For the fourth time since 2004 Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is reported to have devised a new plan to revive the Alfa Romeo brand, this one focused on premium vehicles made in Italy for export to the world. Alfa hasn’t made a profit in the nine years since Marchionne took the reigns at Fiat.
Marchionne’s latest plan for Alfa will be based on a new rear wheel drive architecture (with all wheel drive variants) that will be developed by a dedicated group of engineers at Maserati in Modena, headed by Philippe Krieff. Krieff reports directly to Harald Wester, Fiat-Chrysler chief technical officer and CEO of Alfa and Maserati. (Read More…)
Though Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne had previously said that an initial public offering of Chrysler stock could take place by the end of 2013, the Italian automaker announced that stock sale will not take place before the new year. ”The Board of Directors of Chrysler Group … has determined that it will not be practicable for Chrysler Group to launch and complete an initial public offering prior to the end of 2013,” Fiat said in a statement.
Another day, another turnaround strategy from Sergio Marchionne. The plan, which won’t be revealed until April, reportedly includes a rear-wheel drive architecture as a key element, with enough flexibility to be used in everything from Alfa to Dodge vehicles.
Acknowledging that a number of mistakes were made in the development and launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne vowed to learn from those mistakes and never repeat them.
“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it. We’re never going to take a plant down and be out of the market for over a year,” Marchionne told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday. In August of 2012, Chrysler shut down the body shop section of their Toledo assembly facility and spent a half billion dollars to prepare for Cherokee production. “We were just naked in 2013,” in the mid-sized SUV segment after production of the Jeep Liberty ended in 2012. The Liberty had been the Jeep brand’s third best seller at 75,483 units, about 5% of Chrysler’s total sales volume in 2012. (Read More…)
On Friday, Sergio Marchionne, who heads Fiat and Chrysler, told reporters in Milan, Italy that he hasn’t gotten any closer to making a deal with the UAW’s retiree health care trust for Fiat to purchase the VEBA’s shares in Chrysler and take full ownership of the Auburn Hills automaker. The UAW health care trust owns 41.5% of Chrysler and the two parties have not been able to agree on a price. The trust is demanding $5 billion for its shares. Marchionne told the LaPresse news agency, concerning the UAW trust’s suggested price, “They should buy a lottery ticket.” (Read More…)
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne may not be fond of changing up his outfits, but he certainly has no problem mixing up product plans. The latest news out of Auburn Hills suggests that Chrysler will be extending the lifespan of some key products for up to another 5 years.
The new diesel engine that is expected to arrive in the Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee (which, we hear, has been pushed back a few times already) has had an interesting life. The 3.0L twin-turbo diesel engine never was intended for Chrysler or Fiat products, but rather, Cadillac.
In the compact segment, GM and Ford are having no trouble moving metal. The Cruze is coming off of a record month, and the Focus is slightly ahead of the Cruze year-to-date. So what about the Dodge Dart? Sales of the Dart have been incredibly weak; in a segment where the top sellers can move between 20,000 and 30,000 units monthly, the Dart has barely cracked 8,000 units per month. Not a good sign when Sergio Marchionne himself said “if you’re a serious car maker, and you can’t make it into this segment, you’re doomed.”
The Dart’s biggest competitor may not even be in the compact segment, but in the the very same showroom it lives in.
It appears that the Chrysler Town & Country has won the minivan Hunger Games, as the latest report from the Windsor Star claims that the T&C will be the lone minivan offering from Chrysler when the next generation van goes on sale in 2015.
“Italian Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said he asked automaker Fiat to stay in Italy after its planned merger with Chrysler, which has led labor unions to fear it plans to move its headquarters to the United States.”
The decision by former Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed, approved by the company’s product planners and subsequently reaffirmed by Sergio Marchionne and his team of Fiat managers, to produce two compact Jeep SUVs, the Compass and the Patriot, has always confused me. Why spend money developing two different cars based on the same platform for the same market segment? Wouldn’t it make more sense to make one good car instead of two not quite as good cars?
Of course in the corporate mind at Chrysler, the Compass and the Patriot were not really supposed to compete with each other. The Patriot was supposed to be a compact Jeep for traditional Jeep owners, with styling derived from the XJ Cherokee. The Compass was supposed to be the compact Jeep for women people who’d never consider buying a Jeep. It had rounder, softer shapes, and was the first Jeep to be sold that could not be bought in a configuration that would earn it Jeep’s coveted “Trail Rated” branding. (Read More…)
With the Fiat brand looking to move into the “premium small” space, where its 500 and Panda vehicles currently thrive, there will likely be an opportunity for a low-cost brand within the Fiat empire, and Sergio Marchionne is already investigating the possibility of a low-cost Fiat built outside of Europe, that would go head-to-head with Dacia and other similar products.
The latest sign that the product planners and marketers at Fiat and Chrysler have muffed the launch of the Dodge Dart is the announcement that their Dundee, Michigan engine plant that builds the Dart’s turbocharged 1.4 liter Multiair FIRE engine has fired or reassigned 58 employees and is eliminating a second shift. The shift reduction follows remarks at the 2013 NAIAS media preview by Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne blaming poor Dart sales on the powertrain offerings. “The powertrain solutions we made available to that car, in today’s world, in hindsight, were not the ideal solution,” Mr. Marchionne said. Consumers have been disappointed in sluggish performance of the Dart. TTAC reviewer Michael Karesh said that 1.4 L turbo motor was “soft south of 3,000 rpm”.
Self-concious auto shoppers looking for a cheap, Italian-made vehicle need look no further than Jeep; Fiat announced plans for a $1.3 billion investment in an Italian plant to build a subcompact crossover for Fiat and Jeep.