Demand for SUVs will see Fiat Chrysler focus on developing its Jeep brand, as well as its Ram big-rig range, while at the same time preparing to let go of the underperforming Dodge Dart small car and Chrysler 200 medium sedan.
Announcing the strategic shift at the same time as announcing product delays for Alfa Romeo, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne described the move as response to changing market demands not apparent when Fiat Chrysler first spelled out its ambitious five-year plan in 2014.
Both lower petrol prices, and the demand for SUV’s and crossovers in place of traditional passenger cars, are seen by Fiat Chrysler as permanent market conditions.
The altered product plan will now see the Fiat Chrysler group’s production capacity switched over from passenger cars, with products from the Jeep and Ram ranges set to occupy the vacated production slots.
Jeep’s expansion includes an all-new Wrangler range due in 2017, with a focus on lighter weight and better dynamics, without sacrificing off-road ability. A pick-up will also be added to the Jeep range, as well as a high-end Grand Wagoneer, to sit above the current Grand Cherokee range.
Mr Marchionne also said that both the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 ranges would be withdrawn from the marketplace as they reached the end of their model cycles. Both sedans could instead be sourced from other manufacturers in an attempt to maintain a market presence in the small and medium segments.
The impact for Australia will be minimal, with neither the Dart or 200 available in right hand drive. Already Jeep is Fiat Chrysler Australia’s most successful brand, a position that’s unlikely to change going forward.
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