Today, Sergio Marchionne said that there would be no additions to Chrysler Group’s brand roster — nor will there be any deletions. In answer to CNN Money’s Peter Valdez asking whether he was happy with the current brand lineup, the Chrysler Group CEO said, “I’m more than happy with the lineup. I don’t need any more....[and] We have no intention of reducing the number of brands.”
He also said:
When we looked at Ram, we made two decisions: One to carve out Ram from Dodge because we thought that the association was actually not helpful, and I realize that, for this one, we’re going against the grain. Ford has decided to go with an oval strategy across the whole range [one brand], and we’re the only ones that keep on carving up or have carved up our brand name portfolio into more distinct pieces.
But our ambitions for Ram was to build on that pickup heritage and effectively expand it into a commercial vehicle lineup. So you’ll see a van coming out with a Ram badge later on this year ( Ram ProMaster, based on Fiat Ducato ). This is part of the collaboration between Fiat and Chrysler. So there’s more coming for Ram and for that… to create the identity – to create the true professional sort of commercial lineup of products, we needed to create a separate identity which had nothing to do with a Durango or with a Journey or with a new Dart.
Ram reportedly sells a higher proportion of its pickups to commercial buyers, rather than recreational or lifestyle users, than GM or Ford; separating out the Ram line from Dodge has often been seen as a way to change the Dodge brand identity, but it may be that the intent was more to focus Ram more clearly on the commercial/professional market (much as GMC calls itself “professional grade.”)
As for the Alfa Romeo launch, it is apparently proceeding, with the Maserati lineup expansion coming first. Maserati will be using their own new V6 and V8 engines with ZF automatics and what is rumored to be the basic Chrysler LX platform to create the next Quattroporte - launched today - and a smaller car based on it, the Ghibli, followed by the Grand Cherokee-based Levante. Marchionne said,
Our commitment to the development of the premium brands needs to be sequential, disciplined and ordered. So... in an hour and thirty minutes we’ll be unveiling the new Maserati Quattroporte. That’s the first commitment that we’re making. There’s another car coming out of the Maserati lineup later this year. There will be an SUV that will be coming out at the end of next year. And so while we’re doing all this, we will also progress on Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo and Maseratis are premium vehicles. They can afford absolutely zero degrees of error. Power trains, setup, looks need to be absolutely perfect. And so we’re going to take our time and make sure that we execute across the whole range the commitment that we’re making both on Alfa and Maserati.