Tomorrow Sergio Marchionne will take the stage for his last major event as CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. And when he does, sources expect him to announce the constriction of both those brands in favor of more profitable model lines.
According to Bloomberg, the departing chief executive may announce the withdrawal of the Fiat brand from the US, while confining the Chrysler brand to that same market. That’d mean the withdrawal of the Fiat 500 and its stablemates from the North American market, and of the Chrysler 300 and Pacifica from everywhere outside of their home market.
Instead, FCA will focus its energies on luxury vehicles under the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, and on the more profitable trucks sold under the Jeep and Ram names. It could even consolidate Alfa and the Trident marque into a single unit (without ditching either brand) in preparation for a spin-off similar to what it already did with Ferrari.
Flagging Fiat Sales In America
Marchionne spearheaded the acquisition the Chrysler Group’s acquisition in 2009, and wasted little time in leveraging its North American network to relaunch the Fiat brand here in 2010 with the arrival of the Mexican-built 500. It bolstered the little hatchback with the launch of the 500L minivan in 2013, the 500X crossover in 2014, and the 124 Spider (based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata) in 2016. However the Fiat brand’s fortunates have declined in recent years, from over 46,000 units sold in the US in 2014 to less than 26,500 last year. And sales have continued to drop over the first four months of this year.
As important as Marchionne’s final act of consolidation will be the nomination of his successor. Sources expect a promotion from within, with CFO Richard Palmer, European chief Alfredo Altavilla, and Jeep head Mike Manley listed among the favorites. Sergio is slated to step down next year, by which time his successor will have to be announced.