Fiat Chrysler to Kill Off Family Sedans, Refocus on Jeep and Ram
Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200 On Chopping Block
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) revealed its bold new business plan at its fourth-quarter 2015 earnings presentation last week, including axing the slow-selling Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans and focusing resources on its more profitable assets. Included on that list? The Jeep and Ram brands.
Although compact and midsize sedans are generally hot sellers, FCA chief Sergio Marchionne thinks the company’s utility vehicles are a higher priority. In his relentless search for corporate partners, Marchionne would likely replace the 200 and Dart with contracted models manufactured by other automakers. That would free their respective assembly lines up for additional Jeep and Ram production, at least according to Automotive News.
The media outlet postulated the Dart’s production facility could be turned into a Jeep Cherokee plant, while the Chrysler’s Michigan plant would transition into body-on-frame production to build the next-generation Ram 1500 pickup. In another article, Automotive News detailed a potential, utility-heavy FCA model lineup in 2018, including a Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, redesigned Dodge Journey, Chrysler Pacifica–based large crossover, and Ram 1500–based fullsize Chevrolet Suburban rival.
However, there are a number of potential pitfalls to a truck-heavy FCA. If gas prices rise, demand for fuel-guzzling SUVs and pickups could drop. And outsourcing small-vehicle production to other manufacturers would limit FCA’s profitability in the case of higher oil prices.
Still, there’s no denying that Jeep and Ram have been FCA’s most popular marques in the company’s recent history, and both divisions have plans to increase fuel efficiency through smaller products, extensive diesel-ification, and mild-hybrid offerings. Those tactics could insulate the brands from potential fallout in the case of increasing fuel cots.
With FCA’s brands refocusing their efforts, it’s a good time to be a Jeep or Ram fan, so we’re justifiably excited about Marchionne’s remarks. We can’t wait to see what comes next for the company.