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Fiat to rebadge Dodge Caliber replacement for China, Russia

by Andrew Ganz

Fiat will look to North America for an upcoming compact car for Russia and China.

Fiat will take advantage of its ability to tap into Chrysler's portfolio by preparing a new model for China and Europe based on the compact car that will replace the Dodge Caliber in North America.

Not much is known about the next-generation Dodge small car, although it will probably lose the Caliber name in North America. It is expected that the car will ride on a widened version of Fiat's compact architecture, which, in its narrower guise, underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and will likely be used in a variety of Fiat-badged products worldwide. China and Russia would get the widened version of the platform heretofore expected to be used only in North America.

The decision is hardly a surprise since, in many ways, buyer tastes in Russia and China nearly mirror those in North America. Larger vehicles with more power and gasoline - rather than diesel - engines are preferred over small Euopean-market hatchbacks.

The architecture, says Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, will also eventually be used in the Jeep-badged crossover that will replace the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.

Look for a four-door sedan and possibly a five-door hatchback for all three markets - North America, Russia and China.

For Russia and China, the Dodge-based Fiat-badged vehicles will be built domestically for both markets. Fiat already has plans to open a new joint venture in the Changsha Economic Zone located in China's Hunan province and it is seeking a partner in Russia to help it build up to 300,000 new cars annually. Fiat will use its Russian plant to also build Jeeps - the new crossover and the more truck-like replacement for the current Jeep Liberty.

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