Chrysler drops Dodge minivan and Avenger sedan

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AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Chrysler Group announced May 6 it is planning a more aggressive effort to differentiate its brands.

To do it, the automaker is dropping the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan and Dodge Avenger sedan because they “compete too closely with the Chrysler Town and Country minivan and Chrysler 200 sedan, creating market confusion.”

The automaker says the decision is not expected to adversely affect production at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ont., assembly plant.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Dennis DesRosiers, of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, told The Toronto Star.

“The market is growing so much Chrysler needs all the capacity it can find and if they don’t build minivans they (Windsor) will build something else.”

Chrysler also operates a plant in Brampton, Ont., that makes the Chrysler 300, which will be exported from Ontario to China with a new model coming in 2018 as part of its global expansion plans, the company said.

The combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it’s counting on expanding sales at Jeep, Alfa-Romeo and Maserati, along with a revival of the Chrysler brand, and some new vehicles to place it firmly in the top ranks of global automakers.

Italian automaker Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group presented their future sales targets and product plans Tuesday in a day-long meeting at Chrysler’s Michigan headquarters.

There are many new products, including a full lineup of cars from Alfa-Romeo, as well as some victims. Jeep is ditching the Compass and Patriot small SUVs in favour of a new compact SUV that will come out in 2016.

The combined company wants to grow sales 60 per cent to more than 7 million cars and trucks by 2018, Marchionne said. That’s up from 4.4 million cars and trucks last year compared with 6.3 million for Detroit rival Ford.

“Today we stand before you as a global carmaker,” Marchionne said. “Today is much more than a new chapter. We are beginning to write a completely new book.”

With files from The Toronto Star