Nearly Dead in the U.S., Fiat Turns to Brazil for Rekindled Love

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nearly dead in the u s fiat turns to brazil for rekindled love

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is going all-in in Brazil, where the struggling Fiat brand was once the country’s top choice for new vehicles. The automaker has announced a $4 billion plan to boost market share in the only non-U.S. region that made the company any money last quarter.

Leading the way are two new Fiat SUVs, joined by a host of Jeep and Ram offerings.

FCA CEO Mike Manley didn’t have much to say about those future models during a Brazil plant tour Wednesday, though he did talk up the size of the product surge, Bloomberg reports.

By the time the cash dump dries up in 2024, Brazilian buyers can expect 15 new, refreshed, or “special series” models, while the new Ram and Jeep offerings will number 10.

“We want to make sure the Fiat brand remains very strong in Brazil’s marketplace,” Manley said. “The Fiat brand is a vital part of our business.”

Last quarter, FCA’s Latin America region turned in $117 million before interest and taxes, with a profit margin of 5.4 percent. Manley hopes to take that figure into the double-digits by 2022. Fiat came to Brazil in 1976 and remained a top seller until 2015, after which Volkswagen and General Motors took the lead. Jeep volume has grown rapidly, hitting 4.8 percent of the country’s market share last year, and Manley wants to see that continue.

Part of the $4 billion will go towards boosting production at the company’s Pernambuco plant, which opened in 2015, from 250,000 vehicles per year to 350,00. That plant builds the Jeep Renegade and Compass.

A new plant will also begin construction to supply the market with small, turbocharged engines, Manley added. For 2019, the company introduced a new 1.3-liter turbo four to serve as the top powerplant in the global Renegade line. It makes 177 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a 1.0-liter three-cylinder that makes 120 hp and 140 lb-ft.

There’s no word on whether the two new Fiat SUVs bound for Brazil have any chance of appearing on American shores. The company barely mentioned the brand’s U.S. presence during last year’s five-year plan unveiling, and sales of the Renegade-derived 500X crossover have not met anyone’s expectations. Last year, Fiat’s market share in the U.S. fell to 0.09 percent, with sales over the first four months of 2019 falling 42 percent.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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  • EGSE EGSE on May 25, 2019

    Drilled down to page 11 of the annual report: LATAM Net Revenue FY2018 = €8.2B. I interpreted the $117 million incorrectly. Ready....fire....aim. Maybe the numbers work out. Never mind.....

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on May 25, 2019

    I take it that the pictured row in the lead photo was some BHPH used car lot that was bought out?

  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.
  • Tassos I clearly have no sentimental attachment to any cars from the 80s. I myself drove a Dasher (passat) wagon with horrible reliability, and then a Pontiac 2000, very fuel efficient for its time with its 1.8 lt and 5 speed, but a small econobox crudely made, with no luxuries inside. But most other cars of the era were really CRAPPY, unsafe, both in terms of passive AND active safety, had very few options modern cars have, etc etc. The best car I owned then was a 1991 Honda Civic 5-sp hatch, but that was also an 80s design that was on sale from 1987-1991. Not just the domestics were crappy then, but so were m ost of the imports. As you can see, I have ZERO "nostalgia" for any of these, especially not for the unreliable, poorly made JUNK from DATSUN-NISSAN, which is widely reviled overseas as a maker of small pickup trucks that are the favorites of Gypsies selling watermelons from their bed.
  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.
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