Where are the new cars?

No new products in the pipeline. That’s the current situation in FCA after three years of continous launches. Back in 2015, the car maker started a new product offensive with the relaunch of Alfa Romeo and the arrival of the Fiat Tipo, 500X and 124 Spider. Then it was the turn for the Fiat Toro and Mobi in Brazil, and more recently the new Argo and new Jeep Compass. Maserati also introduced its first SUV. Any big car maker must have a continous product update plan if it wants to retain its market share.

Alfa Romeo

But it seems that the company is entering in a new period of very few launches. Based on the current plan, FCA should reach the unreachable goal of 7 million units by 2018, or next year. In order to achieve this target, the group was supposed to launch 47 new cars* all over the world between 2014 and 2018. The ambitious plan presented in May 2014 included 8 new Alfa Romeos, 5 new Chryslers, 6 new Dodges, 20 new Fiats, 4 new Jeeps and 4 new Maseratis.

Chrysler 2

But 3 and a half years after the famous “Investor Day”, the numbers show a different reality. FCA has presented and introduced only 12 products of the 47 new cars announced in 2014. The company has only accomplished a quarter of the product plan and it has a bit more than a year to complete it. Marchionne says that FCA is now focused on reducing the debt and improving the profitability, which means that the volume goals are not his priority anymore.

Dodge 2

But the company won’t be able to grow and become a real big player without more new cars. The truth is that its rivals are moving faster despite their own problems. Volkswagen Group continues dealing with the diesel and emission issues but at the same time goes on with its SUV offensive. PSA just got bigger and is investing in Iran and Magreb. Renault-Nissan is now one of the world’s top 3 best-selling car makers with big chances of dethroning VW and Toyota thanks to the Russian and Brazilian boost.

Fiat 2

The problem is the lack of planning. FCA top management, aka Marchionne, is always changing plans, making more noise than cars, and waisting precious time to overcome its rivals. The best example of this is how late the car maker arrives to the parties. SUV boom started in Europe with the arrival of the Nissan Qashqai in 2007. It was soon followed by Volkswagen, Peugeot, Renault, Ford, Opel, Hyundai and many other mainstream brands. Then the premiums joined the segment, but FCA was still out of it. The group finally presented the Jeep Renegad and Fiat 500X in late 2014, early 2015, or 5 years after Dacia hit the market with the Duster. The same happened to the Maserati Levante, which was introduced 14 years after the first Porsche Cayenne was launched.

Jeep 2

Another example is the lack of clarity regarding the electric cars. The big car makers and even the Chinese brands are investing billions to lead the electric car market in the next 10 years. Meanwhile many governments in Europe and even in China or India announce future bans on combustion engine cars. New and tougher emission regulations (WLTP) are set to complicate things even more. Despite all of these changes, FCA remains as one of the few big car makers without a clear plan regarding its electrification.

Maserati 2

FCA is now working to improve its profitability and reduce its debt. This is certainly a good thing to do when you’re thinking to sell your company. At the end, Marchionne’s legacy will be a healthy company, with a higher stock market value and ready to get sold. And he will be also remembered for his optimistic product plans.

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9 responses to “Where are the new cars?

  1. Mr M does not seem to have any idea on each brands USP. FIAT has chic cars in the 500 & 124, alongside the pick ups and bland cars such as Tipo and Argo. What does FIAT represent, then build a set of cars around this.
    Same with all others, there is too much overlap between Maserati and Alfa, while Jeep is not really playing the ace card it has of its off road nameplate, (only LR has a name like it, with the Japanese building great cars but no history). Chrysler is struggling to find its niche, producing luxury ends cars with some quite low level cars, while Dodge also is struggling to decide if it is a budget brand or a sports brand.

  2. Ram and Jeep are profitable, every new car is a success and they are getting new models.

    For example Jeep. Last year at LA Auto Show they presented an all new Jeep Compass. This year at LA Auto Show they will present all new generation of Jeep Wrangler. At the same Auto Show or maybe in Detroit they will unveil a facelift of current generation Jeep Cherokee (KL).
    Very soon after that they will unveil all new 3-row model specially designed for Chinese market codenamed K8 which will have a PHEV version.
    And by the end od 2018 they will unveil new Jeep pick-up based on Wrangler.
    Not to mention that Jeep will debut new 2.0 turbo Hurricane engine in FCA US line-up both for longitudinal (Wrangler) and transverse (Cherokee) application.

    And finally. All new generation of Ram 1500 is coming to Detroit.
    This product is related to Jeep (Grand) Wagoneer. They will share a body on frame platform.

    So the brands which deliver are ready to receive new products.

  3. I see the problem with FCA is that there is no brand strategy. It reminds me of Honda in the last decade. There were some really bland looking cars alongside some outrageously futuristic cars, so no one really understood what the brand was about. Compare this to Hyundai/Kia, where they have gradually created a strong set of values for each brand.
    With that in mind, my plan would be:-
    FIAT – small cars (city and sub compact) in 2 distinct styles, chic and practical.
    Alfa – small sports cars aligned to Ferrari range but small, think 4C to 488 etc.
    Chrysler – sub premium (USA and China only) think Buick & Lincoln
    Dodge – mainstream brand against Ford, Chevrolet.
    Jeep – off road brand to compete with LR, maybe 3 ranges, Wrangler, leisure (sub premium) and luxury.
    Maserati – premium brand competing with German and Jaguar.

    Would love to send more detail as table including the platforms.

  4. I still don´t understand why Alfa, having such a good architecture – “Giorgio”, did not cover D segment from the beginning with a Giulia sedan, sw, and coupe (6/9 months delay for each new model) . The investment for the last two would have been relatively small and would have improve sales (sw) and image (coupe).
    If you look at sales numbers, it is easy to believe a Giulia SW would sell just in Italy more than full Alfa brand in the US, better forget about China. I hope it will be different in the future, but current news show workers sent home because the brand does not sell enough.
    For those who claim that the profit margins would be low for a SW, you should keep in mind that the brand needs to sell, to put cars in the street. I believe the more people see AR in the streets, the more they will be aware and willing to buy the new products. It will bring Trust/Confidence. And the network will also benefit. A coupe would be great for the image despite low sales.

  5. Nowadays I started to think about the FCA plan of 2014 too.

    LATAM market is in trouble, and the cheap cars lose shares. Unfortunately FIAT always sell cars with small margins there. Jeep has good results in SUV segment, so FIAT does not need to get the same type of car.

    APAC Region: In India FCA has no idea what he should do. FIAT has never been a key player there. With China I feel that JEEP has the role to gain market share, and not for FIAT. FIAT always „runs into a punch” in China. Worldcar family and Linea were failures. The production of Ottimo/Viaggio was stopped in this year.

    According to sales results in India, and China I could understand the result of the plan. Cheap version of Punto and Avventura were shown in India, but the sales did not recover. As far as I know Ottimo cross were shown in China. I remember some sketches about it. In Latam Cronos (Argo Sedan) is near to appear. Maybe FIAT needs unified modells and not real specific ones for markets.

    I try to understand the model politics of FIAT. I think 500X was a good idea, but I agree that the sales of the car is low. Do not forget that Sedici was the first SUV for FIAT and it has lower results, than 500X. I think 500X has better margins. If we could see the global results of JEEP Renegade plus 500X, I do not think that this B-SUVs have much worse results, than the others. According to the first news Renegade had higher planned production volume, than 500X. It was strange for me, but outside of Europe Renegade is more successful. According to ANE Melfi plant has 320.000 annual capacity for these SUVs. Last year more cars were sold than 320.000.

    As you wrote in other topic that „Tipo’s increasing demand won’t last forever”. I agree with you and the future will judge about its result. However I remember the first news of Tipo. It was published, that around 700.000 Tipos will be built in its whole lifecycle. It is a very low number but it is reachable. Stilo had 350.000 annual planned production volume, and it had never reached it. I hope Tipo will outsell Stilo.

    I think 500L was a good idea from FIAT. It may arrive late, because MPV segment is decreasing. However it leads small MPV segment and outsold Mulipla and Idea. City Cross version of the car may compete with small SUVs. It has never reached the maximum capacity, but the 500 was the only one in 10 years, because of whom was needed to increase its production volume.

    I agree with you that FCA problem is the lack of planning. I would add lack of development. FIAT still use the SCCS platform (from GM Era) or its modified version. According to rumours FIAT had a Bravo II based CUV but it had never appeared.

    I think the real problem is that „B” and Compact SUV segment has very strong results and FIAT does not represent itself in these segments.

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