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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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?

  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.
  • El scotto Vehicle company white collar (non-union) engineers design the parts and assembly procedures. The UAW members are instructed on how to install the parts. Engineers are also in charge of quality control. The executives are ulimately responible for the quality of their products.
  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.
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