Chrysler may use Fiat vehicle to replace Sprinter image

Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker run by Fiat SpA, may use a commercial van from the Italian company to replace the Dodge Sprinter, which former parent Daimler AG will no longer provide.

Chrysler and Fiat may sell the Fiat Ducato or the Daily from the Turin, Italy-based automaker’s Iveco unit in North America, Gualberto Ranieri, vice president of public relations for the U.S. company, said today in an e-mail.

Daimler announced yesterday that it’s discontinuing the Dodge Sprinter, as its Mercedes-Benz unit assumes responsibility for the vans in the U.S. Chrysler, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, since June has been run by Fiat after a bankruptcy reorganization aided by the U.S. government.

“It would make sense given that Fiat is the new owner that they would use their models instead of Daimler’s,” said Aaron Bragman, an analyst with IHS Global Insight Inc. in Troy, Michigan.

The Sprinter has been sold in the U.S. since 2001, first as a Freightliner vehicle and then as a Dodge starting in 2003. The Daimler-designed van has a base price of $37,170 and is built in Charleston, South Caroli

Fiat Ducato IIIImage via Wikipedia

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The Fiat and Iveco models are similar in size to the Sprinter. Neither is sold in the U.S. now.

“They are all competing in the same segment in Europe,” Bragman said. “They are all basically the same kind of vehicle.”

Chrysler sold 4,605 Dodge Sprinters this year through August, a 56 percent drop from a year earlier. The company’s total sales fell 39 percent.

The automaker also said yesterday in a statement that it will begin exporting the Dodge Caliber five-door hatchback to Europe with a new diesel engine. Chrysler said it will feature the Caliber, which also has a restyled interior, at the Frankfurt auto show this month.

The hatchback, built in Belvidere, Illinois, was the company’s best-selling vehicle outside North America last year.