Once the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan goes out of production in December, Fiat Chrysler will only build Jeep SUVs and Ram trucks in the United States, in addition to the Dodge Durango.
The only car FCA will be making domestically is the 2017 Dodge Viper, which will also go the way of the Dodo bird following the 2017 model year. Replacements for the 200 and the compact Dodge Dart (set to go out of production in September) will likely share platforms with vehicles from another automaker and will be made abroad.
As The Detroit Free Press points out, these moves are all apart of Fiat Chrysler’s new plan to boost profit margins in the U.S. By turning its attention towards more profit heavy trucks and SUVs, sales of which have been strong amid low fuel prices, FCA hopes to match the profit margins of its competition.
“I think our biggest task now is to close the operating margin gap with our competitors,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a conference call with analysts on Wednesday. “That remains a permanent fixation that we have inside the house. I think we will be de-carred in the U.S. by (the first quarter) of 2017.”
Earlier this week FCA announced a $1.5 billion investment in its Sterling Heights assembly plant, which will be used to retool the site to produce the next-generation Ram 1500. The plant is currently building the ill-fated 200. The Belvedere, Illinois plant currently tasked with building the Dodge Dart, meanwhile, will be retooled to accommodate the Jeep Cherokee. The free space created in moving the Cherokee to Illinois will be utilized by the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, which will be produced in higher volume than the current model.