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Malcolm Flynn | Jul, 11 2012 | 0 Comments

If Australia ever sees the new Dodge Dart, it won’t be manufactured in the US, Fiat Chrysler Group Australia CFO Adam Hardy told TMR this week.

Hardy suggests that while not likely in the near future, a new Dart-based model would likely come from China.

There, the Guangzhou Auto/Fiat plant is about to begin production of the Fiat Viaggio, the Chinese-market version of the Dart sedan.

Reports suggest that initial production volume will be 140,000 units per year, but the plant’s capacity of 250,000 units suggests there is scope for expansion into other markets.

Hardy hinted that India is the most likely market for expanded Viaggio distribution, which would necessitate a right-hand-drive version of the currently left hand drive-only model.

This could provide an opportunity for other right-hook markets, chiefly Australia and the United Kingdom.

A UK version has previously been considered Australia’s best chance of receiving such a model.

Given the Viaggio essentially differs from the Dart only in styling details, Fiat Chrysler Group Australia could likely choose between Dodge and Fiat brands to market the model - although it remains unclear if the Dodge brand will continue in Australia.

After taking over local Fiat and Alfa Romeo distribution from Ateco Automotive this year, Fiat Chrysler Group now has nine brands in its Australian portfolio (Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Jeep, Chrysler, SRT, Dodge, and Mopar).

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The group’s Australian Managing Director Clyde Campbell acknowledges that this brand-heavy structure is unique, with all bar Jeep having three or fewer model lines in their range.

Speaking at this week's launch of the new Chrysler 300, Campbell admitted confidently; “We might seem a little crazy, but sometimes crazy is okay”.

Nonetheless, the group would likely benefit from the addition of a mainstream small car like the Dart - with the only small car currently in the group’s local lineup being the niche Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatch, on which the Dart is based.

Keep an eye on TMR for any details regarding any right hand drive Viaggio production plans.

 
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