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FCA Brand Plans Include Broader Lineups, Bigger Emphasis on Electrification

Executive Summary

The automaker is focused on covering more market segments with its key Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa brands and increasing transaction prices and volumes. It no longer is resisting the electrification movement, with a long list of plug-in hybrids and full battery-electrics planned.

TURIN – More market coverage, higher transaction prices and electrification are the consistent themes here as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles details its brand strategies for the next five years as part of its Capital Market Day presentation to financial analysts.

Powertrain plans include ending diesels at Alfa and Maserati, plus Jeep in Europe, in favor of mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full battery-electric vehicles.

Jeep is focused on expanding its market coverage with a more car-like utility vehicle in the A/B-size segment and a new pickup. Ram is on a drive to push up its transaction prices, in part by offering a new performance pickup, the TRX, aimed squarely at Ford’s Raptor, while expanding its market reach with a new midsize pickup.

Alfa says it finally will make good on its promise five years ago to reach 400,000 sales annually, in part by expanding its lineup with a new 8C powered by 700+ hp mid-mounted twin-turbo V-6, a return of the 4-passenger GTV boasting 600 hp and all-wheel drive, plus compact and midsize SUVs. It also will offer long-wheelbase Giulia and Stelvio models in China.

Maserati will add new products in order to cover 70% of the market and grow volume to 100,000 units annually in 2022. Included is a new halo car, the Alfieri, that will be offered as both a coupe and cabriolet. It will feature a new aluminum spaceframe, and include three powertrain options, including a PHEV with E-AWD that can reach 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in about two seconds. Also on tap are new midsize and compact SUVs.

All Maserati powertrains now will come from Ferrari, a move expected to take the marque to the next level in the premium market, says brand chief Tim Kuniskis.

“If it looks like we’re targeting Porsche and Tesla, we are,” he says.

Not on the official agenda here is a discussion of FCA’s Chrysler and Fiat brands, as CEO Sergio Marchionne says they don’t contribute significantly to the bottom line. Those brands are likely to be addressed at least somewhat in a question and answer session to come later. Rumors surfaced this week that FCA planned to kill the Chrysler brand and possibly reduce Fiat’s market presence.

Here are some of the other key highlights from the morning’s brand discussion:

  • Jeep will offer electrification options across its entire lineup by 2021, with a total of 10 PHEVs and four BEVs by 2022. It also will expand its Jeep Wave retail program to offer Wrangler and Hawk owners the ability to borrow other vehicles and for other Jeep customers to subscribe to a service that allows them to swap their vehicle for any other vehicle in FCA’s lineup. How often you can trade and what vehicles you have access to will depend on the level of your subscription.
  • Jeep will enter three new segments. In addition to the small utility and new truck planned, it also will bring out a 3-row premium SUV as well as produce long-planned new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models. Also due is a 3-row utility in the Cherokee size class.
  • Jeep plans include a third Hawk trim line, the Deserthawk, with first model rolling out Q1 2020. FCA expects the line to account for 10% of the mix. It is billed as having high-speed desert capability and transaction prices that should hit more than $5,000 above average. It will offer Level 3 autonomy by 2021.
  • Jeep capacity will expand in Europe by more than three times its 2017 level. Capacity in Latin America will increase by 150,000 units. In North America, capacity will rise 500,000 units.
  • Jeep head Mike Manley forecasts one in 12 utilities sold worldwide will be Jeeps in 2022, up from one in 17 today.
  • In addition to the TRX, which will feature a hybrid powertrain, Ram product plans include a new heavy-duty pickup and all-new Promaster City. Global sales are projected to rise to 930,000 units in 2022, with a stretch goal of 1 million. Sales are forecast at a record 770,000 in 2018.
  • Ram’s focus is on increasing its ATPs with new models and trims. Fullsize pickup ATPs have been running at $37,000, but the expanded line of new pickups now rolling out should creep that up to $40,000-$43,000, Manley says. Early orders on the new Ram pickups carry ATPs above $50,000.
  • Maserati will continue on its market- and portfolio-expansion track with a strong emphasis on electrification. Maserati Blue is the branding for four upcoming BEVs that include the coupe and cabrio Alfieri and new Quattroporte and Levante, which will get new, lightweight platforms between now and 2022. All will have a 3-motor AWD system with torque vectoring.
  • Alfa says it will offer hybrids, e-booster powertrains with 25% more power and zero turbo lag and PHEVs with ranges beyond 30 miles (50 km) and 0-62 mph acceleration of 4+ seconds. Level 2 and Level 3 autonomy will be available across the lineup. The product portfolio should deliver margins of 10%, says brand chief Kuniskis.

dzoia@wardsauto.com @DavidZoia

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