FCA Boss Suggests Time’s Running Out For 300, Journey And Grand Caravan

The Chrysler and Dodge brands were notably absent from FCA’s Capital Markets event and that raised concerns about the future of both companies.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was worked to ease those fears, but there’s still not a lot of news about their future. That’s changing today as Motor Trend has published a lengthy interview with FCA’s head of passenger car brands in North America.

Steve Beahm said Chrysler and Dodge play an important role in FCA’s future as passenger car brands are responsible for 20 percent of company’s revenue in the NAFTA region. Dodge is the biggest in terms of volume as well as revenue and Beahm noted it will become “America’s sports car brand.”

Dodge is far from a sports car company as a majority of its lineup consists of crossovers and minivans such as the Durango, Journey and Grand Caravan. Beahm suggested this will change in the future as he hinted some of the vehicles “may not fit” with its new focus on performance.

Beahm declined to say which vehicles could be getting the axe, but he implied the Journey and Grand Caravan are living on borrowed time. However, he did confirm both models will continue to be offered for the 2019 model year.

The future of the Durango appears pretty secure as Beahm noted there is an SRT variant which is “one impressive vehicle.” He went on to say the Durango “absolutely” fits in with what Dodge is trying to accomplish.

While Dodge wants to become a sports car brand, it appears there isn’t a future for the Viper. Beahm reiterated Sergio Marchionne’s comment that the model isn’t in the company’s five year plan.

While we shouldn’t exact to see a new Viper anytime soon, Beahm did hint a more Challenger variants. As he explained, “We’ve got some other stuff coming down the road.”

Beahm also hinted the Hellcat engine could be offered in additional models as he said “We’re always challenging our people on the marketing side to come up with what the people want.” As part of that mission, the engine will eventually find its way into the Ram 1500 Rebel TRX.

The situation at Chrysler is bleaker as Beahm said he views the company as a “people movers” brand. He went on to suggest the 300 doesn’t fit in with FCA’s vision for Chrysler, but confirmed the model will continue to be offered through the 2019 model year.

FCA’s previous five-year plan called for Chrysler to receive two new crossovers including one based on the Pacifica. Its future remains uncertain as Beahm stated “It’s not in the future plans Mr. Marchionne spoke about, so I can’t give more details about that.”

That’s not very reassuring, but Marchionne previously said design work has been completed on the crossover and “We can probably get it up and running in 18 months.” Considering that comment was made back in January, the crossover could arrive about a year from now.

 

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  • Jay

    The models you failed to update substantially? Give then some good upgrades and you’ll get some buyers.

    • Craig

      More than the 50,000 each year they are already getting for the 300.

    • Doodez

      The 300 sells well already. Looks awesome too!!

      • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

        It sells well to fleet which means absolutely nothing.

        Fleet operators just want the lowest cost product, and it absolutely demolishes residual values.

        • Doodez

          The 300 as a mass fleet vehicle? Do you live in Paraguay? Do you know what you’re talking about?

          • Jay

            Agreed, I’ve never seen a fleet 300.

          • Victor Ferreira

            While I’d hardly say they’re the sole buyers of the 300, I’ve seen (and still see) plenty of rental fleet 300s.

          • Jay

            You’re right I forgot the rental companies.. I still like the 300 and wish it had gotten more power and a better facelift.

          • botornot387

            Are you joking? This is almost always what you pick up at Hertz, Avis, or Budget. Where are you ?

          • Jay

            You missed my other reply…

          • botornot387

            sorry didn’t see it.

    • Dennis Scipio

      Surprisingly, the aging Grand Caravan is still selling well. Last year they sold 125,196 units compared to the Chrysler Pacifica only sold 118,274 units that same year. I assume most of them are fleet sales.

      • Jay

        Not a big difference in sales and I’m sure the Pacifica costs more too.. I agree there could be plenty of fleet sales in the number as well.

  • Craig

    ‘Chrysler’ as the ‘people mover brand’. What dinks. This love-fest for SUV and ‘crossovers’ is NOT going to last forever. And when the next HUGE gas crisis hits…. it isn’t going to be pretty. That said… To give the Chrysler 300 sales numbers some perspective…. compare it to Buick. The Lacrosse, Verano, Cascada and Regal sold a COMBINED total of 36,139 in 2017. That same year Chrysler sold 51,239 300’s.

  • TheToadPrince..~~ToadSquad

    i freakin hate u serg. i wasted all of chryslers money to bring back a failed line up Alfa…and those cars cant even getboff the line without it breakin down or having glitch issues…seriously Fiat u suck soo much. cant ev3n make a decent car ….even the new rams are gettin recalled.

    • Six Thousand Times

      Wow, never seen the inside of an English class?

      • TheToadPrince..~~ToadSquad

        ohh im sorry mrs pennyworth..i didnt know this was an english quiz..

        • Liam Paul

          lol good come back, I bow to you

        • Six Thousand Times

          If you expect to be taken seriously, at least try not to sound so stupid.

    • Ed Ward

      Well said

      • Six Thousand Times

        I love it when two morons find each other.

    • Michelin

      Without FIAT, Chrysler Group would be dead ten years ago !!!
      Renault, Daimler end Cerberus left the ship before sinking with il.
      FIAT still keeps the boat afloat !

      • Six Thousand Times

        We’ve tried to explain this to them but I guess it really is a post-fact world.

      • Ed Ward

        LMAO, fiat was dead broke in 2009 when the government loaned Chrysler 12 billion big ones. Fiat was broke in 2004 when GM gave them 2 billion dollars to scram. That 2 billion dollar gift from GM ran out in by 2008 and Chrysler’s 12 billion U.S. government loan saved fiat.

        • Michelin

          Yes, It was a loan, this money come back to u.s. government !!!!
          Otherwise, G.M. is not santa Claus, they paied Fiat to break a contract that G.M. boss signed and did not wont respect.

      • Classic Bob

        When was Renault part of Chrysler’s ship?

        More like Chrysler revenues have kept Fiat from sinking -both companies were actually on the brink. Mastermind Sergio wheeled a great deal to get Chrysler for no money down..

        • Michelin

          May be you are too joung, …. before Mercedes-chrysler marriage, Renault tried a joint venture with Chrysler, named American Motors.
          Grand Cherokee and Voyager in European Market with diesel Renault engines …
          Quikly Renault understood that was mission impossible, and ended marriage.

          • Classic Bob

            I’m not really that young, i think you have facts confused.

            I remember Renault’s ownership of AMC well BEFORE Chrysler bought it from them. Yes, Jeeps had Renault diesels and many components were co-engineered with Renault, however that cooperation was with AMC, not Chrysler.

            As soon as Chrysler had bought AMC, many Renault components including Bendix electronics were replaced with Chrysler components. Part of the purchase deal included the requirement of buying a certain volume of PRV engines for the Premier amd continuing marketing the Renault based Medallion -both of which Chrysler terminated early.

            Chrysler never had any marriage or co-developed products with Renault, but has partnered with Peugeot with some engines.

  • Stephen G

    Wow, I thought the Germans f’d Chrysler up bad, now this! I was under the impression that Alpha was FCA’s “sports car” brand. Does that mean Alpha is going away? What a mess!

    • Mr. EP9

      What I think is going to happen is they’ll just end up pulling Alfa and Fiat from the US but still offer them overseas.

      • Doodez

        Yes, I agree. French brands should take note.

  • Doodez

    Perhaps, or it could be that the 300 and Charger are 2 of the last affordable American rwd full size sedans that still offer v8 power. They’re the last of their kind (Cadillac offers a few rwd v8 models too I think?.. but less affordable).
    Buy one now, or forever regret it.

    • Status

      There’s your problem right there. A Chrysler shouldn’t be considered affordable, and neither should Cadillac. They are intended to be luxury offerings, but pricing them low just to move units each month kills their residuals and ruins the brand luxury reputation.

      I mean a Dodge Charger can bring in more money per unit than a 300, and Dodge was never once considered as a luxury product. That should tell you everything that’s wrong with the 300; it being RWD with a V8 notwithstanding.

      • Doodez

        Theyre not cheap… i said affordable because i was comparing them to other rwd v8 models (think MB, BMW, Cadillac…). Do you think Chrysler should price the 300 v8 at 70k$… maybe 80k? You really think that’s going to fix things at Chrysler? Really?

        • Status

          If the 300 was $70K from the get go, we wouldn’t be lamenting it’s demise today as a loss leader.

          Luxury, by definition, isn’t supposed to be affordable or easily obtainable. Luxury is anything that contributes to an ease of living that is not freely available. A $45K 300 is not a luxury, it’s a commodity as evident in it’s fleet sales.

          I mean Dodge has no problem offering and getting $70K+ for their decidedly non-luxury cars, whereas Chrysler can’t even command $50K in top spec. That kind of pricing disadvantage has eroded their market position where nobody sees owing a Chrysler as a luxury. If anyone can have it, it’s not a luxury.

          And you think I’m trolling because I think Chrysler, as a brand, has imploded and is engulfed by Dodge.

          And we were comparing apples to apples, but I call those apples ‘dollars’, and for a company like FCA, the product that can haul in the most dollars per unit is the one that’s worth keeping.

          Now you know why the 300 is getting the chop whereas the Charger isn’t.

      • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

        Nothing about Chrysler is luxury anymore.

        Their brand equity means absolutely nothing unless you’re 60+ years old.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    Good, they are all ancient FCA junk.

    This is what happens when you neglect to update your vehicles and improve the quality even though they’ve been on the market for almost a decade.

  • eb110americana

    The Pacifica was always intended to replace the Town & Country and Grand Caravan (and Voyager, and regular Caravan if you include legacy models). The Grand Caravan was only kept around temporarily to supply fleet sales without hurting Pacifica residuals. This is common with cars like the “Impala Limited” or other makes with the “Classic” moniker.

    The Journey was always a rather forgettable entry, even when introduced back in 2008. With the popularity of crossovers, it’s kind of surprising they haven’t replaced it yet, but if anything, it’s a shock that it lasted this long. Dodge will likely need at least one crossover to stay relevant, so I expect they prefer to start as far away from the Journey as possible.

    The end of the 300 is the one that surprises me. There are only two vehicles at Chrysler: the 300 and the Pacifica. The Pacifica, RAM, and Dart are pretty much the only non-Jeep vehicles FCA has bothered to invest in. Without the 300 or other model to share the show floor, FCA might as well shutter Chrysler and move the Pacifica elsewhere or kill it along with the Dart investment, which is not only a horrible waste of limited capital, but also of the storied Chrysler marque–in record time, no less. The Pacifica sold 118,274 units in 2017, and is on-track for even more sales this year. The neglected 300 sold 51,237 in 2017, even as sedan sales are tanking. Compare that to something like say the Avalon, which only moved 32,583 over the same period.

    At least Dodge seems to still have a fire lit in their furnace. Although I would hesitate to call them, “America’s sports car brand.” Maybe more accurately, “America’s muscle car brand.” The Viper was their only sports car, and nothing they now produce can challenge cars like the Corvette, let alone the Camaro–except in a straight line. Here’s hoping that some of the billions in Jeep profits that have been funneled into Alfa, Maserati, and Fiat, result in some new Dodge platforms that can actually go around corners too. Unfortunately, their last update said that they would be “substantially” updating the Charger/Challenger RWD platform *yet again.*

    Mostly though, all of FCA needs to get their reliability healthy. If they can show that they can go head-to-head with Honda and Toyota, their problems will be over tomorrow.

    • Status

      I’ll take your Avalon vs. 300 stats and do some rudimentary and rough revenue math:

      The starting price for the Avalon is $35,500 USD
      The starting price for the 300 is $28,995 USD

      If the Avalon sold 32,583 units last year, you could expect the Avalon to generate $1,156,696,500 in revenue for Toyota.

      If the 300 sold 51,237 units last year, you could expect the 300 to generate $1,485,616,815 in revenue for FCA.

      So it looks favourable for FCA at present, but that $6,505 price difference between the two is quite telling. That’s $6,500 more that 32,583 consumers were willing to spend to get an Avalon instead of the lower priced 300.

      So it begs the question: if the starting price of the 300 was $35,500, would the 300 have done just as well?

      As for the revenue, the difference is $328,920,315 USD. For Toyota, that amounts to selling an extra 9,265.36 Avalons. To equal the 300’s revenue, the Avalon starting price to would need to be raised to $45,594.84.

      That’s why I don’t rely on raw sales numbers. They don’t tell you nearly as much as the money does.

      • eb110americana

        You’ve made the assumption that every unit sold was a base model. Remember that the 300 offers AWD and a V8 as up-level packages–options not available on the Avalon. The Charger and 300 are popular for being more traditional RWD American cars, so I would not be surprised to see a healthy take rate on those packages. Without data on the price spread though, it is impossible to know.

        At any rate, gross revenue is less relevant than net revenue. With the old chassis under the 300/Charger, I doubt they have much overhead compared to something like the Avalon, that is all new every 6 years or so.

  • Liam Paul

    Let’s all be real folks. FCA is living on Borrowed time. Chrysler best bet is to somehow ( if they even can ) get away from fiat and focus on jeep and ram sales and let the 300, Challenger and Charger live on for another 5 years. Chrysler needs someone big like Hyundai to save them from fiat. I know everybody hates this but the government could save Chrysler too, it’s american and trump could make a deal with Chrysler, you make all american made cars in america only with american labor, all parts made in america and all materials from america and we will save you from fiat. Chrysler should be it’s own company again

  • botornot387

    FCA is so misguided. The work they have done tarnishing the brands can’t be reversed. If they were smart, they would just put the Chrysler name out of its misery. Or make it the GMC to Dodge. And don’t cannibalize each other by badge engineering the same models with no differences. The 300 is a dead model, with no revisions, ugrades, and the worst quality interior in its class or that price point. Being RWD based isn’t going to help it pull anymore customers.

  • TrevP

    Suggests?! LOf**kingL! Caravan and Journey are 11 years old. 300 is 7 years old. Time ran our years ago.

  • Six Thousand Times

    FCA is letting Chrysler/Dodge die of natural causes.

  • Joe E

    I’m clearly in the minority but I don’t think making Chrysler a “people mover” brand is such a bad idea. Most people associate them with minivans, which are people movers. Pacifica is a well executed model that I’m sure sees some nice transaction prices (I see many loaded models driving around). Add in a few crossovers and I’m sure they’d sell well, kind of in the sort-of premium Buick Enclave / Mazda CX-9 space.

    I think Chrysler still has a tiny bit of brand equity left such that people would be more willing to pay more than they would for a Dodge crossover. Look how many Encores and Enclaves Buick slangs, and I think they have much worse brand perception than Chrysler does. Once “people mover” profits roll in, do a cool coupe or something, really stylish, just to pay the brand some respect and keep Mopar fanboys happy. I’d much rather see Chrysler stick around in some form as a brand, even if it’s people movers, vs. going away completely.

    • Classic Bob

      Mopar fans would love to see Chrysler rebuild its luxury legacy, but the damage that’s been done to the brand since 1997 (if not earlier) would take a decade or two to reverse. Chrysler’s almost become what Plymouth was. So a “people mover” company would be good place to restart, with a gradual push back upmarket over time.

      I however don’t hold out much hope, as Fiat has a track record of killing brands. The best thing to happen would be for Hyundai or PSA to take over, unlike Fiat they actually have a believable game plan for their own brands.

  • Paul

    These models are getting a little long in the tooth and need replaced or abandoned anyway, so this is good in that respect.

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