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Sergio on Renegade, Windsor, more

by David Zatz on

Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne spoke with Italian publication Quattroruote earlier today on a number of topics.  The official start of Jeep Renegade production will be July 14, he said, with the Jeep and Fiat 500X filling the huge plant’s  full capacity. A vehicle based on the Mazda Miata will be ready in late 2015, but the brand has not yet been chosen — it could be either Fiat or Alfa Romeo. A plug-in hybrid is due for American sale in 2016 (based on prior comments, likely a minivan).

Sergio Marchionne small 2011

Mr. Marchionne noted that Chrysler will be producing Jeeps in Fiat plants in Italy (Renegade), Brazil, and China. The latter two plants will “pay Chrysler.” He said there is no urgency with regard to Chrysler’s debt. Renegades are due for Brazilian construction in early 2015; these will be sold in Latin America, not Europe. Chinese Jeep production is slated for 2016.  A new plant in Pernabuco, Brazil, is set to start up in late 2016.

Mr. Marchionne emphasized the difference between Jeep Renegade and 500X: “ Jeep Renegade 500X and share the architecture, but have very different capacities for precise technical choices and to maintain discipline and identity, it is essential to keep these things in order not to pollute the DNA of the brand.”

Finally, he brought up the issue of Chrysler and Lancia, saying there would be Chrysler models in Europe, “but we’ll talk in May. For now I cannot tell you more.” There are numerous choices, but pairing Chrysler and Lancia as they have been appears to have been rejected as a continuing strategy. The Fiat Freemont, a Chrysler-built version of the Dodge Journey, has worked much better than the Lancia versions of Town & Country, 300, and 200; so it seems likely that Chrysler vehicles will be sold under multiple brands (e.g. Fiat and Alfa Romeo), or that the Chrysler or Dodge brand will be re-introduced to Europe.

Separately, Mr. Marchionne told Automotive News that a decision on the Windsor plant, which currently makes all Chrysler minivans, would be presented in two days. The plant is expected to shut down in November or December 2014, undergo a retooling and renovation, and re-open in February or March 2015 to build the 2016 Chrysler Town & Country minivans.  However, Mr. Marchionne has been negotiating with the Canadian government over subsidies for the Windsor and Brampton (large-car) assembly plants, since Canada tends to provide 20% in subsidies; while American plants are generally paid for with around 50% in taxpayer money. Some of the Canadian funding would come in the form of low interest loans.

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