Industry News, Carmag.co.za, August 5th, 2016
By Ryan Bubear
If you’re a keen follower of the monthly new vehicle sales statistics released by Naamsa, you may have noticed that Chrysler offerings have quietly disappeared from the list.
We approached Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa to find out exactly what this means for the Chrysler, as well the group’s other brands, on local shores.
Of course, production of the Grand Voyager ceased in the United States last year, where it was effectively replaced by the Pacifica, with no right-hand drive replacement making it to South Africa. So that’s the end of the road for the Grand Voyager locally.
But Shane Howarth, head of marketing communications for the group, tells us that the Chrysler 300C will continue to be on sale in South Africa “until the end of its life-cycle” and that it can be bought “as a special order”.
“The Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands are our premium offerings and the strategy for the Chrysler 300C will remain niche,” he explained.
So, does that mean that the Chrysler brand has effectively pulled out of South Africa? Well, not quite yet, it seems.
“Whilst we are falling in line with the European strategy whereby Chrysler is no longer in our long-term plans, we wait to hear regarding the prospect of further right-hand drive models,” Howarth told CARmag.co.za.
Howarth also confirmed that the MiTo will no longer be offered in South Africa, which he says is “in line with the new product brand strategy and the new exciting Alfa Romeo products (e.g. Giulia) that will be introduced over the next couple of years”.
He also confirmed that both the coupe and spider versions of the Alfa Romeo 4C are “still part of our product plans and [are] still being imported”.
The Jeep Compass, however, has effectively been killed off in our market thanks to “the successful introduction of the Jeep Renegade” locally. Howarth also made reference to a “new Jeep C-SUV [that] will be launched at the Paris Motor Show in September”, which suggests that it may just find its way into local dealerships.
Howarth furthermore provided us with insight into the group’s local plans for the Fiat brand, revealing that the Fiat 500L Trekking will be available “only until current stock has been depleted, then we will no longer import this vehicle”.
“We are currently investigating other Fiat models, such as the award-winning Fiat Tipo. This model has already received a number of accolades and positive reviews resulting in incredible results in all the markets,” he said.
And Dodge? Well, the single remaining local offering, the Journey, will continue to be sold in South Africa until stock is depleted. Since there is no right-hand drive replacement planned, “as per Chrysler, we await to hear what right-hand drive models will be developed for South Africa.”