Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will host a presentation next month in which CEO Sergio Marchionne is slated to reveal the automaker’s next five-year business plan, taking the automaker all the way out to 2022. The company could formally announce a number of new products it’s rumored to have in the works, and Marchionne is expected to give an update on the automaker’s progress with regard to eliminating its industrial debt. More crucially, FCA could also make an announcement about retiring one or more automotive brands, or provide insight into the possibility of a future merger.
Here’s what we might expect from Fiat Chrysler’s June presentation:
New Models From Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Chrysler
Many anticipate that FCA could announce two new models from Alfa Romeo: a full-size crossover, and a coupe version of the Giulia car. Both are expected to use hybrid powertrains based around Alfa Romeo’s current turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 and 2.9-liter V6 internal combustion engines, with peak output levels of 350 and 650 horsepower, respectively.
But Fiat Chrysler’s premium Alfa Romeo brand may not be the only business unit to be shown some love. According to rumors, a new Dodge Journey based on Alfa’s lively, RWD-based Giorgio platform could be in the works, and FCA’s June presentation could be the venue for an official announcement. Replacements for the Dodge Challenger and Charger models are also reportedly coming down the pipeline, and last we’ve heard, they’ll be underpinned by the Maserati Ghibli’s platform.
In addition, a new Chrysler crossover is in the works, Marchionne says, and the release of FCA’s 2018-2022 business plan could mean that we finally get a solid release date from the automaker. The model will be based on the Chrysler Pacifica’s underpinnings, and could be called “Aspen”.
Possible Brand Cancellations
Then again, there’s a chance that the Chrysler Aspen could be shelved, or sold under one of FCA’s other brands, as many feel that the Chrysler brand itself could be discontinued. Its lineup is no longer anywhere near as full as it once was, today selling just the full-size 300 sedan and Pacifica minivan in North America, and the future of the 300 is already murky.
There’s been some speculation that the Fiat brand could be discontinued in North America, too, as it’s been struggling with sales of late – not exactly something a low-margin bargain brand can afford to sustain. With the Fiat 500X and 500L, FCA had hoped the brand might diversify its way to success, latching onto the utility vehicle craze. It didn’t exactly work, and sales tumbled 19 percent to 26,492 in 2017.
Either announcement would be a surprise at next month’s presentation, but not necessarily a shocking one.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne set out to eliminate the automaker’s industrial debt by June, 2018, and by next month’s presentation, we ought to learn whether he’s finally succeeded. Already, the executive confirmed Fiat Chrysler’s plans to spin off its Magneti Marelli parts business by late-2018 or early-2019, which could help generate the necessary funds, but it’s possible FCA won’t need it.
Of course, a debt-free FCA would also be more attractive to potential merger partners, and the company’s CEO might be remiss if he didn’t comment on who some of those partners might be. Ford, Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot-Citroën, and Hyundai all have strong potential.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will present its 2018-2022 business plan on June 1st, but don’t expect to learn who Marchionne’s successor will be when he finally steps down in April of next year; the executive has said that an announcement on that front won’t come until 2019.