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The Fiats vs the Mopars

by David Zatz on

Sergio Marchionne and other Fiat Chrysler leaders have spent years trying to get their companies to work together as a whole, for the most part with surprising success. Fiat Chrysler is unquestionably different from DaimlerChrysler in attitude and culture. However, outsiders can still look at how well Fiat-based designs have taken hold in the U.S.


There are three kinds of Fiat-based cars sold in the US — mostly-pure Fiats (anything with the Fiat, Maserati, or Alfa Romeo badge, and the ProMaster City); heavily-reworked Fiats (ProMaster); and cars using heavily adapted versions of Fiat platforms and architectures (Renegade, Cherokee, Dart, and 200).

Let’s look at the year-to-date US sales and compare cars that sell mainly on their own merits, to those that have required heavy discounting (Ram pickups have hefty rebates, but these are a response to GM and Ford’s actions).

Through Nov. 30, 2015 Mopar: Normal Mopar: Discount Fiat-Based: Normal Fiat-Based: Discounted Modded Fiat: Normal Modded Fiat: Discounted
Chrysler 200 169,310
Chrysler 300 48,253
Chrysler Town & Country 82,991
Dodge Dart 80,661
Dodge Charger 86,058
Dodge Challenger 61,621
Dodge Viper 613
Dodge Journey 96,718
Dodge Caravan 84,471
Dodge Durango 56,562
Jeep Compass 57,873
Jeep Patriot 107,258
Jeep Wrangler 187,111
Jeep Cherokee 196,211
Jeep Grand Cherokee 174,950
Jeep Renegade 51,971
Ram Pickup 407,981
Ram ProMaster Van 24,066
Ram ProMaster City 8,113
Alfa Romeo 4C 606
Fiat 500 23,583
Fiat 500L 7,555
Fiat 500X 7,467
Total 1,022,536 429,924 417,492 80,661 40,252 429,924
Normal/Discount Ratio 2.38 5.18 0.09

Classifications were made based on available evidence and both official and unofficial statements. The Fiat 500 and ProMaster were both heavily modified by engineers in the US, while the Dart, Cherokee, Renegade, and 200 were described either as “largely clean sheet” or heavy redesigns of existing platforms and architectures.

The relatively pure Fiats are not doing so well, but that’s partly because the market for minicars has plummeted even as competition has increased. The commercial vans are facing a tough market with GM, Ford, Mercedes, and Nissan all fighting it out, and Ford winning so far.

While the Dart has gotten some criticism, it’s clearly outweighed by the high success of the Cherokee, Renegade, and 200.


Looking on the other side of the ocean, Maserati has done well through its cross-fertilization with Chrysler; and Alfa Romeo is still a question in the air, but if it is a success, and the FCA US cars built on the same basic principles are as well, it will speak well for FCA as a worldwide entity.

So far, the FCA experiment seems to be working well, despite dire predictions — the same predictions that had the former Chrysler dead and abandoned by now, with the Jeep name sold off and everything else liquidated. FCA US’ incentives have come down while sales have gone up — particularly retail sales.

CUSW 446,182
LARGE CAR 195,932
MINIVANS 167,462
SMALL CUV 59,438
JOURNEY 96,718
WRANGLER 187,111
PROMASTER 24,066 8,113
500, 500L, 4C 31,744

One point of interest, though, is how many of FCA US’ sales remain on the footings of the former Chrysler Corp., DaimlerChrysler, and Chrysler Group. The minivans and small Jeeps are to change over soon; but Wrangler and Ram will anchor the traditional “American” side.

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