by: Reilly Brennan, AOL Autos
    At a media event next Wednesday, Chrysler is expected to announce massive changes to its brands, including the termination of popular models and the introduction of Italian vehicles courtesy of their new owner, Fiat. The Wall Street Journal reported on the forthcoming changes via inside sources with access to the plans.

    Key to Chrysler's strategy will be the reduction of underperforming models within their Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands and the introduction of Fiat and Alfa Romeo models to the U.S. market. Fiat hasn't sold a car in the U.S. since 1984; Alfa Romeo left our shores in 1995.

    Going Away

    Chrysler is expected to announce the death of the following models next week

    What's Going Away

    When Chrysler's plans become apparent next Wednesday, more than a few models are expected to hit the chopping block. When reached for comment, Chrysler representatives told AOL Autos that "since the story relates to future products we can't comment." We expected that, of course.

    Nevertheless, insiders have confirmed to us a wave of products that will die either by year's end or at the end of their current production run. The list of production models going away is listed at the right.

    Why Kill Models?

    With market share at a dismal 8.3% at the end of September, it's difficult to see the wisdom in the elimination of brands. Furthermore, in aggregate these models represent millions of points of contact with customers. Why walk away from that?

    The truth is that few of the products on this list are worth saving. Chrysler's product portfolio in America has been inconsistent and out of pace with the rest of the industry.

    "The Caliber, the Avenger, the Commander, as well as the Compass, Patriot, and Dodge Nitro triplets, are vehicles that really failed to endear themselves to the American consumer, and the automotive media and quality analysts were never bullish on them, either," said Chris Paukert, executive editor of Autoblog.com. "As none of these are exactly long-time, storied nameplates, I don't see many mourning their passing."

    Except their owners, of course. The way that Chrysler deals with the death of these products will be critical. Should you find yourself in possession of one of these vehicles when the announcements become official, you shouldn't panic. Chrysler will honor its warranties with owners and supply parts for a reasonable amount of time. While the models might be going away, don't expect they'll forget about your car payments, of course. Your resale values will likely be affected, though; market logic follows that fewer buyers will see the value in buying Chrysler products after they've been discontinued.

    New Models Coming

    In the automotive business, the speed at which you refresh your model lineup is your lifeblood. It's the same way that all the experts tell you to get your oil changed every three months -- in the car business, those refreshes and redesigns need to happen every four years or so. When you wait much longer, as Chrysler has, customers walk away and fast-moving competitors take the lead. As Chrysler slowed the rate at which it brought new models to bear, its U.S. sales dropped; in 2008 U.S. sales fell 30% from the previous year but in reality the entire decade underperformed the company's real potential. No year in the past decade came close to the sales they saw in the 1990s; in 1999 Chrysler sold over 2.6 million cars. In 2009 they are on pace for about half of that.

    The problem a few years back continues to be a problem today: Chrysler really doesn't have much new stuff to bring out. The new Grand Cherokee is expected to arrive next year as a 2011 model and the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 will receive a redesign at the same time. Other than that, though, the pipeline is dry. Meanwhile, other companies are hot to refresh and redesign new models. Ford recently announced a company-wide goal to be 90% refreshed by 2012.

    So, what's Chrysler's solution? Instead of begging for new products, they're simply going to borrow them.

    Fiat builds and sells a number of exciting products in Europe and Chrysler could do a lot worse than simply bringing them over. And that's exactly what they're going to do. Fiat is expected to bring a few of those to the U.S. in short order to help Chrysler stay afloat.

    Expected to arrive in the U.S. will be the Alfa Romeo Mito, Alfa Romeo Milano and the Fiat Cinquecento (the ultra-exclusive Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione actually already went on sale late last year). A few new programs, in cooperation between Fiat and Chrysler, will bear fruit for the company on both shores further down the road. As an example, a mid-size sedan under development by Alfa Romeo could provide a next-generation replacement for the outgoing Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring.

    Of course, it's not a simple copy and paste procedure to sell cars in the U.S.; the models from Europe would need to meet U.S. safety standards. Beyond that, the expensive task of actually marketing these vehicles would be a massive undertaking, especially in the case of a brand like Alfa Romeo which, in America, carries more baggage than a luggage cart.

    Drastic Times, Drastic Measures

    In 1998, Mercedes-Benz acquired Chrysler, and although the "merger of equals" sounded like a great idea, the reality never rang true. The relationship ended in a divorce. Unlike most domestic partnerships, however, love probably never brought the two together in the first place. The dreamy, 90s concept of massive efficiencies of scale wafted through the executive ranks in Germany and Detroit and produced one of the auto business's worst partnerships. Both Mercedes and Chrysler were worse off in the end.

    So, why should we expect anything different with Chrysler's new owner, Fiat? After just 42 days of bankruptcy earlier this year, the Italian conglomerate took over (they now own 20% of Chrysler Group LLC with an option to buy up to 51%). Cynics might say that history will repeat itself, but this new chapter looks to be different.

    "Mercedes really couldn't use anything they got out of Chrysler," said Jim Hall, an analyst with 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Michigan. "The water really didn't flow from America to anything of value for Mercedes. But now, Fiat gets the company for a song, gets them the volume they need to maintain critical mass purchasing and the ability to sell Jeep around the world. It's win, win. The problem is bridging the next two years."

    Even with these bold announcements to come next week, Hall's warning is prescient: it will be a good while before we'll actually see these models hit the showroom floor. Until then, Chrysler just needs to hold on and wait for the tide to come in.

    The decision to cut models, tighten their (Italian leather) belt and hope for a brighter tomorrow is the best decision they could make right now, even if it's unpopular.

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    1 - 20 of 368 Comments
    jjumpire21 May 09, 2010 10:10 PM
    Fiat? Fix It Again Tony.nuff said.
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    jerryhoytlakes May 09, 2010 10:04 PM
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    panamarider323 Nov 04, 2009 12:18 PM
    Any good car you buy, if you treat it right , maintain it right, keep it clean and change oil and filter around 4 to 5 thousand mies will last you a lifetime
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    mikulkada Oct 31, 2009 10:54 AM
    Got a '00 Dodge Caravan, and like a few from each of the 3 brands for future purchases. Unfortunately some are listed here as hating to see the Patriot go while hoping atleast the Sebring Convertible stays, but all in all I'd still say anyway... JUST GET RID OF YOUR SLOW SELLING --DUPLICATE-- MODELS AND CONSOLIDATE THOSE THAT'LL STAY UNDER THE ~~"MOPAR"~~ NAME (or at least since one was aquired later on in life, "MOPAR/JEEP"). And speaking of JEEP... since the Nitro is on hit list, how about dropping that ones ~260hp/265ibs\t~ 4.0L V6 under the WRANGLER \ WRAN.UNLTD hood atleast, getting rid of whippy only use 3.8 that almost copies the 3.7 used now in few modles (-8 hp while +2 lbs\t). Think that would atleast bring Jeep back to some of its ORIGINAL GLORY DAYS. Keep All our Soldiers still in your Prayers, and God Bless The U.S.A..
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    baregy Oct 30, 2009 1:15 PM
    We purchased a Dodge Advenger for our daughter almost a year ago. She use to drive a Cobalt which I hated and she loved. But she totalled it. I feel the Advenger is a more comfortable car, less road noise, softer seats and more bells and whistles. I being the mother think the Advenger's boby style is more classy. She will be moving to Florida and wants to sell it, which we know would be a mistake with the economy. Well now with this news..It looks like we will really lose money on this if we do trade it in.She never really like the car. One complaint was fake wheels and of course the four doors which made it "Not sporty enough"We to ,are Dodge people owning a Ram 1500 with the Hemi. We have owned several Dakotas. My very 1st new car was a Plymouth Horizan. Under $8,000 brand new in 1986. Wish this was not happening. Stuck in California
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    dougsholmes Oct 30, 2009 11:44 AM
    Don't see how importing Fiats and Alfas will benefit Chrysler brand. Both will be, at best, niche vehicles and very different from what Americans have been driving for the last 20 years. Also, both Italian cars have left-over from their previous forays here a reputation as unreliable, quirky and expensive to repair. Maybe Chrysler will be able to change that perception, like Hyundai/Kia has.
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    aearthling59 Oct 30, 2009 11:40 AM
    German and Italian cars are already being made in Mexico just like Fords and Japanese cars. Why pay high wages in the US and Europe as well as freight fees when they can make them with cheap labor in MX, place them on railroad cars and eliminate the US and Canadians from high wages, local and federal taxes, health care, retirement, environment, sick, holiday and vacation leave. Bye bye jobs, goodbye more US dollars.
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    aearthling59 Oct 30, 2009 11:37 AM
    I bought a brand new Jeep Cherokee several years ago, nice styling, comfortable but then I was transferred to Canada after a few months from El Paso to Ottawa. I arrived in St. Louis with problems, the first (of seven) exhaust manifolds went and needed to be repaired. In the next few years other manifolds malfunctioned. I had a warranty but Canada said sorry you got that warranty in the US, when I took it over to Buffalo they said sorry you took that car out of the US. Since I could not bring in a second car at the time, and $9,000, later I bought a car in Canada. I have had five US brand vehicles, two months ago I bought a Honda, made in Ohio, the profit unfortunately leaves the country but every time I think of the 9,.000 I spent on all the problems with my Jeep, Chevy's Taurus SW I will give this car a try without any loss of sleep.
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    truwriter Oct 30, 2009 11:12 AM
    The Compass and Patriot were not marketed well and represented the only MPG value that Jeep or Chrysler had (Caliber too) but they kept marketing V10 trucks and 300 horespower Magnums. There never was any sense for the Compass AND the Patriot which are virutally the same except for the body style. I had a Compass and it was the best snow car I ever had but I let it go for even better MPG. Fiat is the perfect mate for Chrysler as Fiat knows small cars and they have a nice fleet. Fiat used to be fairly big in the US but gave up the import rat race. I had a Fiat (124 as I recall) and it was a quality car. Fiat can take Chrysler over the top with small car technology as Chrsyler has never been able to understand that. I hope they survive but it will depend on the merge of Fiat management with Chrysler and if the US boys don't listen they will go away. GM has become a fabulous carmaker. I would be hard pressed to find a car with better value, mpg, styling and warranty than what GM is putting out there. Ford does get it but Ford has always had the advantage of its foriegn cars and desingers. I think I would have kept the Patriot at least, as the rest of the Jeep line are the biggest gas pigs around, with Wrangers/Rubicons qualifying as clunkers (by mpg) while they are on the showroom floor. But Jeeps are very popular and if they abandon the 14 mpg SUV and make it around what the Compass got, they back in the hunt. Business surives on its ability to adapt.
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    magnoliamomma561 Oct 30, 2009 11:08 AM
    Our family just bought a used 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan...LOVE IT!!!!!!! We bought a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan in '06, and LOVED IT, so we bought another... I've already told my husband that since the government owns the auto industry, we will NEVER buy ANYTHING made after 2010...won't be reliable. Our family has ALWAYS owned Dodges/Plymouths since 1978 when my husband(boyfriend at that time) bought a 1976 Dodge 4 Wheel Drive Powerwagon...GREAT truck. After we got married we bought me a Dodge pickup, sold it, then bought a Plymouth Scamp...from their we've owned a Dodge Aspen, Plymouth Gran Fury, Dodge Diesel Pickup, 3 Dodge Dakotas, an 2 other Dodge pickups...still have 2 of the Dakotas(daughter wrecked 1989 Dakota), she bought a 2000 model, my husband bought a 1990 Dodge Diesel in 1993, STILL drives it to work EVERYDAY(70 miles round trip), husband also bought a 1992 Dakota, we have a 1992 full size Dodge pickup and two vans... our second daughter drives the 2003 Grand Caravan...Won't drive anything else...will probably never buy a new car. Won't drive a Ford.... It makes me angry that European cars are being pushed on us because of Obama's greed.
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    mariam1031 Oct 30, 2009 10:44 AM
    big mistake, not everyone wants a small micro car from italy. I need the big SUV Jeep commander that I bought 3 years ago and love love love...
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    greatbirdusa Oct 30, 2009 10:42 AM
    How about speeding up the delivery of that new 2011 Jeep GC --- My 2003 Jeep has 184,000 on it and I'll have over 200,000 on it by the time the redesigned model comes out. - I don't want to wait -----
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    wayneom1 Oct 30, 2009 10:35 AM
    As a kid loved Dusters, Chargers, Chryslers. Cool looking, innovative and dependable. Went on to Omnis, Horizons and Le Barons. Not as reliable. Switched to Buicks, Mercury and Ford. They were all better cars by then. Out of nostalgia, got a Magnum, really great looking, very powerful, met my needs. Has never worked properly. Spent WEEKS on end in the shop. Still has front end issues. (widely discussed by owners, but never recalled by Chrysler) So if your studying this for business clues,produce something that works properly for the money. Bye Walter, it was fun.
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    mama1942 Oct 30, 2009 10:00 AM
    I am a 60+ grandma & own a Dodge Caliber. I purchased this car because I have grandchildren that I drive around & it still looked like a mini SUV. I get great gas mileage (23mpg), haven't had any problems & love the inside of the car. It has a lot of room inside, seats fold down & a lot of space behind the seats. I am extremely happy with my Caliber.
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    jrdematteo Oct 30, 2009 9:42 AM
    Regarding the writiers comment about no one wanting to buy discontinued models, has he ever heard of a Honda Prelude or a Nissan 300ZX? They haven't made the Prelude since 2001 and the ZX since 1995, yet you can't even find one... and if you do it still costs a lot (for a used car). The difference between these examples and the multitude of other discontinued models is that these cars are awesome and were way ahead of their time. The Chryslers and Jeeps that are slated to be cut out are just pieces of crap and are actually duplicates of each others brand... nothing innovative and the same reason GM became so bloated. No loss here and quite honestly if they're not selling, why keep them. If it wasn't for the UAW getting their payback for voting in Obama and the idiotic taxpayers who don't have a clue how badly their getting railroaded by our new Administration, there wouldn't even be a Chrysler anymore.
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    lizo59093 Oct 30, 2009 9:41 AM
    Then they need to bring back the Jeep Cherokee. I've owned 2 of them, my son is still driving one that has over 100,00 miles on it and I can't tell you how many I still see on the road, years after the model was discontinued.. Modernize the body style a little, make the back seat more comfortable - but the basic design was a reliable, sturdy vehicle that was great in the snow.
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    nomoretoyota Oct 30, 2009 9:38 AM
    There is little hope for this entire brand. The only thing they are selling is mini vans and trucks. They can dump the rest. The Grand Cherokee too is a ugly boxy SUV that is so 80's with horrible gas mileage. No one is going to run out there any buy anything with Fiat on the label. This whole thing was crazy to think that the entire Chrysler brand is going to be some world class auto maker. After a few years FIAT will pull the plug and the whole brand will go away like Plymouth. They are not a US brand any more so bye bye.
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    dunzie182 Oct 30, 2009 9:38 AM
    Thank god they're getting rid of all these turds. Just kill the whole company. What a waste of tax dollars.
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    pulp2bgone Oct 30, 2009 9:33 AM
    Well, we've managed to get along and evolve without the dinosaurs, so I don't think anyone will miss these antiquated and poorly designed vehicles, either. Already a plethora of high quality cars/trucks on the road. Ford seems to be making strides and may soon approach the Japanese and South Korean brands in build quality and durability. Man, it's been decades since anyone could say that!
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    xodguy Oct 30, 2009 9:32 AM
    I don't see how replacing a good bannana with a rotten bannana is staying competitive. LOL ..I have been a mopar owner all my life and always got excellent service out of my plymouths and dodges. I owned one Fiat back in the 70's which I bought used from my neice..All I can say is, it would not have even made a good boat anchor. Sayanara (not sure I spelled that right,but I'm not a jap) and maybe you seek mussolini's love but my next vehicle will be a Ford!
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    1 - 20 of 368 Comments
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    Chrysler, now owned by FIAT, is expected to announce the death of a certain number of models. Find out which ones may get the ax.


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