► Fiat Chrysler strategy announcements
► CEO Sergio Marchionne's swansong
► New Maser Alfieri, Alfa GTV, 8C return
Friday 1 June was a milestone for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the world's seventh biggest car making group. The departing veteran chief executive Sergio Marchionne told the world's media and investors his five-year plan for FCA - and significant changes are afoot, with Maserati confirmed to launch the Alfieri coupe as a plug-in electrified sports car, diesel being phased out in Europe and Jeep launching baby SUVs beneath the Renegade.
Even better news for Alfa Romeo fans, as the company pledged to replace the 8C supercar and bring back the GTV badge for a four-seater coupe. Early renderings of both cars have been released, along with details of a €9 billion electrification strategy to bring FCA up to e-speed.
It was a major strategy update on the anniversary of Marchionne's appointment 14 years ago. At-a-glance highlights included:
- Four global brands to spearhead future growth
- Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati are in
- Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Lancia play second fiddle
- Diesel being phased out, apart from for vans
- No word yet on Marchionne's successor in 2019
- For more product details, read on
Alfa Romeo brings back 8C and GTV badges - with an electric twist
Alfa will launch six new products by 2022 - including the GTV four-seater coupe with 600bhp and an electric boost, plus the carbonfibre 8C sports car (below) with 700bhp and 0-62mph in 3sec. Every range will have an electric option and hybrids will gradually phase out diesel across the Alfa range, it was confirmed.
A slide was also flashed up teasing the new GTV (below), a four-seater coupe with a brawny-sounding 600bhp+ powertrain. Note how all the sports cars unveiled at the FCA summit have some form of e-boost, as FCA gradually rolls out its electrification plans.
The new GTV promises space for four and AWD. The styling from these early renderings looks decidedly attractive on first glance. Do you agree? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
The full product plan for Alfa Romeo has been released, too. It confirms plans for a smaller SUV and a larger crossover to top and tail the Stelvio. Long-wheelbase Stelvio and Giulia models will be launched, principally for the Chinese market (which makes up 6% of global Alfa Romeo sales).
The growing product portfolio will help Alfa swell its coverage from 46% of the market to 71% by 2022. You've got to be in more segments to win nowadays, after all...
The number of dealerships has grown globally by a third - Alfa Romeo now has 1400 outlets around the world. Stuff like this helps sales: they're up 160% since 2014.
Alfa is gunning for 400,000 sales, with 10% profit margins; and it won't be left behind on driverless cars, the company pledges: plans are in train for Level 2 and Level 3 autonomy on Alfa Romeo cars. We detail lower down this page how the Italians will achieve this.
Maserati to launch Alfieri as an electric coupe
Maserati is another FCA company that's had stellar growth in recent years - sales are up 700% since 2011 and it's now aiming for 100k annual sales. Now the next step of the growth plan was announced - and it's all about hybrids, full EVs and more SUVs to come, said head of Maserati Tim Kuniskis. Excitingly, it includes an electrified Alfieri coupe and cabrio.
Maserati will spearhead the group's move to electrification and by 2022 every model range will have an electric option. The brand of the new electric cars? Maserati Blue. There is also talk of an 800v battery tech and quick rapid charge cycles.
The Alfieri concept finally reaches production - and it's been reborn as a coupe and cabriolet with a plug-in hyrbid (PHEV) powertrain. The visuals flashed up in the presentation suggest it will weigh just 175kg over a conventional petrol model and will have a top speed over 186mph. 0-62mph? Just two seconds!
In future all Maserati powertrains will be sourced from Ferrari, it was confirmed. And that includes hybrid and electric options. A telling nod to how electrification is even spreading to Maranello.
There was also confirmation that a new mid-size SUV was coming - with 'best-in-class architecture, hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains and higher-performance Trofeo model.'
It was teased in this image below.
The Maserati Blue battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will include Alfieri, the Alfieri Cabrio, Quattroporte and Levante - they will have three electric motors for AWD, torque vectoring, 800v batteries and quicker charge times, it was claimed.
Jeep: the next five years
Jeep is the cash cow of the group and received the first and longest presentation. Every model range will have have an electric model by 2021 and diesel will be quickly phased out in Europe. The big goal? By 2022 there will be 10 plug-in hybrid Jeeps and four full BEVs.
Autonomous Jeeps will be on sale by 2022 and three new 4x4s will launch in the next five years - including a new compact SUV under the Renegade, a mid-sized pick-up and a large SUV. At least one of these will be a full seven-seater with three rows of seats.
The big plan? One in 12 SUVs worldwide to be a Jeep.
Ram Trucks: record growth - and a new big pick-up for Detroit
Strong growth in trucks; forecasts record 770,000 sales in 2018; Ram has highest loyalty rate in pick-up sector; new heavy-duty truck to be shown in Detroit.
Fiat: why so little mention?
Fiat, seemingly a central part of FCA, had a shockingly brief focus in the five-year plan. Only a brief mention of newly electrified versions of the 500 made the grade - with a full BEV 500 coming, a new 500 Giardiniera estate and hybrid versions of the 500X and 500L.
The boss was blunt about the challenges Fiat faces. 'Jeep is our main brand, secondly Alfa and Maserati,' said Marchionne. 'The space for Fiat in Europe is going to get redefined. It needs to play in a more exclusive area of the market. It is very very diccult for the mass market given the amount of regulation to be profitable. We have tried to identify where Fiat can play best: 500 and Panda are areas where Fiat can play. There’s been a long history of irrelevance in America for Fiat.'
It's an admission that Turin struggles to do anything other than peddle small cars - the exact sector where it's hardest to earn margins.
Technology and autonomy: the FCA plan
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief technology officer Harald Wester explains how autonomy is being rolled out, with Level 2-3 services in use in the 2019-2021 window, with proper hands-off Level 4 by 2023. How? By partnering with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, the company confirms to provide greater scale and speed; up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minians will be provided to Waymo over the next three years.
'FCA is developing a new global standardized connectivity solution, a telematics box module to connect the car to the Internet and a cloud-based FCA-specific service delivery platform,' the company says. The first part of the new online services toolkit will be launched in April 2019.
Diesel is being phased out in Europe by 2021, replaced by hybrids, plug-ins and full BEVs. Derv will be kept on for commercial vehicles, but killed on passenger cars.
Our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale today
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: 2022 strategy announcement
Jeep is highlighted as the group's hero brand, as sales of SUVs and 4x4s continue to rise in markets across the globe. It has almost single-handedly boosted profits at Fiat Chrysler, as the eponymous popular Italian car brand has struggled to make headway in a price-challenged market in Europe.
There was no announcement on - big shoes to fill - who will take over from the Marchionne, who has said he will step aside in early 2019. He repeatedly rejected questions from analysts keen to hear his take on who will replace him. Head of Jeep, Brit Mike Manley, is one of the front-runners.
The laid-back 65-year-old Marchionne has led FCA for 14 years, from the brink of bankruptcy to the relative success it enjoys today through a raft of canny deals and the merger with Chrysler. He is set to meet his 2014 plan to be debt-free by the end of 2018, and the famously casually dressed boss donned a tie on 1 June to meet an earlier pledge he'd made.
Marchionne has revived a moribund Alfa Romeo, with the launch of the Giulia (above) and Stelvio crossover, and developed Ferrari to the point it too is preparing to launch its first sporting crossover (see our Ferrari SUV scoop here). There was, however, no mention of the off-road supercar during the five-year plan announcement.
Challenges remain in the volume sector: Fiat struggles to make money with its 500-centric portfolio, Alfa volumes are rising but profits aren't and the strategy in China, the world's biggest car market by far, lags behind rivals'.
It's ironic that the two companies that feature in the group name - Fiat and Chrysler - were conspicuous by their relative absence in the five-year plan. Time for Marchionne's successor to rebrand the business as Jeep Italian Premium Autos?
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