By on February 1, 2016

car-brands

FCA’s sweater-in-chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn around the debt-laden and ailing automaker: stop building cars that lose money. That sounds like common sense, so long as oil prices stay low and the demand for trucks, SUVs and crossovers remains high.

But that plan introduces a new set of problems, chief among them the fact that ditching the car market leaves FCA exceptionally exposed to future volatility in oil prices. Crude prices affect prices at the pump, which affects the demand for certain types of vehicles. Sergio is betting oil prices will stay low by focusing on vehicles with ever-increasing price tags and ever-growing gas tanks.

Still, there will always be some demand for small cars. It was true in 1950 and it is true today. So what will Mr. Sweater do to meet that demand? Simple: he’ll buy those vehicles from another automaker and badge engineer them the old-fashioned way.

Sergio’s plan comes with considerable risk, but the rewards are just as substantial. That doesn’t mean he won’t find a way to hedge his bet somehow. After all, the Italian-American automaker is the least likely of all to be able to weather a mild recession, next to Tesla, and its reliance on Canada — FCA was the top automaker in Canada in 2015 — could backfire thanks to that country’s mild recession.

So, who will build those insurance-policy cars for FCA? And where? Here are the contenders.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Mazda
The “little automaker that could” is chugging independently along post-Detroit ownership, and it’s not afraid to work with others even if that means ceding segments to some of its competitors. Case in point: the Mazda2 — or the Scion iA, or Toyota Yaris Sedan, depending on whether you live in Mexico, the United States or Canada. All three cars are built at Mazda’s brand new Mazda de Mexico Vehicle Operation in Salamanca, Mexico, along with the Mazda3 (the Mazda2-based CX-3 is manufactured in Japan).

It’s no secret that small and midsize car volume isn’t growing as quickly as that of crossovers and SUVs. The Mazda3 has also been thought of as more performance oriented than the Dodge Dart. And the Mazda6 isn’t half bad either. Could that make Mazda a legitimate contender for Sergio’s dollars?

2016 Nissan Sentra-005

Renault-Nissan and Daimler
Are Sergio’s chances with Renault-Nissan still Ghosn on? Or are they Ghosn like German management escaping an Auburn Hills C-suite?

The FCA of today is far from resembling the Chrysler of many yesterdays past. The management in Auburn Hills is different and could provide the basis for some interesting dialog between Dieter Zetsche and Sergio Marchionne. However, Mercedes-Benz’s small and midsize products are geared more toward premium products — a description not uttered in Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram showrooms much over the last decade.

There is, however, some real opportunity with Renault-Nissan. Ghosn is no stranger to making projects work with other automakers, nor is he a stranger to smashing together two wholly different companies and making them kiss like a Mike Tyson meme. Renault Samsung Motors, an 80.1-percent owned subsidiary of Renault, even has a new position recently vacated by Mitsubishi. The ailing Japanese automaker had planned to source sedans from Renault Samsung, but those plans are kaput.

It may be relevant that Chrysler and Nissan have dated before — even recently. Nissan had planned to source trucks from Chrysler’s Ram brand before simply poaching Ram’s main man.

China Air Pollution

China
With the upcoming Buick Envision and the already-here Volvo S60L, the cherry has been popped on Chinese automotive imports. And it isn’t like Chrysler hasn’t flirted with the idea of building a small car with a Chinese automaker in the past.

Chery and Chrysler ended their joint project to build small cars for U.S. consumption in 2008, prior to Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler. Could they come back to the table again and bring Chinese cars to FCA dealer lots?

Who else?
There are other automakers out there that would love to take Sergio’s money, no doubt, but the above options seem most likely.

What do you think? Who else would be willing to prostitute its own vehicles for American customers?

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138 Comments on “Who Will Build Sergio’s Next Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200?...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s gonna be Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Oooooooooooooo I’m so excited!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      ciscokidinsf

      No way… Mitsubishi doesn’t even have product for both those levels anymore… Are they going to turn the Mirage into the DART? and the 200 from the (11 year old) Lancer platform? Not likely. Does not compute.

      Could be Suzuki, or Hyundai (already Chrysler of Mexico sells these rebadged Hyundais like Pancakes)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Big market for pancakes in Mexico, eh?

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Stop thinking Mitsubishi only sells cars and trucks in the U.S. They sell other cars in the JDM, as well as other markets. Also, a new Lancer is coming, as well as a midsize sedan, and Montero/Montero Sport.
        Suzuki still sells cars too…all over the world. After the whole GM debacle, they were done with the American market. Suzuki cars actually made by Suzuki, are actually quite good. GM raped them by selling rebadged Daewoos. It really ruined their street cred.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          They sell other cars, but nothing larger than the Lancer except for some rebranded Infiniti Q40/Q70s, and good luck convincing Nissan that it is a good idea to give them to FCA to be branded as Dodges/Chryslers.

          Maybe Sergio can turn to the French.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The Mitsubishi Attrage/Mirage Sedan is sold as the Dodge Attitude in Mexico

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

    • 0 avatar
      Scherping

      This is a really good opportunity for Citroen. All their non-DS cars could sell here as Chryslers. This could serve as a dealer network that gets their Citroen-DS branded cars here too that will not infringe on anything FCA has. All their Peugot models could be branded as Dodges. Perfect partnership IMO.

      Plain and simple: FCA has two brands in need of passenger cars; Dodge and Chrysler. PSA has been clamoring to enter the US market with their DS brand and they have two other brands not intended for these shores. Why not get the here anyway under the Chrysler and Dodge nameplates. A win-win-win!!

    • 0 avatar
      Scherping

      The French. PSA has got two perfect brands to fill the void that do not already sell in North America. Peugeot and Citroen. Plus, they could negotiate a deal to sell their DS-branded cars here too. Boom! The French have returned!!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The Cerberus plan? Really?

    Somebody’s desperate…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Q: What Chrysler/Dodge JV type rebadge-dual-maker vehicles were actually any -good-?

    TC by Maserati
    Plymouth Sapporo
    Sebring Coupe
    Eagle Premier
    Renault Alliance/GTV
    Dodge Conquest
    Stealth
    Avenger
    Eagle Talon/Laser

    Hmm… I’m having a hard time.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Those all pretty much sucked except for TC by Maserati… oooooooo (having a moment).

      Avenger was a Mitsu, you’re thinking of the STEALTH.

      EDIT: Avenger coupe was technically a DSM platform

      “Chrysler’s D platform was derived from the Mitsubishi Galant and used by the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive Diamond Star Motors cars in the 1990s. The original D platform debuted in 1990 and was refreshed in 1995 as the PJ platform. Another DSM platform, the FJ platform, debuted in 1995 for use in the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_D_platform

      “The Mitsubishi GTO is a sports car built by Japanese automaker Mitsubishi between 1990 and 2001. In most export markets it was rebadged as a Mitsubishi 3000GT. It was also imported and sold by Chrysler in North America as a Dodge Stealth captive import from the 1991 to 1996 model years with only minor detail/appearance differences; mechanically, the two cars were identical. ”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_GTO

      I believe Robert Blake was driving a Stealth when he shot Bonnie Lee Bakley in 2001. But when you start to look at the relationship, I’m starting to see why.

      “In 1999, Blake met Bonnie Lee Bakley, formerly of Wharton, New Jersey, who reportedly had a history of exploiting older men—especially celebrities—for money.[12] She was dating Christian Brando, son of Marlon Brando, during her relationship with Blake. Bakley became pregnant and told both Brando and Blake that her baby was theirs. Initially, Bakley named the baby “Christian Shannon Brando” and stated that Brando was the father.[13] Bakley wrote letters describing her dubious motives to Blake.[14] Blake insisted that she take a DNA test to prove the paternity.[13] Blake and Bakley were married on November 19, 2000, after DNA tests proved that Blake was the biological father of her child, who was renamed Rosie. It was his second marriage and her eleventh.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Blake_(actor)

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      I kinda have a soft spot for my ’78 Plymouth Arrow GT…lol.

    • 0 avatar

      Colt, Mighty Max.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Yup! Colt/Vista and Dodge D50 truck were actually good cars. I had a Colt as a winter car. Very dependable, and I sold it 3 years later, for what I paid for it. Also had a Chrysler Conquest TSI. Purchased used and totaled it. The Insurance company paid me 2 grand more than what I paid.
        The Chrysler Mitsubishi divorce was the most unfortunate thing for Chrysler. It meant they had to make their own small cars, like the horrible Neon. What a shame.

  • avatar

    The smart thing to do is focus on the long term goal of PHEV.

    You already got the Chrysler Minivan hittin 80mpg and DOMINATING the soul-less, import econo-snooze-boxes from Honda and Toyota…

    How about a more spacious 200 (front and rear) and 300 (rear legroom)that have PHEV tech?

    How about a HELLCAT that gets 15 MPH city and 25MPG Highway?

    As for BADGES…I never would have removed the name “Sebring”.

    Instead of trying to call it something else – why not call the 200 the SEBRING so people can see “this car used to not be awesome and now they’ve IMPROVED IT”.

    I had no idea the PACIFICA would make a comeback.

    You can call a car whatever you want if you shove a 500 – 707HP engine in it.

    People will learn the name.

    People will remember it.

    People will talk about it.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Pacifica isn’t even out yet…. but I agree, a focus on PHEV is it. If FCA weren’t in such dire straits I would suggest they develop a new compact/midsize platform around it. Because when gas spikes… AND IT’S GONNA SPIKE!!!!!…. people will be jumping out of their gas guzzlers and trampling each other for the green exits.

      Plus I feel like the Tesla is a huge buzz machine.

    • 0 avatar

      “You already got the Chrysler Minivan hittin 80mpg and DOMINATING the soul-less, import econo-snooze-boxes from Honda and Toyota…”

      …he says, having not driven the Chrysler PHEV (and, I’m guessing), not driven either the Odyssey or Sienna. Let me guess, you’ve SAT in them all, right? That’s basically like test driving them, and forecasting sales numbers…

      Sebring is neither here nor there. “Two-hundred” is not hard to remember or say, and the Sebring was a completely destroyed brand. “Not be awesome” is perhaps the kindest interpretation of the Sebring I’ve ever heard.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I always thought they should have stuck with the Sebring name even tough it was previously on a miserable vehicle. Not every car name has to be alphanumeric and sound like a new computer operating system.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    You would have to either be very desparte or just clueless to get in bed with FCA at this point in time, even just selling cars to be rebadged. FCA won’t pony up the money to do more than change the grill and emblems and then without a doubt will discount it and hurt the sales of the donor vehicle. Also badge engineering another companies product is not a recipe for big profits, particularly when you will have to discount it below the donor to get it to sell because it has the Dodge or Chrysler badge on it.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      This is a great point. It takes 2 to tango.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t think it would hurt the host brand. For example the Corolla was a top seller even with its Geo/Chevy rebadges. Normal people don’t know these things

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Fair point, Sporty,
        But I think the truth catches up with you eventually. Where is Geo now? Where is Pontiac, which sold the Vibe?

        Granted, rebadging Toyotas didn’t bring down these GM brands — lacking a franchise in core markets is what killed them. And I think that for global carmakers, the compact and midsize car/crossover markets are core markets from which FCA’s exit will be fatal.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes but the GM versions of the Toyotas looked significantly different, because they were willing to spend some money on alternate body parts. FCA doesn’t have the money for that at this time and even if they did I don’t think they would be willing to spend it.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree. Think about Mazda, for example. Their main problem is they have to do all of the development that the other brands have to do, but with much less volume to balance those costs out. All the work, tiny amount of the payoff. Solution? More volume. Chrysler is a perfect channel for this. Change the suspension tuning, put a new front/rear on, badge it up Chrysler and bam, away you go.

      Mazda is already doing this with Fiat (124) and Toyota (iA/Yaris sedan). Expanding their relationship with Fiat-Chrysler would be super easy.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I agree that Mazda would be a great partner. As a small independent automaker, they have to stretch their R+D dollars to take on the big boys. Chrysler can give them some much needed resources in exchange for good small/midsize cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Scoutdude – good point, so that means FCA has to find a partner willing to badge engineer a car that isn’t currently available in the USA that might have some appeal.

      Marchionne must have been getting his sweaters laundered in Flint H20.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I agree that their best option would be to bring in a car that isn’t currently for sale in the US. However that would require re-engineering the car to meet US market standards and FCA doesn’t have the money for that.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Why would anyone capable of making FCA some competitive small cars ally themselves with such a tainted and mismanaged brand?

    *silent cogitation*

    I’ll answer myself: because they’re already building them and another outlet’s another outlet, however briefly.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Maybe they won’t be capable. It could be a way for Volvo to sell their cheap Chinese cars here without hurting the sales of their expensive Chinese cars.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        When it comes to cars, CJ is often right. This is one of those times.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Am I comprendo here?

        Volvo’s Chinese overlords would see this as an opportunity to sell crappy Chinese made little cars in the US because they’d have the prestige of the Dodge name for entrée?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          No. Volvo’s Chinese overlords would see this as an opportunity because nobody associates Dodge and Chrysler with Volvo.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            And the relationship would remain unknown among the car-interested public for maybe 12 seconds once the hoot-fest spread throughout the automotive and business press about this further sullying of Volvo’s brand within the US.

            Or are you saying that there would be no public signing ceremony or no Chinese press coverage of same?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Volvo seems to be doing just fine as a Chinese brand. Volvo buyers don’t know anything about cars. Selling Geelys as Dodges, Chryslers, and Jeeps just gives them one further layer of isolation from reality. Look at Korean GM cars. Do buyers know or care that they’re buying Daewoos that couldn’t be sold as Daewoos, and that ruined Suzuki’s brand in the US through their shoddiness? They only know that compared to their previous Buicks and Chevrolets, Daewoos are an improvement. Chinese rebadges as Mopars could work for everyone. The bar for acceptability to Mopar buyers is subterranean. The stuff developed in China for Chinese tastes will be kept far from Volvo dealers. China gets another entry into our market, to go along with their presence on GM and Volvo lots. Sergio can start talking about merging with Geely. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s thinking about their large car platforms and Rube Goldberg engines as replacements for what he pilfered from Daimler as he reads this.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “Volvo to Build Cheapest Dodges”

            “Guts, Glory, Geely”

            “A Chery of a Dodge. Wuhu!”

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        The S60L is NOT a cheap Chinese car. The Buick Envision? Now were talking. The Cadillac CT6 Hybrid? Not cheap, simply overpriced and questionably built, as is the Envision.
        Why is Volvo always thrown under the bus? GM has more Chinese cars imported than Volvo. They also have some from Korea, thanks to their Daewoo purchase.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Honestly, I don’t see them bothering. They’re not competitive in the segment, why do it unless it makes financial sense? If they really had to, the Fiat 500L platform could form the basis for a compact sedan or hatch. Frankly, I don’t see the midsize sedan taking the market back from compact crossovers any time soon, so just make a Chrysler version of the Cherokee and have done. The Jeep badged one will sell better anyway. Same deal with the 500x and Renegade, why would you buy a Dart over one of those?

    I’m not sure I see too much of a tie-up happening with Mazda unless FCA buys them outright. Which is a possibility.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The Dodge Colt / Plymouth Champ was a decent badge-engineered captive import. The Mitsubishi Montero worked out as a Dodge too.

    There’s no good reason for Mazda3 and Mazda6 to be badge-engineered into FCA products. The reason it works for Mazda to do this with the Mazda2 is because they no longer sell it in the US as a Mazda2.

    The Fiat Spyder will cost more than the Mazda Miata. This is a niche. For volume sedans, that’s not going to work as Mazda would compete against itself.

    Look for FCA to work a deal with a company who is looking to increase production and enter the US market. They have plenty of partners in Eastern Europe. There are plenty of willing companies in China.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t count the three model years of 2-door only Montero as a success. The Colt I’ll give you, as that was available for a good while.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      “There’s no good reason for Mazda3 and Mazda6 to be badge-engineered into FCA products.”

      Sure there is… A Mazda Dart would double the 3’s volume, and a Mazda 200 would quadruple the 6’s volume. That’s a lot more leverage for development, and I’m sure that just as they have in the past FCA would completely defect to Mazda’s expertise. With smart design they could make the cars all look completely different as well.

      Chrysler would also get much needed update in engines… their naturally aspirated engines still have port injection and cast iron blocks (!!!!). Mazda could use the added volume to utilize turbocharging. Truthfully it’s kind of a win win, though Mazda may not want to get in bed with another big domestic conglomerate after having found success after Ford.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Well, take a look at the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. It could pass for the current Dart, Just need to stick a Dart badge on it.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    If FCA is going to let its compact cars and midsized cars rot on the vine, then what about the crossovers that are based on those platforms? The CR-V is so successful because it it built from Civic and Accord parts. This is the exact market in the US which is growing and profitable, and where FCA is failing – crossovers.

    If I were FCA, I would be less worried about where the next 200 and Dart are coming from, and more worried about where the next Journey and JGC are coming from.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Is the Cherokee actually based on a car platform? I’m pretty sure the Grand Cherokee is a unique platform rather than being based off of a car.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        My understanding is that the Cherokee is based off the Dart/200 and that the Grand Cherokee is based off a platform originally co-developed with MB, which also produced the last M-class.

        I don’t know how FCA can afford to develop new platforms for either.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Maybe what they should be doing is developing compact SUV platforms, rather than retasking compact car platforms for SUVs. They could probably make a more capable crossover that way, fewer compromises.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Platforms don’t need cars to exist. And it’s often the CUVs that dictate the design. Case in point, the 350Z and its comically high door sills. That all came back to it sharing a platform with the FX.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    And following the Buick Envision is…the Chery INVASION.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      GM is a global company that builds vehicles in a variety of places for multiple markets. I don’t know why so many TTAC’ers are so freaked out that GM will have the audacity to build a vehicle in the world’s largest car market and sell it in the US, but that is what they plan to do.

      No one is forcing you to buy a car manufactured outside the US, and no one is trying to convert you to communism.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The Euro NCAP crash test of the Chery Amulet is always a fun watch.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7rrk3ZjN-I

      And by fun I mean horrifying.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That was a long time ago. The Chinese CAN build a safer car, at least they could two years ago:

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/chinas-qoros-earns-5-star-crash-rating-in-euro-ncap-testing/

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    It’s either Russia’s Lada or China Fu-King Motors, LTD

  • avatar
    smartascii

    If memory serves, what led to the bailout in the first place was that domestic manufacturers overemphasized large trucks and SUVs at the expense of fuel-efficient alternatives, and when gas prices and the economy conspired to make Escaburbigators unattractive, they had no fallback. Presuming that the highest-volume, best-quality small car manufacturers let them have their products to rebadge, those aren’t really profit centers, and even if consumers decide to start buying those Corolla-cum-Darts by the hundreds of thousands, that won’t sustain FCA. I know it’s possible to build a compelling, quality product because other manufacturers do it, even domestic ones, and if FCA doesn’t have the capital to design and build small cars like that, it’s going to die.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Actually, what nearly killed GM was legacy health and pension expenses, while Chrysler was a shell of the company that was making money in the late 1990s, because it had been raided by Daimler and further chopped up by Minimum Bob Nardelli working for Cerberus.

      It was the economic meltdown in 2008 that threatened the coup-de-gracious for both, and that would in turn have destroyed the auto supplier industry, taking out Ford and forcing foreign assembly plants in America to close as well.

      The politicians in Washington caused the meltdown that dried up the financing that both companies needed, and it took a set of dominoes (and probably short, simple sentences) to explain to them what would happen next.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The most logical partner is Mazda, they need the money and have the platforms. They are already using one Mazda platform so the connection is already there.

  • avatar
    udman

    FCA could simply have another car company that is currently NOT in North America use a design penned by either Chrysler or Fiat, and build it somewhere else to North American Standards. Likely car companies include:

    – Indian Car Maker Tata
    – Indian Truck Maker Mahindra
    – South Korean SsangYong
    – South Korean Samsung
    – Malaysian Proton
    – Malaysian Perodua

    There are other companies, like unaffiliated ones in Russia and China, and they could utilize their inadequate plant currently producing the 500L, so there is endless possibilities.

  • avatar
    Acd

    When are the next generation Peugeots due? PSA is a company that has underutilized factory capacity, doesn’t have a presence in the U.S. market and whose strength is smaller cars. Surely they have something competitive that could take the place of the Dart or 200 and fill up existing factory space. With FCA converting two car plants to trucks and SUV’s it almost looks like they are taking care of overlap before a merger takes place.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed3

      I was going to say, Peugeot/Citreon would be a prime candidate. They have tons of excess capacity, and would love to get back into the NA market – they wouldn’t even have to invest in a dealer network or marketing. Plus their cars are decent to downright delicious (DS3).

      While I think it is shortsighted to give up and a huge swath of the industry, PSA would be my top choice and I would take it over the dart/200 as it is.

  • avatar
    Fred

    So what good is FIAT if they can’t build a small world car?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      And didn’t the saboteur in chief give them Chrysler and our billions in exchange for a promise to manufacture a 40 MPG compact in the US?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I’m not convinced that is the most balanced way of referencing that Fiat negotiated a reduced price for introducing a 40MPG vehicle.

        Fred’s point is valid. What IS Fiat good at if they can’t build a small world car?

        • 0 avatar

          They can, it’s called the Panda. And the 500. And the rest of the world buys them in droves.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            The Panda is 5+ years old. The 500 is 8+ years old now. Where are the replacements coming from? Where is the investment that will sustain FCA going forward?

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            While I absolutely loved and adored the Panda rental I had in Italy, there’s just no way it could succeed in the US. The 500L is an Americanized Panda and we see how that’s going.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Is the 500L built in the same place as the Panda? I certainly hope not, for the Panda’s sake.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            That’s because the 500L is ugly. :)

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          FIAT can. The problem is that Chrysler and Dodge can’t. They never really could. They’re finally admitting this to themselves, which is healthy. Give Chrysler a variant of the Cherokee, let Dodge build a RWD Hornet, and point compact car buyers to the Renegade and 500X. Problems solved.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Sort of agree. The Renegade and 500X have CUV appeal, but they’re not CAFE leaders. Edmunds’ long-term Renegade is averaging 21 mpg, and only eeked out 24 mpg on a long-distance trip.

            Frankly, the 500 is a gas hog relative to its size. When a 190-HP Hyundai Sonata can get 35 mpg, a Fiat 500 should be getting more than 38 mpg.

            FCA needs to go back to the drawing board with Fiat’s Americanized products, and find a way to produce an efficient mid-sized vehicle. Part of the problem is Sergio; he loathes the well-regarded 500e, they have no hybrids, and no apparent plan for developing anything efficient.

            So even if Fiat and its American counterparts could concoct an efficient mid-size, I wonder if Sergio would maim it in some way.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Which was fulfilled with the Dart being built in Belvidere, Illinois.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          True. Was the agreement that they’d build A 40 MPG compact, or that they’d build 40 MPG compacts? If they kill the Dart and replace it with rebadged cars made without the UAW getting their pound of flesh, does that just reflect how bad of a negotiator the cretin is?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I honestly don’t remember the exact agreement but I do recall the Dart being its fruition. Previously the Fiat 500 Pop was brought in although it was not assembled in the USDM and could meet the terms of the agreement. I believe this model also approaches or exceeds 40mog highway.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Pretending the market’s current makeup is static, selling trucks as passenger cars isn’t going to be the key to profits for much longer anyway. CAFE is going up unless all the stupid people forget to vote this November. Pickups are going to be much more expensive to produce whether people keep buying them or not. Chances are that they will be sold to people that need them and people that can afford anything going forward. That may not be enough volume to pump out huge profits when they go from being the simplest vehicles on the road to having hybrid drivetrains and composite structures. Ram’s volume could vanish, particularly with their lack of development resources. It wasn’t that long ago that they were a niche player in full sized pickups, and it wouldn’t take much for them to return to their traditional role.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I think that’s a fair read of FCA’s future (although I could do without the reference to stupid people voting).

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “CAFE is going up unless all the stupid people forget to vote this November”

      If the stupid people don’t forget to vote the next First Lady will be a Slovenian fashion model.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        So the sweater in chief is hoping the comb-over in chief will kill CAFE!

        OR

        the comb-over in chief and his “hugs and kisses” new bestist buddy Putin applies tough love to the Middle East and turns it into a rather large radioactive parking lot and the price of oil sky rockets.
        Brilliant business plan!
        Where do I buy stock in FCA?

        New York ,Netherlands or England?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          CJ is convinced that the CAFE footprint system that was developed more than two years before Obama became president is due entirely to Obama.

          Obama is apparently a wimp who is so overwhelmingly powerful and forceful that he was able to control what happened in the White House years before he was president.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Don’t forget: he created the EPA as a 9 year old boy in Kenya.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            We could see all of the stupid people come out to vote but since Trump came in 2nd it does appear that the stupid people couldn’t find the right ballot box.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “unless all the stupid people forget to vote this November”

      Too late! Ha Ha!

      I already flipped my Classic Pickups calendar ahead to November and crayoned it in beneath the ’51 GMC!

      OK, it smooshed a little onto the 9th…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    PSA remains the most obvious answer, assuming that PSA is interested.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      PSA is an obvious candidate, but is PSA viable? All I have read is that they are caught between French unions and government restrictions on one side, and hyper-competitive VW on the other. How do they survive?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        PSA received Chinese money. Presumably, those investors will want a return on their investment.

        PSA and FCA are both threatened in Europe by VAG (although VW has obviously had its share of problems as of late.) Sharing drivetrain and platform development and some other programs would make some sense.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Could such a move be part of a plan where on the face of it FCA will partner/contract with PSA on certain products but really start negotiating merger behind the scenes?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Marchionne wants the scale and market share that would come from a merger. His motivations are clear — he thinks that FCA is too small, and he probably doesn’t believe that it can get the scale that it requires exclusively from organic growth.

        Whether PSA agrees, I don’t know. Judging from what I saw some months ago, PSA was open to something down the road, which suggests that PSA might be holding out because it would like to get more out of a deal than FCA was willing or able to offer at that time.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      A few years ago PSA’s factory utilization was pretty low and if that’s still the case they could easily build a couple hundred thousand more cars for FCA. Building them even without a full merger would fill factories and bring in additional needed revenue for PSA.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        You guys make a convincing argument for an FCA-PSA merger. But I think what needs to be proven is that the combination of two weak players can create a strong player. IF they don’t execute their integration well, it sounds like a replay of Chrysler/AMC or Sprint/Nextel.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Pch has had this theory for some time, it was predicated on the idea of needing to shore up Fiat’s home market of Europe against a VAG onslaught.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            If I lived in Europe and needed a C-class car, it would be very difficult to sell me on something that wasn’t a Golf or clone from Audi, Seat or Skoda.

            The Focus is OK, but why would anyone buy anything else? French style? Feeling sorry for Opel? No thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I’m not taking a position on whether they should merge, but why Marchionne would want to.

          I understand his concerns, but mergers often fail to yield all of their supposed benefits. At the end of the day, PSA and FCA both have stables of weak brands in Europe, and those problems have to be fixed, regardless.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The possible counterargument is that the Chinese investors may have wanted that capacity for themselves. They would regard the European brands and assembly locations as an asset to be leveraged.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    If I had to bet, my $ would be on Mazda. This would be a mutually beneficial relationship – Mazda, as a small carmaker, can better reap the benefits of scale and help keep its costs down. They might even benefit some from FCA’s Mexican plants and move more production there from Japan. FCA benefits from having cars to sell. As others have noted, they also have a history of cooperation on the Miata/124 spider. Perhaps they may keep up the brand differentiation by sharing only the platform and like the roadster, supply their own proprietary engines and bodywork.

    I would also throw Toyota in as a potential partner, perhaps even more likely than Nissan. Toyota does have a history of partnering with other carmakers. They worked with GM on the Prism/Corolla and Vibe/Matrix, Mazda on the 2/ia/Yaris, Subaru on the BRZ/FR-S, and BMW on the upcoming Supra/z4(???). They’ve supplied Lotus with powertrains. They also licensed their hybrid synergy drive sytem to Nissan for the first generation Altima hybrid, and that’s something FCA has a desperate need for.

    I like both Toyota and Mazda better as partners because the reality is they are not competing with FCA for customers, even in markets where they compete in the same segment. If I had to guess, the demographics of the typical buyer of a Mazda, Toyota, and Chrysler/Dodge do not typically align on the same sort of person.

    I would look at Nissan only because they have a tendency to partner with all sorts of different companies and they do have a history of working with FCA (although that project ultimately didn’t happen). Otherwise, I don’t see them as a likely partner. They already benefit from the economies of scale with Renault, and Nissan seems to be chasing the same sort of, um, “value minded” shopper that Chrysler and Dodge are for their compact/midsize cars, so they may have more friendly fire competition than Toyota and Mazda do.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I’d be very surprised to see Toyota partner with FCA. Toyota is conservative AND they take great pride in having a durable product. They sell all that they build and would make less money partnering with FCA. Besides what would they want from FCA that would benefit them? They already have “Jeep Like” global products and they don’t need Ram pickups which are the only two viable but aging products on the menu.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @Lou_BC – Probably the best thing they could offer is cheaper Mexican production capacity, especially for low margin models like the Corolla and Scion line up combined with ever improving economics of scale. Despite their pride in their quality, they still got in bed with GM and agreed to share their best selling (of all time) car with them. Not sure what they got from building GM the Corolla.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          They got a US based plant to build their cars in.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            @Scoutdude – yes, but Toyota is in the process of moving small car production to Mexico, with a new factory being built to build Corollas.

            “Toyota Motor (TM) says it is building a $1 billion factory in Mexico to manufacture a radical, new Corolla compact that will go on sale as a 2020 model.

            A combination of the low costs of doing business in Mexico, a strong regional supplier base and new Toyota architecture called TNGA should make the 2020 Corolla more competitive on price and otherwise, says Jim Lentz, CEO of the big automaker’s North American region…

            …Lentz explains the new manufacturing approach: “The northern tier” that Toyota says consists of Canada, Indiana, Kentucky and central U.S. locations will build what the automaker calls its “higher-value models,” such as the RX, the Sequoia and Highlander SUVs, the Sienna van, Avalon and Camry sedans.

            The southwest — Texas and Baja in Mexico — make Tundra and Tacoma pickups.

            And the south — the new Mexico factory and Mississippi — will build Corolla and what Toyota presumably will avoid calling “lower value” models.”

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/04/15/toyota-mexico-corolla-factory/25811997/

  • avatar
    wmba

    Nobody is going to build the Dart and 200 for Chrysler just the way they are. Hurrays all around. Far more likely is that someone will make disguised/rebadged versions of their current vehicles and slap an FCA logo on on it, just like the new Fiat 124 is a Mazda, and Scion iA is a Mazda.

    Joint co-operation is rife among carmakers already.

    Nissan already makes 250,000 Mercedes 2.0t engines in Decherd, Tennessee each year. The new Mecedes Smart Car is a Renault Twingo with a hacked short wheelbase. The new joint factory in Mexico is 50/50 Mercedes/Nissan- Renault with combined management.

    Mazda and Toyota signed an extensive co-operation agreement last May, with handshakes all around. FCA buy out Mazda? Not a hope, Japan Inc won’t let that happen and FCA has no money in the first place. Mazda is also quite profitable at the moment.

    All that’s left is the duffers in financial “trouble” themselves, Peugeot and Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi soiled its reputation twice in Japan in 2000 and 2011 with criminal acts they were successfully prosecuted for, and Peugeot is pretty desperate – they were back in Iran within 24 hours of sanctions being lifted. Iran used to be Peugeot CKD country.

    Cannot imagine either would want to buy and move thousands of tons of Dart/200 production equipment though. Maybe Mitsubishi might, but it’d be simpler to produce their own platform rather than the ancient wide Guilia lash-up underpinning the two cars. At least Mitsubishi makes the same basic engine block as the Tigershark, legacy from World Engine days. Hyundai also uses the 2.4l from that tie-up.

    Mahindra bought Ssanyong and we now wait with bated breath at what that lot will turn out. Based on past performance, decades is the answer.

    Suzuki are much more likely to want to keep independent after their VW experience and they’re #1 in India and intend to stay that way. Now with diesel under fire in India, their need for one like they were going to get from VW is diminished.

    Who would actually buy the Dart and 200 production equipment, move it elsewhere and knock out Chinese copies rather than rebadge their own gear? About 83 crazy Chinese car companies each with the brainpower of the ones that have tried to keep SAAB going.

    Another Mad Marchionne moment. He tries to dangle carrots that are old and limp, not fresh, assumes the county fair barker pose, and switches on the BS to flog something nobody wants.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      wmba,
      I think you may have answered the wrong question. Nobody is asking who will build today’s 200/Dart. The question is: now that FCA has announced they will not be developing future models of the 200/Dart, what do Dodge and Chrysler sell in the midsize and small car markets in the US?

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I get FCA is bailing on the compact/midsize sedans. What about subcompacts which is basically the entire Fiat brand? Are there replacements for the 500 and Panda and Punto?

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    Short-term sourcing econoboxes isn’t going to kill them. This whole ‘oil is gonna skyrocket’ argument is true….but it isn’t happening for a minimum of 18 months and really, lets be honest here. With the Iran deal settled and Venezuela trying to figure itself out oil is going to be in a glut for atleast 2-5 years (basically it’s a question of if SA will go into the red on its savings OR will they shut down capacity to try and stop the glut…which will eat into their savings faster.)

    We’re awash in oil for atleast a whole product cycle, the question isn’t who they partner with, it’s what they do with the excess cash to make it an investment. It’s like taking a year off of paying a debt, you’re going to have to get around to paying it but what you do with the year of savings (shoring up the business/building an edition) is what makes the difference. My guess is either Nissan/PSA or Mazda. Probably the former rather than the latter if only because they want some differentiation from Toyota and it would fit their showroom a bit better.

    But lets face it, FCA is better served either consolidating Dodge with Fiat through NA/Euro name swaps and killing off Chrysler for a real luxury marquee while expanding Jeep into every possible CUV/SUV market it can find, even if they have to develop two different models into the same slot. It’s clear they can steal all the sales from the BoF under full-size and get a ton through their unibody lines.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I think it’s best that Chrysler steers clear from Mitsubishi.

    Out of all the Japanese brands, they’re the least reliable. Their future as an automaker seems bleak.

    For most people these days, Mitsubishi means imported HVAC products–namely, their popular split system heat pumps and ACs.

    On that note, I’m beginning to feel less hopeful for Chrysler’s future. It seems Jeep and Ram will be shopped to other manufacturers with Dodge and Chrysler disappearing. It’s likely that Ram was separated from Dodge to facilitate this. Chrysler will be down to two models if the 200 is axed and not replaced.

    Innovation that this company is historically known for is now nonexistent and has been since a certain point in time during the Daimler days. The last major hurrah were the release of the original LX cars. Nothing much happened after that. The cars are decent, but there hasn’t been anything exciting like the ’90s LH/JGC/Ram/Viper/etc,’60s/70s muscle, or even the evolution of the ’80s K-car.

    This will be a really sad day if Jeep and Ram are sold off and Chrysler/Dodge disappears. Whether you like Mopar or not, you have to admit that it has been a true innovator through all these years.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    Rumour has it that Sergio asked his aftermarket parts group to substitute the 300 bra with a sweater..

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Had Volkswagen not screwed the pooch so badly and be forced to squirrel away every penny they can scape together, this would be a perfect opportunity for them to rebrand some additional MQB product and sell them stateside and make a play for what Volkswagen needs most of all: Jeep and Ram.

    Oh, but wait, all those billions they could have used to acquire Jeep just went to paying fines, lawsuits and buybacks.

    Next…

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Mazda/Fiat 124 project made sense because it was a small scale collaboration for a niche model, and from what I hear ended up being a lot of pain for Mazda (lots of change on a whim, etc). I doubt they’d want to do a larger collaboration with FCA for their bread and butter models, especially now that they can work more closely with Toyota.

    Renault-Nissan sounds like a better bet, but do they have the excess capacity to do this, and would they really want to do this with a partner as fickle as FCA?

    I doubt PSA has the strength and resources left to make the gamble in federalizing their cars.
    Ditto Mitsubishi, who doesn’t even have the resources to build their own compact/midsize cars anymore. US market Dodge Attitude at best.

    SAIC? They now have access to most of the mainstream GM platforms, financial resources, and ambition. Maybe they can use FCA to test their waters in the US market? On the otherhand, they can also use Chevy/Buick/Cadillac for that purpose.

    My guess, FCA will continue to sell Dodge Dart/Chrysler 200 well past their expiry date until their next bankruptcy. A Chinese or an Indian firm will purchase the Jeep and Maserati brand and discard the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      PSA doesn’t need to sell a single Peugeot or Citroen in the United States in order to cut a deal with FCA.

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        @Pch101 – If FCA is completely abandoning the US car market, sure, but otherwise someone would need to foot the substantial cost of redesigning their cars to meet US standards. I doubt PSA has the funds right now, nor do they have the experience (at least not in the last 25 years).

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          You’re not following this at all.

          If FCA merges or forms a partnership with PSA, then they could share in the design and have PSA produce different models on behalf of both of them. It wouldn’t happen today, it probably wouldn’t involve existing PSA models and FCA would have a role in developing them. It reduces R&D costs for both of them and allows PSA to utilize capacity while FCA reduces or realigns its own production.

          • 0 avatar
            Varezhka

            I’m not sure what I’m not following. What Marchionne is looking for is not a joint development, but someone else to design a car for them. For that, I’m not sure PSA is a very good candidate.

            Even if there is a joint development, we have already seen what a two less than competitive automakers working together would end up looking like. Mitsubishi-Chrysler partnership for one, Fiat-Chrysler merger another.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If that’s the scenario, then FCA can pay PSA for the some or the entire design process.

            The point remains that it doesn’t have to involve rebadging existing Peugeots and Citroens for Americans. No need to retroactively federalize anything.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Geely or maybe even Chery of China, much cheaper cost to produce and either would make a good candidate to take over FCA if FCA goes bankrupt.

  • avatar

    I think the real question is who is going to buy Jeep from the remains of FCA?

  • avatar

    In truth Chrysler really should not be around anyway. Besides Consumer Reports ranks Jeeps in last place. According to the publication Chrysler suv’s lack refinement and have poor reliability compared to the competition. As you can see Chrysler has nothing to lose but to keep both their rubbish cars and trucks in production.

    I guess the guy at autoextremist was right Sergio is indeed an idiot

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Good grief, Chrysler, I’m sick and tired of hearing your every-few-years-down-in-the-dumps crying for over 40 years now. Enough is enough!

    My feeling is that’s it ‘way past time for Chrysler to just finally go away permanently. No one will miss them.

    Sell the Jeep line to someone who can build these things reliably.

    There are ‘way too many automakers out there and too few customers, and the customers that are there are, for the most part, are spending their money on far better vehicles.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Sergio’s team pales in comparison to Guido’s team during the 1980’s. Lee Iacocca made badge engineer an art form. For example, why do the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart use two different body shells?

    First up, FCA needs to fix the problems with their current crop of small cars before building them as opposed to warranty. The Chrysler 200 alone outsells all of Alfa Romeo put together.

    I keep hearing that the Chrysler 200 is good car, but….

    There is money to reboot the 200 – but my guess its being flushed down a FIAT / Alfa Romeo toilet. Dump the present Dart and replace it with a rebadged 200. Call it a Neon.

  • avatar
    jfbar167

    If Suzuki was not still “gunshy” about the VW raping, they can update the Kizashi with Chrysler wings and take my money.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think Mazda seems like a logical partner. FCA will become a truck/SUV company and Mazda will build their cars. All they need is a small and midsized car. Mazda makes no trucks so there will not be much overlap except perhaps in the crossover segment. Chrysler could use some of those as well at this point frankly. Problem could be though that Mazda doesn’t have production capacity to pick up a few hundred thousand sales per year.

    I might finally buy a Chrysler if this happened.

  • avatar

    Why not use the platform of the brand-new Fiat Tipo or Alfa Guilia as the base for a new Dart or 200? The Alfa Guilia is rear wheel drive, but it’s part of FCA, no?

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The Tipo basically *is* a Dodge Dart.

      • 0 avatar
        Magnusmaster

        Not quite, Tipo is SUSW and Dart is CUSW. Also the Tipo is a compact, Dart is mid-size. The Fiat rebadge of the Dart is the Viaggio, currently sold only in China.
        Fiat could rebadge the Tipo, which is pretty competitive, but it might be too small for American tastes.
        The Giulia platform is probably way too expensive. Fiat’s only choice, if they don’t rely on another manufacturer, is to develop a new product on the CUSW platform.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    PSA platform + Chinese mfg + bargain basement pricing + Dodge dealer network could work.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Chinese or even India’s Tata would be could candidates to take over FCA. Chrysler has an extensive network of dealerships throughout the US and Canada. This would be good for a company like Geely or Tata and would give them a foothold in the North American market. There are only so many times that the Government can rescue Chrysler. The same is true if GM gets into anymore financial trouble. We do not need to be bailing out any more automobile corporations and we should not be financially propping up any corporation.

  • avatar
    eliminator

    That’s a shame but looks like it’s Dodge’s euthanasia
    For Chrysler brand it’s not much better
    Fiat did the same with Lancia and Alfa in Europe long ago: few new (or no) products, badge engineering, poor quality control, too much dependency on one market (Italy)
    They really have “the” recepy how to kill a brand
    BTW they probably think car brands are like toothpaste brands
    RIP Dodge
    RIP Chrysler
    RIP Lancia
    RIP Alfa Romeo
    Great automobiles of the past


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