Fiat Chrysler Automotive Lays Out Plans At Investor Day

Chrysler, or more accurately Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), has lots of changes to all of its brands on deck. The company talked about the brands and plans at its Investor Day event on Tuesday, delineating what’s on tap for its Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari units in an all-day event at the company's Auburn Hills, Mich., U.S. headquarters.

Here are the biggies so far: 

* Jeep will wear the mantle of Chrysler's lead global marque, with the goal of making Jeep the top SUV brand in the world, which it was until 1990. The company will focus on brand and product extension, lifecycle management, expansion of manufacturing footprint and dealership count. For the latter, the plan is to expand from 4,706 dealers last year to 6,023 by 2018, worldwide. The company is optimistic: it cites IHS Global stats that SUV growth will be 6% between 2013 and 2018, with Asia driving demand. 

* The company acknowledged that there’s a "turf war" between Dodge and Chrysler divisions (that probably informs rumors that the company plans to euthanize the Dodge brand at some point). The company, which characterized Chrysler as FCA's mainstream North American brand, said the brand identity is "Ambitious American Ingenuity" focused on brand promises like "perfect balance of substance and style," "built with pride in North America," value, and world-class quality. In addition to honing the brand voice, promise and identity, the company will do a much-needed product portfolio extension by adding a small car, a mid crossover and full-size crossover, which FCA says will allow it to compete for an additional 7.6 million sales per year. Chrysler will also be the only division selling minivans, as the company is nixing Dodge Caravan. 

* That leaves Dodge with the Dart, Charger, Challenger, and Avenger cars and Durango and Journey SUVs. The company is apparently still bullish on Dodge as a performance brand. On tap are the 2015 Challenger and Charger this summer and fall, respectively. 

* Fiat is hoping to create some bipartite order to its hodgepodge of global vehicles and with a "rational, functional" side and an "emotional, aspirational" side, which will be elaborated in vehicles, marketing and retail experience. In his presentation, Chrysler CMO Olivier Francois, conceded that globally Fiat is blurred, with no common brand equity, inconsistent pricing, and maybe too many similar cars. 

* Chrysler LLC's SRT performance marque will be consolidated under Dodge, which essentially boomerangs the performance marque back from whence it came. The company said Tim Kuniskis, president and CEO of Dodge, will handle the move. Famed designer of the Chrysler 300, former head of Dodge, and most recently head of the briefly-stand-alone SRT brand Ralph Gilles is SVP of product design and president and CEO of Motorsports. 

 

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