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Auto blogTue, 16 Apr 2013 15:45:00 EST
Chrysler is busy shuffling executives around in the wake of Ram head Fred Diaz's departure. The automaker has named Reid Bigland (pictured, right) as Diaz's successor in the role of president and CEO of Ram, though Bigland will continue his duties as the head of US sales and the president and CEO of Chrysler Canada. Bigland first came to Chrysler in 2006 from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, so the guy knows a thing or two about trucks.
Meanwhile, Timothy Kuniskis will take over as president and CEO of Dodge. Previously, he served as the head of Fiat in North America and has been with Chrysler in one capacity or another since 1992. His old title now falls to Jason Stoicevich, who will also continue to work as the director of the automaker's California Business Center. Finally, Bruno Cattori will take over as the president and CEO of Chrysler Mexico.
Diaz left his position to take over as a divisional vice president of sales and marketing with Nissan. You can read the full press release on the Chrysler personnel changes below for more information.
Say what you want about the Dodge Durango, but ever since it came on the scene in 1998, it has occupied its own niche in the SUV market - not too small, not too big, tough, able, not always the best on the road and not always the best off-road. If it were a football player, it would be a tight-end that can block and catch. If it were a hamburger - a double burger with cheese and bacon, but not the Whopper.
As part of a mid-cycle upgrade for what was already a very capable SUV that Chrysler introduced in 2011, and built on the same platform as the Mercedes GL-Class and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2014 Durango has gotten some refinements worth noting that have cleaned up its tailoring and toned up its body and powerplant. The result is an SUV that shows itself to be a very good value in a category full of sticker prices that can run away faster than a kid who's been told he has to take ballroom dancing lessons.
Chrysler executives showing us the new Durango made a special point to reiterate that the Dodge brand is not going away, as has been rumored after the company took the Ram and Viper - the cream of the brand - out from under the Dodge umbrella. Turns out Dodge has been the brand attracting the most young people (who knew?) and has a younger average age buyer than Honda. The Dodge brand historically has also attracted buyers who aren't exactly Phi-Beta Cappa, which some companies worry about. Chrysler not so much. Dodge buyers tend to be more the working, high-school-educated, community-college-educated backbone of the work force in America. If they keep coming to Dodge, the Durango is a pretty good piece of hardware to save up for.
When Chrysler rolled out the first-generation 200 to replace the Sebring range in 2010, it included replacements for both the sedan and the convertible. The Sebring Coupe, however, was left out of the mix. And now that the second-generation Chrysler 200 is descending upon us, Auburn Hills is paring things down even further. But this time, it's the convertible that reportedly isn't making the cut. Shame, too, since the rendering above shows what could have been quite an attractive droptop.
As our compatriots at Edmunds point out, sales of the convertible model accounted for less than five percent of overall Chrysler 200 sales, and at those numbers, the considerable cost of engineering a new drop-top couldn't be justified. With the Toyota Camry Solara and Volkswagen Eos also gone from the market (well, the VW isn't gone quite yet), the discontinuation of the Chrysler 200 Convertible leaves the affordable convertible segment largely to the sportier likes of the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro and smaller European offerings like the Mini Cooper and VW Beetle.
The Chrysler 200 Convertible isn't the only derivative being left behind with the new model: so too is the Dodge Avenger. That will leave a glaring hole in the Dodge lineup, with nothing to bridge the gap between the compact Dart and the larger Charger. Whether the Dodge brand has any plans to replace the Avenger with another model, not to be based on the 200, remains to be seen.