04 June, 2018

Fiat brand streamlined as FCA introduces multi-brand electric options

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced its new five-year plan, focusing on Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ram while scaling down the Fiat brand.

The company revealed that it would have more cash on hand rather than debt for the first time since the merger with Chrysler took place in 2009. This was a long-term goal of CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is expected to step down from the role soon.

The Fiat brand in Europe will be reduced to a few models based around an electrified 500 line-up and the Panda model. The brand will also introduce the 500 Giardiniera wagon while axing the Tipo and Punto models from production.

‘The space for Fiat in Europe is going to be redefined in a more exclusive area,’ Marchionne said during the unveiling of the company's business plan. He said he needed to cut products that lacked pricing power. ‘Given the EU [future emissions] regulations, it is very difficult for mass-market carmakers to be very profitable,’ Marchionne told analysts.

As European rules concerning vehicle emissions are due to get stricter after 2021, FCA has decided that the 500, its most popular car in Europe, is the model to focus on. It will get full electric and hybrid powertrains, while the 500L and 500X will get mild-hybrid powertrains. Focusing on this mix of products and power units gives the brand the most cost-effective solution.

Other brands

The Alfa Romeo brand will see its 8C and GTV sports car models revived while also launching two SUVs. There will also be no more diesel sales while also focusing on China by introducing long-wheelbase saloon models as it seeks to increase annual sales to 400,000 by 2022.

Maserati will add a midsize SUV and the Alfieri coupe/cabrio to its product line-up as it plans to double vehicle sales to 100,000 by 2022. The sports car was first revealed at the 2014 Geneva car show, but has been delayed since. The all-electric model will be a high-performance vehicle with a top speed of 186mph. It will have three powertrains including a plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, the new midsize SUV will be positioned below the Levante.

Jeep will expand its model portfolio, electrify its entire line-up with either full or hybrid options and start a subscription service and other sharing options to allow more customers to experience the brand. The company wants to expand into the smaller A-segment market, a move that brand boss Mike Manley told investors it had been considering for some years.

FCA will also expand its partnership with Google’s self-driving platform Waymo, providing up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the company’s fleet. The move is similar to deals struck by Volvo with Uber, and Jaguar, also with Waymo.

Marchionne said: ‘The relationship with Waymo is a lot deeper than it sounds. Our goal is to be the first to license it in our vehicles.’

Marchionne responded to criticism that FCA is behind rivals in self-driving technology. ‘There are a lot of people who have been making a lot of noise about what they have. We have been incredibly quiet. The safest thing we can do as an OEM is keep all our options open.’