Group reveals product strategy through to 2014
4 November 2009

The Fiat-controlled Chrysler Group says it will propel itself back into profit with a massive product blitz over the next five years.

The plans were revealed over a marathon six-hour press conference in Detroit, where Chrysler bosses detailed how the company intends to relaunch and rebrand Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, boosting global sales from this year’s low of 1.3m to 2.8m in 2014.

Chrysler says that by 2014 half of its models will be based on Fiat Group platforms and many of its engines will use Fiat Multiair variable valve technology, including Chrysler’s new Pentastar V6 powerplant.

Fiat will become the leader in small petrol and diesel engines and Chrysler the leader for large engine, hybrids and electric cars.

In four years’ time, the combined Chrysler/Fiat Group should be producing a combined total of over five million vehicles per year, a number regarded by boss Sergio Marchionne as the minimum volume required for a single car maker to prosper.

Chrysler says it has already completely re-thought its quality processes in reaction to what it admitted were unacceptable standards over the last few years. The company is also reorganising its manufacturing systems and overhauling its factories.

By 2014, Chrysler Group is predicting that its US market share will have risen to 11 per cent from the six per cent low it suffered in 2009. The company says it will make an operating profit next year and break even in 2011. The money it borrowed from the US state as a result of its bankruptcy will be paid back by 2014, according to financial projections.

Dodge plansThe Dodge brand has been given a new logo and will be repositioned as being "more youthful and more refined", with a "more visceral driving experience" and much-improved quality.

The new models will be available in one of five ‘lifestyle packages’ including ‘uptown luxury’ and ‘cool extrovert’.

2010: Completely revamped versions of the Avenger and Journey crossover with much improved interiors, handling and refinement. The brand will also get a new Charger and big new Crossover.2011: A new version of the Nitro is "under consideration".2012: Dodge gets a new Golf-size saloon based on Fiat platform. A new Viper based on Fiat group tech is under consideration.2013: A Fiat-based Avenger replacement and Punto-based hatchback.2014: An all-new big MPV.

Jeep plansHaving peaked at 609,000, Jeeps global sales crashed to just 497,000 in 2008. The company’s aim is to boost that over 800,000 by 2014. Chrysler says Jeep was hit by a doubling of competitors in the SUV segment as well as the arrival of ‘crossovers’.

In the future, most Jeep models will be more tuned to on-road use and will come in two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions, although a new platform architecture will allow the company to build cars that can be optimized for road and ‘Trail Rated’ off-road.

The Wrangler will remain the core ‘no compromise’ off-road model. A concept at the Detroit show next January will point the way for the brand’s future styling.

2010: The all-new Grand Cherokee arrives. Major overhauls for the Patriot, Compass, Wrangler (including a new interior) and a facelift for the Liberty.2011: Another Wrangler revamp for Jeep’s 70th anniversary. Production of the Commander will be "internationally relocated"; China or India are possible new sites.2013: New Fiat-based Punto-size Jeep and new Patriot, Liberty and Compass based on a Fiat platform.

Chrysler plansChrysler is now overseen seen by Frenchman Olivier Francois, who also runs Lancia. The rumours about the effective merging of the two makers around a very similar brand image turned out to be on the mark.

Francois suggested that the Chrysler 300C and Lancia Thesis are very similar propositions and says that in future both brands will get models that reflect "timeless elegance" and recapture "style and cachet". Chrysler will be "unique, upscale and consistent".

The image overhaul will run from the new logo and brochures to the brand appearing at "fashion shows rather than auto shows". The overall approach is strongly reminiscent of Rover’s (unsuccessful) 1999 relaunch with the 75 saloon.

After the press conference Chrysler bosses confirmed to reporters from Automotive News that the Chrysler badge will disappear from Europe by 2011. The new 300C and new Voyager MPV will both wear Lancia badges in Europe. The new Journey crossover and new Sebring saloon will also become Lancias in Europe.

2010: New 300C saloon and "down to the bare bones of the architecture" revamps of the Sebring saloon and Voyager MPV which promise massively improved perceived quality. The PT Cruiser will also die.2012: New Fiat-based compact saloon.2013: New Fiat-based Punto-size car. New Fiat-based Sebring and mid-size Crossover.2014: New Voyager.

Fiat in North AmericaFiat’s reputation in North America is still very poor, mainly due to the reliability problems with otherwise popular cars such as the 124 Spider. The Fiat brand pulled out in 1983. However, the company will dip its toe back in the water next year. The Fiats will be sold in ‘metro area’ dealers.

2010: US version of the Fiat 500.2011: Fiat 500 cabrio.2012: Abarth 500.

Some Fiats will travel from the US to Europe. Fiat will import a version of the Dodge Journey as a replacement for the Fiat Ulysee MPV, the Vectra-sized Croma hatch will be replaced by a version of the mid-size Dodge saloon and the Suzuki SX-4-based Fiat Sedici should be replaced by the next-generation Dodge Nitro.Chrysler and Fiat did not reveal any plans to relaunch Alfa Romeo in the US market, even though Fiat has pondered the move.

Chrysler’s RAM pick-up and truck brand is also set for an aggressive relaunch, with the aim of boosting sales from 285,000 to 415,000 by 2014. The RAM brand will also get to small commercial Fiat-based vans.

Hilton Holloway

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Comments
12

5 November 2009

If they can pull it off I'll be impressed.

I'm surprised Fiat only plan to take the 500 over there and give the punto/bravo platform to the Chrysler group, surely Fiat would be better taking the Punto and Bravo over there now, rather than waiting for a Chrysler group's take on it?

Do Chrysler have the know-how to improve quality, reliability, ride, handling and fuel economy? Do Fiat have enough people available to help out and keep up the improvements in Europe?

They're considering a Dodge Nitro replacement???!!!!!!!!

The Dodge Charger/Challenger isn't mentioned at all, I'm surprised they're happy to loose these models (whenever they do).

The predicted sales figures seem... optimistic. Especially so for the RAM pick-up. Ford have been hammering the F150 sales and I doubt anyone can quite recover that marketshare (the F150 is decent for a pick-up and is very keenly priced right now).

Not much has been mentioned re. diesel engines in N.America. "Multi-air" may mean some of the diesel engines aren't required, but if they're planning on bringing Fiat vans over then a diesel would be a USP (the Transit Connect just started sales, but only offered with a 2.0 petrol with a 4 speed auto).

To those who thought Fiat weren't invested in the Chrysler group I get the feeling this has gone some way to allaying those fears. Fiat seem to be keeping far more of the current ranges (rather replacing the current ranges like for like with quality models) than expected, rather than pushing their own branded vehicles.

5 November 2009

Fiat, please, please, PLEASE bring Alfa back here to the States. We're tired of having to admire those gorgeous designs from afar. Chrysler's products are so horribly designed and built, at least Alfas are wonderful to look at while they're broken down on the side of the road.

5 November 2009

I bet we'll see Fiat-Chrysler bankrupt again before the end of their 5 year plan.

5 November 2009

I'm glad to see that the 300c will continue to be sold in the UK. The improved quality will be welcome.

5 November 2009

I hope it works out but I get the distinct feeling this marriage is incompatible. MB could not get Chrysler out of the doldrums and Chrysler is in much worse shape now.

I mean the present product range is er.... well rubbish really. FIAT is good at designing small cars. Is there a market for small cars in the US. Surely FIAT need to look at how the cars are sold as did Chrysler not rely on cheap finance deals to move all that metal previously. It certainly wasnt product quality !

Good luck FIAT . I think you are gonna need it to pull this lame duck out of the hat.

5 November 2009

Fiat's recent success is based on small cars like: 500 or panda. Indeed, they know how to make lovely, useful and quite cheap cars. However Fiat has hardly no expierence in producing big cars: Alfas and Lancias are far behind most of its rivals in almost every field, except desing. So how they can help Chrysler (Dodge) with 300c, charger, voyager, avenger, etc? Fiat said they want Chrysler become a premium brand, while neither Alfa nor Lancia can be describe as a proper premium brand.

5 November 2009

[quote theonlydt]Not much has been mentioned re. diesel engines in N.America[/quote]
America has (quite rightly) much higher diesel emissions standards than we do in Europe - somewhat equivalent to Euro6. The cost of upgrading their current engines to this level would probably add at least several thousand dollars to the cost of each vehicle: i.e. > 10% premium over a petrol equivalent.

With diesel fuel costing the same, or more, than unleaded there is absolutely no financial sense in going through this, which is a shame as the driving characteristics of a diesel are probably very suited to the American market.

5 November 2009

i reckon Fiat might just pull this off, if it were any other CEO i'd doubt it, but Marchoinne is a genius pure & simple, & the markets appear to agree as my shares have risen in value this morning!

5 November 2009

i think Fiat will pull it off also, MB was half hearted and tried to make Chryler almost like a second brand, like a dumping ground for its old chassis and engines etc; MB were arrogant and paid a hefty price for that arrogance.

Fiat are not doing what MB did, they are going to fully integrate the businesses and build and develop and use the expertise Chrysler have with the expertise of Fiat (in their respective areas which also shows Fiat's excellent level of understanding); that approach is much healthier and much better and I think will be 100% successful; they are forming one mega firm; it's brilliant and it's engaging for everyone concerned; something MB did not ever do.

I think it will be a total success and you (marktobin) are so right to have shares in them; now (or just a few weeks ago) was an an excellent time to buy!

5 November 2009

[quote March1]America has (quite rightly) much higher diesel emissions standards than we do in Europe - somewhat equivalent to Euro6. The cost of upgrading their current engines to this level would probably add at least several thousand dollars to the cost of each vehicle[/quote]

America does not have higher vehicle emission standards. 4 states in the US do, Calafornia and three others that adopted Calafornian legislation. The problem is not so much particulates either, it's NOx. Calafornia has very, very good reasons for trying to reduce NOx emissions (population density, climate, microclimates within certain cities etc). Now, a car manufacturer is not going to sell a vehicle that can not be sold in all 50 states, so the diesel options are limited. VW have the 2.0TDI with a special Cat, the 3.2v6 with Merc's bluetec equipment fitted and finally Merc's bluetec engine. This technology does push the price over that for a traditional petrol engine, especially as they are yet to go down the more efficient, but more expensive route of direct injection, turbo charging etc as is the trend in Europe with petrol engines. Diesel prices right now are on a parity with petrol, over the winter they'll increase, then in the summer they'll drop to lower.

Even if not brought over in passenger cars Fiat/Chrysler should considering bringing over diesel in some form for the commerical vehicle market. The Dodge Sprinter (a merc sprinter taken apart, shipped, rebuilt) sold well, despite many feeling that a 3.0 diesel couldn't shift a vehicle that size (stupidity really, the 2.1 did just fine in the sprinter, the 3.0 is a beast of a machine, but they are all auto which saps some power).

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