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Alfa Romeo, Chrysler Sedans to Share Platforms by 2013
Further evidence of Fiat's influence on the future of Chrysler came into focus recently, when Ralph Gilles, head designer for the Chrysler Group and president of the Dodge brand, spoke at a regional chamber of commerce meeting in the metro Detroit area. According to a story reported in the "Detroit Free Press," Gilles said the next-generation mid-sized sedans from the Chrysler group will share Fiat's C-EVO platform with the new Alfa Romeo Giulia. The Giulia is expected to launch in 2011 in Italy as a replacement for the executive-class Alfa Romeo 159 sedan.
The completely redesigned Chrysler products are due in 2013 and will set a new benchmark for the automaker's mid-size sedans. The current models, the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, have been on the market since 2007 and have struggled for acceptance with customers since their launch. Yet as the 2010 numbers show, there's still plenty of interest in mid-size products from Chrysler, and the vehicles are building up some impressive momentum.
The Sebring notched a robust 207 percent sales increase in April as compared to the same month in 2009, while the car's year-to-date results are up 110 percent. The Avenger did even better last month, with sales climbing by 340 percent in April alone. Through the first four months of 2010, sales of the Avenger have jumped by 58 percent.
Notably, both are also headed for a significant round of upgrades later this year. The "Freep" quotes Gilles as saying that the refreshed Sebring and Avenger "may look a little similar (to the current models) on the outside, but believe me, they are completely new cars."
That's good news for the automaker, as the ability to attract sales in the mid-size sedan segment will be vital to Chrysler's future success'”and there are plenty of sales to attract, too. Top mid-size sellers such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry found about 30,000 customers each in April, approximately five times more than Avenger despite its big-time triple-digit sales boost.
The 2011 models also carry the burden of a $20 million investment that Chrysler made at its Sterling Heights, Mich., plant, where the vehicles are currently built. Production of the Avenger and Sebring will continue at the plant through 2012, although it's not certain where the 2013 models will be assembled.
What is certain is that they'll be a major step up for the automaker, as well as its potential customers.
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