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Chrysler brand safe for now in Australia

To paraphrase Mark Twain, another famous American, reports of the Chrysler 300's death were an exaggeration as the big sedan – and the Chrysler brand – are sticking around in Australia for now.

2 weeks ago
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William Stopford
Journalist

The last affordable, rear-wheel drive V8 sedan in Australia isn’t dead yet.

Despite reports the Chrysler 300 is being discontinued locally and dealers are no longer accepting orders, Fiat Chrysler Australia has confirmed its 300 – and the Chrysler brand itself – isn’t dead yet.

“The Chrysler 300 SRT ordering has been put on hold due to production constraints,” said a Fiat Chrysler Australia spokesperson.

“We currently have stock available for customers and will keep customers updated once we have more information.”

The spokesperson said this is “not an end to the Chrysler brand”.

CarExpert has spoken with dealers who said they aren’t aware of any plan to kill the 300.

The SRT’s naturally-aspirated 6.4-litre V8 engine, dubbed the 392 Hemi, is used in a range of FCA products including the Dodge Challenger and Challenger R/T Scat Pack and SRT versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.

While there is dealer stock available of the SRT, its V6-powered C Luxury sibling and the more basic SRT Core switched to being special order-only vehicles last year.

Chrysler supplies 300 SRT models not just to private buyers but also to the New South Wales Police for use as highway patrol vehicles.

FCA sold 218 examples in Australia last year, down from 292 the year before but still enough to be Australia’s best-selling “upper-large” car – second was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class at 163 sales.

In the current generation’s first full year on sale back in 2013, Chrysler sold 2508 examples. But by 2016, sales were down to just 460 units even after a facelift.

The C Luxury’s counterparts in the North American market were discontinued for 2021, leaving only the lower-spec Touring and Touring L and the sportier-looking S which is also available with an optional 5.7-litre V8.

The local 300 range has never quite matched up with the North American range, however.

Chrysler dropped the 300 SRT from its US line-up in 2015, meaning the refreshed 300 launched that year was only available in SRT guise in export markets like Australia and the Middle East.

While Chrysler offers only one model line in Australia, in its home market it sells the Voyager and Pacifica minivans.

Rumours have continued to swirl the Chrysler brand will get the axe 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 both here and in North America and there are no standalone Chrysler dealerships remaining.

That leaves brands to have a more targeted focus: Dodge for performance vehicles, Chrysler for people movers, Jeep for SUVs and Ram for pickup trucks. And Dodge has finally discontinued the ageing Journey crossover and Grand Caravan minivan, leaving the people mover business to Chrysler as it burnishes its sportier image.

This isn’t to say the Chrysler 300’s future is assured. A replacement model hasn’t appeared in any of FCA’s recent five-year plans and it does overlap with the Dodge Charger, which uses the same mechanicals but unique styling inside and out.

The current 300 was also introduced in North America in 2011, and was itself a heavily updated version of the previous 300 launched in 2004. Though FCA has long product cycles, it’ll eventually have to call time on the 300.

Despite this, sales have remained fairly steady in the USA. According to Carsalesbase, Chrysler sold just over 50,000 300 models each year between 2013 and 2017, though 2019 saw sales drop to just 29,213.

MORE: Chrysler 300 news and reviews
MORE: Chrysler news and reviews


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