Reducing CO2 emissions and developing fully electric cars are the most expensive of these regulatory challenges. But there is also the need to develop autonomous systems — that technology currently adds £22,000 to the price of a car, according to FCA chief technology officer Harald Wester — and increase vehicle connectivity.
The most striking market development in the past decade is the exponential shift to SUVs and crossovers. This segment has helped Jeep sales rise from a few hundred thousand units to more than 1.9 million.
That growth, along with the rise of Ram pick-ups, has enabled the company to eliminate its long-standing debt — a point that FCA boss Sergio Marchionne made by wearing a tie for the announcement, having long promised to break a sartorial habit and wear one when his goal of wiping the debt was reached.
Ram, a brand created out of a Dodge nameplate in 2009, is also a major profit driver — sales are up from 263,000 in 2007 to a forecast 770,000 this year — and operates in concert with Fiat Professional, that brand’s successful van division. Combined, the two divisions are the second biggest maker of commercial vehicles in the world.
Jeep, Ram and Fiat Professional dwarf Alfa Romeo and Maserati, but FCA sees the two Italian premium brands as the future of car making.
Jeep confirms new entry-level model to sit below Renegade
The target for Alfa Romeo is to reach 400,000 sales annually — a previously missed target, with Marchionne admitting to poor execution of the previous plan despite the excellence of the Giulia and Stelvio. Key to this goal are smaller and larger SUVs bookending the Stelvio, a new GTV coupé and an 8C supercar halo model.
There will also be long-wheelbase versions of the Giulia and Stelvio for the massive Chinese market, where much growth is hoped for, as well as a substantial facelift for the Giulietta.
Despite flatlining sales, albeit at a much higher level since the launch of the Ghibli and Levante SUV, Maserati is being built up to compete with Tesla and Porsche. The new plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of the Alfieri coupé and cabriolet supercar will spearhead the marque’s leap towards a sub-brand of all-electric models called Blue, along with the next-generation Quattroporte and Levante.
A smaller Maserati SUV (likely based on the Stelvio) is also due, along with a major refresh for the Ghibli, eight plug-in hybrids and Level 3 autonomy for all models by 2022.