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Dodge, Chrysler safe for now

by Ronan Glon

Chrysler will pivot to mobility; Dodge will remain focused on performance.

Dodge and Chrysler fans can sleep easy. Though widespread rumors claimed both brands could disappear virtually overnight, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed they'll stick around in the foreseeable future.

"Dodge needs to continue the particular space as a performance brand, and we need to continue to build on that core skill. The minivan business space will be filled by Chrysler, filling the mobility solution in the US market," Marchionne told British magazine Autocar after presenting FCA's five-year plan.

He acknowledged Dodge and Chrysler will remain local brands and pointed out they need to adapt to local market conditions. That means shifting further away from sedans than they already have and adding more crossovers and SUVs to their respective line-up.

"Those two brands are not in question but they're local NAFTA brands, and need to be developed for local market conditions. Our view is that 70% of the US market is already non-sedan, so to try and build traditional sedans is not helpful. Brands like Dodge can play a role there because of their performance heritage," Marchionne explained.

Autocar adds Chrysler will get a new model in the coming years. It's too early to tell whether it will take the form of an SUV or a MPV. Additionally, FCA is negotiating for the right to sell a Chrysler Pacifica equipped with Waymo's self-driving technology to the general public. Currently, the prototypes are only used in the various pilot programs Waymo operates across the nation.

The only FCA brand set to disappear in the coming years is Lancia. Once Italy's answer to Mercedes-Benz, Lancia has shriveled into a brand that sells a single model -- the aging Ypsilon city car -- exclusively in its home market. FCA will either sell Lancia or shut it down when the Ypsilon reaches the end of its life cycle.