Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has a handful of brand management on his plate, as he aligns his two firms for the future. Merging Lancia and Chrysler was an obvious move; creating one full-line brand (albeit with different names from market to market) is a lot better than trying to keep two distinct brands, although even with their powers combined, Chrysler/Lancia is going to have an uphill struggle. With Lancia “taken care of,” the biggest problem on Fiat’s plate is Alfa Romeo, which has reportedly lost €200m-€400m per year for the last decade.
“In Europe, Lancia is an undersized, underdeveloped brand, with nothing bigger than the Delta. Chrysler, which has a true global reach, has nothing smaller. Put them together and you have a full line-up,” is the short version of Sergio Marchionne’s plans for the Chrysler and Lancia brands. The surprising bit [via Autocar]: “we could see the two converge as early as the end of the year.” For Americans this means that some of the holes in Chrysler’s lineup could be plugged up by rebadged Lancias along the lines of the Delta shown at the Chrysler stand at the Detroit Auto Show. And hey, who are we to say no to all-new Chrysler products? Goodness knows the brand needs something new besides special edition lipstick on the same old pigs. There’s only one hitch…
Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.
The very first post-bankruptcy, Chrysler-brand advertisement was a true re-badge, literally replacing Lancias with Chryslers in the exact same advertisement. The second spot, which we ran yesterday, was a vague, year-end spot emphasizing history and heritage while showing only one modern car. Though it’s not a strict re-badge like the Lancia ad, the new Chrysler ad is, at the very least, based on some serious platform-sharing. Specifically the ad above, an Italian-language spot for the Fiat Group, is thematically identical to the Chrysler ad.
The AFP reports that Chrysler is “currently reconsidering how it uses major auto shows for revealing new vehicles and concepts,” by way of explaining why Chrysler has “nothing new” for the Detroit Auto Show. Spokesman Rick Denau explains “we’d like to do things closer to the on-sale date of the vehicles and most of our new stuff isn’t coming until the second half of the year.” In reality, Chrysler is pushing the limits of the possible with its attempt to re-work the Chrysler and Dodge lineups in record time. Except for the new 300 and Grand Cherokee which made ill-fated debuts in Chrysler’s “viability plan” Chrysler’s refreshed products won’t be ready for public consumption until shortly before they go on sale, and it’s still likely that some of those release dates could be pushed back. In the meantime, Fiat will rebadge a Lancia as a Chrysler for the Detroit show. Because that’s almost as good as showing a new model, and it’s certainly as good as it gets for Chrysler right now.
In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with Automotive News [sub], Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne got an awkward question from AN’s Luca Ciferri.
Your five-year plan forecasts that Chrysler’s operating margin will peak at 7 to 7.7 percent of revenues in 2014. In November 2006, you predicted that Fiat Group Automobiles’ operating margin would peak at 4.5 to 5.3 percent in 2010. How could Chrysler’s post-global recession peak profitability be 50 percent higher than Fiat Group’s pre-global recession assumptions?
See this ad for Lancia and/or world peace? Now check out the first post-bankruptcy Chrysler brand advertisement here. Noticing any similarities? It seems that there’s trouble brewing in the Fiat family, and “Don” Marchionne has strongly suggested that the new boy to the family, Chrysler, could take over some of Lancia’s profile. Automotive News [sub] reports that the Chrysler brand will appear on Lancias (A.K.A rebadging) in many international markets, and that Lancias could become a niche marque. (Read More…)