More SUVs and trucks are coming to Fiat Chrysler Automobile brands at the expense of cars, as the group realigns its product portfolio in North America to meet shifting consumer demands.
In an announcement that also included a two-year delay in the introduction of new products for Alfa Romeo, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the new North American strategy is a response to lower gas prices that are currently hovering around $2 a gallon and which are “now seen as permanent condition”, as well as a “permanent” shift in US demand for SUVs, CUVs and trucks instead of cars.
The revised plan calls to “realign installed capacity to produce more pickups and Jeeps by end of 2017 to match shift in demand”, instead of building a new factory as some unions had hoped for.
FCA will place its focus on the Jeep and RAM marques over the next few years. New products planned for Jeep are a new Wrangler with next-gen powertrains, including diesel and hybrid units in 2017, a Grand Wagoneer and a pickup truck, while RAM will get a next generation 1500, also with new powertrains, such as a mild-hybrid variant.
Marchionne cast a definite shadow over the future of the group’s compact and mid-size sedans, admitting that the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 will go away, but hinted that the company may turn to other automakers to find opportunities to “maintain market presence” in these segments.
“There will be a number of things that will be put in place in the next 18 months — things that have been agreed and detailed, that will effectively withdraw the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart from the marketplace, for a long period of time, during which we will be continuing discussions with potential partners,” Marchionne said, according to the Detroit Free Press.