Chrysler showed a special edition of the 200 sedan Thursday that will go on sale this summer and confirmed it will replace the 200 with an all-new model early next year.
The 200 is a crucial vehicle because it is in the market's largest segment. An automaker cannot be successful without a strong midsize entry.
For years, the 200's predecessor, the Sebring, was held in low esteem by critics and many consumers. Under CEO Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler upgraded the 200 beginning in the 2011 model year. A redesigned, Fiat-engineered replacement arrives next year.
In the interim, Chrysler continues to create special editions of existing models to keep lineups fresh and reach more buyers.
The 200 S Special Edition will go into production this spring. The limited run of 2,000 cars will be in dealerships this summer as a 2013 1/2 model, starting at $28,870 (excluding destination charges), Saad Chehab, head of the Chrysler brand, said at an Automotive Press Association event.
The sedan features new fascias, an aggressive grille and black wheels, and extends a partnership with Carhartt, the Dearborn-based work clothing manufacturer of an "Imported from Detroit" apparel line. Carhartt materials, seats, trim and logos will be incorporated into the special edition.
"It shows blue-collar roots in a tailored suit," Chehab said. "Who says exclusivity can't come from Detroit?"
The 200 S is assembled at Chrysler's Sterling Heights assembly plant and will be shipped to a nearby center to be outfitted with Mopar and Carhartt accessories.
The car will be at the New York auto show starting Wednesday.
Chehab said aspects of the special edition could show up in the next-generation midsize sedan next year.
"The Chrysler brand has transformed over the last three years," Chehab said. The priority is to replace three current models. A new, smaller Chrysler 100 is planned, but awaits approval. Chrysler will continue to launch special editions.
For the 300, there is the Varvatos Edition named for John Varvatos, the fashion designer and Detroit native. Dealers have ordered the full allotment of 2,000 of the $43,645 sedans to be shipped soon. The 2013 Chrysler 300 Motown Edition comes with 100 Motown tracks loaded on the sound system.
Other packages include a 300 Glacier Edition, a Town & Country S minivan with a lower stance, black chrome grille and black 17-inch wheels as well as a Blu-ray disc player.
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