Chrysler is officially leaving the Australian market. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia (FCA Australia), the local arm of parent company Stellantis (nee Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), made the announcement on 19 November, citing “the global push towards electrification and focus on SUVs” as the reason.
Chrysler’s withdrawal means the end for the 300 sedan in Australia – the only Chrysler model sold locally.
Australia was the last right-hand drive market serviced by Chrysler, following exits from South Africa and the UK in recent years, and while 300 production is expected to continue until 2023, it will no longer be manufactured in RHD. This means that, once the handful (believed to be just 30 at time of writing) of 300C Luxury and 300 SRT sedans in local dealerships are gone, no more will be coming.
Of the V8-engined 300 SRT and V6 300C Luxury, the former has been the most popular here, but there haven’t been enough local sales of either variant to justify continuing RHD production.
Kevin Flynn, FCA Australia Managing Director, said: “Chrysler has held a special place in the heart of many Australians and we are proud of its history here.”
That history began in the 1930s, when individual companies began fitting locally-made bodies and other components to imported Chrysler chassis and running gear. This disparate group of operations was ratified in 1951 with the formation of Chrysler Australia Ltd. Local assembly began in South Australia in the same decade, with the first fully Australian-made Chryslers coming in 1964.
For the next 15 years, Chrysler was a bona fide challenger to Ford and Holden in the large passenger car market in Australia, but after the last locally-manufactured Chrysler cars were built in 1981, the brand was officially absent until 1996.
Chrysler’s Australian return was led by the Neon compact sedan, followed by the Voyager people mover, PT Cruiser and Crossfire, with the 300C making its local debut in 2005.
In 2013, a year after a facelifted 300 was released here, local sales peaked at 2,508 units (accounting for 93 per cent of all Chrysler sales in Australia that year), but have been on the decline since, despite rear-wheel drive V8 competition from Ford and Holden vanishing in recent years.
FCA Australia say they remain committed to the supply of parts and authorised servicing for Chrysler vehicles, which will continue at Jeep dealerships Australia-wide.