Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed that Chrysler Group will kill the Chrysler Town & Country minivan with the next generation in 2014, according to trade journal Automotive News and Automobile magazine. He also said the Jeep Compass will go at the same time.
Chrysler Group — inventor of the minivan — had said in its product plan in 2009 that it would eventually go down to one van. The talk until now has been that it would be the Dodge Grand Caravan that would die. (Chrysler also builds a version for Volkswagen, which sells it as the Routan.)
Chrysler sells nearly as many of the higher-price Town & Country as Grand Caravans (94,320 vs. 110,862 last year). Dodge brand also has the Durango 3-row crossover in the lineup.
Marchionne, at a media event at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Ill. plant and in an interview with Automobile, said the ax will fall on the Chrysler minivan, which might be “reinvented” as a large crossover hauler that might keep the Town & Country name.
The Compass, near-twin of the Jeep Patriot, also will go in August 2014, as Marchionne trims lineups and tries to eliminate overlap among Chrysler Group brands, which are mostly all sold side-by-side in the same showrooms. The automaker has tried with the current minivans to put them in distinct price ranges and reserve certain options for the upscale Chrysler van.
Marchionne did not say what will happen to the Jeep Patriot, though the 2009 product plan envisions a Fiat-based small crossover for the Jeep brand. Jeep also sells the bigger Liberty, which is well into its product cycle, too.
Marchionne also made unrelated, but interesting, remarks on two other future products, according to the reports:
The all-new, Fiat-based Dodge Dart due next month — which already has a performance version coming in the fall and has been shown in rally-car form — also will be sold by the SRT brand in a high-performance version. “The only thing we’re fighting over now is to determine how big an engine we stick in it,” Marchionne is quoted as saying.
Chrysler is working on hybrids to help meet fuel mileage rules. But Marchionne said the all-electric Fiat 500 due this year is being done only to meet regulations in California and a few other states requiring it to make an EV and to give its engineers experience with electric powertrains. According to the reports, Marchionne, expects the company to lose at least $10,000 on every Fiat 500 EV it sells.