The Dodge Journey is not exactly a household name across Europe. In fact, no Chrysler products are well known on the continent where the Chrysler Group’s presence is negligible.
So instead of marketing the Dodge Journey in places like France, Spain and the U.K., the rebadged Fiat Freemont will made available at more than 5,000 Fiat dealerships in Europe. That exposure could very well boost sales for a vehicle that has sold only 5,792 units for the first 10 months of 2010 according to Autoweek sources.
Fiat Model Line
The Freemont’s entry in the Fiat fold is good timing too. As much as the Journey has been a slow-seller in Europe, only 1,956 units of the Fiat Ulysse minivan were sold in 2009 before being discontinued. The Fiat Freemont will fill the hole left by the Ulysse’s exit and offer something that the minivan could not — all-wheel-drive.
The move to rebadge the Dodge Journey is part of Fiat’s strategy to marry as many Fiat Group — Chrysler Group products as possible. Fiat currently owns 20 percent of Chrysler and will see its share increase to 35 percent sometime in 2011. Within the next few years, the Italian automaker will gain a controlling 55 percent stake in Chrysler, working to merge platforms across the globe.
Revamped Dodge Journey
The timing of the Fiat Freemont’s introduction coincides with the revamping of the Dodge Journey for the 2011 model year. The Journey received a mid-cycle refresh, with an updated exterior, modified interior and improved suspension. Those changes were made to help the Journey compete without going through the expense of a generational overhaul.
The European Dodge Journey currently offers a 2.0-liter Volkswagen diesel, which will be replaced by a similar sized Fiat diesel when the Freemont goes on sale in Europe in 2011. The new engine is rated at 170 horsepower compared to 140 horsepower for the Journey diesel.
Mexican Built Models
The Fiat Freemont is being built in Toluca, Mexico, the same factory which currently builds the Dodge Journey and the Fiat 500 for the North American market. That latter model represents Fiat’s reintroduction into a market it hasn’t served in nearly three decades.
Additional model sharing between Chrysler and Fiat models will become apparent stateside too. Fiat is preparing at least one Lancia model for Chrysler rebadging and has a model in the wings waiting to replace the Dodge Caliber which is coming to the end of its model run.
Photo courtesy of Chrysler Group, LLC