Although most news surrounding Jeep has been in reference to its potential sale, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne may not be prepared to let just the Jeep brand go.
In fact, he understands Jeep is an essential anchor to FCA and offers the most value to whomever he may potentially merge the automaker with in the future—if it even happens. In the meantime, Marchionne has one plan for Jeep: growth. The Italian-Canadian executive believes the off-road SUV brand could sell seven million units per year in the future, according to Bloomberg.
It seems far from doable, but remember Marchionne’s prediction that Jeep would sell two million units in 2018? That doesn’t look so far-fetched now. It’s only one reason why the brand, worth $27 billion, is coveted by Chinese suitors. Marchionne believes crossovers and SUVs could become one-third of the entire market, and Jeep will be poised to take advantage of that trend.
Speaking during an earnings call, Marchionne also reiterated the need to hang onto valuable brands like Jeep.
“We do need to worry about the stump that’s left behind,” he said. “If we start picking away all the things that appear to be interesting to people, then I think we’re going to end up with a sub-optimal business that cannot run.”
FCA may spin off its Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands in order to maximize their value and continue raising capital to pay off company debts. It would also make FCA much more attractive for another automaker to merge if core brands such as Jeep, Ram, and Dodge remain, and luxury marques are removed from the picture.