LOUISVILLE, KY – The all-new ’15 Chrysler 200, arriving in the second quarter, is a better product and will be more competitive in the cutthroat midsize sedan segment than the current model, says a top executive.

Al Gardner, Chrysler president and CEO, says significant changes were made to the current 200, which followed the Sebring, and it is a good value in the marketplace.

But the new model is “great,” he adds, and is better prepared to take on segment leaders such as the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion.

“We said, ‘OK, this car is good, is a strong value, but we can do better,’” Gardner tells WardsAuto at a media preview of the car here. “And better, unfortunately, takes time and a staggering investment to play at the level of the Camry, Accord, Altima and Fusion.”

In preparation for the new 200, Chrysler spent $1 billion on upgrades, including a new paint shop, at its Sterling Heights, MI, assembly plant and hired an additional 800 workers.

The ’15 Chrysler 200, based on the automaker’s CUS-wide platform that also underpins the Dodge Dart, Jeep Cherokee and Alfa Romeo Giulia, represents a significant upgrade over the current model.

The sedan comes with either an inline 4-cyl. engine producing 184 hp or a 3.6L V-6 making 295 hp, both of which are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, making it the only car in the segment to offer such a gearbox. Chrysler expects about 70% of consumers will opt for the I-4 model.

Despite the improvements, the new 200 has a lot of work to do to catch up to segment leaders. In 2013, the Chrysler 200 controlled 4.7% of the Lower Middle Sedan segment, as defined by WardsAuto. Through February, its market share had crept up to 6.4%, but still lagged top models such as the Altima (15.8%), and Camry (15.5%).

Gardner declines to reveal volume expectations for the new model, but says it will outpace the current generation, which relied heavily on fleet sales to daily rental companies.