Chrysler executives revealed 15 new or updated models to hundreds of dealers on Tuesday, hoping the new cars and trucks will boost sales and make the company profitable for the first time since it left bankruptcy protection last year.
Chrysler’s new mid-sized sedan will be called the Chrysler 200. The new 200 will replace the Sebring and be built at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights.
The new 200 is expected to arrive in dealerships by the end of the year.
Virtually every system in the sedan is new or upgraded for 2011,
The Auburn Hills-based company said the Chrysler 200 gets a new powertrain lineup featuring the 2.4- liter I-4 World Gas Engine mated to either a four-speed or six-speed automatic transaxle, or the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine which produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transaxle.
Only small teaser photos of the 200, due out later this year, were released. The Sebring has done poorly in the highly important midsize market.
Sebring sales are up 81 percent through August, with almost three-quarters going to rental companies through July.
Chrysler released photos of the new 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan, which offers powertrain improvements, with more horsepower and torque, without loss of fuel economy. The 2011 minivan is powered by the new Pentastar V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, achieving an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) city and 25 mpg highway.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is built at the Windsor Assembly Plant, Windsor, Ontario, Canada and will arrive in dealerships in the fourth quarter 2010.
The gathering was the first large-scale meeting with dealers for Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who has run Chrysler since it left bankruptcy in June 2009. About three-quarters of the company’s U.S. dealers attended, many of whom are hurting as customers bypassed their showrooms for newer models from other automakers.
Because it takes three or four years to bring new cars to showrooms, all Chrysler can do is update its vehicles and try to survive until it can roll out totally new products with Fiat, said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of the Edmunds.com automotive website.
“They’re stuck with these sorts of refreshes. You have to do them because the marketplace isn’t standing still,” Anwyl said. “I’m not sure if it’s enough to actually start to steal back some (market) share.”
Chrysler’s sales are up 10 percent through August, but retail sales to everyday drivers plummeted 18 percent. Much of the company’s sales went to rental car companies, which are far less profitable than retail sales. The automaker lost $369 million in the first half of the year.
Dealers at the meeting, representing 90 percent of Chrysler’s sales, weren’t allowed to bring cell phones. Reporters were barred.
New cars are important to Chrysler because it still is heavily reliant on truck sales for its revenue, even though the U.S. market has been shifting to smaller vehicles. In August, trucks amounted to 73 percent of Chrysler’s total sales. By comparison, trucks made up 41 percent of Toyota’s August sales.
© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.
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