Most often than not, automakers will either use a flagship or midway bread-and-butter model as the car to spearhead a brand’s direction when changing design languages. For instance, for BMW, it’s more often been the BMW 7-Series dictating what the 5- and 3- would look like as their point was to mimic the big-daddy in a lesser, more affordable package. Chrysler seeks to do the same, but rather than using the flagship 300 sedan, Chrysler is using its fully redesigned 200 entry-level sedan for 2014. And that’s because Chrysler believes the 200 will be its bread-and-butter model.
“The current Chryslers on the road today certainly don’t reflect where we’re headed,” Ralph Gilles told WardsAuto at the North American International Auto Show last week. “What I can safely say is we are deviating from where we are today, completely. It’s a very different feeling (and) look. (The new 200) shares no surface language with any previous Chrysler we’ve ever seen.”
To add to the mixture, Chrysler did unveil some new visual updates for some of its existing models such as the current Jeep Grand Cherokee and the future 200’s lesser running mate, the Dodge Avenger. But Gilles added that the current Avenger will be ending after 2013, making way for the next generation.
“Saad (Chehab, Chrysler brand president and CEO) and Sergio (Marchionne, Chrysler CEO) both were very instrumental in finding the new mission of the car – new branding. I think it’s going to be a beautiful and relevant vehicle,” Gilles added.
Gilles also described its marketing strategy in a nutshell, saying that Chrysler seeks to brand each of its models, like with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee they were showing off in Detroit. Particularly, Chrysler branded the Jeep Grand Cherokee by “subdividing” its differing trim levels. As a result, the packaging for each trimmed Grand Cherokee significantly differs from each other amongst the five provided: Summit, Overland, Laredo, Limited, and SRT.
During the same press conference, Chrysler/Fiat SpA. CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that changes for the new Challenger are “in store.”
“We’re reinvesting in the Challenger. A lot of people are saying ‘Oh, the Challenger is going to die and go away’ – no. We’re taking care of a brand that has served us very well,” Gilles further elaborated. “The Challenger is the oldest interior of the whole group, the electronics are the oldest in the group. There’s a lot of potential – I’ll leave it at that.”
– By: Chris Chin