By on February 12, 2019

A dated product lineup, questionable fuel economy across the board, a general need for some reworking. These are all issues with Fiat Chrysler’s offerings in North America. Today we’ll try and come up with some solutions.

Today’s topic was generated by news yesterday of the $77 million in penalties FCA paid to the NHTSA, as its vehicles were not efficient enough to comply with fuel economy targets. But that’s not the only issue. Before we get into the weeds, let’s have a look at FCA’s current offerings on North American shores.

Dodge

  • Challenger
  • Charger
  • Durango
  • Grand Caravan
  • Journey

Chrysler

  • 300
  • Pacifica

Ram

  • Ram trucks
  • ProMaster

Jeep

  • Wrangler
  • Renegade
  • Cherokee
  • Grand Cherokee
  • Compass

Fiat

  • 500
  • 500X
  • 500L
  • 124 Spider

Alfa Romeo

  • 4C
  • Giulia
  • Stelvio

Maserati

  • Ghibli
  • Quattroporte
  • Levante
  • GranTurismo

FCA has more than one brand with an incomplete lineup, and several vehicles which are past due for replacement. Fiat sales have fizzled these past few years, and Chrysler hangs on with just two products on offer — one of which is fairly old. Jeep and Ram are company standouts, both of which are doing well. But that’s not enough. Alfa Romeo and Maserati will never bring the big volume FCA needs, so where do you begin?

Does it make sense to cull a brand or two, consolidating product offerings to save cash? How about refreshing products — do the Journey (successful abroad) and Charger (not) need replacements similar to their current forms? Is it too late for the super-lux Grand Wagoneer to land at Jeep showrooms?

Which route would you take to safeguard FCA’s future?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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129 Comments on “QOTD: A Solution for FCA’s Future?...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Maybe their aging lineup is a feature, not a bug. Comparing the lessons learned at Ford, GM, and FCA, I think a 10+ year lifecycle for a product is going to be the new normal as the expense of engineering new models continues to rise. This is especially true for global, modular platforms which are the basis of perhaps a dozen (or more) vehicles.

    Whether it was on purpose or not, like the killing of the small car, FCA has found itself ahead of the curve

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      A factor that specifically drove me to the older Town & Country over a Pacifica ended up being the “old” tech: no auto start/stop, a 6 speed automatic where I have the ability to hold gears, an older implementation of the Pentastar spec’d for good old 5W-20 oil. The Pacifica is a much “tighter” more solid feeling chassis no doubt and I miss that as I creak and crash over bumps, but between the features and the savings, I chose old-school.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        I’m with you. I keep my cars so long that anything “new” is an improvement anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Yeah, thought the same thing when I bought my 2016 Grand Caravan. Until the Pentastar “tick” showed up, requiring a replacement of the rockers and camshaft. And then the coil packs. And then the locking mechanism for one of the sliding doors that prevented the door from properly locking (THAT made me feel really great to find out that we’d been driving around in a vehicle that wasn’t securely locked). Now I just sit there looking at it, wondering what the “next” $1500 (or more) bill will be…

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yeesh, well I’m glad I bought an extended bumper to bumper warranty then I suppose. My brother’s friend has run a ’13 C/V up to 200k miles of city driving and many hours of idling as his work vehicle, original trans, finally has what seems to be a weak lifter.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt51

      +2

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      +3. The Dodge/Jeep/Chrysler lineup is aging a bit, but the platforms have been updated regularly with new technology and propulsion. The same could be said for most Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the same class.

      The new Wrangler, Unlimited, and soon to arrive Gladiator will keep the cash flowing on the Jeep side. The Grand Cherokee remains a stellar SUV.

      The Chrysler Pacifica in Hybrid trim is a green sleeper and drives amazingly well, not to mention that it can get 40-50 electric miles on a single charge before the petrol engine kicks in.

      Dodge is selling enough Challengers and Chargers due to an American muscle car renaissance. The Durango remains a solid 3 row crossover. And Ram has the category leading half-ton pickup truck.

      I couldn’t care less about Fiat, Maserati, and Alfa. They wont make a notable dent in US/Canada FCA numbers, and if they vanished I dont think anyone would notice. But FCA hardly needs major fixes, especially when compared to other large auto manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      This, keeping good platforms for a long time just makes sense, good exterior/interior/power train updates are much more interesting then constant “All new platform, only used 2 pieces from outgoing model!!” Cars that look 80% like the previous generation.

      FCA imo needs 3 things, a Jeep SUV based on the Ram 1/2 or 3/4 (depending how serious they are about off-road capabilities). A Set of Ram SUVs based on 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks, with all engine options available on trucks and base level trims. GM has essentially surrendered this segment with plastic bumper, 2 engine option, 1/2 ton only, loaded up models. There is definitely space in the market for a 3/4 Cummins SUV.
      Lastly FCA needs a V8 Wrangler and Gladiator, that’s a huge untapped market for people that need or want a V8.

      Updated Hemi with aluminum block probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but I’ll accept iron blocks if it means we can keep they’re current lineup.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Drop Fiat entirely from the US (irrelevant brand that doesn’t sell), not sure about Alfa and Maserati as far as how much those might be costing them to maintain a presence. Sad to say (as a new Chrysler owner), but Chrysler as a brand with their two cars is kind of neither here nor there, although both the Pacifica and 300 are good products that sell well around here in the Midwest. The old Caravan and Journey continue to dominate the landscape as well, people like bang for the buck, although the rest of the Dodge brand is definitely more performance oriented these days. Ram most definitely needs a midsizer (I’d welcome a Mitsu L200 rebadge as implied in the title photo), and maybe even a compact Ram 700 type product? Jeep is pulling the whole company along and it’s pretty incredible to see. Strong brand with a CUV in every size category, never mind the middling quality.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Would anyone even notice if FCA dropped Alfa FIAT and Maserati? Also, if I’m not mistaken there’s already a small truck/ute that FCA sells in other markets, perhaps they could bring that here as well. FCA’s strengths are trucks, minivans, 4X4s/SUVs/crossovers and muscle cars. I would think the focus should stay there

      EDIT: The top pic is the FIAT small truck I’m thinking of

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Top pic is Mitsubishi L200 Triton, a midsizer that competes against the Hilux, Amarok, Ranger, etc globally. Fiat makes a FWD unibody based trucklet that I’ve seen branded as a Ram 700 in Mexico, that would be a shoe-in assuming safety regulations and such could be met and it were priced aggressively enough (Chicken Tax is also a question here unless they build it Stateside or in Mexico).

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        “Would anyone even notice if FCA dropped Alfa FIAT and Maserati? ”

        So, business as before but liberated from Sergio’s expensive addiction to Italian brands? Sounds good if Fiat is willing to give up on Make Italy Great Again and just bank the cash from truly US vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Drop Fiat entirely from the US …”
      — Sorry, disagree with that entirely. It is a niche brand, certainly, but the 500 originals (not the L or X) are amazingly fun cars. The L and X are derivative cars that don’t offer the same kind of fun because they’re so much bigger and heavier and simply don’t appeal. Had Fiat brought the Panda to the states as it was, rather than trying to make it look like a 500, I’m betting it would have been a hit in the same way the 500 was. After all, the Panda did have some level of off-road chops–certainly no worse than the original Willys jeep, though the Jeeps themselves are far more capable today than they were 75 years ago.

      Sergio relied on the iconic look to carry the brand and while keeping the 500 itself available, the rest of the lineup needs to give homage to the other ‘old school’ models. For instance, the Dart could have easily passed as a 128 with only minor cosmetic differences. The Panda could have come across as it was and the Strada, both wagon and pickup, could also have come across as they were.

      The brands need to express their identity and receive some advertising. Commercials for the Fiat 124 are nearly nonexistent. Commercials for the Alfa 4c ARE nonexistent–even on dedicated car channels like MotorTrend TV. And when’s the last time you saw a commercial for ANY Maserati? Sales are down because marketing is effectively nothing. Under their new CEO, Fiat •should• find a way to make itself appeal to more people. I’ll grant that not everybody wants a tiny car, wagon, CUV or truck, but enough do that they should be able to have some choice. FCA has proven they can appeal to a broad range of people but they really need to address EVERY market segment and not leave so many out in the cold. Fiat, with only a little effort, could easily handle the low-price, sub-$25K group and have most of their starting prices in the sub-$20K range. Dodge should run in the $30k range and Chrysler and Alfa in the $40k, sharing it as one is pure lux while the other is mid-level sport. Maserati picks up after Chrysler for sport lux. Note that all of these prices would be for base models with the probability of a $15k-$20k spread between base and fully-equipped versions. Alfa and up could see an even broader spread.

      In other words, under their new management, they could restore much of what made Fiat itself the brand it used to be, with modern reliability. The 500 was their economy model which is now a very fun car to drive but it is not the ultimate Fiat; the X1/9 needs to return to ride beside the 128 while more utility based models NOT styled to look like a 500 need to return. The other brands simply need better marketing–more exposure. Alfa is almost never seen on TV, marketing or racing, so simply doesn’t attract attention or sales. The same is true for almost all of their other vehicles–trucks and Jeeps getting probably 95% of the marketing budget. Change the ratio and I think you’d see more sales of their other brands.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        That’s a whole lot of words, but the fact is that is that Fiat doesn’t bring much to the table for US consumers, and sales have reflected that in full. I’m all for having more choices, but I just don’t see them with much of a future here unless gas gets back to $4/gal in a hurry.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          This. FIAT currently does not play in a meaningful segment in the US. Alfa is hamstrung by the fact that the brand really only matters to “Car People”. They can’t profit from the buyer who just wants to be seen in a brand (Many, not all but many BMW and Mercedes Buyers). The 124 lives in a niche that just doesn’t exist. Go peruse the Miata forums and see how many people are saying “You know, I love this car…I just wish it was a little heavier and softer”. It pains me because I love Alfa, but they just arent going to make it here without a more serious investment than FCA seems willing to make. At this point I think It would make more sense to use FIAT and Alfa products to plug the gaping holes in the Chrysler lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It’s a shame to say that Fiat needs to die, but it probably does. If they want to attempt a save, I’d say they should stuff as much horsepower and handling as they can in every single model, drop the cheapo entry-level models, and try to go after Mini/GTI buyers. A 500X Abarth, in particular, would be terrific – I love the car’s looks and personality, but there just isn’t enough performance there. I think the “Abarth Everything” approach should have been the original strategy; instead, they went after traditional cheap-car buyers, and those folks weren’t going to take a chance on Fix It Again Tony.

      As far as Chrysler is concerned, let’s just speak respectfully of the dead and leave it at that.

      Alfa is definitely worth saving – the sales figures prove it. If they keep Alfa, then Maserati needs to also stay around.

      Hopefully, Alfa/Maserati/Fiat does stay around – there’s a ton of valid criticism of the lineups, but no one can argue they’re interesting cars, and we need more of that.

      • 0 avatar
        quickson

        I just don’t see Fiat as ABLE to stay around. Yeah, they make some fun cars in the 124 and 500 Abarth/Abarth Cabrio. You can pick up brand new 2017s of either model at a dealership near you! Good news is they’re begging you to take them for 60% MSRP. Bad news is they lose another 40% of value the second you’re off the lot in a 3-yr-old used car.

        I’ve never felt bad for a car dealership in my life until I drove by the McKinney Fiat. Sometimes I wonder when they’ll get some “outside help” to come in and smash up all their cars like those kids in Houston. At this point, anything done to end Fiat’s life in America is a mercy.

        And I say this as a person who LIKES Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I spent significant time in a Giulia. The US Automotive landscape would be a blander place without it. It is a spectacular vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I believe that Alfa actually has a shot at being a contender in the US market, especially as it matures into being a legitimate competitor to the increasingly blandified German 3.

  • avatar
    jatz

    That ugly, insectoid POS is polluting the nice woods.

  • avatar
    NoID

    As for the lineup itself, the not-long-for-our-shores Fiat brand needs to be divvied up among the other brands. Chrysler could take the 500X and a (seriously beautified) 500L, Dodge could take the 124 Spider and 500. I’d love to see the 500L Wagon offered here but I know that’s a pipe dream.

    Ram has room for either a unibody mini-truck or a metric ton mid-sizer, but I don’t think there are enough buyers for both of these AND the Gladiator. For personal reasons I’d love love LOVE for them to introduce a 7-seat version of the ProMaster City a-la Ford’s Transit Connect Wagon, but I’m not holding my breath. The 7-year-old in me wants a Ram Power Wagon TRX, but I think such a vehicle would get single-digit fuel economy numbers so it will only exist in my dreams and in BroDozer magazines.

    Dodge needs to axe the Caravan (already planned I believe) and replace the Journey with something with true sporting pretensions to complete the transformation back into the performance arm of FCA. Rumor has it that this is also on the table, but it was on the table for the 2014-2018 plan and clearly that never happened. The Charger/Challenger need a refresh/remodel to remain competitive (at least from a weight perspective), and on such a large platform I don’t see why they can’t fit in some electrification. Hopefully they can steal some Alfa hardware to further justify that brand’s existence here.

    Jeep just needs to keep Jeeping.

    Chrysler needs the aforementioned shot in the arm by taking the Fiat 500X and Fiat 500L. The electric people mover thing from CES/Detroit last year needs to come online, and the 300 should participate in whatever refresh/remodel the LX platform is receiving. With competition from Ford and GM falling by the wayside I think there will be enough demand for the 300 to keep it rolling. Long-term, it obviously needs more SUVs so long as they are sufficiently differentiated from Jeep.

    Alfa just needs to keep being Italian BMW, and Maserati needs to execute their electrification strategy to become Italian Tesla. There’s room for both to thrive.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Oh, and Dodge needs a halo car that can actually turn.

      Please. I love brutish brawlers and Hellcatting all the things, but I miss Viper.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Dodge needs to axe the Caravan”

      I dunno, it’s still a top seller and meets a demand for a cheap family hauler in much of Canada and rural and Midwest America, and I’ll assume FCA makes money on each one they sell. Same question regarding the Journey. Tooling must have paid for itself years ago, just keep running until said tooling wears out. But if the question is whether the sporty/aggressive focused Dodge brand should have cheap family haulers, that is valid. The excessive cost of bringing a brand back from the dead aside, these two would make sense as Plymouths.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        I suppose there’s a case to be made for badging the Caravan as a T&C and adding it to the Chrysler brand, but by the time they wind down the Caravan in a few years I think the Pacifica tooling/investment would be paid for and they can begin to sell more down-market flavors to satisfy budget shoppers.

        There was a time when very active rumors of a CUV based on the Pacifica platform were swirling, but I’ve not heard anything for a while. Something like the old Pacifia (maybe they could name it the Town & Country to complete the face swap) would fit into the market well.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Superseding the Grand Caravan with the Pacifica is an inevitability of course, but in the mean time, having just shopped and bought in this space, it is hardly surprising that the older platform sells as well as it does: You can buy an ex-rental 1-2 year old GC in GT trim with heated leather+steering wheel, stow and go, window shades, uConnect and DVD, etc for $16,500. Similar year/mileage Pacifica Touring-Ls to get heated leather seats (also ex-fleet) are $23,500 on the low end. Quite a gap!

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Chrysler – Continue as the upscale versions of the other brands. Introduce luxurious versions of Jeep CUVs. This can also be the brand where hybrid/electric options can appear first. Reintroduce the 300 SRT for those who want to go fast but a bit more understated than the Charger.

    Dodge – Rebrand the lower trim Pacificas as Grand Caravans. Rebrand the 124 Spider as a Dodge. Bring out new versions of the Journey and Durango, and eventually a lower cost version of the Tahoe competitor. It’s not enough to be a performance car brand anymore, you need utility vehicles. They can keep the performance/blue collar image, but there is room for larger vehicles in that brand as well.

    Jeep – Get the full size Ram-based Wagoneer out ASAP. Otherwise there’s not much to argue with here.

    Ram – Ditto. A midsize truck may or may not be a good idea, but that market is getting crowded and I remain skeptical of its long term viability. Stick with the Gladiator for now. Bring out an all-new HD truck with class competitive rear seat space. Bring out a new big block gas engine to compete with the Ford 7.3L, this engine could also see use in a Charger/Challenger.

    Fiat – Discontinue immediately. The 124 can become a Dodge as stated earlier. The rest of the vehicles are redundant with Jeep’s offerings or in dying segments, and can be safely dropped.

    Alfa – I’m kind of stumped as to the purpose of this brand. It seems to me that it would have been better to introduce the Guilia as the entry level Maserati rather than as a brand most Americans haven’t heard of. The vehicles themselves are apparently great, but I think anything here could be safely sold as a newly upmarket Chrysler, or as the lower end of Maserati.

    Maserati – This should remain the high end luxury and performance brand. Halo cars should be sold here. A luxury version of the large BOF Wagoneer could be sold as a Maserati. A true sports car could be introduced too since there is no longer a need to worry about stepping on Ferrari’s toes. If any of the rumors about a new Viper are true, I would rather it be sold as as Maserati to avoid disrupting the V10/manual/back to basics nature of every Viper so far.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I think Chrysler’s brand has to be technology, not luxury. There’s not much room for luxury in FCA’s stable with Maserati, Alfa, and premium Jeep offerings. But a “premium” feel with the best technology would certainly differentiate Chrysler from Dodge.

      Maybe that’s just semantics though.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I think Alfa should be absorbed into Chrysler and/or Maserati and I think the premium Jeeps should become Chryslers. But if they aren’t willing to do that, I think Chrysler as the technology leader makes some sense too.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Alfa and Maserati are two of the most storied marques in auto history, and I think that heritage is well worth preserving, even if they don’t generate blockbuster sales numbers. Hell, Alfa is going full-bore into F1 again and Sauber is now “Alfa Romeo Racing”, so I think the marque remains solidly relevant.

      I agree that Fiat could go, but I’d rather see the 124 continue to be sold as a “classic” Italian roadster than go Dodge. Yes, I am well-aware that it is a badge-engineered Miata, but it DOES have a Fiat engine at least, and offers at least some Italian “charm” which would be a shame to lose (I’m afraid Chrysler/Dodge would screw this up completely and we/Hertz would end up with a 2-seater Sebring). Give it to Alfa instead, as that seems like a much more natural fit for this car, plus Alfa could benefit from having a more entry-level sports car in its lineup for those who can’t/won’t pony-up for a 4C.

      Besides, BMW, MB, and Audi are sort of “old hat” at this point (they seem just as common as Camrys and Fusions where I live), and it’s refreshing that there are some legitimate alternatives now available. I find the Giulia to be MUCH more interesting and appealing than the ubiquitous A4/3-series/C-class, and no one (except maybe Porsche) is building anything as remotely interesting or beautiful as the Stelvio.

      Maserati should stick around as well. All they really need to do is address some of the ergonomic quirks and a few fit and finish issues and they could be a viable alternative to the higher-end German products. (As is the case with Alfa, I think the current Maseratis are a lot more attractive and “lust-worthy” than their German counterparts.)

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Does Alfa have any heritage in this country though? I think most non-enthusiasts would be hard pressed to name a single Alfa vehicle, past or present, or know what country it came from. I don’t know the economics of whether racing teams drive sales in the US, but I’d be surprised if even NASCAR was successful at this anymore, let alone a niche like F1.

        I agree with you that the Guilia and Stelvio are worth keeping around, just with different branding. I have driven a Stelvio Quad and found it to be the most thrilling SUV I’ve ever been in. I think it would do just fine as a Maserati, a brand which actually has built itself a name here.

        The 124 fits Dodge’s branding as cheaper and sporty. If they ever want to get away from a reputation as straight line bruisers only, they need a car like this.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    (After mourning the deaths of Oldsmobile and Pontiac I can’t believe I’m saying this but…)

    Kill Chrysler – few will miss it. Reassign the Pacifica to Dodge, bring a Cordoba trim level for the Charger so no one misses the 300 – or hell call the ultra-lux Charger the “New Yorker Brougham, there’s precedent for that anyway. (Plus the Charger has a bigger trunk than the 300.)

    What I’d really like to see FCA do is reinvent the RWD American car on a scale that GM did with the introduction of the 1977 B-bodies. Make people sit up and take notice with a superior product aimed at the pocketbooks of average Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “(Plus the Charger has a bigger trunk than the 300.)”

      Neither is that great considering the overall size of the LX platform. I very briefly considered a Charger a few years ago, but it failed to fit a (folded) 42 inch dog crate, something my wife’s midsize Camry does no problem. They should have done a LWB 300 with an elongated trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @gtem – it’s one of my triggers (trunk size)

        I love sedans, I grew up in sedans, I was BFF with sedans…

        BUT I completely understand why people are abandoning them.

        The 1982 Celebrity that was my first car had a 104.8 in wheelbase and a 15 cubic foot trunk. And the trunk was essentially a BOX with a LID. I watched my Dad cram a weeks worth of camping supplies (plus a 5 man tent) in there so we could go to state park during his precious vacation time.

        The current Malibu (closest analogue in the Chevy lineup) has a 111.4 in wheelbase and a 13 cubic foot trunk with a mail-slot opening.

        The current Charger has a 120.2 in wheelbase LONGER than the old Panther (114 in) but a 17 cubic foot trunk. The 300 has 120.2 in wheelbase and a 13 cubic foot trunk.

        The 300 was originally designed like that to fit the “five meter” rule for Europe. Now that it isn’t even sold in Europe, that compliance is pointless.

        My FIL’s Terrain has 30 cubic ft behind the 2nd row.

        The Impala (19 cubic ft), XTS (18 cubic ft), and Taurus (21 cubic ft) all have great trunks. And every last one of them is marked for execution.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yep, I’m a sucker for good packaging and maximum utility. For all their faults and dowdy design, I love 1980s FWD GM sedans as well as AA-body Chrysler for their maximum utility and packaging (upright greenhouse with lots of head and leg room, uncluttered dash with column shift, big trunks, high ground clearance. Lutz pats himself on the back for getting rid of a bunch of the internal requirements that resulted in such practical design, but I bemoan the loss.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “bring a Cordoba trim level for the Charger so no one misses the 300 ”

      So, “broughamify” the Charger? You’re right Dan, I don’t believe you said that ;-)

  • avatar
    jatz

    This is an optimistic discussion topic given how for most Americans FCA is the-brand-I’d-never-buy.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I’m going to call you “EpsonSVGA”, because you’re projecting in low definition right here.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      Strange how the brand most Americans would never buy has been having record sales and profits.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        @ahintofpepperjack- I think he was referring to MOST of their brands, not the entire FCA umbrella.

        Case in point, FCA has 7 brands with a combined total of 25 different models (not counting for the Ram derivatives [1500/2500/3500] and trim lines), yet if you take away two of those brands 3 models (Ram trucks, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee), the ENTIRE corporate umbrella is no longer successful and would fall to pieces tomorrow.

        That’s not a recipe for long term success. You cant have 3 models carrying the weight of an entire otherwise unsuccessful, niche market brand of that size. They’re largely a NICHE MARKET yet MAINSTREAM brand. Only Volvo pulls that off, and only because they don’t have the diversity and they’re barely considered mainstream by price point.

        FCA needs something that sells well in lower markets, like what the Dart was supposed to do at the time small sedans were the rage, like the Dakota was supposed to do when midsize trucks were the rage… and they’re not poised to do anything with that now, like the Avenger was supposed to do when small coupes were a rage.

        Other than a few exceptions (Caravan, Wrangler, sometimes Ram, Viper) anyone would be hard pressed to call them wholly successful for any substantial stretch of time with anything.

        • 0 avatar

          Ehh most years F-series is the only profitable model at Ford, honestly the same can be said about alot of makers.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            You’re sort of right, but think of this.

            F-series, Explorer, Mustang, and to some degree Escape. 4 models that sell at the top or in the case of the Escape, near the top of the class.

            Ford has TWO brands (Ford and Lincoln) with a combined total of 23 models. They’re actively taking steps to kill off the models which are still making money (Fusion, Taurus, etc.) but are trending downward.

            FCA sees market trends and sales losses and instead of trying to do something to make their products more widely appealing, they introduce a Demon. Yep, that’ll fix it.

            I LOVE a lot of what FCA produces, but man. They have no focus. They need to decide if they’re playing in the enthusiast arena or the mainstream arena. All of this corporate A.D.H.D. will undoubtedly bite them in the rear end eventually as a consequence.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You really think that Ford makes no money whatsoever on the Escape, Edge, Explorer, Expedition, Transit, Transit Connect or Mustang?

            So why didnt they kill all of those models with the cars, since they cited unprofitability as the reason?

          • 0 avatar

            Currently estimated that F series is 90% of global profit
            https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/why-the-ford-f-150-is-a-profit-machine
            In previous years Morgan Stanley has said that F series was 100% of operating profit.

            That’s not to say Ford makes no profit on other vehicles (just like FCA makes a profit on Journeys) it’s just that in the overall scheme of things F series is the only thing that matter at Ford Like Ram and Jeep are all that really matter at FCA.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Jeep, as a whole, is quite successful. True, the Wrangler, the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee are their top-selling models but the Renegade and new Compass are doing quite well, too. So every one of Jeep’s models is popular to a greater or lesser extent while the Ram Trucks are also doing quite well as a whole.

          Those two brands also get the lion’s share of all FCA advertising, too.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d take a flier on a Giulia lease.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I was close. The problem is it gets a double hit to the residual (FCA product AND Italian) and as such wasn’t a great car to lease.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          That’s what I gather about it, but I don’t think I’d go five or six years on that without some SERIOUS warranty protection. 4/50 wouldn’t comfort me much on that car.

          Then again, maybe it’s not as bad reliablility-wise as we’re assuming it’ll be.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          I don’t understand why they’re not subsidizing those leases. How do they expect to move volume and build the brand with uncompetitive lease prices. Even BMW and Mercedes subsidize the lease prices. You can’t expect a large number of customers to eat that much depreciation in their monthly payment.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Add small and medium truck to Ram. Make a few SUVs-larger cars from the Pacifica-plugin, and update the line-up as needed.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Fiat needs to be discontinued in NA as others have said.

    Alfa Romeo needs to be the performance leader in premium crossovers (but cheaper than Porsche, while being an Italian foil to the German norm), a small RWD crossover below Stelvio needs to be developed and it can be shared with Dodge and maybe Jeep. They don’t need a three row. Giulia can continue as the only sedan and a coupe (GTV) can be developed on the Giorgio platform as has been rumoured. Rebadge the 124/Fiata as the new Duetto Spider.

    The Journey and Caravan need to be kept as long as they are selling and they meet emission and safety standards. As Gtem said, it would make sense to revive the Plymouth badge for them but that’s not really feasible so they can continue as Dodges. Keep the Charger, Challenger and Durango going likewise as long as possible. Rebadge the aforementioned small Alfa RWD crossover. Maybe offer a rebadged Mazda 3 as a new Neon.

    Chrysler, it wouldn’t really be missed but if kept alive offer rebadged 500x (as Encore competitor), Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and keep the Pacifica and 300. Position it head to head with Buick as a bastion for aging boomers. Should be the prime candidate for hybrids and PHEVs.

    Maserati NEEDS to become EV-only ASAP. Italian Tesla, as said above. It makes so much sense, and it gives Alfa and Ferrari more breathing room. The long-delayed Alfieri could be deployed as a Dodge flagship (not called Viper). I’m not sure if the Levante is bigger than the Stelvio or not but if it is it can be rebadged as an Alfa. The Ghibli and Quattroporte will not be missed in their current forms. Offer two EV crossovers, an EV sedan and GT coupe. EV tech can be shared amongst other FCA brands.

    Ram, keep doing what they’re doing, maybe with a true Tahoe/Suburban competitor and midsize truck added. Compact? Maybe somewhere down the line, see how the Ford Courier goes. It can be a rebadge of something else

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    I wish they would create a Chrysler version of the Dodge Magnum but with more CUV proportions and a 3rd row to replace my Ford Flex.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Lack of a 3rd row was my biggest criticism of the Magnum, especially in light of the fact that its cousin (Mercedes E-class wagon) has an available rear-facing 3rd row.

      Someone on the interwebz bolted a 3rd row bench from a Taurus wagon into his and this man is my hero.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What’s that thing in the bed? It looks like something from AutoZone.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Given what Chrysler is so to speak, it is the best managed of the D3 so I’d say whatever they are doing is correct (Fiat brand notwithstanding).

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I tried to come up with a nice list, but they all ended with Imperial Badged, Hemi Powered Quatroportes and 300C badged Hemi Powered Giulias which didn’t really help the fuel economy issue.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The way to fix FCA is pretty simple:

    Discontinue Fiat and Chrysler. Neither brand has any cache anywhere in the world. Sell Maserati to Ferrari. Combine Ram back into Dodge. That leave you with Dodge as the mainstream brand, Jeep as the off road SUV brand and Alfa Romeo as the luxury brand. All 3 have brand identities that are different takes on sporty, brash, adventurous. It would be easy to make vehicles for each brand off common platforms, and cutting the brands to 3 leaves them each with plenty of room to develop full lineups.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You know, to some extent General Motors did that. It really didn’t help them. In fact, it hurt them as it cost them a fair percentage of buyers loyal to a specific brand, who have not gone for other brands–decidedly not US-corporate.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        I’d say that that was true for Pontiac and Oldsmobile, both of which had pretty complete lineups when the closed. But I would question how many true Fiat loyalists there are, and Chrysler has pretty much chased away all of it’s loyalists by shrinking the lineup to nothing.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You’re forgetting that GM also dropped Saturn… and the earlier Saturn models had a VERY loyal following I know one couple who wouldn’t buy anything but Saturns for as long as they were available. My own Saturn Vue “SUW” (Sport Utility Wagon–as labeled by my insurance company) was surprisingly reliable and well exemplified the brand, though the V6 versions using a Honda drivetrain hurt them terribly. That was where GM’s messing with a winning strategy started destroying the brand as a whole.

          But… Where did those Saturn owners go once they could no longer buy their favorite brand? I can tell you they did NOT go to any other GM brand–at least, not right away. I went to Jeep while my wife bought a Fiat 500. She later went to Jeep herself (because she wanted more room and the nearest 500X available was almost 100 miles away.) I ended up going to Chevy for my pickup because it was honestly the best choice available–the 8, 9 and 10-speed transmissions are surprisingly effective for fuel economy and performance, which the Japanese brands don’t offer, and the new Ranger is already proving somewhat untrustworthy while the Gladiator is, in its way, too limiting (I hate having 4 full doors, especially on a truck.) What I really wanted was something like the coming Santa Cruz/Courier compact trucks that are still at least two years away.

          • 0 avatar
            dwford

            Yes, the early Saturns had a huge cult following – I remember the “homecomings” at the Saturn plant. But in later years Saturns were just rebadged Opels and other cast offs, and they did away with the one distinguishing feature: the plastic body panels. GM did a great job of ruining a good thing.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I keep reading that FCA is well run and the rationale seems to be that this is so because there lineup is old. While I am a fan of Hellcat all the things, it isn’t really a long term strategy. We have a Presidential election in 2 years where there is a real possibility that the country is going to take a fairly hard left turn. I doubt these fines are going to remain such a minor nuisance under a Warren or Harris administration. Maybe that doesn’t happen, but a well run business wouldn’t gamble their likely existence on it. A longer product life cycle is fine, and would be welcome IMHO, but most of these products have no replacement on the horizon. At some point you have to invest in the product and all those Rams and Jeeps get vastly more difficult to sell if any iteration of a so called “Green New Deal” sees the light of day.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Warren or Harris”

      I’m not much of a gambling man, but those are looooooong shots.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        @gtem,

        Maybe so, but that’s simply due to the wide open field right now. Barring something unexpected happening in the next 20 months, Trump will be a solid underdog to whoever emerges from the Democratic side (no judgement here, just facts based on published betting odds and polls showing approval ratings steadily below water nationwide and in swing states). Biden or Klouchar might be easier on the industry than Harris or Warren, but not as favorable as a Republican president, and as Art points out, a large corporation has to be prepared for any circumstance. FCA would be burned badly if they didn’t have projects in the works outside of muscle cars, Rams, and Jeeps.

        • 0 avatar

          Have to agree. There is left pressure coming in the future. Adding hybrid to the Wrangler and ram is a good start but they will need some more plug in hybrids or something in the future.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          In my mind it is a question of whether we enter a recession in time for the 2020 election or not. If no, Trump re-election is all but inevitable in my mind. If sh*t hits the fan (and it very well might), everything is in play.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Trump will be a solid underdog to whoever emerges from the Democratic side”

          I think I’ve seen this movie before…

          Anyway, the WH might flip in 2020, but it seems likely that Republicans will hold the Senate and I would expect them to be a *major* obstruction to basically everything. Trump has also put a lot of new judges onto the bench during his term. I think at least two years of complete gridlock all the way down is the most likely scenario if there is a Dem win in 2020.

          However I still agree, “pay the fines forever” isn’t a great plan.

        • 0 avatar

          When Trump was not underdog? If you ask me I will always say I that hate Trump – that is what is expected from me at work to not get fired or laid off next time around. Polls cannot be trusted regarding Trump – no one in his right mind will publicly declare support for Trump. But actual voting is a different story because it is anonymous. When someone calls you he/her knows who you are and you very likely will end up in FBI’s black list if declare support for Trump. I know that because I have been there in Soviet Union.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ILO, “actual voting is a different story because it is anonymous”

            No it’s not!

            When you check in to vote, the ballot you are issued is assigned a number, and that number attaches to your name and voter data. Forever on the record for all of eternity.

            I worked Polls on many occasions, both at the electronic ballot reader and at the check-in station.

            And political parties have access to that data that shows IF you voted and HOW you voted.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Much ado about nothing ~ the Democrats are as usual, running around like heads with their chickens chopped off, not much chance trump won’t be re elected ~ remember : all the pundits said hillary was a shoo – in .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar

            “When you check in to vote, the ballot you are issued is assigned a number, and that number attaches to your name and voter data.”

            So why it is called Democracy if Government or rogue FBI (as it revealed itself recently) can use your voting record against you anytime they need to? Does background check that companies run includes your political affiliation and voting records?

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Is it bad that I’d be more inclined to buy a 500X if it was badged as a Chrysler, rather than a FIAT? ALong the same lines as the Walter P Chrysler limited editions they did for awhile, how about a Henry J Kaiser trim level on Jeeps?
    A friend of my dad’s is in his early 90s and will stop driving one of these days. I have dibs on the right to buy his 2015? Chrysler 300. Dark gray, black leather,Pentastar, low miles, mainly highway drives between OH and AZ.

    Not necessarily a fan of FCA but some of their products are compelling.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    They need to not mismanage Jeep and Ram proceeds. If they’re used to keep Maserati or Alfa alive, and or any particular model inside FCA, some hard decisions need to be made.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Let’s be honest here, Ram and Jeep (Wrangler/Grand Cherokee) proceeds are being used to keep the entirety of the rest of the company alive. Rams sell relatively well, Wrangler sells like a dumpster fire, Grand Cherokee is doing great. The rest of the models in their portfolio- even the rest of Jeep which is largely selling because of the name on the hood, not how good the product is- are middle of the pack at best. AT BEST.

      • 0 avatar

        They sold almost 200k Compass last year and well over 200k Cherokee’s. The renegade was around 90k but that still makes it the best selling CUV in it’s class.
        Jeep in general is fine. You could argue it’s the brand pulling it but the introduced the compass and patriot over a decade ago, didn’t kill the brand then if any thing it helped them grow.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yeah whether you like them or not, Jeep’s CUVs (Cherokee and new Compass in particular) are STRONG sellers right now, I see them absolutely everywhere. Jeep redoing the Cherokee’s front end was a very smart move, and the Compass is a handsome little thing too.

  • avatar

    Need a full size SUV maybe a Ram and a Jeep.
    Fiat should probably go away rebrand the 500X as a Chrysler and move the Journey replacement over there too.
    Dodge update the Durango and Charger and Challenger. Come up with some thing else in there that efficient and sporty SRT CUV?
    Ram midsize would be nice but alls well here.
    Jeep alls well other then a 3 row.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    It’s amazing that old connectivity/chassis engineering – in the form of Grand Caravan and Journey – still finds so many buyers. While these two ancient products aren’t great for advancing the fast-n-brash Dodge brand image, a sale is a sale, right? The Dodge brand is just riding out the clock with minimal fresh-think investment. Meanwhile, the Chrysler brand has one bright shining star. There have been no spy shots to tip us off to the next gen Dodge or Chrysler ANYTHING. Perhaps the Pacifica will meld into a soft Jeep during its midcycle refresh.

  • avatar
    ajla

    0. Sell Ram to Hyundai.
    1. Sell Jeep to China.
    2. Sh*t-can the rest or tell Italy to take care of it.
    3. Retire to giant yacht surrounded by strippers.

    • 0 avatar
      TheBestPlaceEver

      Wasn’t that literally Sergio’s job? Find some sucker to buy Fiat from the owning family?

      I agree though – Ram, Jeep, and *maybe* Alfa have brand equity still. The company is basically Yahoo – a few valuable properties being weighed down by legacy stuff that a weak mgmt team is unwilling to kill.

      As an aside, I wonder how many lost Maserati sales Doug DeMuro is personally responsible for.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The obvious solution is to leave FCA alone ~ if they’re making money selling what they make, all is good, non ? .

    Plenty of other brands to satisfy the thrifty bunch like me who actually care about fuel economy .

    I understand the concept of C.A.F.E., that’s why there’s a penalty (wrong idea IMO), FCA is paying said penalty and Americans seem to be happy buying Dodge Rams and so on so why rock the boat ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    They need a small ,inexpensive truck-Promaster style as the Colorado and Ranger can get pricey.
    I agree w/ Abarth everything as a last ditch effort for Fiat.
    What happened to the long powertrain warranty they used to offer?
    They suffer from VW disease with respect to reliability real or perceived, it’s not good. 6/70k bumper to bumper would help.
    I was interested in a Pacifica hybrid before we bought our Sienna, but it was too wide for my tastes and we need AWD.This van will have to last at least 8yrs for us, so reliability was forefront to our needs.
    They need to keep building cars because another market correction is looming and they at least need some offerings with decent mileage.
    They need a 1.8t for the Renegade, Compass , and all of Fiat. My understanding is that these cars drive fairly nicely ,have a competitive interior and a really good infotainment system, but are just too slow.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      • They need a small ,inexpensive truck-Promaster style as the Colorado and Ranger can get pricey.
      — Nobody has a small, inexpensive truck, here in the States. And Promaster style won’t be any smaller than the Colorado/Ranger. However, Fiat already has the Strada/Ram 750 which is notably smaller and almost ideal for the people who once drove Courier and LUV. Bringing THAT to the States could be a coup if they can beat Ford and Hyundai to the punch.

      • I agree w/ Abarth everything as a last ditch effort for Fiat.
      — I disagree. Abarth can be the halo vehicle but they need cars with more variety, such as I described in my own comment above.

      • What happened to the long powertrain warranty they used to offer?
      — What happened to the VERY long powertrain warranty Hyundai/Kia used to offer?

      • They suffer from VW disease with respect to reliability real or perceived, it’s not good. 6/70k bumper to bumper would help.
      — No, they suffer from a decades-old reliability reputation that is no longer deserved.

      • They need a 1.8t for the Renegade, Compass , and all of Fiat. My understanding is that these cars drive fairly nicely ,have a competitive interior and a really good infotainment system, but are just too slow.
      — Have you driven the 2.5 Tigershark in any of those models? You’d be surprised how peppy they are with the 9-speed automatic. Besides, they already have a 1.6t running in them which offers more horsepower and torque than the Tigershark but is also more of a gas hog than the “Multi-air” Tigershark.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Just Buy Mazda and that would solve 1/2 their problems.

    Count me as one who doe snot buy FCA products. we are semi shopping for a Car for my wife to replace her Pilot and she says hey that Alfa looks nice how is it rep? I gotta do some research but my first thought was hell no, I will be the one taking it to the shop every time it breaks. And this is someone who drives a Saab so brand rep should not effect me to much.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Just as a side note, Seth, I used to feel the same way about Fiat’s products… until I drove one. They are definitely NOT their ancestors.

      On the other hand, their dealership network is unreliable and unfriendly if you’re driving anything other than a Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler or Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        I have stand alone alfa dealer , well fiat alfa I think near me but I have not heard good things about the alfa and I do not know if my wife could deal with owning one, she has gotten pretty spoiled with her pilot, no drama in the 14 years we owned it, it is not fair to expect the same from a Alfa but ….. I will test drive one and go from there

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        Vulpine,

        It doesn’t really matter how good Fiats may be today. Assuming you are right, that they are excellent, highly reliable cars (which I don’t believe but will grant it for the sake of discussion)–doesn’t matter. The die has been cast. People think they are crap. Too many people. It isn’t worth the trouble, energy, or investment necessary to convince people otherwise.

        The potential volume of sales just doesn’t exist for what the products they have or would have on offer. A small car centric brand with a ton of perception baggage is a loser for a business case in the USA. No manufacturer in their right mind would sink money into that project. Not in 2019.

        I get it that you like Fiat and think that they are misunderstood. That is cool. But you’re off your rocker in my opinion if you think there is a business case for the brand in the United States at this point in time. Or that what they have can be salvaged or reborn. They had one chance, they didn’t capitalize on it (reason irrelevant), and that ship has sailed. Too late now.

        By the way, I think I agree with you on what Mitsubishi should do. But Fiat…can’t say that I do.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Syncro:
          • I agree about the perception of Fiat; too many people do believe they’re crap. Too many people have been brainwashed by history into thinking the cars spend more time in the shop than they do at home. That’s the part that needs to be changed. Oh, I won’t say they’re the most reliable car out there, but I also won’t say they’re the least reliable either; one specific American brand comes far, FAR closer to LEAST reliable than Fiat. That brand’s name also begins with the letter F. Even so, Consumer Reports and others have said that overall, car reliability has improved so much that they had to narrow their scale down significantly to even start to show any variation between brands or models.

          • The potential volume of sales for any brand depends on exposure–and FCA just doesn’t give their cars the kind of exposure they need. A recent James Bond movie featured a Fiat in a car chase and while they were playing it for humor, they only solidified the stereotype rather than showing what the car could do. This is really ridiculous considering a much older Bond movie featured a Citroen 2CV as the car being chased and consistently outmaneuvering the pursuit. The stereotype needs to be broken but it seems no one is willing to even try–including FCA itself.

          • Fiat is absolutely misunderstood. But I also know that corporate management is part and parcel of the problem. When Sergio first brought the 500 to the States, advertising filled the airwaves about how fun it was and even demonstrated its agility and quickness. Within two years the advertising went from fun and sexy to 60s-style silliness. Now the only Fiat that sees any air time worth mentioning is the 124 and even that is rare.

          Fiat needs to get on the track with other cars in its class. There IS a racing series featuring the Honda Fit and other micro cars, including the Mini Cooper. Some factory support and podium appearances would notably enhance the Fiat’s image. And just imagine what Alfa could do if it entered IMSA races with the 4C competition model. That could possibly give even the Corvette some competition and would certainly give them exposure. People’s minds need to be changed and the only way you can do that is to put the cars in situations that they simply can’t be ignored.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    BTW I wouldn’t try to enter into the 3 row arena. There’s no way they could compete with well developed GM and Ford/Lincoln platforms/powertrains. By the time they enter ,gas will be 4 $.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Yep, Dodge should never develop a 3-row vehicle like the Durango, which I would happily take over any GM manufactured 3-row vehicle save the TahoYukoBurbAlade combo. In Hemi or SRT guise, the Durango puts most domestic 3-row vehicles to absolute shame.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    First thing I would do with FCA is improve the owner experience.

    It’s hard to perceive the problem when people are lined up to buy Jeeps, but the FCA brands consistently score at the bottom of customer experience surveys.

    -relatively poor reliability.

    -dealers that can’t or don’t want to resolve issues.

    -second rate ride and handling.

    -inability to get the ZF transmission’s shifting ironed out.

    I remember when Fiats were known for their road manners. Now, I consistently see criticisms of the newer model’s ride and handling. I saw a road test of the Compass recently, FCA’s latest art. The report said “is not competitive with it’s peers” and elaborates on the rough and noisy 2.4, clunky ZF trans, stiff and jittery ride and clumsy handling. Every road test I have seen of the Cherokee with the new 2.0T complains about how noisy the engine is. This lack of refinement seems to be a global issue. Nearly every road test of the Fiat Tipo comments on how poorly sorted the car is. One test of the Tipo was blunt: words to the effect “this car has everything it needs to be very competitive, but either through incompetence or indifference, they did not get anything dialed in”. The only FCA products with good road manners seem to be the ones still riding on old Mercedes platforms.

    Once FCA has the level of their product’s refinement, reliability and customer service up to industry norms, then we can play product planner, because, if they keep pi$$ing people off, eventually, they will run out of people to sell to, like they did in the late 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I will disagree with points 1, 3 and 4 of your argument above. Item 2 is one I will agree whole heartedly if you’re driving anything but the American brand names.

      If you look back on when Fiat first purchased Chrysler, they tried to dump roughly 50% of the existing dealer network and got sued as a result. They were forced to re-franchise every one of them, and many, if not most, of them are trying to drive the Italian brands out of the market through ensuring Fiat’s reputation never improves–despite how many of their Jeeps are now running Fiat drivetrains.

      Don’t rely on those reviews, drive them for yourself. I believe you’ll be surprised.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        “If you look back on when Fiat first purchased Chrysler, they tried to dump roughly 50% of the existing dealer network and got sued as a result.”

        In another forum, there was a discussion of the strategy of forcing all the brands under one roof. When Dodge dealers were separate from Chrysler/Jeep dealers, they had to offer Dodge versions of Jeep SUVs. Dodge had the Caliber, Nitro and, the last vestige of that strategy, the current Durango. Since then, new versions of the Cherokee and Compass have been introduced, with no Dodge version, because a Dodge version would be redundant when the Jeep version is in the same showroom.

        The strategy seems to be to make each brand identifiable with a single niche: if it’s an SUV, it’s a Jeep. If it’s a pickup, it’s a Ram. If it’s a high powered pavement ripper, it’s a Dodge. If it’s a box for hauling people, it’s a Chrysler.

        Yes, some of the dealers that sued got their franchises back, but got back only what they had before. The Chrysler/Jeep store near my home, got it’s C-J lines back, but not the rest of the FCA brands, while the Dodge dealer a mile down the road retained the Chrysler and Jeep lines he took over in the consolidation. The Jeep dealer in Kalamazoo got his Jeep store back, but nothing else, and had to set up a separate store for the Jeeps, rather than selling them in his Mazda/Mercedes store as he had before.

        As to trying to drive the Italian brands out, I’m not so sure. The FCA dealers that carry Fiat had to make a large investment as FCA required Fiats be sold in a free standing showroom, not combined with the US brands. Why would a dealer sabotage his own investment? Of course, if Fiat is withdrawn from the US, and those dealers saw their Fiat investment go up in smoke, treatment of Fiats that come in for service may be different.

        The 2018 J D Power dealership experience rankings have Fiat, Ram, Jeep and Dodge all tied for the bottom with a score of 1. Only Chrysler breaks out of the cellar with a score of 2.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “The 2018 J D Power dealership experience rankings have Fiat, Ram, Jeep and Dodge all tied for the bottom with a score of 1. Only Chrysler breaks out of the cellar with a score of 2.”

          The best FCA dealership in my area appears to be the newest, though early on I had to question that as they wanted to charge a subscription fee for “annual checkups.” The rest of the ‘combined’ dealerships are outright abusive and out more for the money than trying to satisfy customers.

          On the other hand, there’s a dedicated Jeep dealer about 25 miles away that really knows what they’re talking about–because they don’t have to monkey with anything but Jeeps. Then tend to build and sell more customized rigs than factory stock but they ARE a franchised Jeep dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The only FCA products with good road manners seem to be the ones still riding on old Mercedes platforms”

      I’ve argued this for years. The Fiat based products seem to be the eyesores.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’ll disagree if you don’t mind. You may not like them but I find them to be a fun and reasonably practical car. Sure, it may not ride like a Merc but it certainly rides better than some other cars I’ve driven from more popular brands.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Compass and Cherokee are also lower-dollar purchases, for which I would not expect industry leading refinement.

      That said, my local FCA dealer is absolutely stellar and happy to work on any service related concerns, no matter how complex. Really, the dealership tends to front-end the manufacturer customer experience, so if someone has a subpar dealer they tend to frown upon the manufacturer as a whole.

      My last two FCA vehicles have had one reliability problem combined – a failed temperature sensor – which was quickly replaced by my selling dealer.

      I dont own only FCA vehicles, but I am happy with the ones I have owned. One can certainly argue that FCA fit and finish isnt up to industry leading standards, and they would be right (they arent the worst either). But the FCA lineup is among the best in the business and their vehicles certainly deliver value.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    The former Big 3 are becoming increasingly irrelevant to me. No need for a truck, kid hauler, or retromobile.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Create an El Camino equivalent out of the Challenger. Offer a Hellcat version.

  • avatar
    Onus

    It should be clear that the old models will eventually be discontinued. You can see this clearly in Europe. FCA will continue to sell old models until they basically no longer are able to do so. See the Fiat Punto for example. Why not continue to sell models where the capital cost to produce them is already spent? We would see the 200 around if the plant wasn’t needed for another model.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I keep seeing mention of the various FCA brands being “incomplete” with a negative connotation. I don’t really understand that. Given that Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram are always under the same roof there’s no reason whatsoever to overlap just for the sake of brand presence.

    Buick/GMC still exist as a combination in part because that’s how the dealer network is set up and so the dealers want the same range of product that a Chevy dealer would have. FCA doesn’t have that problem with the domestic brands.

    Given the fever that seems to exist here for GM to resurrect brands as single-model heritage nameplates (eg, selling a Pontiac GTO through Buick) I’m surprised at how much whining there is about Chrysler having just 2 models.

    Since I’m comparing GM and FCA brands, there’s an interesting proposition here for FCA to be where GM isn’t and by and large I think they do that. These days, Dodge feels like Pontiac and Chrysler feels like Oldsmobile.

    So embrace it. Let Chrysler be tech and near-premium (Buick at a discount) and let Dodge be sporty. Jeep seems okay where it is.

    Through that lens, Chrysler absolutely needs a CUV. Something slightly bigger than an Encore that looks like a baby Pacifica. Good seats and laden with tech the average person is willing to pay for.

    The problem with Dodge is it’s trying to be both sporty and entry-level. The GC and Journey are both in places Dodge (or at least FCA) needs to be, but the Journey in particular is the K-Mart of SUVs.

    Part of me wants to actually resurrect Plymouth and put the Journey and GC there and have Dodge just be muscle but I’m guessing at this point that the Dodge-specific halo may rub off on them with a certain crowd.

    Fiat is tough. It’s very niche but it’s the only real small car in the US portfolio these days. Let it be boutique with one model as long as there’s the slightest business case for it.

    Alfa and Masarati I don’t have enough of a feel on to comment.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    (Disclosure: some of these ideas were mentioned above.) This may not help fuel mileage averages, but…

    Restyle and rebadge the Jeep Cherokee as Chrysler Voyager.

    Restyle and rebadge the (Chinese) Jeep Grand Commander as Chrysler Grand Voyager.

    Restyle and rebadge the Fiat 500L/X as Chrysler PT Cruiser (including the X’s AWD).

    Restyle and rebadge the Ram 1500 as Jeep Dominator, competing with GMC Sierra and giving Jeep fans somewhere to go above the Gladiator.

    Replace Chrysler 300 with a Chrysler Barracuda based on the next-generation Charger/Challenger (yes, both coupe and sedans based on the refreshed LX). Market them as a “gentleman’s muscle car” for those who want something more refined, tasteful, classy and better equipped than the Dodge versions

    Introduce Ram midsize truck (badged as Dakota or Ram 1200), then see how successful Ford’s Courier is and launch the Ram 700 here if it works.

    I realize they want Dodge to be the sporty brand, but I’d continue the Grand Caravan as long as its viable to produce. Replace the Journey with a restyled version of the Chrysler Grand Voyager detailed above. Launch the Dodge Neon currently sold in Mexico (Fiat Tipo) with a price that would make it the most inexpensive car in this market. All of these cheaper models would work as Plymouth vehicles, theoretically.

    Discontinue Fiat in this market. Relegate its products to other brands, with the exception of the 500. UNLESS they want to make it a mainstream brand here, with cheaper cars to fill the void created by Dodge focusing on sporty models. I have significant doubts that even that strategy would allow the brand succeed here.

    Continue Alfa, Maserati, Jeep and Ram (other than the additions detailed above) as planned,

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Other idea I forgot to include: Chrysler version of the Giulia with softer suspension and generally less sporty pretense. Base turbo 4, optional 3.6L. Name: Chrysler Lebaron. This would sit below the Chrysler Barracuda I talked about above. Not a Toyota Camry competitor, this would be seen as a more premium sedan.

      Market a Dodge version with high performance characteristics as Dodge Daytona. Perhaps a line at Brampton Assembly could build these to further keep costs (relatively) in check.

  • avatar
    George B

    FCA needs to look at what works for them and what doesn’t. I’d look at moving the Hemi V8 to Aluminum to take weight out of high-profit models to help with CAFE. Jeep is in pretty good shape. The Dodge Journey market segment is hot right now so it would be worth redesigning if they can keep the selling price down. There’s no practical brand difference between Chrysler and Dodge now, but it’s probably not worth consolidating to one brand or the other considering both generally are sold at the same dealership. Maybe the Charger and Challenger can share a platform with the Durango to spread out the cost of a redesign with weight loss as a major goal. I’d probably give up on the Fiat brand in the US.

    FCA is a little too exposed to a change in buyer preferences next time fuel prices spike up. I’d look at developing gas-electric hybrid drivetrains for Ram and Jeep that offer some advantage besides just fuel economy improvements. Things like electric power at the job site full torque at slow speed from electric motors for positioning trailers or rock crawling. Make electrification do something desirable for the end user.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Aluminum Hemi is long over due.

      For Dodge – update and lighten Charger/Challenge, continue Journey, Grand Caravan and bring the Pacifica into Dodge.

      Jeep – keep doing what they are doing.

      Ram – no changes

      Fiat – close in US or just sell the basic 500 at Dodge dealerships.

      Alfa and Maserati combine these two into a single dealership network

      Chrysler – 100% electric and Hybrid offerings.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Is it necessarily a problem that certain brands under the umbrella are “incomplete”? Doesn’t it make a certain amount of sense for each brand to have its own strength and use it to great advantage? Since FCA has so many, there’s certainly opportunity there.

    My impression is that having multiple brands, each with very similar (if not identical) products at similar prices, only leads to autocannibalism. Wasn’t a big part of GM’s problem pre-bankruptcy that they had too many offerings that only competed with other GM products? I could be completely misreading this, and would be happy to learn from those older than myself.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. If the products are differentiated enough, it can work. But, yeah, having two vehicles that are very similar with similar pricing does lead to issues like that. The only thing that helps is if someone likes the styling of one more than the other, and/or the image that brand projects (for example, some wont buy the Durango simply because it’s a Dodge). This seems to work for GMC.

      With my examples above, the vehicles would need to be different enough, and rarely overlap. The Jeep Dominator I envision is more of a lifestyle vehicle, just like the Gladiator, while the Ram truck(s) are more for the mainstream truck market, those who buy one for work or have no intention of paying more for the Jeep name.

      Likewise, the Chrysler utilities I propose need to be more premium and better equipped than corresponding models. I know they’ll never achieve the volume that their Jeep siblings will, but higher ATPs would make up for that. Same story with the Jeep fullsize truck, it wont sell as well as the Ram, but should command more money.

      It can be tricky, and GM proved that.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I’m with you, no one brand, Chrysler for example, needs a full line up so long as all the mainstream brands are under the same roof as it currently is.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    This thread is too US centric. Why does Fiat basically own Chrysler? Because Chrysler was in a mess and Fiats European business bailed it out. It just takes an economic shock to happen in the US and FCA will be in huge trouble.

    I am starting to think an interesting merger would be between Tata Motors and FCA. Consider the logic, Jeep, Ram, Land Rover and Range Rover can share lots of components. Jaguar have an electric car, FCA just doesn’t. That can underpin cars from Jaguar, Alfa and Maserati. Fiat and Tata can focus on volume, Tata could rebadge most Fiats for their home market. There really aren’t many downsides.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Mr. Tstag,
      does Tata have more money that Fiat? I agree that this thread is way too US/North America-centric. Exor and the Agnelli family will decide what to do with FCA; world-wide and not just in North America. Really, this Holland-based tripled headquartered (Turin, Auburn Hills, London) has many decisions to make.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Chrysler was a mess due to many factors, but Fiat already has a larger stable in world markets, with lots of sedans, MPVs, trucks and so forth. Jeep is growing on a global scale, just look at its gains in Europe for an example.

      It could be that these comments are from a North American perspective because the commenters are mostly from North America. And, if you’d read the article, Corey’s comments and the actual question centers around our market. So, please forgive us if we didnt include Poland and New Zealand in our thoughts.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Just rebadge a super base version of the Pacifica as a Dodge Grand Caravan. All people want is stow and go seats and rear A/C. Couldn’t cost much to slap a Dodge grille on the thing and a Dodge airbag cover.

    The other thing FCA needs is a Chevy Colorado / Ford Ranger competitor. In other words, a rebirth of the Dakota.

    Kill Fiat in the USA. The niche of tiny little funky cars is too small here to bother with, given that Fiat will never rid themselves of the crappy reliability perception. The Japanese brands own what is left of the segment. Forget it. They tried the 500, it sold OK for a brief while until the tiny amount of pent up demand for a funky little retro ride was tapped out. Fun experiment, proven to not work long term. Let it die.

    Alfa…too low volume, also on this side of the pond. Neat cars, too few sold to bother with it.

    Even if they totally revamped Fiat’s lineup, the volume isn’t there to justify the investment even if you use the most rosy sales projections.

  • avatar
    scott kushman

    The two main issues is them leaving money on the table by not offering Dodge and chrysler branded cuv’s of each jeep model, and they have found success in making money off of paid off old platforms.

    So what I would do is this:

    Fiat:

    brand reduced to just the 500, 124 goes to Alfa, 500X to dodge and Chrysler

    Dodge: Gets to sell own sport version of renegade, compass, cherokee plus 7 pass cherokee or one based on pacifica. They get fiat tipo version as new neon/dart, keep rwd as is (or replace with gorigio, redesign pacifica and rename it caravan with price drop 20K

    Chrysler: Gets to sell own luxury version of renegade, compass, cherokee plus 7 pass cherokee or one based on pacifica. 7 pass cuv called T&C. No van, fiat tipo lux version, keep 300 as is (or replace with gorigio)

    Jeep: same lineup with BOF wagoners, needs 7 pass version cherokee for mid size segment despite Grand cherokee killing it.

    RAM: Fiat toro pickup sold here as ram midsize entry truck and/or version of gladiator. Keep Dodge journey as fleet model for police, taxi, etc segments,

    Spin Alfa or Maserati off into Ferrari group and focus on just one brand globally. I think Ferrari could use a Bentley like large sedan and suv with their customers. I think they should keep alfa and let Ferrari have Maserati

    Some would argue that 3 versions of the cuvs is “like gm” or failed rebadging when in reality they are leaving good money on the table by not offering a dodge sport, chrysler luxury and jeep version of each cuv segment.

    Most of these changes could be done next model years and are naming, rebadges

  • avatar
    Steve203

    It occurs to me that a lot of the weakness in US Fiat sales is a perception that Fiat will be withdrawn from the US market, and no-one wants an orphan.

    The best way to fight that perception of a zombie brand would be to introduce new Fiat brand products, in segments that are currently seeing a lot of demand.

    In Brazil, Fiat makes the Toro crew cab metric ton pickup. Fiat has under development a small 3 row SUV based on the Toro. Both the Toro and new SUV are built on the same platform as the Compass. The Toro would run afoul of the chicken tax due to it’s Brazilian production, but if it and the Toro SUV were built for the US market at Toluca, where the US market Compass is built, it would duck the chicken tax.

    FCA has eliminated the policies that made it so expensive for a CDJR dealer to carry Fiats, so the new pickup and SUV could be carried in the same showroom as the other brands.

    What to call the Toro in the US? I like Rampage.

    So the Steve plan would have the Fiat line consisting of the toys: 500 and 124, the 500X and the Rampage pickup and SUV.

    But, the Fiat brand is poison to a lot of people. If the Rampage was called a Dodge, they would probably sell 10 times as many, but calling it a Dodge would fight the Dodge image of V8 pavement rippers. The Rampage would be perceived as too light duty to be a Ram, and not luxurious enough to be a Chrysler. Which brings us back to calling them Fiats.

  • avatar
    DragDog

    FCA is in good shape for drivetrains: GSE, GME I4/I6, (hybrid) Pentastar, (supercharged) Hemi. But most of their platforms are outdated and/or licensed; and they have too many brands struggling to be full-line.

    – Pull a “revenge of the K-car” and develop a new global subcompact/compact/midsize transverse FWD/AWD platform, for economy of scale. No one does this better than Mopar.
    – Giorgio continues as “the Alfa platform”
    – green-light a new sturdy, inexpensive longitudinal RWD/AWD “the Mopar platform” for muscle cars and unibody SUVs
    – green-light a new Model S-sized BEV platform
    – Cut the legacy platforms, legacy engines, separate Ram brand, separate SRT brand.

    reorganize Jeep-Alfa as global premium brands

    Jeep = global full-line, crossover/SUV-only, offroad-capable. Great potential to make Jeep synonymous with rugged tall ride-height vehicles worldwide.
    Wrangler/Gladiator continue
    redesign Renegade, Compass, Cherokee on new transverse platform
    redesign Grand Cherokee on new Mopar platform
    rebadge the Fiat emerging market products (Mobi) as Jeeps

    Alfa = global drivers’ cars in between Mazda and BMW, filling the gap left by BMW’s softening. They can’t out-refine BMW, but they can out-pure-of-heart them.
    Giulia and Stelvio carry over
    add roadster, coupe, larger sedan, larger crossover all on Georgio platform
    redesign MiTo and Giulietta on the new FWD platform
    only use GME I4 and I6 engines, with Alfa-specific Italian-style exhaust tuning

    Fiat = by and for Europe
    redesign the 500, Panda, Punto, Tipo, etc. on the new transverse platform
    drop the trucks/SUVs, that’s now Jeep territory
    pull out of North America, it just didn’t work out

    Maserati = Italian-style spare-no-expense EVs
    drop Ghibli
    redesign GranTurismo, Quattroporte, Levante as Tesla-fighting BEVs
    partner with some Italian fashion designer on interiors for marketing purposes
    be content with only 3 models and modest sales

    reorganize Dodge-Chrysler as North America-specific, shared dealership, full-line between the two of them

    Dodge = by and for “red state” USA; aggressive trucks and performance cars
    drop Journey and Caravan (Chrysler territory)
    Ram trucks merge back into Dodge
    redesign the Durango, Charger, Challenger, and Demon on new Mopar platform, all with a Hellcat option
    Dodge Daytona = restyled Alfa Giulietta QV
    Dodge Cuda sports car = restyled Hemi-powered Giulia coupe

    Chrysler = by and for “blue state” USA; eco-conscious tech-enabled people movers
    Pacifica continues
    Chrysler Journey = cheapest-possible 3-row crossover
    Cirrus/Aspen are crossovers based on Cherokee/Grand Cherokee with hybrid Pentastar
    300 redesigned on new Mopar platform, with hybrid Pentastar or Hemi
    Fifth Avenue revived as Model S style BEV based on new Maserati Levante
    use recycled materials for marketing purposes

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