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Available through the maker's Mopar parts and accessory division, the system consists of an integrated "power bin" located just below the center stack in front of the center console and a specifically designed phone case. The bin has a built-in charging grid that is activated when an applicable iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, or what have you is placed in the bin. Charging takes place only when the vehicle is running.
The required phone case is included in the system's $199.99 price; installation is extra.
What It Is: Chrysler's compact hatchback, which probably will be called the 100. Development cars have been driving around for several months, but this first glimpse of the interior shows that Chrysler is planning some traditionally upscale features for this car. Close-ups of the dash show nicely labeled switches for adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and a lane-departure warning system. You can ignore the sheetmetal borrowed from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, by the way; it's just being used for skin on prototypes and isn't indicative of the final product. Fremont Dodge Fremont Chrysler Fremont Jeep customer come on down!
Why It Matters: Call us cynical, but this looks like a push for Chrysler Group sales volume above all else. The new Dodge Dart is about the same size as the 100 will be, it's based on the same architecture, and will be sold in the same showrooms. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said he doesn't like the idea of overlapping products; perhaps the 100 being a hatchback and having more toys sufficiently differentiates it from the Dart in his mind.
Platform: The 100 will use what Chrysler calls its CUSW (Compact U.S. Wide) architecture, an enhanced and widened version of a Fiat and Alfa Romeo platform. The Dodge Dart was the first vehicle to debut on CUSW; in addition to the 100, we're also expecting it to underpin one or two Jeep models as well as the replacement for the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200. Odds are that the 100 will be front-wheel drive, but being that this mule is a hatchback, Chrysler could shock us all and position it as an all-wheel-drive baby crossover.
Powertrain: It's early enough that even Chrysler may not have finalized plans for the engine portfolio, but the sign in the photo that reads, "E85 ONLY!" gives a hint: Currently, the only engines in the Chrysler family that drink alcohol are the ancient 4.7-liter V-8 and the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. A 3.2-liter version of the latter is expected, and could be installed in the 100. Alternatively, this car could be packing a newer version of an existing engine adapted for E85 compatibility. We expect that at least one four-cylinder engine will be offered, with the 160-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter mill from the Dart being the best candidate. The car in the photos is set up to use a paddle-shifted transmission?as noted on the makeshift dash-mounted buttons?potentially using the same six-speed dual-clutch automatic found in the Dart or even the nine-speed automatic that Chrysler will use in some upcoming small cars. Fremont Dodge Fremont Chrysler Fremont Jeep customer come on down!
Competition: Think small and slightly nice. Entry-level versions of the 100 will face competition from the usual assortment of C-segment cars: the Ford Focus and Honda Civic, as well as the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra. Upscale versions with the features seen in these spy pics will fight for customers against the Buick Verano and Acura ILX.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Sometime in 2013 is the best bet. Pricing will probably range from the low $20,000s up to the big three-oh for models packed with expensive features like adaptive cruise.View Photo Gallery
It's not too often that we stroll around an auto show (outside of maybe the bizarre SEMA event), stop in our tracks and say, "Um, that exists?" But that's exactly what happened with Chrysler's 700C concept at this year's Detroit auto show. Apparently, that was the plan. No fanfare, no mention at a press conference, no press release or info, just a vehicle on a rotating plate. So what's that deal? Actually, that's what Chrysler wants to know from you.
A Chrysler spokesperson told us that the 700C is purely a design study. It has no powertrain and was created simply to gauge the reaction of consumers who stumble across it on Chrysler's stand. The past several generations of the company's minivans have all been clearly associated with the Dodge and Chrysler brands, and the automaker wants to know if it could get away with more of an aesthetic departure when it launches a new Town & Country. (The Dodge Grand Caravan will disappear and be replaced by a crossover based on the same platform.)
The 700C is very European-looking?we see a good deal of French design here?and is certainly a big break from the conservative styling of the company's current people haulers. We won't exactly call this concept attractive?or hideous, for that matter?but it is unique. Check out the gallery below and let us know what you think?Chrysler will certainly be listening.
Chrysler has disclosed upcoming product plans in its annual report, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.
The most significant news is that all next-generation C- and D-segment Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles will be built on the company's CUSW platform. The Dodge Dart is the first vehicle to utilize CUSW, which stands for "Compact U.S. Wide"; it's an evolution of a Fiat and Alfa Romeo platform. This includes replacements for the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Liberty, which are coming in 2012 and 2013?although the company doesn't say which vehicle arrives when. Chrysler execs had previously told us that the next Liberty would be more carlike.
The architecture supports front- and all-wheel drive layouts, and we suspect it will also be used for the next generation of minivans. An exception to the platform migration is the Jeep Wrangler, which will remain an honest-to-goodness body-on-frame SUV. (The Grand Cherokee and big rear-wheel-drive cars?Challenger, Charger, and 300?are considered E-segment, so there's little reason to worry that those vehicles will abandon rear-drive-based architectures.) When we drive the Dodge Dart in the next few months, we'll have a better idea of whether the platform is up to the job of underpinning so much of Chrysler's product portfolio. Fremont Dodge Fremont Chrysler Fremont Jeep customer come on down!
Here are the other highlights from the annual report:
You probably will be able to set your watch by it: Every six months until 2016, Fiat is entitled to buy another 3.32 percent of Chrysler from the Pentastar's other primary owner, the autoworkers' VEBA?the independent trust that manages retirement and benefits funds. And every six months, we expect, that's what Fiat will do. The Italian company has announced that it will take its first 3.32 percent of Chrysler off of the VEBA's hands for an as-yet-undisclosed price. This transaction will increase the Italian company's stake in the Chrysler Group to 61.8 percent. Fremont Dodge Fremont Chrysler Fremont Jeep customer come on down!
In fact, it's possible?though we haven't been able to get confirmation of this theory?that Chrysler has no choice but to ditch the Aero moniker. The remnants of Saab are being sold, and we imagine this includes the company's right to the trademark for Aero, as used on its top-of-the-line trim level. Perhaps the new owners have told Chrysler to back off from that four-letter word. Or perhaps someone in Chrysler's marketing department just likes the sound of HFE.
Typically, these packages or trim levels refer to non-hybrid cars that have been tweaked for higher-than-normal fuel economy. Changes typically include better aerodynamics and low-rolling-resistance tires. Ford sells its Fiesta and Focus with an optional SFE, or Super Fuel Economy Package; Chevrolet offers an Eco-badged version of the Cruze and Malibu. Honda, too, offers an economy-focused version of the Civic, the HF. The Malibu Eco, unlike the other cars listed here, is a hybrid. We think it's more likely, however, that Chrysler will affix the HFE badge to conventional models rather than hybrids. (In part this is because the only hybrids in the Chrysler lineup are a small number of fleet-only Ram plug-in hybrids; no others are expected soon.)