Outspoken Fiat Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has once again shown his hand, revealing that the company’s Jeep and Ram brands are strong enough to spin-off into financially viable companies of their own, similar to Ferrari.
In an interview with America’s Motor Trend, Marchionne answered “Yes” when asked if the SUV and pick-up truck brands would be able to make it on their own. However even though he stated they are profitable enough to be self sufficient, selling either of them is a strategic move won’t be made.
Despite the strength of the two brands, particularly in their North American home market, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ other brands are out-of step with market demands.
Those models pale into insignificance given the surge in demand for SUVs and pickup trucks, meaning FCA has instead channeled its resources into additional Ram production for the next generation 1500 light-duty pickup, and a range of new Jeep products including the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, plus a Wrangler ute.
Other products, like the Dodge Journey crossover hang in the balance, while the rest of the Dodge range, including the performance-oriented Challenger and Charger, and luxury Chrysler 300 are expected to move to a version of the rear wheel drive platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia, even though timelines for their replacement continue to extend.
New product for other brands isn’t on hold as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV is expected to launch in overseas markets from mid-year, continuing the prestige brand’s growth and concentrated particularly in North America, while the Maserati brand continues to deliver high profits, again on the back of its SUV, the Levante.
Surprisingly, another product on FCA’s radar is a production version of the Chrysler Portal electric minivan. Nothing like the SUVs that otherwise dominate sales charts, the Portal wouldn’t be the first FCA EV (that title belongs to the Fiat 500e), but would be the first vehicle designed specifically for electric propulsion. Marchionne suggest a one to two year wait for its introduction.
An updated Jeep Cherokee and new Grand Cherokee will also likely arrive in the next two years, while the new Jeep Compass launching around the world now is set to boost the brand’s presence in the small SUV market, taking the place of both the previous Compass and Patriot models.
In Europe and China the company offers a better balanced range with the Fiat Tipo, Viaggio, and Ottimo small hatch and sedan range, Fiat 500L mini MPV as well as the 500 light car and 500X small SUV though once again only the 500 and 500X have a widespread export presence.
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