SOURCEOur sources within the company tell us that the Grand Cherokee SRT will live on for the near future for a very good reason: It’s the bestselling model to wear the SRT badge. The 300 SRT8 won’t be so lucky. Sources today confirmed to Car and Driver that the 300 SRT will leave the building shortly. It appears that although the automaker is on a ruthless push to, as CEO Sergio Marchionne put it, “establish a clarity of brand positioning,” sales numbers are still the ultimate factor in deciding the fate of any given model.
SOURCEFirst, they plan to put a lot more resources behind Maserati and Alfa-Romeo. Those brands will be built in Italy in underused plants to boost the company’s capacity utilization. The goal is to sell 75,000 Maseratis and 400,000 Alfas worldwide by 2018. In North America, Alfa is slated to get 8 models and a sales target of 150,000 cars and crossovers. In the U.S. both Alfa and Maserati will be sold in, and I quote, “the best Fiat dealers.”
Second, in Europe they will move the Fiat brand into more upscale products, namely CUVs and SUVs. But the company will not invest any money to try and grow Fiat’s market share in Europe. Instead, Fiat will concentrate on growing outside of the EU.
Third, and perhaps the most important part of the plan is to grow Jeep sales to 1.9 million vehicles by 2018. They’re going to build three Jeep models in China which is where most of that growth will come from. The Compass and the Patriot will be dropped in 2016 and replaced with a C-class SUV. And in 2018 Jeep will revive the Grand Wagoneer to push the brand further upscale.
Fourth, the goal is to hit 7 million vehicles in sales, including its existing joint venture partners, mainly in China. Sergio Marchionne says they can hit this number without taking on any other partners. Marchionne says, “If I can get to 6 million cars, it’s D-Day,” meaning the company can survive on its own. That would seem to squelch rumors that Fiat was looking to join forces with a Japanese automaker.
And the fifth step in the plan involves how to pay for it. Marchionne says Fiat-Chrysler will be able to generate all the cash it needs and will emerge as a debt free company in the next five years. By 2018 he wants revenue of $175 billion and a net profit of $7 billion.
Those are the five main steps, but there are a tremendous amount of other details. For example, the Chrysler brand will now become the company’s main mass market brand in North America, and will get a full lineup of products to compete effectively with Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. That will include a plug-in hybrid version of the Town & Country minivan and a plug-in full size crossover. Dodge will focus primarily on muscle and performance. So the Avenger and Grand Caravan get axed. And SRT will no longer be a stand-alone brand. It gets moved back into Dodge. So yes, you can call it a Dodge Viper once again. And no more SRT Jeeps or Chryslers. Ralph Gilles, who had been running the SRT brand, will continue to head up Chrysler design and motor racing activities. The Ram brand, which has been wildly successful, does not change at all.
Once they hit their plan, Marchionne says he would like to spin Ferrari out and issue an IPO. He says Ferrari generates a billion in cash every year and half a billion in profits. And he scolded analysts who value Ferrari at $5 to $7 billion, saying its actually worth twice that. And he says if the company desperately needed money it could always do this sooner.
And finally, Sergio plans to hang around as CEO until the plan is successful. But he hinted that if the company hits the $7 billion profit goal ahead of time, that’s when he’ll step down.
SOURCE"Today we begin to write a new book, not just a new chapter," said the Canadian-Italian Marchionne, whose plan includes developments in the Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands as well in Chrysler's divisions.
"It's a big day," with a unified plan that represents a "courageous" break with the past for the former Turin-based Fiat and Michigan's Chrysler. The plan for 2014 through 2018 is designed to help the combined group, the world's seventh-largest, become a major global force in the auto industry.
That includes seeing Chrysler's popular Jeep division hit its target of selling one million vehicles in 2014, said the division's chief executive Mike Manley.
By 2018, the SUV-maker aims to be selling 1.9 million vehicles annually, more than double its 732,000 sold in 2013, according to the FCA industrial plan.
Meanwhile, Chrysler aims to more than double its current sales in 2018, brand CEO Al Gardner said. Driving the projected growth are two new models, the Chrysler 200, on the US market this year, and the Chrysler 100, available in 2016.
And Fiat aims to sell 1.9 million cars in 2018, up from 1.5 million sold last year, the Italian division announced.
Marchionne told shareholders in late March that he plans to see a combined output of more than six million autos per year by 2018.
He also said he expected to see FCA listed on New York's premier stock market before year-end and possibly as early as October.
By listing on the New York Stock Exchange, FCA would be more widely traded and better able to raise capital.
Marchionne hatched the audacious idea to take over the Detroit automaker after Fiat rescued bankrupt Chrysler amid the US economic crisis in 2009.
Five years later, Fiat finally gained full control of Chrysler in a $4.35-billion US deal with a United Auto Workers union healthcare trust approved early this year.
FCA has also become more global, with FCA's new headquarters in the Netherlands, its tax base in the UK, and it will be listed on the New York and Milan stock markets.
Despite that international reach, Marchionne has said that Fiat has not abandoned its roots in Italy.
Still, he remains concerned that Europe's auto market has not yet recovered from years of economic struggles that have contributed to six years of weakness in auto sales.
SOURCETen years ago, a sombre Sergio Marchionne stood in front of a crowded Turin press conference in a formal suit and dark tie to say that he would work hard to pull Fiat SpA back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Brought in by the controlling family hours after Chairman Umberto Agnelli had passed away, the chief executive officer faced losses at the automaker that had ballooned to more than €6 billion from 2001 to 2003. After returning the car giant to profit and completing the acquisition of Chrysler Group, Marchionne (61) marked his first decade as chief executive at the weekend and is again at a turning point, with some investors skeptical over his plan to boost sales 61 percent to 7 million cars in 2018.
To do so, Marchionne will have to prove that not only is he a talented dealmaker, he also knows how to build cars that will resonate with consumers. “The turnaround maestro, who saved Fiat and Chrysler helped by his financial skills, must now show, by making the right products, that he’s a ‘car guy’ too,” said Giuseppe Berta, a professor at Bocconi University in Milan who knows Marchionne personally.
Since taking over on June 1st, 2004, Marchionne has tripled revenue, operating profit and the share price. His goal now is to boost net income to about €5 billion euros in 2018 from the €904 million earned last year by selling more upscale vehicles, including new Alfa Romeo models built in Italy.
“I only have one objective: to bring that home,” Marchionne, who has long since ditched the formal suits for casual sweaters, said of the new strategic plan he announced in early last month. “It’s that simple,” he said, adding that he’d celebrate his 10th anniversary as CEO by “working”.
The Italian-born executive, who moved to Canada with his family when he was 14, is more recognised for the deals he sealed at Fiat, including a $2 billion pay-out from General Motors to exit a partnership in 2005, than for creating models. Helped by the GM deal, he managed to return Fiat to profit in 2005, his first full year as CEO.
The 500 is by far the most successful model introduction under Marchionne, with over 1.2 million sold since he brought back the iconic car in 2007. He’s also managed to boost the Maserati brand with the Quattroporte and Ghibli, which are helping the luxury brand more than double 2014 sales. Thus far, he hasn’t succeeded in rejuvenating Alfa Romeo, with models such as the Brera hatchback and the 159 failing to win over buyers.
Marchionne is now pushing the reset button on the marque, a key part of his 2018 plan, by dumping all its autos except one and starting fresh. He’s also reducing the Lancia brand to a single vehicle to be sold only in Italy, ditching the Delta hatchback and Thema and Flavia saloons.
“The industry, I don’t think, thinks of Sergio as a car guy and clearly he has had success as a turnaround leader,” said Jeff Schuster, an auto analyst with LMC Automotive. “That’s his forte: he’s a fixer. But I think he’s also maybe a closet car guy.”
By investing €55 billion through 2018, Marchionne’s goal is to boost sales and profit with more upscales models from Alfa Romeo and Jeep that will be sold globally. Fiat will invest €5 billion alone to build eight new Alfa Romeos in Italy as part of a strategy to boost the brand’s sales to 400,000 in 2018 from about 73,000 last year.
Marchionne has dismissed arguments that he’s not deeply involved in the models the automaker builds and said last week it will take time “for opinions to change” that his targets are achievable. “We are working our asses off for it,” he said. “Let me go work and I’ll try to make the guidance.”
SOURCELONDON (Bloomberg) -- Fiat Chrysler plans to sell holdings valued at about $820 million, freeing up cash to invest in an expansion of its upscale brands.
The automaker will sell 3.5 percent of Fiat's shares as well as 2.5 percent of truck and tractor maker CNH Industrial NV to American investors, CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters on Thursday in Basildon, England.
The effort would help build relations on Wall Street as the carmaker prepares to establish its primary listing in New York in the first two weeks of October following the formal creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The merged company is aiming to more than double profit and lifting annual deliveries 61 percent over the next five years.
Those targets are underpinned by a 55 billion euro investment plan that calls for expanding the upscale Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands as well as making Jeep a global nameplate.
In a sign of progress on the CEO's strategy, the Maserati brand will double its dealership network to about 500 by 2015 to sustain growth for models like the new Ghibli compact model, Harald Wester, the brand's chief, said in an interview on Thursday. The carmaker expects its expansion to help it match 2013's full-year deliveries of 15,400 vehicles already by the end of June.
Marchionne is also betting that a 5 billion euros ($7 billion) investment in Alfa Romeo will reverse a decade of losses and seven years of collapsing sales at the brand. The CEO plans to add eight new Alfas with the goal of boosting the brand's global sales to 400,000 vehicles in 2018 from 74,000 last year.
Fiat bought full control of Chrysler in January, with the merger part of Marchionne's decade-long effort to turn the Italian company into a carmaker big enough to challenge General Motors Co., Volkswagen Group and Toyota Motor Corp.
Marchionne on Thursday also described how he planned to sell Chrysler's "Cinderella" story to U.S. investors.
Jeep boss Mike Manley has shed some light about the next generation Wrangler set to arrive as a 2018 model year.
Unlike the Jeep Cherokee which was developed on a Fiat platform, the all-new 2018 Wrangler will get a proprietary platform as Mike Manley promises "there will be no compromises" and "it has to be its own architecture." The engineers will also focus on weight reductions and the model could end up boasting an aluminum body.
Thanks to what is believed to be a considerable diet, the next-gen Wrangler will be significantly more fuel efficient in order to meet more stringent federal regulations without having a negative effect on the car's versatile capabilities. Manley also said a "major focus" is on bringing engine improvements in order to create a product that will "push the benchmark even further."
SOURCEA revamped 2.0-liter inline-four engine, code-named Hurricane, promises improved power and fuel economy for the automaker's smaller vehicles. Meanwhile, improvements coming to the Pentastar V-6 engine family will provide smaller displacements and better fuel efficiency in larger vehicles.
By 2018, almost all front-wheel-drive-based Chrysler Group vehicles will come standard with a nine-speed automatic transmission, while rear-wheel-drive-based large cars, crossovers, SUVs and pickups will stay with an eight-speed automatic.
Today, Chrysler has regained much of its pre-bankruptcy market share with just a few new vehicles and well-received upgrades of existing ones.
The company will continue to move vehicles to Fiat platforms and eliminate segment duplication across its brands.
To keep pace with ever-tightening fuel economy requirements, Chrysler will adopt electrification, offering a plug-in hybrid minivan for the first time and a plug-in hybrid crossover.
Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler is likely to get an aluminum body to shed weight and improve fuel economy.
Pickups and SUVs will remain key to the company's sales goals, and the Ram and Jeep brands will continue frequent product upgrades.
In North America, Chrysler and corporate parent Fiat believe they can grow their sales volume by roughly 1 million vehicles to 3.1 million annually by 2018.
SOURCEThis bit of information follows Sergio Marchionne's declaration at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, during which the Fiat Chrysler helmsman told the next-gen Chrysler Town & Country's development is roughly "95 percent" finished and the new model will be on sale in the following "24 to 30 months." According to the two reports, the new Town & Country is going to hit dealerships by the end of 2015 as a 2016 MY.
As for the plug-in hybrid variant of the people carrier, Chrysler officials present at the Paris Motor Show hinted it will use a traditional layout consisting of an electric motor and a gasoline internal combustion engine. Moreover, Chrysler's brand head Al Gardner dropped a curious bit of info earlier this year, declaring that a Chrysler-badged PHEV minivan could achieve the same fuel economy as the Prius PHEV.
That may translate to 95 MPGe rating (or 75 MPGe according to a previous report) and a combined fuel economy figure after the battery runs out of juice of 50 mpg, but this plug-in hybrid layout begs the question just how much space will be taken by the the large battery pack, electric motor and others.
A raised boot floor or a deleted third row of seats come to mind, but fingers crossed the men and women engineering the upcoming 2016 Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid won't sacrifice too much space to the detriment of PHEV modifications.
SOURCE“For the end of the year we will be significantly beyond 35,000, but not beyond 40,000,” Harald Wester said. Maserati sold 15,400 vehicles in 2013.
Wester said the brand was still on track to launch the much awaited Maserati Levante SUV by the end of next year.
It plans to build at least 25,000 of the Levante per year from 2016.
The revival of the luxury Maserati brand is a key part of owner Fiat’s drive to return to profit in Europe, along with the relaunch of the Alfa Romeo marque.
Maserati’s product offensive is the most ambitious yet for the Italian brand founded a century ago in Bologna by five brothers and which Fiat bought in 1993.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Paris auto show, Wester said the idea of keeping annual Maserati sales capped at 75,000 — a level it hopes to reach by 2018 — still stood, but he “would not be dogmatic about it.”
“The core of the message was: Maserati will remain an exclusive brand,” he said.
“We will not offer a product below the Ghibli (sedan), we will not compete on price as other people are doing. Volume is not the most important parameter for the business.”
He said the number of dealers selling Maserati products would grow by another 100 from the current 354 by the end of 2015 and that should be sufficient to sell the product, even at future levels of around 75,000.
The brand’s current line-up includes the four-door GranTurismo sedan, the Quattroporte and the compact, lower-priced Ghibli.
After the Levante SUV, the company has promised the Alfieri, a sporty two-seater, which will also come in a cabriolet version.
The US remains Maserati’s main market, closely followed by China, which is also the biggest market for its Quattroporte model.
Wester, who also looks after Alfa Romeo for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group, said the company would “work very hard” to get close to last year’s sales figures for the sporty Alfas of 74,000.
SOURCENaturally, dealers and existing owners have had some concerns. Increased production is likely to have an effect on prices of used models and with supplies increased Ferrari dealers, notorious for some of the most exorbitant markups in the industry, will likely have to be a bit more accommodating to customers.
Speaking with CNBC at an event in Beverly Hills over the weekend celebrating 60 years of Ferrari sales in the U.S., Marchionne reiterated that Ferrari is likely to produce more cars to keep up with demand but promised to ensure the brand’s status and DNA are preserved.
"You've got to be careful about limiting the ambition of Ferrari because its customer base is an expanding customer base," Marchionne said. "The business itself is in good hands with FCA, as long as we don't screw up the DNA of Ferrari."
Other concerns about Marchionne’s leadership is the possibility that Ferrari may launch its own IPO or even be sold, though this is unlikely despite Marchionne’s own comments that there are very little synergies between Ferrari and the rest of FCA.
"I think that we are good holders of the assets," he said. "The fact that I have come over as chairman goes to the level of commitment that we have made to this business."
Ferrari is expected to produce 7,200 cars this year and Marchionne has said in the past that ramping production up to 10,000 units annually was possible.
SOURCEIn May, FCA announced that Alfa sales would increase more than fivefold to 400,000 vehicles by 2018, and that North American sales would go from nearly zero to 150,000. A relatively small number of Alfas have been sold in recent years in Mexico, but none in the United States or Canada.
Alfa plans to introduce eight new models by 2018. It is to become, along with Jeep, one of FCA’s global brands.
FCA has previously said that the next new Alfa model will be introduced in mid-2015, but Bigland declined to say when it would reach the United States or give details about the model.
The 4C will launch with versions priced around $70,000. A base model that costs about $55,000 will be available later.
Bigland said that about 82 Fiat or Maserati dealers will initially sell the Alfa 4C in the United States, along with two in Canada. The sales outlets will increase to a total of 120 by the first quarter, and 200 by the end of 2015.
SOURCEAccording to the filing, Jeep expects the Wrangler to return nine percent better fuel economy when equipped with the eight-speed than it currently does with a five-speed automatic. Currently the five-speed automatic Wrangler is rated to return 17 MPG in city driving and 21 MPG on the highway.
The Wrangler is slated to be re-designed for 2018 with an aluminum body that will also enhance fuel economy. Chrysler needs to improve average fuel economy across the Jeep line and a smaller displacement engine than the current 3.6-liter V6 will be necessary to do so in the Wrangler, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has said.
Other efficiency-minded changes are afoot at Chrysler. The company plans to produce its next-generation plug-in hybrid Town & Country minivan at its Windsor, Canada assembly plant.
SOURCEAlso possible as part of the improvements: the potential for turbocharging what are now naturally aspirated engines. Meanwhile, Fiat's MultiAir variable valve timing technology will remain, sources say.
The first improved 3.6-liter V-6 is scheduled to debut in late 2015 as part of a freshening of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, sources say. A Chrysler spokesman declined to comment on the Pentastar Upgrade project.
Another example will be the redesigned Chrysler Town & Country minivan, due in 2016. Chrysler sources say the new minivan will be powered by an improved 3.2-liter V-6 instead of its current 3.6-liter V-6.
The improved 3.2-liter V-6 will be combined with a nine-speed automatic transmission, as it is in some versions of the 2015 Jeep Cherokee. The powertrain combination, better aerodynamics and weight reductions are expected to boost the minivan's fuel economy at least 25 percent over its current EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city/25 highway, the sources said.
The naturally aspirated 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 was introduced in 2010 on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler Group has spread the 3.6-liter across most of its lineup, including its top-selling products such as the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler.
Depending on the added efficiency engineers are able to achieve, the improved 3.6-liter engine could help the Ram 1500 regain the gasoline-powered fuel efficiency crown it lost last month to a turbocharged version of the 2015 Ford F-150.
Continued HEREJeep sales outside the U.S. and Canada averaged about 20,500 a month heading into December.
FCA is expected to release its global Jeep tally this week. In 2013, the automaker announced global Jeep sales three days after its U.S. and Canadian sales.
Marchionne announced the 1-million sales target for Jeep last January during a press conference at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Automotive analysts at the time called the goal ambitious but attainable, given the growing popularity of sport and crossover utility vehicles and Jeep's momentum and new offerings in the marketplace.
In the U.S., the Jeep Grand Cherokee remained the brand's best-selling vehicle at 183,786 in 2014. The midsize Cherokee, in its first full-year of sales, followed at 178,508 — bypassing the popular Wrangler (175,328), Patriot (93,462) and Compass (61,264) SUVs.
2014 marked the fifth consecutive year of increased Jeep sales, both globally and in the U.S. It also was Jeep's third consecutive year of record global sales. Previous records were 731,565 in 2013 and 701,626 in 2012.
The Cherokee, Brauer said, is "undeniably" a success for FCA: "It's a total home run for them," he said. "It's really the perfect vehicle at the perfect time."
Perfect time is right. U.S. sales of SUV and crossovers surged 11.8 percent to 5.38 million last year compared to 2013, according to AutoData Corp. That's about 33 percent of the 16.52 million cars and trucks sold in the U.S.
Globally, sales of the Cherokee and all-new Renegade were expected to particularly help Jeep hit its sales goal during the last three months of the year. The midsize Cherokee gained incremental sales in China and Europe, and the subcompact Renegade arrived in European showrooms in October.
"It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of fun to go and try and get that goal," Jeep Marketing Director Jim Morrison told The Detroit News in October. "We're on track and we need to keep the momentum for the balance of the year in order to obtain the 1 million goal."
The Renegade is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms by February — helping Jeep continue its momentum into 2015.
The Renegade, built in Italy, is a major example of Marchionne's global ambitions for Jeep. It is the only Jeep to ever be exclusively manufactured outside the U.S. and the brand's first subcompact vehicle.
More Jeep vehicles are expected to start being produced outside the U.S. in coming years to meet local demand.
Jeep, through a joint venture with Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., has already announced localized production of three Jeep models for China by late 2015.
As part of a five-year plan announced by Marchionne and
SOURCEChief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne targets to boost sales by 60 percent to 7 million cars in 2018 as the carmaker plans to invest 48 billion euros ($55.5 billion) to expand Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep into nameplates that can attract customers from Beijing to Berlin to Boston. In doing so, Marchionne is seeking to forge an automaker that’s big enough to challenge General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG.
Marchionne is boosting spending as FCA sees “positive industry outlook” in every region next year, including an increase of Brazilian and European markets, according to the presentation. The carmaker expects industry deliveries of cars and light commercial vehicle in Europe, Middle East and Africa to increase to 21.7 million next year from 21.3 in 2014. Fiat sees an expansion of the EMEA market by 2.9 percent a year to 2018, according to the presentation. The outlook is also positive for North America and Asia.
The carmaker, created last year by the merger of Fiat SpA with its U.S. unit, plans to boost sales to over 5 million cars in 2015, Marchionne said Jan. 12 in Detroit. It’s adding over 1,000 new workers at the Italian plant which builds the Jeep Renegade to meet demand for the small SUV.
Fiat Chrysler may return to profit in Europe by 2016 as it cut costs and sells new models, Marchionne said Jan. 13 in Detroit. The automaker, now based in London, moved its listing to the New York Stock Exchange from Milan in October.
To sustain the investment plan, Marchionne plans to raise about $5 billion in a strategy which includes the spinoff of its Ferrari supercar division and the sale of a 10 percent stake in the unit next year. Fiat reiterated today its plan to reduce net industrial debt by 4 billion euros with its funding strategy.