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Will Chrysler build Alfa Romeo model in Brampton

Published November 4, 2009


AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat unveiled ambitious product plans today including upgrades for key vehicles it builds in Canada.

Chrysler officials disclosed it will restyle the Dodge Charger muscle car, which it builds in Brampton, with a new fuel-efficient engine, dramatic styling changes and interior improvements by the end of next year. The company has not confirmed yet that it will build an Alfa Romeo model in Brampton.

The struggling automaker, which has received billions of dollars in U.S. and Canadian government aid this year to stay alive, revealed it will provide "a facelift" to the Dodge Caravan minivan that will involve a new engine, suspension system and interior and exterior changes in the third quarter of next year.

Chrysler added it will also improve handling, creature comforts and fuel economy for the Caravan, which it assembles at its minivan plant in Windsor.

Senior executives who are unveiling the plan at a day-long meeting have also acknowledged the company's shortcomings such as inferior quality and what actions it has already taken to shake the stigma and win new customers.

"We're not in denial," said Doug Betts, the company's head of quality.

Chrysler chairman Robert Kidder conceded the company, whose sales continue to slide in the U.S. and Canada, faces a "monumental challenge" because of under investment in competitive models and the way it has operated in the past.

However, chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, who was raised in Toronto, countered recent reports the company continues to bleed badly by releasing numbers showing its cash position has jumped from about $4 billion earlier to $5.7 billion and $200 million in earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation for the third quarter.

Before the opening of the presentations to hundreds or journalists and industry officials, Chrysler piped in music from music icon Bruce Springsteen including a tune called "Terry's Song" that includes the line "break the mold."

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