FCA Australia (a subsidiary of Stellantis) has confirmed what we’d long expected: the Chrysler brand is departing the local market.
With it goes the last relatively affordable, rear-wheel drive, V8-powered sedan from Australia.
Our country is the only remaining right-hand drive market for the brand, which is down to just one model locally: the 300, available in V6-powered C Luxury and V8-powered SRT variants.
With 300 production expected to wrap up by mid-decade and no right-hand drive version available of the Voyager/Pacifica minivan, the only other model the brand currently offers, FCA Australia has decided to withdraw the brand.
The Stellantis subsidiary said it remains committed to supplying parts and servicing for Chrysler vehicles, and owners can continue to have their vehicles serviced at all Jeep dealerships nationwide.
There’s no special final edition to commemorate the end of the brand’s run, and the company says it has around 30 Chrysler 300s left in market. The C Luxury had already been moved to special order-only status in 2020.
FCA Australia says the global push towards electrification and a focus on SUVs has led it to consolidate its local lineup.
The 300 is offered with a choice of a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine with 210kW of power and 340Nm of torque in the C Luxury and an atmo 6.4-litre V8 in the SRT that pumps out 350kW and 637Nm.
The latter used to compete against the likes of the departed Holden Commodore SS and Ford Falcon XR8, but now has effectively no rivals short of the less practical but much more popular Ford Mustang GT.
It remains to be seen whether V8 engines will live on in Jeep’s local lineup.
An SRT-8 version of the redesigned WL-series Grand Cherokee has yet to be revealed, while the regular Hemi 5.7-litre V8 hasn’t been confirmed for the local range.
Jeep has also ruled out the Wrangler Rubicon 392 V8 for Australia.
The news of the brand’s withdrawal comes as Chrysler’s parent Stellantis has decided to lavish some attention on neglected ex-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brands like Lancia and Alfa Romeo.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said earlier this year he was giving them a “time window of 10 years and funding for 10 years to do a core model strategy”.
As part of its recent EV Day celebrations, Stellantis even previewed an unnamed future Chrysler product, an upscale electric crossover.
The company also announced it was working on a “long-range luxury sedan”, which could be sold as a Chrysler.
The unnamed crossover will reportedly debut in 2024, riding the new STLA Large all-electric architecture. The 300 is expected to finally exit production in 2023.
The Chrysler brand has left the Australian market before.
Chrysler Australia Ltd was established in 1951 when the Chrysler Corporation acquired Chrysler Dodge Distributors (Holdings) Pty Ltd, an amalgamation of over a dozen independent distributors.
While the Chrysler brand was the Corporation’s second most prestigious brand in the US after Imperial, Chrysler Australia eventually focused on it as their primary mass-market brand and eventually shelved DeSoto, Dodge and Plymouth.
Its most memorable and successful product was the Valiant range, introduced in 1962, which was the bread-and-butter of Chrysler Australia’s local range for almost two decades, and grew to include the iconic Valiant Charger.
Its parent company’s financial strife, however, led to the off-loading of Chrysler Australia to Mitsubishi between 1979 and 1980, though the Valiant remained in production until 1981.
The brand returned in 1996 with the imported Neon sedan and later the Voyager, the latter of which was relatively popular for a time in Australia’s admittedly small people mover market.
Later introductions included the PT Cruiser, Crossfire and Sebring, though the 300C (later 300) proved to be Chrysler’s most enduring model.
Introduced in Australia in 2005 and heavily updated for 2012, the 300 has outlived former rivals like the Ford Fairlane and Holden Statesman and Caprice.
While it’s lost variants along the way (diesel V6, wagon body), it has retained the hot SRT version. That’s despite the 300 SRT being discontinued from the US market in 2015, leaving the hot sedan for markets like ours and the Middle East.
It’s been the only model wearing the Chrysler badge in Australia since 2015 when the Voyager people mover was discontinued.
The withdrawal of the Chrysler brand follows FCA Australia’s discontinuation of Dodge in 2016.
Like Chrysler, Dodge was hamstrung by a lack of right-hand drive product. Its local model range was also reduced to a single model, the Journey crossover.
The key difference is the Chrysler brand has only one other product available in its home market of North America, while Dodge has the Challenger coupe, Charger sedan and Durango large SUV… none of which were made available in right-hand drive.
The Chrysler brand has lingered on in Australia even as it’s been withdrawn from various other global markets.
It was discontinued from Europe in 2011 as part of an unsuccessful strategy of merging the Chrysler and Lancia brands that saw the 300 rebadged as a Lancia Thema.
Rebadged Chryslers were sold as Lancias in Europe until 2015, while the Chrysler brand was retained in the UK and sold rebadged Lancias until its axing in 2015. There, like here, the focus has been firmly shifted to the Jeep brand.
Rumours have continued to swirl the Chrysler brand will get the axe in North America though there’s reason to believe this won’t be the case, even beyond the nascent Stellantis not wanting to drop a brand whose name has been on the building for almost a hundred years.
For one, the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands were largely consolidated at a dealership level years ago in North America and there are no standalone Chrysler dealerships remaining. That means Chrysler could continue to exist with just one or two products.
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