Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, due to retire in less than a year’s time, will lay out the automaker’s future on Friday. Well, the next five years of its future — and we all know how malleable those plans can be.
According to a Bloomberg report, sources with knowledge of the plan say the near future contains far fewer Chryslers for those living outside the U.S., and no Fiats for those who are.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of FCA’s five-year strategy allegedly involves boosting the automaker’s strengths. That means Jeep, though the Ram brand helps pay a large portion of the company’s rent in North America. Globally, Jeep is FCA’s breadmaker, valued higher than the automaker itself, though Marchionne hopes to build Maserati into its own juggernaut, the sources claim.
What does the upcoming product plan, scheduled for a reveal at the Balocco test track near Turin on June 1st, mean for domestic buyers? It’s possible the threadbare Chrysler brand will become a North America-only brand. Meanwhile, the incredibly shrinking Fiat marque will eventually disappear from these shores, the sources claim.
Automotive News‘ Larry P. Vellequette predicts Marchionne will go a step further, killing off the storied (and now faded to a ghost) Chrysler brand altogether. It’s not difficult to share this opinion. There’s only two models in the brand’s stable right now, three if you include the Pacifica Hybrid as a standalone. Marchionne’s been cagey about the ancient 300’s future, rarely mentioning it when speaking of the 2021 platform swap bound for the Dodge Challenger and Charger. A mild refresh could come before its demise.
Not only that, we’ve seen no evidence of the Cherokee-based midsize crossover planned for a 2019 release. Under the previous plan, a full-size crossover would join that model for 2021. Two crossovers and a minivan? That’s some heritage…
As for Fiat, the brand’s re-entry into North America should appear in dictionaries next to “failure to launch.” Dealers can’t sell them, don’t want to have them, and buyers heartily agree. Fiat’s U.S. sales tumbled each year since the brand’s 2012 peak (its first full year on the market.) The introduction of the attractive 124 Spider roadster hasn’t set the brand on fire, nor does it look like greater standard power in the tiny 500 will do much to budge that model’s sales needle. It’s a dead brand… driving.
Another possible plank in FCA’s near-term plan is the consolidation of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands into a singly entity — at least in financial reports. It’s common knowledge that Marchionne wants a value-boosting spinoff for his Italian luxo-brands, but only after the divisions can stand on their own.
“The way we see it now, it’s almost impossible, if not impossible, to see a spin-off of Alfa Romeo/Maserati,” the CEO said last year, “these are two entities that are immature and in a development phase.”
As Bloomberg‘s report hasn’t been confirmed, we’ll just have to wait until Friday to see what brands our driving futures contain.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]