Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has revealed an ambitious five-year plan that will see an aggressive expansion of most of its brands – Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. The group plans to increase sales by as much as 60% to 7 million units by the end of 2018, achieving a revenue of €132 billion a year, an increase of 52% over 2013.
Alfa Romeo – chasing BMW
The big news came from Alfa Romeo, who announced that a new rear-wheel and all-wheel drive architecture will be built that will underpin everything from C-segment to executive vehicles. The new cars will be developed with a number of key attributes, namely “advanced, innovative engines, perfect 50/50 weight distribution, unique technical solutions, class exclusive power-to-weight ratios and groundbreaking and distinctly Italian design”.
First to the market will be a new midsize offering, most likely the often-delayed Giulia compact executive saloon that will rival the BMW 3 Series, which will be introduced in the second half of 2015. It will then be followed by two compact models, another midsize model, a full-size model (a 166 replacement?) two SUVs and a “specialty” model that will sit in Alfa’s sports car range alongside the 4C.
Powering them will be a range of new engines – a pair of four-pot petrol mills will handle outputs under 330 hp, while a six-cylinder powerplant will be capable of anything between 400-500 hp. New four- and six-cylinder diesels will also be offered. Built in Italy, the new cars and powertrains will be developed through a “skunkworks” initiative, which will enable the company to operate largely independent of FCA and handpick its own engineering talent.
Fiat – expanding at both ends of the market
Fiat will also be poised to expand massively, with as many as 27 new or improved models slated to hit markets worldwide by the end of 2018. Most of these cars are focused on the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, including an A-segment model, a D-segment sedan (a rebadged Chrysler 200 for China?), two crossovers (one B-segment, one compact) and a new Punto.
The European region is also getting some love, with the 500X crossover due later this year, possibly making its debut in Paris. Also on the cards are a compact sedan, hatchback and estate, a B-segment model to replace the Punto, a compact crossover, a new Panda and another “specialty” model (rumoured to be a new roadster based on the next Mazda MX-5, inherited from the Alfa-Mazda joint venture that was reported to be on the rocks).
Maserati – concepts go into production
Moving up the Italian food chain, Maserati have confirmed that the Levante (née Kubang) SUV will be launched fairly soon, coming in with a V6 petrol engine with 350 hp and 425 hp outputs, a V8 petrol with over 560 hp and a diesel engine in 250 hp, 270 hp and 340 hp flavours, all with four-wheel drive.
The company also confirmed the production version of Geneva’s Alfieri concept later on in the timeline, in coupé and cabrio forms. Strangely, the only engine choices in the pipeline for the new sports car are 410 hp, 450 hp and 510 hp V6s – Maserati seems to be limiting V8s to the GranTurismo. Speaking of which, the large grand tourer will be redesigned at the tail end of the five-year period, packing, yes, a V8 from the Levante pushing upwards of 560 hp.
Ferrari – maintaining exclusivity
Ferrari’s announcement was relatively modest in comparison, saying only that it will offer a full range of high-end performance eight- and 12-cylinder street cars. A four-year lifespan is projected for each new model, followed by updated “M” versions (the 458 Italia is slated to be the next to get that treatment) lasting another four years. The company will also prepare a “special series” of vehicles targeting high-end customers.
The company also reiterated its stand to cap its production at 7,000 units per annum to “preserve the brand’s uniqueness”, but adds that it could be expanded to 10,000 cars a year to cater for a high net worth population that is expanding especially in emerging and “non-traditional” markets. Interestingly, a footnote at the end of the presentation to shareholders exclaimed “Ferrari is not for sale”.
Chrysler – a healthier lineup
Moving over to the American side of the plan, Chrysler will be introducing a 100 sedan (likely Dodge Dart-based) and a new Town and Country MPV in 2016, followed by a full-size crossover the year after and a midsize crossover in 2018. The Town and Country and the unnamed full-size crossover will receive plug-in variants. As for the 300, a facelift later this year will keep the big rear-wheel drive sedan fresh ahead of a full makeover in 2018.
Dodge – welcoming SRT back into the fold
Dodge is realigning itself in a sportier direction. To that end, it is reclaiming the SRT moniker (spun off as a separate brand along with the Viper in 2012, which means the snake will now return to wearing Dodge badges) and dropping the Avenger sedan and Grand Caravan MPV. The Viper, Dart and Durango will be refreshed over the next five years, which will also see the introduction of a D-segment crossover to replace the Journey, a new B-segment sedan and hatch and a new Charger and Challenger.
On the SRT side of things, the current Charger and Challenger SRT8 models will be revised later this year with a new supercharged V8 (rumoured to be called “Hellcat”, it will reportedly produce up to 700 hp). Also in the pipeline is a Dart SRT as well as an SRT version of the D-segment crossover, both featuring a turbocharged high-output engine and all-wheel drive.
Jeep – freshening up for its 75th anniversary
Jeep will be stopping production of the Patriot and Compass in 2016, the company’s 75th anniversary. Their place will be taken by a new C-segment SUV slotting between the new Renegade and the Cherokee, the latter of which will also be refreshed in the same period. A new Wrangler will be arriving in 2017, along with a new Grand Cherokee (after a facelift occurs in 2015) and a refreshed Renegade, while a new full-size Grand Wagoneer will make its debut in 2018.
Elsewhere in FCA, the Ram brand will only see facelifts both major and minor throughout the five-year period, while Lancia is confirmed to be relegated to Italian sales only with the Ypsilon as the sole model on offer. Of course, it is unclear where Malaysia fits in this plan – apart from Maserati and Ferrari, the group has no official representation in our market, with Fiat long since left the scene and the Alfa Romeo distributorship still in limbo.