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On May 6, 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ senior leaders presented their plan for 2014 to 2018. To briefly recap, they laid out product plans and numbers after setting out the brand focus:
Jeep sells both off-road vehicles and on-road vehicles with all-weather capability. Wrangler is the image and capability leader; for all other models, there are less capable mainstream versions and one “Trail Rated” version that can handle moderate off-road use.
Dodge is to be a performance/muscle brand, its vehicles being changed as needed to fit the image Dodge already has.
Chrysler is providing a premium product at a value price.
Finally, Ram is building out its commercial-vehicle line by adapting two Fiat vans, and Alfa Romeo and Dodge will create a full line of cars and crossovers from the same core template. (Alfa Romeo will be almost entirely.)
New four-cylinder engines may be launched in 2016.
Under “efficiency improvements,” FCA’s first listing was “new global small and medium engine architectures,” dated 2016.
The Hurricane turbocharged four cylinder engine was not specifically mentioned in the presentation but appears now to be back on track for a 2016 launch.
48-volt electrical systems are listed as being due in 2018, to be used in any car that has an available hybrid powertrain option (e.g., in the Pacifica, it would be used on the gasoline engine as well as the hybrid). Going to the new standard would cut losses due to voltage drop.
The company is working to pass emissions standards, and showed contrasts between three major sellers and their replacements.Mr. Marchionne said that over half the fleet would have hybrid options “relatively quickly.”
The Wrangler, minivan, and Ram 1500 are to be brought below 2015 requirements in the next generation, though the Wrangler, Pacifica, and Ram 1500 still will not meet fast-approaching 2018 requirements without new options. The company will cut weight by using “high strength steels and alternative materials;” and continue existing technologies.
The chart shows that the next Wrangler Unlimited will have a mild hybrid option, as well as “next gen powertrains” (possibly a brand new diesel and a turbocharged four cylinder engine option, using the upgraded Pentastar V6 as the standard). The Ram 1500 will have an optional mild hybrid and “next generation powertrains.”
North American sales have exceeded FCA’s plan, and the company plans to allow them to fall naturally, most likely after 2016, when the industry is estimated to take a downturn. One presenter said they wanted to avoid “unrealistic pricing expectations.”
Announcing this ahead of time allows for a break of the company’s long run of sales increases without analyst fury.
The prediction is still for overall sales in North America to be around the planned level from 2014 — though the US is likely to fall short of the original estimate, according to the company chart. Mexican sales includes Mitsubishi.
There was still no talk of Chrysler in Europe. There was no comment on earlier sales projections of moving to 800,000 in 2018, but one can expect substantial gains when the Pacifica and a large crossover appear. The 300 series was not mentioned and is likely not within the 2016-2018 range.
Mr. Marchionne said that the Dart would continue for a while, but that new partners may “provide product from their facilities” afterwards. He named both the Dart and the 200 as “running their course” while customer preferences shift to crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, in the face of low gasoline prices.
With both 200 and Dart being run out, the previously planned 100 seems like an unlikely addition.
The SRT was dropped, as promised, and Viper returned to Dodge, as expected. While sales were projected through 2018, now it seems 2017 will be the car’s last year on sale.
For 2016, the Dart was to have been upgraded with the new Chrysler 2-liter turbocharged engine; the driving dynamics enhanced; and its position as a very large compact or very small midsize car “leveraged.” There was no word on this but a “completely new” small to midrange engine family is to appear in 2016. It is still possible that the Dart will be flipped over the Chrysler, but it’s less likely.
These charts are from the 2014 plan. No comparable charts were shown in 2016.
Dodge’s growth predictions for 2018 were modest, compared with Chrysler and Jeep: from 596,300 cars in 2013 to 600,000 in 2018. The “new” Dart in the chart could have been meant to represent the name moving to a setup shared with Alfa Romeo, or it may have been an error or marketing-speak for a hefty upgrade. The Challenger and Charger appear now in 2018 but any changes have been pushed back to 2019 or later; then they will likely join the new Alfa Romeo design if they appear at all.
The SRT Dart is likely dead again, due to increased competition, though a 300 horsepower turbo-four Dart is still possible. The Journey replacement is likely to go to Chrysler while Dodge will get a new crossover whose basis is shared with Alfa Romeo. This would make it easier to do an SRT version, though the timetable is almost certainly off now.
Durango, expected to be dropped once Wagoneer arrived, may still continue. The minivan plan is unchanged.
There do not seem to be major changes to Jeep’s product plan other than an increase of 2018 worldwide sales from 1.9 million to 2 million.
In 2014, the company said that the Wrangler was to be completely re-engineered by 2017, along with Grand Cherokee; Grand Wagoneer starts in 2018, one year later. Now, in 2016, the Wrangler is supposedly engineered and awaiting a factory which it will get sometime in 2016 or 2017; the new version, JL, is expected as a 2018 model.
Ram 1500, due for an update in 2017 (according to the chart) or 2016 (based on the 2016 presentation), is getting new, advanced powertrains and a hybrid option. The heavy duty was last slated for a major update in 2018.
Little was said about Fiat’s plans, and Maserati is simply to get the Levante crossover to reverse sales falloffs. Alfa Romeo was updated with a new, slower product launch sequence, which is to use a single platform/architecture for a wide range of cars.
The Giulia midsize sedan is still to arrive this year, but the midsize crossover is now set for “2016/2017.” It will be followed over three years (2017-2020) by, in order, a full-size sedan, two crossovers, two “specialty” vehicles, and a hatchback.
Changes in the plan were, according to Sergio Marchionne, driven by a decision to weight China’s needs less than the original plan, due to changes in their economy.
Dodge is sharing in the engineering and fruits of the effort, but may have to wait for Alfa Romeo to enter each segment first, so critics will not be able to call the Alfa Romeo “just a Dodge with fancy trim.”
Also see: 2014-2018 Plan • 2009 Plan • 2012 Plan • Upcoming Chrysler vehicles
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