By on January 27, 2016

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday said the automaker would rely more heavily on profitable Jeeps and Rams in North America and Europe to help its business remain profitable in other sagging areas and regions.

“We are not of the view that this industry is facing an impending demise,” Marchionne said before announcing FCA’s adjusted earnings of $1.78 billion in the fourth quarter.

Marchionne and CFO Richard Palmer said Jeep’s success in North America and Europe led the company last year and would be the “bedrock” for the automaker’s future. The automaker laid out specific plans to bring forward a Jeep pickup and Wagoneer, and let wither less-profitable models such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart.

Marchionne said the compact cars would “run their course,” and the automaker would look for future partnerships with others to build the compact cars.

Earlier in the conference, the FCA CEO compared the next few years of the automaker’s future to wandering through the desert, but said that FCA has grown considerably since its ambitious 2014 plan.

“When I look back at the last two years I feel comfortable that we’ve created an organization that has a much more durable and dependable capital structure,” Marchionne said.

Part of that has included spinning of luxury brand Ferrari and boosting Jeep production worldwide. But Marchionne laid out the company’s missteps too: Alfa Romeo’s ambitious rollout has been scaled back significantly, Maserati’s scope has been narrowed, and the company will refocus on Europe and North America as profit drivers, not Latin America and China.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan won’t go into production until March and Alfa’s first SUV won’t arrive until 2017, according to the automaker. The rest of the Alfa Romeo lineup: a full-size sedan, two crossovers, two “specialty” cars and a hatchback won’t arrive until 2020 — two years later than planned.

Luxury arm Maserati will get a much-needed SUV — the Levante — later this year, the automaker said, but wild expectations for the brand have dampened considerably due to slowing economic conditions in China.

“We have readjusted all of our plans,” Marchionne told investors. He said his forecast in 2014 of 7 million cars by 2018 doesn’t matter anymore — the automaker won’t be driven by volume.

“We’re going to stay away from enunciating goals as they relate to metrics,” Marchionne said.

Instead, Marchionne said Jeep would contribute significantly to the group’s overall bottom line, and new offerings such as a Wrangler-based pickup and large SUV would drive future profits.

The CEO also said that production would be realigned at other plants to accommodate the automaker’s shift in strategy away from passenger cars and toward more profitable SUVs and trucks.

Despite pegging sales on trucks and SUVs — which Palmer said was a permanent shift for the industry — Marchionne projected that sales in North America and Europe would be relatively flat, and that the industry reached “top-ish” volume over the last year.

FCA also included plans that signal a shift toward more electrification: a mild Ram 1500 pickup is planned around 2018, and a mild Jeep Wrangler Hybrid before a full-hybrid Wrangler by around 2022. It’s unclear where diesel powertrains fit into the mix — despite planning for a diesel-powered next-generation Wrangler, the executives were quiet about Ram’s current diesel powertrain.

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166 Comments on “Dart, 200 On The Way Out; Wrangler Truck, Wagoneer On the Way In...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “automaker would look for future partnerships with others to build the compact cars”

    Introducing the 2019 Chrysler Sapporo, by Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      It won’t even look good like the original Sapporo did.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I have never seen one of those in person, I suspect they all died a rusty death by 1989. I like the pics of them though.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Me too, people complain about the Japanese being boring back in the day but the original Celica and the Galant the Sapporo was based on are attractive cars.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I like this 4-spoke and two-tone combination with sports louver.

            http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/0966-0495Dan_MitsubishiGalantLambda1-640×426.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I love old Japanese cars with 4 spoke wheels, mang.

            I will own a 280ZX someday!

            Also, the link seems to be broken. :(

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Gotta love the 280ZX turbo, but I was always a fan of the later 300ZX turbo 2×2 from MY85-89, you know, the Dentist’s car. Especially the ’89. That bulletproof motor and drivetrain coupled with a limited slip diff and sweet shifting 5spd plus all the luxo goodies more expensive GT cars had like stereo buttons on the steering wheel and electronic suspension. And that sweet extra coolness for the ’80s were those T-tops and pop-up headlights. Mad props.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I am so much in favor of how the 300ZX became a brougham personal luxury vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      It’s interesting that FIAT can build a relatively popular and good subcompact platform (500 and 500x), and Chrysler can build good large cars and SUVs (Grand Cherokee, 300C) but they can’t seem to manage anything in the C and D segments if their lives depended on it. Avenger, 200, Dart, Patriot, Compass, Caliber…all the suckiest of sucking suckage. :)

      And the Dart was even Giulia-based.

      • 0 avatar
        MoDo

        Wrong, Giulietta. (a lengthened and widened, giulietta – called CUSW -compact US Wide)

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        anyone who thinks the Dart and (current) 200 “suck” is just trolling. The Dart hasn’t been marketed at all, and too many worthless automotive journalists poison the 200 because they all have to mention the crappy Sebring from 2008.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          JimZ,
          I think if you spent some time in a new Civic, Golf and/or Mazda3, and then went to a Dart, you would be seriously underwhelmed.

          It’s not that the Dart sucks, it’s that anyone looking to buy a new car wants something special, something best-in-class. Dart is not that, so it sells on price and to fleets.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            I actually did test drive the Dart, also considered an Avenger way back when and test drove that. They were OK but no better than OK. Frankly, they were the worst I test drove each time. I ended up in a Mazda3. I’m considering a 500x right now, but I want to see if there will be an Abarth version. Just in case anyone thinks I’m anti-FCA. ;)

            I love how some people are willing to blame the advertisers, the journalists, the marketers, and the consumers for horrible car sales, but are simply unable or unwilling to blame the car itself. :)

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            It really depends what your priorities are. The Dart handles well, and it’s large for its price category, but it’s under-powered (especially automatics) and very chintzy on the inside.

            I remember when they came out, the only interior color you could find (other than in the brochure, of course) was called “diesel grey.” The name was appropriate, it wasn’t something you would want to spend time in, given a choice, and it covered every interior surface.
            Totally reinforced the notion that the only reason to buy a Dart was if your credit rating wouldn’t let you get anything else. The weird thing is, the interior is really well laid-out if you close your eyes. Way better than a Corolla or Civic.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I have. I can’t stand Honda’s whacko dashboards. The other competitors are all pretty nice, but none of them stand out to me as “OMG this is so much better than the Dart!”

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            JimZ,
            Honda made the Civic’s dashboard mainstream for 2016 – check out Alex’ review today.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Available in Mexico: the Dodge Attitude, a rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage G4/Attrage sedan:

      http://www.dodge.com.mx/attitude/2016/exteriores.aspx

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Lots of dumb comments in here – who cares what happens if gas rises, the cars they are killing get the same MPG as the small CUV’s they can’t build enough of, at double and triple the margins. NO BRAINER!

      Make Rams and Jeeps with diesels and hybrids = sell even more, which is their game plan.

      Or keep putting thousands $$$ on the hoods of perpetually unloved Darts and 200’s. (although I think the 200S AWD is a cool car) I surpassed the “status” of owning a Chrysler midsize sedan years ago.

      The only cars I am interested in are Dodge Charger/Challenger SRT’s or the Giulia in top performance guise – at this point.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Wow. Total disaster, flailing in every respect. No strategy for a part of the portfolio that makes up somewhere between a third and half of FCA’s current US sales. No plan for regulatory compliance except a mild hybrid and some vague hand-waving in the direction of further electrification. Absolute dependence on continued low fuel prices. If I were the Agnelli family, I’d have Marchionne’s head.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I wonder if they are part descendants of the Medicis. That’s what I like to picture when I think about powerful Italian families.

    • 0 avatar

      I honestly don’t think they care.

      Sergio is a bag man. No more, no less.

      It wouldn’t shock me to discover that the Agnellis bought low and sold high. They knew Fiat was an unsustainable enterprise and have been looking for a way out for years.

      This may all have been a scheme. Maybe they are content to let the Italian, British and US governments untangle the mess, while their ill-gotten gains reside in Grand Cayman or wherever.

      And hey, someone gets Jeep!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The Agnellis have been parting out/spinning off the old Fiat conglomerate for years, owning a small chunk of the profitable pieces, and leaving the debt with parent Fiat, now up to $42 billion in bond debt. Notice that none of that debt went with the Ferrari spinoff?

        Sergio was supposed to make FCA look spiffy and merge with somebody, taking the husk of Fiat off the Agnelli’s hands. His current plan will leave FCA without the vehicles that can keep it afloat in a downturn, so it looks like the plan then is spinning off Jeep and/or Ram and leaving the debt ridden core of Fiat for bankruptcy. The bond holders will not be pleased, though stock holders like the Agnellis will have gotten the spinoff money.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Cars are less than 25% of Chryslers sales in north america, and probably -25% of their profits.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        There’s no strategy here for minivans either.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, but when Jeep/truck sales collapse along with too easy credit, what does FCA have here? Disaster, that’s what.

        This is nothing new for Chrysler, but I don’t know if we have the gumption for another bailout. Especially if, God Forbid, President Trump has anything to say about it.

        • 0 avatar

          FCA got some nice funds on Ferrari, but everything else in Europe is a s***show and Alfa is vaporware.

          Jeep can be sold, maybe RAM to Nissan; someone might want the minivan design at fire-sale prices. The rest of it could disappear and who’d miss it?

          I’m waiting for a brave business journalist to connect the dots and confirm my suspicion — the Agnelli family used North America as their piggy bank, paying Sergio nicely for his labors. It was a good run, but it’s coming to a close. The funds to go to the next phase just aren’t there.

          Vendors should demand cash on the barrel. Anyone tied into FCA financially would probably do well to get out now.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            the Alfa nonsense is what really sticks in my craw. They want to launch the brand right in the middle of a segment pretty much sewn up by BMW and Audi, and take half of each of those two’s marketshare by 2018? That nobody in the automotive press burst into laughter the minute he said that speaks volumes about their worth. Alfa simply does not have the brand cachet to do that. And anyone in the US who remembers the last time Alfa was here remembers the incredible junk they sold.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Personally I think that was a semi-good idea, and would have gotten them rear-wheel drive platforms to leverage for Dodge as a “performance” brand. That being said, I’m not sure there was room for both Dodge and Alfa as performance brands. I’m still not. The question becomes which one to drop though.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “I’m still not. The question becomes which one to drop though.”

            Alfa. Look, *nobody* cares about Alfa Romeo outside of a handful of enthusiasts. And enthusiasts love to think of themselves as critically important, but the simple matter is they are little more than noise. 0.002% of the market cares about Alfa Romeo and rear-wheel-drive. The other 99.998% are buying CUVs and trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Have any of you ever SEEN an Alfa? Driven one? It seems to me too many people are relying on hearsay and decades-old enthusiast articles without actually trying one for themselves. The same applies to Fiat’s other offerings, though on a grossly-obsolete reputation.

            Before developing an opinion on something, wouldn’t it be better to try it out for yourself?

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            That’s the thing, in the US, Alfa has very little presence, and Dodge has more brand equity. But I think outside of North America it’s the reverse.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Absolute dependence on continued low fuel prices.”

      That’s what I was thinking. Doubling down on Jeeps, SUVs, and trucks seems ultra-foolish.

      This reinforces my belief that FCA is trying to maximize short-term profits, while hoping the future CAFE requirements will change.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        SCE to AUX, I interpret the strategy as replacing low-profit small and mid-sized sedans with more profitable small CUVs. Cars, but taller with lots of Jeep styling cues. More Renegades and Cherokees with low-volume Dart and 200 replacements outsourced to another manufacturer. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s easier to meet CAFE and make profits by building relatively large hybrids instead of small cars. Chrysler could adapt the Pacifica Hybrid drivetrain to CUVs.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          ” I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s easier to meet CAFE and make profits by building relatively large hybrids instead of small cars. Chrysler could adapt the Pacifica Hybrid drivetrain to CUVs.”

          Bingo

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      No hyperbole here – feels like the death watch can start.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “No plan for regulatory compliance except a mild hybrid and some vague hand-waving in the direction of further electrification.”

      Give Marchionne some credit. CAFE compliance is not the issue that you think that it is.

      In any case, FCA doesn’t have the money for all of that fancy R&D. At this point, it needs to strengthen its balance sheet, which means making more money, which involves building margins, which requires emphasizing the stuff that people like most. This business is still being managed out of a crisis point, and crisis calls for different strategies.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The rest of the Alfa Romeo lineup: a full-size sedan, two crossovers, two “specialty” cars and a hatchback won’t arrive until 2020 — two years later than planned.

    I look forward to the full-size Alfa 259, underpinned by a then-ancient LX platform.

    “We have readjusted all of our plans,” Marchionne told investors. He said his forecast in 2014 of 7 million cars by 2018 doesn’t matter anymore — the automaker won’t be driven by volume.

    Your shareholders and accountants might suggest otherwise. The only makers NOT driven by volume have extremely desirable and largely bespoke luxury products (think Rolls-Royce), and even they’re dipping lower into the Prole Pool to bask in the warmth of volume.

    “The CEO also said that production would be realigned at other plants to accommodate the automaker’s shift in strategy away from passenger cars and toward more profitable SUVs and trucks.”

    Has Mazda got some carbon credits for sale? You’re gonna need em, letting the only efficient things in your lineup fall off.

    This man, he needs a reality check.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Wait, so FCA isn’t going to be driven by volume? What about the 400,000 Alfa sales a year?

    • 0 avatar

      Gm and Ford did the same thing in 1997. Look where it got them.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Yrah. Stupid Ford and GM, making money off the millions trucks they sell every year, a segment they more than dominate as shown by their 1-2 finish for the last 30 some odd years or so.

        Look where it got them, selling $45k(& +) trucks in record numbers, year after year. Stupid Americans, when will they ever learn?! Cant do anything right. Wait until the Santa Cruz gets here, itll wipe the floor with those awful Americans.

        Automakers from outside this country are way smarter, by not building crossovers, trucks and SUVs that pay their bills when nothing else will. Yep, not a single one stupid enough to build profitable, well-selling vehicles like dumb old Ford and GM.

        • 0 avatar

          Respectfully disagree. GM and Ford were still dumb back then for doubling down on big trucks.

          GM and Ford gave up on mid-size cars for NA, a segment they once created and owned, while chasing those truck profits. And in case you forgot, both these “smart” manufacturers had near-death experiences from truck dependency. To keep the factories chugging and to “KeepmAmerica Moving” GM slapped up to $5k on the hoods of those profitable trucks, forcing the other two to follow suit.

          Meanwhile, those trucks were expected to prop up lagging passenger car sales. And all kinds of expensive excesses and mistakes resulted. Hummer, anyone? There are GM dealers still smarting over that one, though they did make hay while the sun shone. At least they didn’t buy Fiat franchises.

          Ford seems to have learned its lesson and is well-run, even if Wall Street ignores them.

          I am 100% convinced that GM learned nothing from Ch. 7 except they’re Too Big To Fail and We, The People will bail them out again.

          And both are still WAY too dependent on big iron for NA profit.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Toyota also stated recently that they wouldn’t be driven by volume.

      I think it just means no new plants, and no low-margin products. I’m wouldn’t be surprised if one Grand Cherokee makes as much profit as a dozen Darts, so volume isn’t necessarily the answer.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        which is stupid, because gas isn’t going to be sub $2/gal forever. Only until OPEC gets tired of squeezing Russia’s nuts. So they drop any smaller, more economical vehicles and when gas prices go up again they’re sitting there holding their dicks with nothing to sell.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    GM, Ford should take notes.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Take notes for what? How to increase your sales volume but make less money? I’m sure Mary and Mark took notes from Sergio’s speech personally…

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        How to offer your consumers choices no one else is willing to offer.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          But make less money per unit.

          Ford is going to have a product onslaught. I don’t know if it’s going to be the right thing overall, but it’s happening. They are going to fill more niches now that Mulally is gone.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The Wrangler, a few thousand Hellcats and a couple large sedans (a sharply declining category) won’t sustain a car company for long. Nothing else they make is unique.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            What is left of Dodge?
            Dart: dead
            Journey: been dead for 5 years
            Charger: declining
            Challenger: declining
            Grand Caravan: dead
            Durango:???
            Viper: dead

            What is left of Chrysler?
            300 and Pacifica – two declining models in shrinking categories.

            Dead brands walking.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        How to drop unprofitable products. A lot of times carmakers have a presence in a segment simply to be there. Midsize and compact sedans have always been a “well, we have to have SOMETHING” segment. Know what else used to be like that? Minivans. ANd yet the people who dropped them survived.

        The subcompact and compact SUV are taking over for the compact and midsize sedan. I won’t shed a tear to see the Cherokee, Renegade, and 500X become FCA’s new bread and butter, since their history in the C and D segments frankly sucks.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Ford will drop the $hit out of products that don’t sell, and ones that sell but aren’t profitable to redo or continue.

          GM, on the other hand, will milk all it can out of a product, make changes that people like, then kill it.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          they’re unprofitable *now* with gas at $1.70/gal. setting yourself up to be standing there with your thumb up your ass when gas goes back above $4/gal (and it will) is stupid.

          • 0 avatar
            SatelliteView

            Have you noticed removal of sanctions from Iran? Have you noticed China slowed down after decades of ultra rapid growth? You think these will change in the next 3-4 years? You did notice full hybrids by 2022 mentioned by the boss?

            If only you would be given rains of fcg instead of all those fools. The world is so unfair

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok I figured the 200 was pretty much dead but give them credit for making it much better then when the got it, but the Dart was/ is a disaster and that is solely on them. While the 200 was holding a spot for something the dart was suppose to be here for a long while. FCA is not in good shape and they really did nothing today to address their issues. I wonder if I will see VW win another green car award before I see the Alfa sedan in the US, cheap gas is not here forever and it seems FCA assumes it is.

    • 0 avatar

      I hate it when Peter DeLorenzo of Autoextremist is right because he’s such a d***, but he’s totally right about The Great Sergio. He’s also right about the media sucking up to that phony.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      We need a deep dive into the Dart mess. Because at one point this same company produced the Neon… but that was like ages ago.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Pre-Daimler Chrysler produced the Neon, Fiat produced the Fiat Compact platform (which debuted in 2010) and Fiat-Chrysler customized it for their needs. I’m not saying none of the pre-Daimler staff were not involved with Dart, but its almost apples and oranges.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          I’ve always wondered why FCA didn’t slap a Dodge nose on the Giulietta and collect their incentive for making a 40 mpg car. Neither the smaller Giulietta nor larger Dart were likely to be profitable in the US, so why spend so much product development money on the Dart.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Yes, a deep dive would be interesting.

        The Dart has averaged – rather reliably – about 7000 cars per month for 3 years straight. This goes to show how undiscriminating buyers can be. The Neon sold about 50% more volume.

        I am still in love with the Dart’s looks, but the drivetrains in the ones I drove were totally awful.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          Did you drive the 1.4t/6-Speed version?

          I just picked one up and it feels like a giant neon– something I’m quite enjoying. It feels scrappy and makes nice noises. It feels much more mechanical than I’d imagined a modern (traction control, electric steering, turbo engine, etc..) vehicle would.

          If Chrysler would highlight that the Dart is a mid-size at a compact price, I think they’d realize better sales.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            iNeon,

            I drove a 1.4T/6-MT Dart Limited (no longer available in that combo) for 2 years and loved it. It was a fun car with plenty of power in my opinion – you just need to understand that the turbo doesn’t begin to make boost until roughly 2500 RPM, so if you stay in a gear that keeps the engine just below that, it takes off smartly with just a light prod of the gas pedal.

            Even though mine was a Limited and not a GT, it had great road feel and responsive handling – I really loved the seats too. I am kind of bummed that they got rid of the hidden storage compartment under the passenger seat cushion though.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            @iNeon:

            Yes, I drove the 1.4T/6M first (this was when the Dart first appeared on dealer lots). Its torque peak was so high, it was unusable for city driving. Just as it began boosting, you had to stop for the next light. I believe the Fiat 500X Pop’s torque peak has been lowered considerably, from 4000 rpm down to 2500 rpm, and consequently it gets better reviews.

            Then I drove the 2.0/6A, and found the engine to be rough and gutless. The Hyundai-supplied automatic transmission was fine.

            Perhaps the 2.4/6A is better, but I’ve driven the 2.4/9A in the Renegade and found it to be awful – loud and rough.

            I really wanted to like the Dart, and was heartbroken with my first exposure to one. I hope all goes well with yours!

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          I agree about the Dart’s looks. Glad to hear the 1.4t/6-speed has potential, might pick up a cheap used one in a couple years. Too bad the other drivetrains are just meh.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Neon was a lot cheaper and had a huge marketing campaign when it came out. I challenge you to find more than a few (non-car-people) who even know what a Dodge Dart *is.*

  • avatar
    VoGo

    “Marchionne said the compact cars would “run their course,” and the automaker would look for future partnerships with others to build the compact cars.”

    “Hello, Mitsubishi? It’s me, Sergio. Say, do you still have the tooling for the old Gallant laying around? I might be able to take it off your hands…”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      DON’T NOBODY need more Galants. If anything deserved to die, it was that car. Eclipse too.

      Due to FCAs poor strategy and blindness, I feel like the other automakers should band together to price fix their carbon credits.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I hope Sergio films a video to woo Mitsubishi with that Adele “Hello” song.

      “Hello, it’s me
      I was wondering if after all these years
      You’d like to meet
      To go over everything”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        LOL

        You know after watching an interview between her and James Corden the other day, I like her a lot better.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’d prefer he use “Hello, It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren, because I’m sick to death of Adele.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        LOL! @ bball’s comments.

        I dislike Sergio and the Angelli family despite having really good experiences (and know many others who have as of recent – 2012+ – years) with CERTAIN CHRYSLER, DODGE & JEEP vehicles. The 300, Charger, JGC, Durango, and Challenger are all great – the Fiat stuff is garbage as is leftover pre-2011 Chrysler/Dodge stuff).

        This is why Sergio’s been beating the drum on the necessity of consolidation. As the global economy slows for the next 3 to 4 years, at minimum (with China, India, Brazil & Russia, as well as Asian Tiger economies cooling rapidly and threatening a devaluation war, the EU in horrific economic and political shape, and commodity production-dependent nations such as Canada, Australia, Indonesia, etc crash), larger economies of scale in heavy CAPEX intense industries will prove crucial for survival.

        Remember that the much discusses “profits” of today’s market represent a few drops against the ocean of debt that most of these large automakers still have on their balance sheets.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          And RAM is doing well, obviously, but trucks and large SUVs are running into the late innings of their hot streak, and will crash harder/deeper than most vehicle categories.

          I want to reiterate that we we’re entering a period “peak stuff.” Apple’s suppliers are being hit very hard and Ikea’s CEO recently gave a fascinating talk about how quickly consumption is slowing.

          • 0 avatar
            SatelliteView

            Yet we have a guy here with a green pig on avatar, who KNOWS gas will be “over $4” like soon. Why is he tolerated on this board?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            if you want to silence everyone who disagrees with you, I daresay you’re on the wrong website.

            go find someone else to harass.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    “We’re going to stay away from enunciating goals as they relate to metrics,”

    -said every CEO who was afraid of being held accountable for results by shareholders

  • avatar
    dwford

    Wow just wow. So zero focus on regular high volume cars, minimal focus on hybrids or electric vehicles (except as needed to meet minimal compliance) and the Alfa revival pushed out another 2 years – again.

    So they are basically guaranteeing their next bankruptcy once oil spikes again. And yet again, whoever buys them next will be doing it solely for the Jeep name.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, that’s it. Fiat had as many cash problems in 2008 as anyone. Bamboozling the Feds to keep Chrysler going was no more than a cash play.

      In fairness, they did improve the product a lot. But they’re smart enough to see that the run of luck is over and they’re leaving the casino. They’re looking for a final payout. Someone else can hold the bag once the Agnellis and Sergio run off.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Didn’t you see the hybrid Wrangler promised for 2022? And FCA has never missed a deadline – you can take that to your local Alfa Romeo dealer for proof.

      • 0 avatar

        My local Alfa-Romeo dealer has tons of inventory! They’ve only got two doors, bug-eyes, racing stripes, and transmission problems, but I got two for only $400 down, a poorly-xeroxed copy of a bank statement from last year, and a promise that I’d give them all 5-VERY SATISFIEDs on my survey!

        • 0 avatar
          MoDo

          There is a month+ waiting list for 4C’s here and they make a killing on gross @ Ghibli’s and GT’s – bare lot, and they make the same $$ as a typical dealer down the street from them.

          Local Alfa + Maserati store, a friend knows the GM – his words, not mine.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Isn’t the Ram the third best selling vehicle? The GC and Wrangler are major sales successes, the vans top their categories. They have a very strong focus on regular high volume vehicles. The hybrids are just a losing proposition now, wait until someone can build a successful electric and reverse engineer it.
      Think smarter not harder.

      • 0 avatar

        The Cherokee is selling very well too and is a very mainstream cross over at this point. The issue is the company needs to develop some hedge against future gas increases it’s good to keep updating your most profitable vehicle but you also need to look at the future.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        The point is, a successful automaker has a balanced lineup, and can get sales regardless of gas prices. A sudden shift will leave FCA at a huge disadvantage which could not quickly be fixed. Yes, hybrids and electrics are money losers right now, but they are a hedge against gas prices. If FCA at least had the engineering work done so that more fuel efficient options could quickly come to market, that’s one thing, but to have basically nothing is risky.

        • 0 avatar

          Here is the long shot not gonna happen but funny if it did answer.
          Gas stays low for the next 5 years FCA essentially banks billions over then next 4 years then merges with someone before gas comes up. It’s a longshot but hey it might be a possibility maybe.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The vans top their categories, that is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long long time. Both are bringing up the bottom of the sales charts in their respective categories. I can’t imagine that they are actually making a single penny on them as the volume just isn’t enough to justify certifying them for sale in the US.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I wonder if FCA has approached Mazda… Mazda makes some pretty fine cars, and I’m sure they’d jump at the chance to share the development costs for them with somebody.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    http://tinyurl.com/lct2ddq (We so need to be able to embed images)

    Sergio, sense – this makes none.

    I thought the 200 was generally well liked by the press? Other than hearing a few warranty horror stories the Dart seems to be fundamentally sound as far as the overall design.

    Partner with who? Mazda? Suzuki? If you need a partnership then what the faq does the rest of the brand portfolio exist for?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    So if the Dart and 200 go away, what are the rental agencies to do? Some renters demand American

  • avatar

    Does this mean the rumored Dart SRT is off the table???

    Dodge practically was giving Darts away, but they still couldn’t sell them.. I leased mine for $99 a month with 0 down… but the bluetooth stopped working, I had to get a strut mount replaced and the check engine light intermittently comes on and off.. Can’t wait until this lease is over. I will never buy a Fiat again!

  • avatar
    omer333

    The Dart should have been great. For the amount of content and tech you got at such a great price, along with such a good chassis, as well as a great looking body, there should have been more sold. There was so much potential, but poor marketing, f-ing up the launch, and the cars being too heavy didn’t help.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The fact is the Dart was just a compliance car, part of the agreement to be given the rest of Chrysler. I’ve talked with some of the engineers that worked on the product and they just were not given the time or funding to do a good car. The launch was bad because they had a deadline to meet and had to stuff the channels with what they could scrape together. Which meant way too many manual trans went out the door initially but if they didn’t get X out the door in time they wouldn’t be given the rest of Chrysler, I mean Jeep which as has been mentioned is what is keeping FCA alive.

      Also when you loose money on every unit it doesn’t make sense to try and sell more units. So zero surprise that they will neglect the Dart until it is canceled/replaced by a badge engineered car, if FCA makes it that long.

    • 0 avatar

      The dart could be fixed with better build quality and a better drive trains. The rest really is pretty damn good. But it seems like they won’t bother now.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I would argue that a global mainstream carmaker cannot survive without a competent C-class entry. It’s at the heart of the lineup in nearly every major market, and so many models are based on it. If you can’t compete with Corolla, Civic, 3, Focus, etc., then just fold up your tent and go home.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Make the 500x and Renegade the defacto C class entries.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Make them competitive. The Renegade is OK, but too narrowly focused to ever challenge CR-V or Escape. The 500x is a lukewarm mess.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            The Renegade is a foot and a half shorter than C segment. It’s 166 inches, whereas C segment is more like 180-200 inches.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Chrysler made the Dart the “C class” entry, even though it’s really bigger than a compact, closer to a midsize, and was supposed to compete with both. These definitions are really fungible when you get right down to it, and just a matter of convenience. Look at Chevy with the Equinox, trying to market it as a compact SUV.

            I figure the Renegade and 500x are competitive with a Focus or Corolla, maybe even a Cruze, and probably have notable advantages over each. After that it’s just a matter of sales pitch.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    What options do they have for making compact/midsize cars for FCA?
    Their longtime partner, Mitsubishi, doesn’t even have the resource for designing their own cars anymore. They are soon to be an SUV/crossover only brand focusing on developing markets.

    Renault-Nissan? Nissan already provides many cars for Mitsubishi in the domestic market, so the Mitsubishi’s failed attempt at sourcing Renault-Samsung cars might work for FCA?

    Mazda is already working more closely with Toyota, and the Mx-5/Fiat 124 seems to be a one-off. Not much history between FCA and Mazda, honestly, so difficult to see it happen.

    PSA? They won’t be competing with FCA in North America, so maybe an option, but do they have the resources to develop a N. America compatible car? Probably not.

    Nope, they’re hosed. They’ll just have to continue buying CAFE credit at an increased rate until the whole scheme come crashing and burning.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Actually, I could see them working with Mazda for a variant of the Mazda6. But wouldn’t FCA be better off just purchasing Mazda? They need someone who knows how to make compact and midsize cars the right way, Mazda certainly fits the bill, and I’d take a 6 speed SkyActiv over the 9 speed bug-o-matic FCA is using any day.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        FCA would destroy Mazda’s soul, and the merger would take the entire enterprise down.

        Sell Jeep now, FCA and return the Euros to your shareholders!

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        FCA has zero chance of snapping up Mazda. When Marchionne was on his lame quest for merger last year, the Japanese got together.

        Everyone seems to have forgotten the formal Mazda/Toyota tie-up from last May, there’s many sources, here’s one:

        http://blog.caranddriver.com/land-of-the-rising-mazda-toyota-and-mazda-confirm-strategic-partnership/

        Plus the Scion iA is a Mazda2. No way Japan Inc is going to let FCA in to putz around telling everyone how brilliant they are.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Toyota and Honda are among the last standing pillars of Japan, Inc. So much else has or is about to hit the skids. Sanyo is gone, Sharp is about to die, Toshiba isn’t making money, and the crown jewel of Sony has been directionless and bleeding profusely for years.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    This is very interesting. Historically Chrysler has been utter suckage when it comes to compact and midsize vehicles not named Wrangler. The Dart was the last good thing they did, but the Caliber and Avenger doomed them. The 200 and Dart as it turns out are no better.

    The compact and midsize sedan segments have always been one of those must have bread and butter things, but frankly, it makes sense for FCA to get out of those markets. They were never good, and no part of the company knows how to build good vehicles in those classes. Not only do SUVs offer better margins, but in the US the subcompact SUV is taking over for the compact car, and likewise with the compact SUV taking over for the common midsize snoozemobile. So why not place the focus on SUVs?

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Dumb move with the Dart & 200, so I’m not surprised. First the minivan, then this. Instead of Hellcat JGC’s & Vipers & Ram Rebel’s, the dollars should be redirected to viable existing products that consumers want.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Dart is not a viable product and the 200 isn’t far behind. Axing them now would be the smart thing to do. The viable existing products that sufficient numbers of people actually want are only those that wear the Jeep, Ram or Hellcat names.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        there’s nothing wrong with the Dart. Its biggest problem is that FCA doesn’t seem to want to tell anyone they actually make it.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “there’s nothing wrong with the Dart. Its biggest problem is that FCA doesn’t seem to want to tell anyone they actually make it.”

          Yep. That’s the problem in a nutshell. If more people knew the goodness that is the Dart, it’d set the sales charts on fire.

          *clicks heels three times*

  • avatar

    1) Prune less-profitable cars
    2) Invest heavily in high-margin, high-profit trucks and SUVs
    3) Squeeze every ounce of money out of Jeep
    4) Use all the cumulative profits for Marchionne’s vanity project – Not-just-a-Phaeton-but-an-actual-division-of-Phaetons – that may possibly debut sometime before my future progeny are dead.
    5) ???
    6) Accept another government bailout
    7) PROFIT!…?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    and how are they gonna meet CAFE standards if all they sell is trucks and big suv’s?

    • 0 avatar

      They could game the cafe rules with the wheels pushed as far as possible to the corners on all future vehicles then use the foot print cafe rules to win the game.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Truck CAFE and car CAFE are separate though you can trade the credits between your car and truck fleet if you exceed the target in one and are lacking in the other like Toyota and Nissan due to cover their poor MPG earning trucks.

      The problem for Chrysler is they don’t have credits from their cars to make up for trucks. So dropping their cars means less credits for them to buy. The other thing is they can raise the GVW of more of their trucks to the over 8500lb point to be exempt for CAFE and posting fuel economy estimates.

  • avatar
    Timtoolman

    Jeep has survived ownership by several companies, all of whom no longer exist, with the exception of its current owner, FCA. Looking back at Woolworths in the 80’s- losing market share to up-and-coming Walmart and Target- they started opening specialty operations and boutique shops. There was Northern Reflections and Afterthoughts, It’s About Time, Herald Square, and a few others I am forgetting about. The one surviving entity has somehow taken the place of Woolworths in such a way that my pension plan is now in under its auspices. That company still exists as Foot Locker Corporation. No, I never worked for Foot Locker, but that’s what’s left of the venerable F.W. Woolworth Co.

    So, don’t be surprised, if somewhere down the road, Jeep Corporation of America, Inc. becomes the holding company for all that was FCA, if only because it is a survivor.

    • 0 avatar
      whynotaztec

      Yes it is funny how Jeep always seems to be part of a struggling company.

      It is funny how FCA has managed to keep the brand so strong; although they certainly have attempted to ruin the name with things like Compass, Renegade, etc.

      The Wrangler is a cash register for them at the moment, but the rest not so much. Even the GC seems to be in very plentiful supply these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        It’s a vampire brand. Only explanation. It killed Willys, then Kaiser, then AMC, and now FCA is in danger.

        OTOH, in the waning days of all those departed marques, Jeep was their only moneymaker.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          It’s a curse. Jeep was invented by American Bantam, but the U.S. government claimed it owned all the submissions for its military vehicles, and handed the Jeep design to Willys, assuming Willys could keep up production. It couldn’t, and Ford made about one third of the WW2 Jeeps, while American Bantam was allowed to make trailers that could be pulled by Jeeps. After the war, Jeep was handed to Willys, American Bantam was bought by American Rolling Mills (ARMCO), and its trailer production was shut down. Every maker that owned Jeep suffered the American Bantam Curse, and when Fiat bought Chrysler, the Curse came with it.

        • 0 avatar
          whynotaztec

          All those owners, yet none of them managed to ruin the brand!

          So if FCA gets to the point of needing to sell it, who next? Maybe someone like OshKosh or a defense contractor would be interesting. What if GM got it? Yikes!

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s because struggling companies buy it so it can keep them propped up.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Yes, because relying on trucks and SUVs for profitability 12 to 18 months before a recession is the road to survival – it worked so well in 2005.

    Neither the Dart or 200 were bad cars. They were vastly better than the steaming piles of Detroit junk they replaced in the Avenger (which was only remotely passable with a Pentastar V6) and the Coleman cooler on wheels Caliber.

    They were at least “class competitive,” but they were still on the short bus and sitting in the back of the class. What they needed was another rapid catch up cycle to move into the middle of the pack – and in the case of the Dart – better execution out of the gate.

    Jeep cannot save FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      jthorner

      He didn’t say those cars would be discontinued, but rather that they would not be heavily invested in for new designs, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Neither the Dart or 200 were bad cars. They were vastly better than the steaming piles of Detroit junk they replaced in the Avenger (which was only remotely passable with a Pentastar V6) and the Coleman cooler on wheels Caliber.”

      the reasons for those cars’ general suckitude came from Stuttgart, not Detroit.

      sometimes “I did the best I could with what I was given” is a valid point of view.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    Now you know why Marchionne was so desperate to “acquire” GM. It was nothing more than a false front for getting someone to help out Fiat. Having said that, with the slow down in China and elsewhere (and the glut of those national car mfrs in those countries), Marchionne was right in saying there’s excess car capacity in the world and the industry needs to consolidate. The problem is that Fiat is the ideal candidate to go away. This guy is great at financial maneuvering, much less impressive at building cars.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Will we be seeing an FCA Deathwatch on TTAC?

  • avatar
    Acd

    Actually I was encouraged by today’s news from FCA. Corporate debt is down and operating profit (especially in North America) is up. They seem to be concentrating on areas that actually make money like Jeep, SUV’s and trucks and have scaled back their plans in areas where they have been historically weak like small and mid-sized cars. For the time being this makes more sense than pouring a bunch of money into Alfa Romeo when Jeep offers a much better return on investment.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      It’s the best option available at this point in time to FCA, but the problem is that they don’t have the R&D money to make anything remotely competitive in the compact or midsize car class, and they don’t have any tech for future engine families or hybrids or EVs. They’ll continue to contract hybrid development out to suppliers to make compliance cars, but eventually this will prove insufficient.

      This is basically an attempt to strengthen the company’s financials until he can find a “partner” that is strong in small and midsize cars and that has future platforms and engine technology.

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        Even when they had the money they usually didn’t make anything remotely competitive in small and mid-sized cars; now they’re just coming out and making it public.

        Maybe they’re getting rid of the duplication pre-merger with someone who has those capabilities already like PSA.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, the truck certainly has my interest and it it happens to come with an economical diesel, all the better.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Actually what he said makes strategic sense for the next few years. Crossovers, suvs and trucks of all kinds are where the action is. Milk the existing small car platforms and don’t spend a bunch of money on redesigns is a very reasonable strategy. It worked for VW for 20 years. Many of these vehicles are being redesigned too often just for the sake of doing it, and redesigns are horrifically expensive in engineering, compliance, tooling, spare parts networks and so on. In recent years the “new and improved” often hasn’t been much improved. Many times the new version is worse than the old one.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think FCA will not be around in the long term. It will be broken down, sold off and swallowed up.

    You will see non US companies purchases the more profitable parts of the company as they are sold off.

    Many of the names will exist, in developing nations as has occurred with the likes of Fargo, De Soto, etc. Yes, these names are still in use today in places like Turkey.

    Jeep could be sold to some Indian or Chinese company as Volvo had. Ram will sold off to a foreign manufacturer. These vehicles will still exist, and the new owners will most likely profit and make these products even better. Improving FCA/Chrysler product should not be hard.

    For the past four decades Chrysler, then MB/Chrysler and now FCA/Chrysler have always been nearly there against the competition, but never eclipsing their opponents.

    Chrysler and it co-owners never, ever, seemed to have the cash to produce a truly competitive Chrysler/Ram/Jeep/etc.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Whew, the B&B delivered on this one. I am pretty much speechless. I think it’s going to turn out that Sergio had some kind of brain condition that went undiagnosed. That is my only explanation for this madness.

    • 0 avatar

      His brain is fine. Sergio is just a well-paid thief and bag man.

      He works for the Agnelli family. Their flailing empire has been propped up by the Italian Government for over 4 decades. Now that they see that the gig is up, they’re looking to cash out.

      Until Sergio figures out the exit plan (sell Jeep and RAM, find a sucker for other factories, etc.), he’s just painting pretty pictures of Alfa Romeos and scrambling behind the scenes.


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