power of 420 HP. It’s only available however on a by order basis. In other words, one would have to call the dealership and put down a payment for it to even be produced. But it’s ludicrously American. Gotta love that.
The Grand Finale
Fast forward to 2024, the Chrysler 300 is on its way out. The SRT’s in sedan, convertible and Estate versions get special edition Vapor and Final Editions. But the Coupe gets a more track oriented Core Edition, with power even boosted from 707 HP to 717 HP. The Coupe also gets the Vapor and Final editions as well. The 300 SRT’s are discontinued for 2025 while the rest of the lineup gets special editions as well in 2025. Glacier White is a new color, available only on AWD 300’s. The first special edition starts with bringing back the Walter P. Chrysler Executive Series, adding 6 inches to what is already a luxurious interior. Like the Pacifica, these are custom order only but can be added as a package to the AWD optioned Limited or Touring 300 trim levels. The 300 Mopar Edition is a special edition that comes in metallic black with the Blue stripe like previous Mopar editions. Rims have a blue accent lip. Additionally, it adds all the ECU, suspension and exhaust pieces from the SRT to the Touring trim level, granting a boost in HP to 500 HP. This same mechanical configuration is used for the return of the Motown Edition and the John Varvatos Edition. A Detroit Pistons Edition with an Ocean Blue Metallic exterior with Black grille, wheels, and mirrors on the outside. Inside, A red leather interior with white cross-stitching. Trim is piano black. Uses the regular 6.0L HEMI found in the Limited. The bittersweet one is the Final Edition. With 2025 being the last model year, the Chrysler 300 sedan, coupe, convertible and Estate all go out of production. The Pacifica, Crossfire, Firepower, and ME-412 also get discontinued in 2026, coming to the end of their production cycles. Chrysler has zero cars on the lineup. Motor City is dead for Chrysler.
Welcome To The Future
But welcome to Electro City. At the 2028 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chrysler will show what it’s learned from the recent past, as well as its vision for the future. Using the lessons learned from Maserati on interior design, while keeping that trademark, Detroit throwback muscular exterior styling, Chrysler showcases where it came from. Where Chrysler is going, however, is a fully all-electric lineup with long-range capabilities and level 4 autonomous systems developed through the partnership with Waymo. Chrysler even adopts an Aviation theme, with most vehicles going forward being named after aviation-themed plane’s, objects, and devices. Overall, Chrysler will get the vehicle's transmissions from ZF for smoother rides, except for the Electra models, which use more Formula E derived gearboxes. The vehicles themselves are comfortable in both ride and interior quality. The trim levels for all Chrysler’s going forward are C, M, Touring, Grand Touring, Orion, Electra, and Nacelle on some vehicles, ensuring Chrysler has a competitive luxury lineup able to compete with the completion. These high-quality vehicles are then sold through a new and improved luxury dealership network to ensure the buying experience is an overwhelmingly positive one, forcing the public and rival companies into taking Chrysler serious. But what are the vehicles unveiled at the show?
In 2028 at NAIAS, Chrysler will unveil the Chrysler Aspen, Accend, and Conquest, three luxury, all-electric SUVs that are also reasonable light off-roaders. The Chrysler Aspen is a BMW X5 sized vehicle with power outputs of 485, 385 and 285 HP respectively. The Chrysler Accend is slightly smaller than that, more akin to the size of 2018 Chevrolet Blazer, with power outputs, are 460, 360, and 260 respectively. The Chrysler Conquest is the BMW X3 sized SUV, with its power outputs being 360 and 250 HP. All three SUVs get launched to the general public two months after their unveiling at NAIAS. The NY International Auto Show is the next major release, with Chrysler taking the wraps off of the Chrysler Pacifica, Concord, Intrepid and Atlantic all-electric, luxury SUVs. The new Pacifica, sharing no relation to the Minivan or crossover that previously bared its name, takes its place as the entry-level CUV of the lineup, being a Mercedes-Benz A-class sized CUV. It’s a punchy little CUV, with a power output of 220 HP. The Concord slots above the Pacifica as a BMW X1 sized competitor, with a power output of 240 HP. The Chrysler Atlantic however, occupies the complete opposite spectrum of the SUV family, becoming a competitor for the BMW X7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS, with power outputs of 495, 395, and 295 HP. The Chrysler Intrepid introduces itself as a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz G wagon and Land Rover Range Rover. A capable off-roader for an all-electric vehicle, it doesn’t share rugged styling like the G-wagon and Land Cruiser it competes with. Instead, the Intrepid trades them for smooth, crisp muscular lines while sharing most of its power outputs with the Atlantic, with the exception being additional outputs of 520 and 580 HP being exclusive to the Intrepid as non-performance, horsepower outputs.
The keyword in the last sentence being “non-performance” because there will be performance oriented models. In fact, Chrysler now has a performance division called Electra, taking what it learned from the Italians and applying it to its models. The name Electra, while being a pun on Chrysler’s decision to go all-electric, also keeps in line with the aforementioned aviation theme, named after the Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop airliner from 1957. A smaller, skunkworks division of Electra, called Chronos, makes even more hardcore, performance-oriented versions of Chrysler vehicles. Think of it like an AMG Black Series or how BMW bust out an M3 GTS ounce in a while. Chrysler also introduces a rival to the in-house, luxury coachbuilders of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Alpina and Maybach. Called Nacelle, with the name itself being another airplane pun, it will be Chrysler’s in-house luxury coach builder going forward, elevating select models to a higher level of interior and ride quality refinement. Over the rest of the year, other variants and body styles will be introduced to the public.
The Intrepid gains a Long Wheel Base version, as well as a two-door version. It also gains a Nacelle and Electra trim levels, both making 600 HP. The SUV lineups also get “Coupé” versions, which Chrysler will call “Arsa’s’” because calling an SUV a coupe is f**king stupid. *breathes* Anyway, while also being another aviation pun, the name makes sense in a weird, ironic way. ARSA is a type of controlled air space, Class C to be exact. However, inside of an SUV with a curved roofline, you don’t have a lot of headroom or airspace. *Winks*, you can thank me for that joke later. In 2029, things begin to pick up.
At the 2029 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chrysler reintroduces the Chrysler 200 and 300. These new, all-electric sport sedans are meant to be the final pieces of the puzzle to challenging the foreign competition. Having a solid line of luxury SUV’s allows Chrysler to slowly re-introduce cars to the lineup without much financial hassle. And these cars really take it to their rivals. The Chrysler 200 makes its return just like the Pacifica. And just like the Pacifica, it’s in name only, sharing nothing with its predecessor. With power outputs of 250 and 350 HP, it is a sold rival to the BMW 2-Series. The new Chrysler 300 on the other hand, returns with vigor to challenge the BMW 3-Series, as it is smaller dimensionally than the car that previously wore the name. With 300 and 400 HP power options, the 300 solidly levels out with its rivals. The Chicago Auto Show later that year host the unveiling of the Chrysler 200 coupe, cabriolet, and hatchback. Also unveiled at the show are the Chrysler 300 coupe, cabriolet and shooting brake.
At the 2029 Geneva International Motor Show, Chrysler plans something special. Trying to showcase that electric cars can be fun and engaging, the Chrysler Crossfire is brought back as a 2030 model. With power outputs of 260, 300, 390, and 476 HP respectively, the Crossfire is a Mercedes SLC sized, 2+2 hard top, grand touring convertible, and coupe with quick and responsive sports car characteristics. Also introduced is the Chrysler Crossfire Electra and Electra Chronos, with 525 HP in Electra trim. The coupe only, track-oriented Chronos version makes 580 HP. The Chrysler 300 Electra Chronos also debuts, in its coupe body style, sharing the same power output with the Crossfire Electra Chronos. The Chrysler 500 also debuts at Geneva as Chryslers answer to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with the coupe, cabriolet, a Long Wheel Base version, and a 2-door shooting brake variant (think Ferrari GTC4Lusso), tagging along as well. The 500 packs power outputs of 300, 360, 470, 530 and 630 HP in regular trim levels. The Uber luxury Nacelle trim also makes its debut at Geneva, packing 660 HP with it. A high-performance Electra variant of the 500 packs 700 HP. The last car revealed at the Geneva Motor Show is the spiritual successor to the Chrysler Firepower, the new 2030 Chrysler Aileron (another plane pun), a grand touring coupe and hardtop cabriolet meant to stir the soul. While it does slot above the Crossfire on the lineup, dimensionally speaking, it’s sized between the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and the Mercedes-Benz SL, so as to avoid the issue Mercedes-Benz currently has with the Mercedes-Benz SL. Chrysler should not want the Aileron competing with the Chrysler 500 Coupe and Cabriolet. Power wise, the Aileron has no worries, making megawatts of it. 560 HP is your base output with 630 HP, 660 HP, a 700 HP Nacelle trim level, a 790 HP Electra trim, and an 808 HP Electra Chronos all available, with the Electra Chronos available in coupe trim only.
Finally, unveiled at the 2029 New York International Auto Show is the Chrysler 100, Chrysler’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. With 220 HP, it’s a fun little luxury car, available in sedan, hatchback and Targa top, 2 door roadster form. Chrysler’s spiritual successor to the old Chrysler 300, the Chrysler 400, also debuts as Chrysler's answer to the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. With power outputs of 290, 390, and 490 HP, it can do more than compete. The 400 debuts not just as a sports sedan, but in coupe, cabriolet and shooting brake form as well. The 400 Electra also debuts, with 650 HP. A 400 Electra Chronos is also revealed as a 660 HP hardcore, track-oriented coupe. These are the last Chronos for these vehicles, model life cycle as it’s also announced that only 200 of each Chronos (The Crossfire, Aileron, 300, and 400) will be made in a limit production run, to keep the rarity of them.
The Electra SUV lineup is unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the SUV’s sharing HP figures with their respective car counterparts on the lineup. Except for the Chrysler Accend. Because of its unique market position, its Electra version makes 560 HP, slotting in quite nicely between the smaller Chrysler Conquest making 525 HP and the larger Chrysler Aspen making 650 HP. During Monterey Car Week in August, on the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Chrysler will hold a special press release for the return of the Chrysler Town & Country. Chrysler bringing back the Town & Country minivan around this time with muscular exterior styling and an ergonomically practical luxurious interior would be huge. The hope is that this gives rise to the luxury minivan segment in America, even if it’s a boutique segment. The Town & Country will have power outputs of 260 and 300 HP. The Nacelle version will have a power output of 320 HP. Technically, Chrysler would be out to essentially break its own record of world’s fastest minivan, even though there will be no Electra trim on the Town and Country. Town & Countries are also on a by order basis as to not waste money excessively.
The 2029 International Motor Show Germany, also known as Frankfurt IAA, will be the biggest Chrysler unveiling yet. Introduced as the next Hypercar to “replace” the ME 412, is the Chrysler Elevon. The numbers are all that’s really needed when it comes to the Elevon. 0-60 in 1.8 seconds. A 268 MPH top speed. 2,000 HP. All-Electric, and packed with tech, like facial recognition to unlock doors and holograms. And it achieves all this while being kept lightweight from carbon fiber and aluminum. The most important feature, however, is the IWD or Individual-wheel drive. Truly, the Elevon will be a force to be reckoned with.
Chrysler should get into Formula E, which I predict by 2030, will have longer range and spread to actual tracks. If such is the case, Chrysler getting involved could give them a way to test their all-electric tech. Also, Chrysler should push to have a race at Sebring International Raceway in 2032. If such a thing gets approved by FIA, at the race, Chrysler should unveil a radical all-electric supercar, the Chrysler Sebring. With about 898 HP, it’s a serious supercar or low-level Hypercar, using things learned from the Elevon. Chrysler should also aim to win the race, of course. With that, the current lineup of cars heads to their mid-cycle refreshes where Chrysler just has to keep things up. And that is how I would rebrand Chrysler. This article was a little longer than I expected but the next article will be on Alfa Romeo.
Questions & Answers
Is the Chrysler 200 coming back?
Most likely not. It's even rumored the 300 is going out of production. Chrysler is adding another mini-van to the lineup, the Chrysler Voyager, which is honestly the last thing the company needs right now.
© 2019 Joshua Nightshade