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Will Chrysler's Plan Earn It a Bailout?

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Today, two important reports about Chrysler’s future have popped up. The one most people are hearing via major media outlets is that merger talks with GM are possibly back on. The theory is that the White House will see it as a bold enough move to shrink the bloat of the Detroit automakers. It’s a worthy idea, especially because it will likely lead to one less suite of expensive auto execs.

The other news that wasn’t as widely reported was a report by automotive blog Jalopnik about an invitation-only event held by Chrysler to show select journalists future products coming from the company. Journalists who attended were told they couldn’t write about what they had seen until an embargo date. Jalopnik was not invited because Chrysler thought the site would reveal the company’s plans. Instead, the blog just asked its many friends who were there what was shown and their impressions. Then it posted them for all to see, and the future does not look bright for Chrysler.

In an effort for full disclosure, Mike Levine, editor of sister site, was invited to the event, but only to check out the trucks being revealed. Chrysler executives would not let Levine see the rest of the cars on site. To be clear, honors all embargoes; it has always been our policy to do so.

What we can do, though, is report on what others are reporting. Here’s the future lineup, according to Jalopnik’s reporting:

  • Jeep Patriot electric vehicle: Another EV concept to debut at this January’s Detroit auto show.
  • Dodge Ram heavy-duty trucks: The updates to the heavy-duty trucks will debut at the Chicago Auto Show in February.
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee: One of the first modern SUVs gets a redesign and will debut at the New York auto show in April.

Further into the future, models like the 2011 redesigns of the rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger were also shown, as was a clay mockup of a new Dodge Durango SUV.

You can read more descriptions about the cars at Jalopnik, but what is painfully clear from the event is that Chrysler’s cupboards are pretty bare, especially of any new midsize or small vehicles. Now, most journalists and analysts already knew that, but Chrysler’s event put an emphasis on the fact.

Here’s the rant part of this post: If Chrysler isn’t planning to roll out anything but large sedans, SUVs and trucks over the next year, how on earth will that appease the powers in Washington deciding its fate? How will it look to the public?

The Jeep Patriot EV may work, it may go on sale, but it won’t make the company money, as most newly introduced hybrids don’t. There are huge research and development costs that must be recouped first.

Where does all this leave Chrysler? We’ll leave that question up to you in the comments. 

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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