FCA to focus on trucks, SUVs; outsource car production
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is rearrange its product mix to focus more on trucks and SUVs and less on conventional cars, the automaker announced in its latest business report on Wednesday.
FCA cited low fuel prices that it sees as “permanent” as the main reason for shifting away from cars and toward SUVs and trucks. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne also believes that “there’s been a permanent shift toward SUVs and pickups” in terms of consumer demand.
As a result, FCA will “re-utilize … plant infrastructure to try and deal with the development of both Jeep and the Ram brands,” Marchionne said, according to Automotive News.
That plan to move Jeep and Ram to the forefront will result in the delayed United States rollout of the Alfa Romeo brand. The Giulia, which Alfa Romeo revealed last June, will go into production by the end of March. Alfa won’t add its second mainstream model, a midsize SUV, until 2017. A full-size sedan, two addition utility vehicles, a hatchback and two “specialty vehicles” won’t appear until sometime between 2017 and 2020.
The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, meanwhile, could be sourced from another automaker in the future. Marchionne says the Dart and 200 “will run their course,” after which FCA will re-tool their plants to build more trucks and SUVs.
As with the Fiat 124, which is based on the Mazda Miata, FCA could contract another automaker to produce its small and midsize sedans. Such practice is becoming commonplace in the industry, as seen with Infiniti’s recent introduction of the Mercedes-base QX30.
In all likelihood, FCA will use the 200’s Sterling Heights production facility to build the next-generation Ram 1500, due out in 2018. That Ram will utilize body-on-frame construction, but will gain a hybrid powertrain option.