Another day, another flip-flop on future product plans over at Casa di Marchionne. The latest news comes from Italian unions, who claim that the Maserati Levante will be built at the Mirafiori plant in Italy, rather than at Jeep’s plant in Detroit.
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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.
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.
The long awaited replacements for the Chrysler minivan twins are still at least 21 months away, according to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Fans of HBO’s hit show The Wire will remember The New Day Co-Op, a coalition of Baltimore heroin dealers who band together in part to get better deals on their drug supply and remain strong against law enforcement and rival gangsters. Half a world a way, a similar proposal was floated by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, but never came to pass.
With a CAW labor contract expected to be announced today, Fiat has confirmed that cars built in Italy will be exported to markets like the United States, as Fiat looks beyond its ailing home market for growth.