AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is counting on expanding sales at Jeep, Alfa-Romeo and Maserati, a revival of the Chrysler brand and new vehicles to place it firmly in the top ranks of global automakers.
Italian automaker Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group, which formed a partnership five years ago and officially combined when Fiat finished buying Chrysler in January, jointly presented their sales targets and product plans Tuesday in a daylong meeting at Chrysler’s Michigan headquarters.
There are many new products, including a full lineup of cars from Alfa-Romeo, as well as some victims. Jeep is ditching the Compass and Patriot small SUVs in favor of a compact SUV that will come out in 2016.
And to entice consumers to buy more Chryslers, the company must end its internal rivalry with the Dodge brand. So, after nearly 30 years on the market, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan will be killed off in an effort to focus Dodge on performance cars and boost sales of the Chrysler Town and Country.
While the company won’t officially be known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles until a Fiat shareholders meeting this summer, the 400 analysts, media and other attendees at Tuesday’s event were welcomed by a sign with the new company name at the entrance to Chrysler’s sprawling campus north of Detroit.
Shares of the combined company are expected to begin trading jointly on the New York Stock Exchange and in Milan, Italy, by Oct. 1. It will be officially based in the United Kingdom, for tax purposes, but is retaining headquarters in Italy and Michigan.
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the combined company wants to grow sales 60 percent to more than 7 million cars and trucks by 2018. Fiat and Chrysler sold 4.4 million cars and trucks last year, compared with 6.3 million for Detroit rival Ford. Toyota was the global leader with sales of 9.98 million vehicles.
Among Fiat Chrysler’s plans:
Chrysler will become the mainstream brand for North America, designed to compete with Toyota and Chevrolet. The Town and Country minivan will get an update and add a plug-in hybrid version in 2016. A new compact car, the 100, will compete with the Toyota Corolla in 2016. A year later, a full-size crossover will be launched to compete with the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.
Dodge will lose the Grand Caravan and the Avenger sedan and concentrate on being a sporty, performance-oriented brand designed to appeal to younger buyers. The SRT brand, which includes the Viper sports car, will be consolidated with Dodge and considered the halo of the Dodge brand.
Alfa-Romeo, which returns to the U.S. this year with the 4C sports car, plans to introduce eight vehicles globally by 2018, including small, midsize and full-size cars and two SUVs.
Jeep sales are expected to top 1 million this year and may grow to 1.9 million by 2018 with an aggressive global expansion, particularly in Latin America and Asia, the company said. A new SUV in 2016 will replace the Compass and Patriot, and the seven-passenger Grand Wagoneer will launch in 2017.
Fiat brand sales are expected to grow from 1.5 million in 2013 to 1.9 million in 2018. New vehicles will include a subcompact car and compact pickup truck for South America in 2015, the Fiat 500X crossover for North America in 2015 and a new Panda small car for Europe in 2018.