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CAR Confidential: Big aims for Euro Dodge

DaimlerChrysler is deadly serious about breaking US brand Dodge in Europe.

The Caliber is in showrooms now, the Nitro SUV arrives in mid-2007. But the new model bonanza won’t end there.

Rivals for the Mondeo and Fiesta are in the pipeline, too. Chrysler unveiled the Sebring saloon at the London motor show, and this chassis will be reskinned with a Dodge body. Sources say the four-door looks like a scaled down Charger, the muscular saloon sold in the States.

CAR Confidential is expecting a preview concept at September’s Paris motor show, with sales in 2008. It will run the same four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines as the Sebring, but surely look far more desirable.

Not far behind is a supermini. “We are in negotiations with three potential partners to land a contract for joint purchasing and the assembly of B-segment cars,” says Chrysler Group president Tom LaSorda. “We hope to make a decision by the end of the year.”

The potential partners are from western Europe and Asia, confirmed LaSorda, with Volkswagen very much in the running. Former DC suit Wolfgang Bernhard is now running VW, and he has already struck a deal with his former company to secure a Voyager-based Volkswagen ‘minivan’, for sale solely in the States.

Dodge is looking to pull off the same thing in reverse, by securing a front-engined/front-drive platform. Volkswagen has been working on a low-cost chassis that should fit the bill, using components from the previous generation Golf platform.

Inspiration for the Dodge will be taken from the Hornet, a spacious boxy concept car. Sounds drab? Boxy is big with young people, from the Nissan Cube in Japan to Toyota’s Scion Bbx in the States. And young people are exactly the kind of people DC wants to welcome into Dodge City.

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