The Future of the Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge Brands Remains in Question
Despite FCA confirming that it is keeping the Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge brands for the time being, the fate of these automotive brands down the line is less clear
Many automotive analysts expected Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to announce the end of operations for the Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge brands in the U.S. during the automaker’s most recent investor meeting. The meeting came and went earlier this month, and while some major announcements were made, the end of Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge was not among those announcements.
Still, that doesn’t mean that those brands are quite in the clear yet. Indeed, everything revealed during the meeting hinted at a shift away from Chrysler and Dodge and toward Jeep and Ram.
FCA spent a lot of time during the annual meeting discussing the Jeep brand. Not only was the new Wrangler highlighted, but upcoming models like the Jeep-based pickup truck were also discussed.
Ram also got quite a bit of time to shine. During the meeting, it was even announced that Ram would be receiving a mid-size pickup model by 2022.
However, there were no such large announcements for Dodge or Chrysler. Instead, most of the rumored developments for both brands were dismissed.
Despite reports that Dodge would be reviving the Viper, FCA quickly disputed such claims during the meeting. The automotive company also confirmed that the Dodge Challenger and Charger would no longer be moving to Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform.
Speaking of Alfa Romeo, both it and Maserati received quite a bit of focus during the meeting earlier this month. FCA confirmed the return of the Alfa Romeo 8C, adding to the growing Alfa lineup.
Fiat, much like Dodge and Chrysler, got barely any focus among these announcement. That makes quite a bit of sense, as Alfa Romeo managed to eclipse Fiat’s sales during the performance-based brand’s first year returning to the United States.
Near the end of the investor meeting, current FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that 75 percent of FCA’s future investments would be allotted to Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati. That only leaves 25 percent of investments available for Dodge, Chrysler, and Fiat during the next five years.
Marchionne wants to focus on the brands that are turning the most profit for FCA as a whole. This strategy has worked well in the past, helping to eliminate much of FCA’s previously held debt.
As Marchionne puts it, brands like Jeep and Ram are “protectable.” These are automotive brands with rich histories and distinct personalities.
Meanwhile, brands like Fiat and Chrysler are having something of an identity issue. Chrysler is down to just two models: the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and the Chrysler 300 sedan.
Of course, due to the small model lineups for Chrysler and Fiat, they don’t cost quite so much for FCA to produce the vehicles. Meanwhile, Dodge’s major models haven’t undergone extensive redesigns for the past few years, making them cheaper to produce as well.
Yet, there is quite a bit of overlap between FCA’s brands. The Dodge Grand Caravan is taking sales away from the new Chrysler Pacifica, and the Dodge Journey and Durango may be steering buyers away from Jeep’s SUVs like the Grand Cherokee.
Sooner or later, many of these Chrysler and Dodge vehicles will need to be extensively updated for modern automotive markets. When it comes time to invest a large amount of money toward these brands, FCA might choose to do some extensive model trimming from their lineups. The automaker may even decide to cut these brands altogether.
News Source: USA Today