Mixed Results For Rebadged Chryslers and Dodges in Europe
In order to enhance the decreased sales of Fiat and Lancia brands with the rebadged Chrysler models, Sergio Marchionne —Fiat-Chrysler CEO implemented a plan, which now bags a mixed response from car enthusiasts. As a part of this plan, the Fiat targets to sell around 30,000 Freemonts, a rebadged Dodge Journey large crossover, in Europe this year. According to analysts, in the first quarter of 2012, the automaker sold 6,498 Freemonts, so that it can attain or come close to its target.
If it is the case of Freemont, the Lancia Thema large sedan and the Voyager large minivan, the rebadged versions of the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country models respectively, are selling at a slow pace. The reason for this slow pace is due to the luxury tax introduced by the Italian government on January this year. As a result, the buyers have to pay fine with a horsepower rating of more than 252 hp while owners of the 285-hp Thema gasoline version have to pay 500 euros a year in luxury tax. But the Thema’s diesel version and the Voyager are free of tax, and as it is difficult for the majority of Italians to afford huge vehicles, the sales of these cars are comparatively slow.
In Italy alone, around 347 Voyagers were sold in the first quarter of 2012 while the Thema sales in Italy were 208. This pace suggests a volume of about 2,400 units for the full year for the Thema, a quarter of Marchionne’s 10,000-unit target. However, Marchionne aims to sell 11,000 Voyagers this year, even though, first-quarter sales were 1,342. He is quite confident about the vehicle.
“The typical Voyager buyer in Italy, a large family or a hotel owner, is delaying any vehicle replacement due to the general economic uncertainties,” said Piero Mocarelli, owner of Mocauto, the largest Lancia dealer in Italy.
“After the introduction of the tax, the entire segment of large cars in Italy simply disappeared, with sales down by about 75 percent compared with last year,” he added.
He said the Thema is seen as a luxury car so customers are shunning even the diesel version, which is not subject to the new tax. Wait and see the fate of the brands.