News - Jeep
Full throttle for Jeep but brakes on Alfa
On the up: Jeep is planning hybrid powertrains for its next-generation Wrangler as it increases its SUV production while at the same time pulling down CO2 emissions.
FCA banks on Jeep for growth while cooling its jets on Alfa Romeo model rush
28 January 2016
FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plans to almost double Jeep sales in the next
three years while at the same time reining in the hectic new-model release
schedule for Alfa Romeo.
It also is set to kill off some Chrysler and Dodge small and medium cars,
potentially replacing them with products from another manufacturer.
Describing Jeep as the bedrock of FCA’s new five-year business plan announced
overnight, the company revealed a Jeep sales target of two million vehicles by
2018 – up from last year’s record 1.2 million Jeeps.
FCA is banking on the world’s thirst for SUVs to gain pace in an environment of
low fuel prices as it expands production of the iconic off-roaders around the
The Jeep plan not only includes a born-again Wagoneer and all-new ute but also
a new-generation lightweight Wrangler, eventually with alternative powertrains
including diesel, mild hybrid and full hybrid.
The new Wrangler is due in about 2017, but the new powertrains will be
introduced at intervals between 2018 and about 2023.
To cope with the planned rush for Jeeps, FCA is planning to shuffle its
American factories, scrapping some struggling passenger models such as the
Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart to make room.
FCA has already announced a six-week closure of the Michigan plant that builds
the Chrysler 200 due to a whopping 148-day backlog of stock.
According to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart will be
“allowed to run their course” – a euphemism for letting them die after this
Some of these doomed Chrysler products look set to be replaced with vehicles
drawn from another manufacturer, with FCA saying it plans to “solidify
partnering opportunities to maintain market presence in compact and mid-sized
The company currently has a deal with Mazda to share the Japanese company’s
MX-5 as the new Fiat 124 Spider.
FCA reiterated that Alfa Romeo would remain a core global brand, but that it
plans to reduce investment in Alfa research and development, manufacturing and
new products between now and 2018.
Blaming Chinese uncertainties and the need to properly execute a global
distribution network, FCA said it would “re-pace the launch cadence” of Alfa,
completing its new line-up by 2020 instead of the original 2018.
It also plans to focus its Alfa marketing efforts mainly on the European and
North American markets due to on-going import restrictions on western-built
vehicles in China.
The Alfa plan still includes seven all-new rear-wheel-drive models to follow on
from the new Giulia mid-sized sedan, including a mid-sized SUV within the next
12 months, followed by a full-sized sports sedan, two more SUVs, two
“speciality” cars and a hatchback.
Along with Jeep, FCA’s Ram pick-up operation is set for expansion, with a
new-generation Ram 1500 due before 2022. Later, that will get next-generation
powertrains, including a mild hybrid beyond 2022.
The Ram is expected to get lightweight construction using new high-strength
steels, although American pundits still expect the truck to sit on a tough
Ram 1500 production is also expected to move into a former Chrysler plant to
increase pick-up capacity for expected sales growth.
At least a few of those vehicles might be headed to Australia, where American
Special Vehicles (ASV) – a joint-venture of Ateco Automotive and Walkinshaw
Automotive Group – is likely to have its hand up for the right-hand drive
conversion business for Australia and other RHD markets.
ASV has just started selling the current Ram 2500 and 3500 pick-ups across
Australia in RHD form, and no doubt would be keen to maintain that conversion
business into the next generation.