It’s starting to look like it would make more sense to call Fiat Chrysler Automobiles something like Jeep Ram Automobiles. The two namesake brands of the conglomerate aren’t doing so hot and it sounds like they’re about to be downsized in favor of more profitable SUVs and luxury vehicles according to a report from Bloomberg.
In a plan that's expected to be formally announced on Friday by outgoing CEO Sergio Marchionne, FCA will reportedly stop selling the Fiat brand in North America and China and mostly limit Chrysler to the U.S. market, Bloomberg says, “according to people familiar with the matter.”
FCA declined to comment on the report when contacted by The Drive.
Meanwhile, FCA is reportedly planning to expand the Jeep and Ram segments globally. The truck and SUV brands are by far the FCA brands that perform the best in the U.S. and the story is similar in global markets that are increasingly hungry for big vehicles.
As for luxury brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati, there’s a rumor that the two brands will combine into one division, Bloomberg notes. It’s unclear whether they’ll be sold under the same name or if they’ll continue operating as independent brands but as a package deal kind of like Jaguar Land Rover. Investors speculate that this move would signal an eventual spinoff of the premium brands.
Sergio Marchionne’s 14-year tenure as FCA’s CEO has been full of weird statements. For instance, he said he wanted to give GM CEO Mary Barra a bear hug and decided to kill off the second-generation Chrysler 200 sedan early in its life.
However, his leadership has grown the conglomerate’s value more than 10 times. Marchionne doubled down on Jeep and Ram, and those bets paid off handsomely thanks to high demand for trucks and SUVs.
Fiat may not be missed by many in the U.S. and its anticipated exit from the North American may not be very surprising. However, the fate of Chrysler is still questionable as the brand currently has the aging 300 sedan, the Pacifica minivan, and the Pacifica hybrid in its lineup. If Chrysler doesn’t get a crossover soon, it might go the way of Plymouth.