Special Report: Everything About the 2023 Chrysler 300 Is the Same as 2022, 2021, 2020…
Yes, it’s true. Everything about the new 2023 Chrysler 300 sedan is old. Well, almost everything. Being in production since 2004, with a mild refresh in 2011 (did you even notice?), the 2023 300 remains the same. That is in spite of all of the changes taking place in the automotive industry over the last 10 years. Could this be the modern version of the Volkswagen Beetle? Or the Model T Ford?
How old is the current Chrysler 300?
Just think, this car was developed a quarter of a century ago. When they say “time flies,” that might apply to other vehicles. For the 300, time stands still. It didn’t need to be this way, but stuff happens.
When the Chrysler 300 was released in 2004 as a 2005 model, it was during the period that Mercedes-Benz owned the company. It was the infamous “merger of equals.” Except it wasn’t. Mercedes bean counters figured the $4 billion Chrysler had in reserves would go a long way to develop Mercedes-Benz projects. So in effect, it raided the company for a money grab. At the time, Chrysler was one of the most profitable American auto companies, according to the New York Times.
How long did Mercedes-Benz own Chrysler?
The merger lasted nine years. During that time, Mercedes allowed Chrylser to use some of its old C-Class tooling to conjure up a new sedan, the 300. It was a cheap way to make a 180-degree turnaround from the previous 300M, with its front-wheel drive, V6, and jellybean styling. The new 300 sold in droves.
But within a couple of years, Chrysler was bleeding in losses. And by then, Mercedes had used up all of that Chrysler money for its own needs. So it sold the company for pennies on the dollar to a venture capital company called Cerberus. In this period, there was barely enough money to keep the doors open.
When did Chrysler go bankrupt?
So more years dragged on without the capital to change much about the 300. And another funny thing happened. The automaker started dropping models without any replacements. More on that in a moment.
Within a couple of years under Cerberus’ ownership, Chrysler went bankrupt. A venture capital company had no business running a car company, and the result quickly tanked Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep. Eventually, with help from the Obama administration, Chrysler found an angel in Italian automaker Fiat.
Was Chrysler any better owned by Fiat?
Fiat acquired all four brands for almost nothing. But the good thing was that with Fiat’s initial enthusiasm, money started going back into the product. Soon, the 300 saw a refresh but remained essentially the same. That worked until two things Fiat could not have anticipated happened.
First, it began losing money itself. That brought about belt-tightening, which essentially froze the 300’s design and updates. And the other problem was the public’s appetite for sedans. It was waning at a faster and faster pace.
So the 300 sedan soldiered on. But with limited capital, Chrysler slowly cut less profitable lines, to help keep the more profitable ones going. It got to the point that soon it found itself with only two car lines, the Pacifica minivan and the 300.
Why does Chrysler still make the 300 sedan?
Without a new 300, no money for development, but faced with only two car lines, it had to keep the 300. But even a car division with only two lines doesn’t need to exist when one considers all of the ancillary things necessary to keep it afloat. So more years went on with the 300 hanging by a thread. Finally, Chrysler merged with a new automaker in 2020 to become Stellantis.
So what will finally kill off the 300? It’s not a lack of capital or its age. The electrification zeitgeist prodding through the auto industry will finally kill off the 300, probably after 2023. Even adapting the 300 to run on batteries doesn’t make sense.
It should be ending production after the 2023 model year. But rumors indicate an electric Chrysler won’t be in showrooms until 2026. So we may see the 300 languishing at dealerships for another couple of years. Otherwise, what’s the point of Chrysler sticking around at all? Yeah, what’s the point?
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