Fourteen years to the day after taking the helm of nearly-bankrupt Fiat SpA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne presented his final five-year plan for the company today in Italy. The announcement included a slight declaration of success, confirming the company expects to be in a net positive cash position by the end of June.
Marchionne was playful with his announcement. Upon taking the stage in Balocco, Italy the executive unzipped his trademark sweater to reveal a bright blue tie. He accompanied the reveal with an Oscar Wilde paraphrase, “arguably well tied.”
Prior to diving into the new five-year plan, Marchionne confirmed the company expects to be industrial debt-free by the end of June. This will put FCA in a net positive cash position for the first time since Marchionne took over the company fourteen years ago, stating, “I expect that when we close the books at the end of June, we will report a net industrial cash position.”
Greater cash means more investment. FCA was not shy with its future product plans, which include an intense focus on the company’s niche brands and electrification.
FCA says going forward the company will focus its efforts on four of its brands: Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Maserati and Ram. The four brands show the greatest profit potential and offer consumers more passion-based products, a differentiator FCA executives seem to feel will be imperative given the commoditization risk of mainstream automobiles.
FCA also hopes to boost margins in North America by launching a new captive finance arm to the company. Ford and General Motors already have captive finance units.
ANOTHER ALFA SUV
The plan for Alfa Romeo looks very similar to the one the company presented back in 2014, but with lower sales volumes of 400,000 units versus the very aggressive 700,000 goal of the 2014 plan.
New Alfa Romeo head Tim Kuniskis confirmed plans to bring back the 8C luxury sedan by 2022. During the period from now until 2022 the brand will also refresh the Giulia and Stelvio and bring to market a new large crossover, which has been rumored in recent years. Kuniskis also confirmed Alfa will offer stretched versions of most of its lineup, likely necessary for the Chinese market.
BOLD, ELECTRIC MASERATI PLANS
Kuniskis also reviewed the future of Maserati, which is headlined with a plan to double brand volumes between now and 2022. Part of this sales growth is expected from North America, where Maserati says it will add 22 dealerships in the coming years.
More dealerships obviously means more models will be found within them. Kuniskis confirmed Maserati is working on a new high-performance electrified coupe based on the Alfieri concept. The car will be an all-wheel-drive EV and feature an aluminum frame when it arrives to replace the GranTurismo.
Maserati will also launch a new midsize crossover plug-in hybrid by 2022, slotting under the Levante. Speaking of the Levante, Kuniskis also confirmed new versions of it and the Quattroporte sometime over the next four years.
Kuniskis also said Maserati would offer four full-electric models, and eight hybrids by 2022, but combustion engine powertrains would come from Ferrari.
MIDSIZE RAM PICKUP
Next up is Ram, which confirmed two new products. The first is a production version of the Ram Rebel TRX Concept. This version of the Ram will battle directly with the Ford F-150 Raptor with its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8. Launching this product is strategic, according to Ram boss Mike Manley, saying the aim is to boost Ram’s average transaction prices to F-150 levels. Currently Ram lags both Ford and GM in average transaction prices.
Manley also confirmed the Ram brand will launch a new midsize pickup truck, joining the Chevrolet Colorado and Ford Ranger. Details of the new midsize truck were not offered, including what which nameplate will be offered on it.
Ram wrapped up its report by confirming new versions of the Ram ProMaster City van.
Manley also expanded upon plans for the Jeep brand, which include electrifying its entirely lineup and offering a new subscription service to allow fans to access their products.
Jeep plans to expand into the global A-segment, which is a move the company has contemplated for several years. Jeep will also add a three-row version of the Grand Cherokee alongside the previously-confirmed Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
Manley also asserted Jeep will have 10 plug-in hybrids and four battery-electric vehicles in its portfolio by 2022, but declined to detail any of the models. Along with electrified models, the Jeep brand will launch a new subscription service and use-based insurance for fans who do off-roading for fleet management.
Ultimately Jeep and Manley are sticking to a previously announced goal of Jeep owning 20 percent of the global utility market, a goal most find very ambitious.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
FCA did not offer much when it comes to the company’s mainstream brands, Dodge, Chrysler and Fiat. Despite little to no mention of the brands, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed they will not be entirely eliminated. Clearly the three will be taking a backseat in this version of FCA’s five-year plan.