Fiat Chrysler Future, Part 1: The Italians
MORE: Part 2: The Americans
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has outlined a new five-year strategy in Michigan today, promising a host of new models across its Italian and American brands.
"Today we stand before you as a global carmaker," FCA boss Sergio Marchionne told assembled media and investors.
"Today is much more than a new chapter. We are beginning to write a completely new book."
On the Italian side, we can look forward to new offerings from Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari.
The company expects Alfa Romeo sales to grow to 400,000 per year by 2018 - more than fivefold its global sales in 2013.
To get there, FCA will pour around 5 billion euros into research and development for the Alfa brand alone, along with expanding manufacturing capacities in Italy.
Alfa Romeo brand boss Harald Wester said Alfa must "institute the rigor, the discipline and the measurements to meet the target of the first start of (new model) production in the second half of 2015”.
The brand will launch seven new models by 2018 - although only one of them, a new midsized sedan, will come before 2016.
That model, likely to be the long-promised Giulia, is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2015.
In 2015, Alfa Romeo also plans to phase out the Mito and Giulietta hatchbacks, and two new compact models are scheduled to appear sometime after 2016.
The Alfa Romeo brand will be positioned to take on Germany’s mainstream luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, meaning a focus on premium materials and advanced technologies.
The company promises rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations across the range (depending on the model), with no more front-wheel-drive cars to be offered.
Interestingly, and following on from earlier reports and comments, Marchionne made no mention of the planned Mazda/Alfa roadster collaboration.
That project is still expected to continue, but we might now see the Italian carmaker’s version wear a Fiat badge.
Future Fiat models will be divided into two categories: the conventional range that today include models like the Panda, Punto and Freemont; and ‘emotional’ models like the 500, 500L and 500X.
For the ‘regular’ stream, Fiat will launch a new sedan in late 2015, which will be followed by hatch and wagon variants in 2016.
Fiat will also launch a new specialty model in late 2015 and, while the company remains tight-lipped on its purpose, we can likely expect this to be the Mazda architecture that was originally bound for Alfa Romeo.
A new light commercial vehicle will also join the Fiat range at some stage.
FCA plans to boost Fiat brand sales from 1.3 million in 2013 to 1.9 million per year by 2018.
"In Europe the mass market brands are challenged. No margins so no margins for error," Fiat brand boss Olivier Francois said.
"There is no easy fix. We are all realizing that notwithstanding Fiat's great European history, things have changed.The volumes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa clearly reflect our cautious approach.”
MORE: Fiat News and Reviews
Ferrari has confirmed it will launch a new model each year between now and 2018, but - unlike its Fiat company stablemates - the supercarmaker remains quiet on just what we can expect to see.
For now, Ferrari has said only that regular models will run on a four-year life cycle, with each then followed by a special M (‘Modificato’) model that will run a further four years.
Those models, much like the recently revealed California T, will bring new styling and mechanical changes to keep buyer appeal high.
A special series “targeting high-end customers” will also be offered, likely as an expanded version of the company’s existing personalisation program.
Annual production will remain capped at 7000 to maintain exclusivity. Interestingly, however, the company added that production could grow to 10,000 cars per year “as population of high net-worth buyers grows in emerging and non-traditional markets”.
Watch for a greater push into Asia, Russia and South America, among other regions.
The company also hosed down any speculation that Ferrari could be sold off, wrapping up its presentation with a slide that said simply, “Ferrari is not for sale”.
MORE: Ferrari News and Reviews
At this week’s briefing, Maserati boss Harald Wester confirmed the company will add the recent Alfieri concept to its production line in 2016.
A convertible version of the Alfieri will also be offered, with a launch scheduled to occur in 2017.
The Alfieri will be offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive form, with power to be provided by 305kW, 335kW and 390kW V6 engines.
A replacement for the GranTurismo is no closer however, with the eight year-old supercar to continue until 2018.
We can likely expect significant updates to the GranTurismo between now and the arrival of its replacement.
The company will also launch its Levante SUV in 2015.
Power for the premium new family car will be provided by a family of petrol and diesel engines, ranging in power from 185 to 417kW. All-wheel-drive will also be standard.
The 417kW V8 petrol engine will also be offered in the Ghibli, Quattroporte and GranTurismo models.