By on January 21, 2010

Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has a handful of brand management on his plate, as he aligns his two firms for the future. Merging Lancia and Chrysler was an obvious move; creating one full-line brand (albeit with different names from market to market) is a lot better than trying to keep two distinct brands, although even with their powers combined, Chrysler/Lancia is going to have an uphill struggle. With Lancia “taken care of,” the biggest problem on Fiat’s plate is Alfa Romeo, which has reportedly lost €200m-€400m per year for the last decade.

Marchionne put Alfa under strategic review at the beginning of December, saying the brand had a year to get its proverbial shit together. The two deathly options given to Alfa: a product freeze or rebadged Chryslers. Yikes! While Alfa’s leadership contemplates those charming optinos, Fiat has announced to Automotive News [sub] that Alfa, Abarth and Maserati will be placed under the leadership of Harald J. Wester, who is tasked with “identifying potential synergies” between Maserati and Alfa. Too bad then that, short of the limited-run 8C Competizione, those synergies are nonexistant. Meanwhile, Marchionne’s little empire is looking more and more like a cobbled-together proto-GM than ever before.

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15 Comments on “Fiat Plans GM-Style Brand “Channel” For Alfa, Abarth and Maserati...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Out of context I would have sworn this picture was a still from the next Austin Powers movie, and the studio had decided to make it an “Italian Job.”

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    I think if Toyota would have manged to have some Toyotas for young drivers their 2-brand strategy woudl have worked. Massmarket Toyota, Luxury Lexus. and they were profitable and growing. they made the mistake to give up on Celica etc. and introduce Scion instead. The Scions would have been fine with a Toyota badge.

    Every manufacturer with many brands didn’t make profit on the long run and brand value dissolved. It is either to expensive to keep so many differnt cars, or it is just cheap rebadging.

    VW is a bit different with 12 brands but being succesful. Most of their brands are small niche luxury brands. Their strategy failed a bit (VW: conservative-luxury, Audi: sporty-luxury, Skoda: conservative-economy; Seat: sporty-economy) but very clever platform sharing kept them profitable despite the failed Phaeton and W8 motor experiment (trying to make VW a luxury brand, while stealing resources from Golf/Passat development) anad Seat is not doing so well (it is not really sporty, and economy costumers don’t really care anyway).

    with all this knowledge, why does Fiat think they need more brands? Fiat strategy looks like: Fiat: lowquality-economy ALfa: lowquality-sproty Lancia: lowquality-WTF? Chrysler: lowquality-WTF???? Maserati/Ferrari: sporty-weselltenofthemperyear

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      Um, back in 2000 Toyota tried using the Toyota brand to attract young buyers with the redesigned Celica, MR-2 Spyder and Echo. Needless to say, it was a gigantic flop and that is why they created Scion.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Project_Genesis

  • avatar
    SacredPimento

    That SUV makes you look Fiat.

  • avatar
    Garrick Jannene

    Some of you may shoot me, but… Dodge?

    The average American considers Dodge a sporty brand just like they considered Pontiac one. Sure, they weren’t really, but a couple models in the lineup gave it that stigma. Given Afla’s more premium brand placement and Dodge’s mainstream placement, different trimmings would definitely be a necessity, but there’s no reason that the brands can’t share their greasy bits. One can quietly wind down what little of Dodge is in Europe, and then there wouldn’t even be any of what I call the Lincoln syndrome (Hey! your MKS looks the same as my Taurus!), because the Alfa designs would be unique (to Europe). Also, we over here in the Americas get cars that drive like Alfas, for less than an Alfa! What’s not to like?

    Call me crazy, but I think it would work.

    • 0 avatar
      daga

      I agree. it seems pretty obvious. Now that the ‘looks like a truck’ experiment at Dodge can come to an end, they can move to a more dynamic sport look that could easily fit with alfa. Caliber vs MiTo? not even a contest, even at 2-3k more.

  • avatar
    european

    @HerrKaLeun, lancias & alfas arent lowquality

    @Garrick Jannene, it wouldnt work, sadly i’ve been seeing more dodges than alfas on the streets. its like some ppl want that american-”butch”-look from a car more than a refined & sculpted alfa. its sad.

    btw, i’ve seen all of chrysler/dodge/jeep offering in europe except the RAM trucks and the big SUV (chrysler aspen/dodge something).

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Since Lancia only sells about 5 cars outside Italy I can’t vouch for their bad quality….
      but Alfas are prone to expensive repairs. Years ago a friend of mine was a car mechanic and his brother had an Alfa. My friend almost had to move in with his brother to help him fix the car in the morning to go to work – daily. “fix it again Tony” with some nicer interior doesn’t make it better quality if reliability is what you mean by quality. Is the Alfa interior nice quality, probably. But they should put nicer material under the hood, because that is where you will spend the most time.

    • 0 avatar
      vrtowc

      @HerrKaLeun

      I guess I might have better chances of being heard when speaking to a brick as to someone who beleives in unreliabilty of italian cars. So I’ll resist the urge to give examples of their reliabilty and really cheap repairs compared to any comparable european vehicle. However, I’ll keep myself amused by anti-italian-car religious legions and thieir fix-it-again-tony mantra.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    That is definitely FI AT on those sweaters, not FL AT.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I can’t stop looking a it!

    http://www.autoblog.com/gallery/maserati-grancabrio-0/#20

    This has got to be the most beautiful vehicle ever.

    Now get the people involved in designing this and the Alfa 8C to Auburn Hills quick.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Where’s my Alfa Romeo?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It feels more like Proctor & Gamble, which holds a host of disparate brands under the P&G name.

    All of GM’s vehicles go down the road; Fiats don’t always do that.

  • avatar
    djn

    Gslippy has a good point. The Italian fashion houses manage many brands successfully. Just because GM couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that Sergio can’t

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Guess we’ll all just have to wait and see. Of the 12 cars I’ve had my 6 Fiats have been virtually perfect. And when things fail it’s because it’s time to fix them anyway (how many years is lightbulb supposed to last anyway?). No, outside normal wear items when thing broke on my Fiat it’s my fault (like my clutch going out at only 80k km, hey but I was “auto-crossing” a little Uno for Pete’s sake). Not to mention they’ve proven themselves to me in a country where conditions are not easy on a car (terrible pavement, exreme heat, low temperatures, horrible and many time adulterated fuel, endless stop and go traffic).

    Anyway, at least down here, parts are plentiful and cheap. I think part of the negative image they still have in older Americans’ minds is that in the 70s their cars had vey poor support. I think that maybe they have learned from their experience. And that the company is much more professional now and fosters best practices and talent. So I think they have a hope.

    Now, yes I think Fiats need maintenance. Give them their due and they’ll run forever. Quite the opposite of Japanese cars going on and on for thousands of miles without an oil change. Though if you’re interested I can tell a story of a little Uno, which BTW belonged to my brother-in-law, that ran for…What’s the use? You won’t believe me anyway.


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