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Chrysler wields the axe

Chrysler will axe four models next year in a global cost-cutting plan.

The vehicles to go include the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible, Chrysler Crossfire sportscar, Chrysler Pacifica SUV and the Dodge Magnum (a wagon version of the 300C sedan).

Australia only imports the PT Cruiser convertible and Crossfire.

DaimlerChrysler Australia/Pacific PR manager Jerry Stamoulis emphasised that the PT Cruiser sedan would remain and that the cabrio was “only low volume; about 10 a month”.

However, he admitted the loss of the Crossfire would be a blow.

“Crossfire is the biggest blow for us because it's a very attractive car, drives well and had a positive response from media and public,” he said. “But as yet we have received no date as such for these to be cut.”

While cutting its cloth to fit a suspected worsening in the US economic climate, Chrysler will next year add four models.

There will be two new Dodges — the Journey minivan and Challenger large-medium sedan — plus two new hybrid SUV models — the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.

Stamoulis said the Challenger was in left-hand drive only.

“So that is not a plan at all at this stage,” he said.

“It is early days for discussing the hybrids. They are developing the hybrids for the US, but there are no specific dates for us as yet.

“The Dodge Journey we are working on bringing to Australia in 2008, but they have not officially said whether it will be released here.

“At this stage it is looking likely for later in 2008.”

Stamoulis said Chrysler's Australian portfolio would not suffer from the loss of two models.

“It's not as if we don't have a decent portfolio,” he said.

“We've had five new models this year — the Sebring, Avenger, Compass, Patriot and Nitro — and the sixth will be Sebring Cabrio in December, so essentially we've brought in six new cars this year and are losing two in the next 18 months.”

Chrysler Australia will also re-introduce the new Voyager and launch the Jeep Cherokee in February.

Global Chrysler chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli said the impending model cuts reflected an expected reduction in sales next year.

The new round of cutbacks follows an earlier announcement that Chrysler planned to chop 85,000 units from its fourth-quarter production plans.

“These actions reflect our new customer-driven philosophy and allow us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products,” he said.

The cuts will lead to a loss of 12,000 jobs in American factories.

Nardelli said their plans were in addition to cutting 13,000 jobs by the three-year Recovery and Transformation Plan announced in February.