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Dodge to be axed from Australia

Part of the change will include switching the Dodge Journey to a Fiat Fremont.

As Dodge's parent brand Chrysler, and Italian partner Fiat further develop their arrangements, Fiats will replace Dodges here. 

The Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands will move into an expanded Chrysler-Jeep operation that reflects the global alliance between the Italian and American brands. 

Part of the change will include switching the Dodge Journey to a Fiat Fremont as the Italian products slide in at the bottom of a bigger new Fiat-Chrysler operation. 

Although details are still secret, Carsguide believes the new collaboration will begin in May following a buyout of the Fiat-Alfa agency from Australia's biggest independent distributor, Ateco Automotive.

Ateco will retain its luxury Ferrari and Maserati agencies, but is resigned to losing the mainstream brands just as it has been bought out of its Suzuki and Kia franchises in the past. "There is no deal. Nothing is signed," the head of Ateco, Neville Crichton, tells Carguide.

But Crichton does not deny discussions, or a plan that will see Ateco - which already holds the Chery and Great Wall franchises for Australia - expanding its import connections to China. 

"We're always looking for new opportunities," Crichton says. Chrysler-Jeep as been growing strongly in the past 18 months following the new alliance with Fiat Group that came after the American company - like General Motors - went into bankruptcy in the USA and needed a massive government bailout.

The latest Grand Cherokee reflects a stronger commitment to quality and driving enjoyment, something that should also benefit the upcoming SRT performance versions of the Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300C sedan. 

But Chrysler in Australia has rejected approaches to become the fourth brand in V8 Supercars racing, based on the cost of the project and questionable short-term returns for a brand that is yet to receive supplies of its latest 300C. 

Chrysler was approached by at least two V8 Supercars teams, with Garry Rogers leading a push to put the 300C onto local tracks alongside the Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore and upcoming Nissan Altima. 

But Chrysler admits that it might look again at a V8 Supercars proposal for 2014, once it gets its new business plan bedded-down.