Fiat Auto boss Sergio Marchionne today unveiled a remarkably detailed plan that will see Fiat and Chrysler combine forces to produce six million new vehicles a year by 2014. Marchionne says this figure is the “minimum” required to for the new car company to survive and prosper.

The new Fiat Group Automobiles (FGA) will see Jeep positioned as a global brand and Chrysler’s presence in Europe will be as sister brand to Lancia. The only Dodge products to be sold outside North America will be high performance models such as the Challenger. Alfa Romeo will be launched into North America, complimenting Maserati.

FGA will remain part of the parent company Fiat SpA, while the truck and tractor making divisions will be spun of into a new company called Fiat Industrial SpA.

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Fiat’s own product plan aims to boost production from today’s level of 1.6 million vehicles annually to some 2.2 million units by 2014. Alfa Romeo will provide as many as 500,000 units and Lancia/Chrysler 300,000 units.

Fiat’s product blitz will kick off in 2011 with the new Panda (and Panda van) and a new SUV based on the Dodge Journey. In 2012, Fiat will get a new entry-level supermini (expected to be the Brazilian-made Uno), a new compact MPV (including both five- and seven-seat variants) and a new Jetta-size saloon.

In 2013 Fiat will launch an all-new city car to replace the ageing Seicento, a replacement for the Punto Evo and a replacement for the Bravo hatch and estate. The Bravo-replacing models will be based on the same ‘Compact’ platform that underpins the Alfa Giulietta.

Under the combined Chrysler/Lancia product plan, there will be a new five-door replacement for the Ypsilon supermini and a new Grand Voyager MPV in 2011. 2012 sees a Golf-sized saloon, hatch and estate, all based on the Compact platform. The Bravo-based Lancia Delta lives until the end of 2013.

In 2013 the two brands will also get a large, luxury SUV and Chrysler will launch a Ford Mondeo rival, though it will aimed mainly at the North American market.

As a result of Fiat Auto’s rationalisation plans, a number of current models will be axed at the end of this year, including the Croma hatch, the Ulysse and Multipla MPVs.

Jeep will get the new Grand Cherokee this year and will see major facelifts for the Wrangler, Patriot and Compass in 2011. A new Golf-sized SUV arrives in 2013, as does the new Cherokee.

Half of Fiat Auto’s planned sales of six million vehicles will be based on one three new global ‘architectures’. Dubbed ‘Mini’, ‘Small’ and ‘Compact’ they will cover everything from the Panda to the replacement for the Alfa 159. Fiat expects each platform to underpin a total of one million vehicles per year.

Fiat expects to build around seven individual models on each architecture, up from around two models on today’s platforms. It also expects to make significant savings by using more common sub-assemblies. For example, by 2014 the group will use just four types of heating and ventilation units to cover all its models from the Panda to Maserati models.

Fiat’s Powertrain division is also promising new engine and transmission technology including new versions of the MultiAir combustion technology that will also be used on diesel engines. A new compact twin-clutch transmission is on the way, too. Fiat says that when this ‘box is combined with the new TwinAir two-cylinder petrol engine, the result is CO2 emissions of just 80g/km.

However, Fiat Auto boss Sergio Marchionne hinted at a showdown with Italian unions over the critical under-utilisation of the majority of the company’s Italian factories, although none of them are under threat of closure. By contrast, Fiat’s facilities in Tychy, Serbia and Turkey are much more efficient.

2014 is scheduled to see the new Fiat Group Auto division sell a total of 2.15 million vehicles in Europe, including 350,000 Alfas, 295,000 Chrysler/Lancias and 125,000 Jeeps. Plans for North America are more modest with 20,000 Fiat-badged cars and 85,000 Alfas, including the new Spider.

Hilton Holloway

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