The recent Ford’s announcement on axing its sedan lineup in North America is making the industry think about the future of these cars. When demand turns against the product plans, the companies are forced to take tough decisions. Sedans used to rule not only in North America but also in China. But the industry is always changing and at the end consumers have the last word.
Fiat Chrysler needs to address these changes with decisions that may not please its fans but that will certainly be appreciated by its investors. There’s a bunch of models that won’t likely see a new generation. Low demand and more focus on profitable and cars will take the company to focus on the segments that can improve its financial results.
The first decision was taken two years ago when the North American division decided to mark the extinction of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 due to their poor results. The decision came after the announcement of moving the production of compact cars to Mexico and move most full-size pickup truck production to Michigan. More is still to come and the following list includes the models that I think won’t see an immediate successor.
Fiat 124 Spider
It was launched in 2016 but is slowly disappearing from the rankings. The marriage with Mazda hasn’t worked well for Fiat, and while the MX-5 continues to lead the small roadster market, the 124 Spider is struggling even at home. Back in 2015 I wondered myself if this car was going to drive growth, and the answer today is an absolutely “no”. The 124 Spider was intended to give Fiat brand a fresh look, but at the end the public doesn’t need these cars and Fiat is not recognized as a sport-car brand anymore.
Dodge Challenger or Dodge Charger
As consumers in America continue to shift from traditional cars to SUVs, it makes no sense to have two different models like the Challenger and Charger. As both models get aged, Dodge is expected to unify them into a unique model when the new generation is revealed. A sporty-muscled sedan could be the successor of both models.
It had a good start and even led the small MPV segment in Europe. But the Fiat 500L was launched when the European car market was clearly pointing at SUVs. This is why its sales have dropped so bad and so fast during the last 24 months. Consumers in Europe are not interested on MPVs anymore with total registrations falling by 24% in Q1-18 to 260.700 units. The demand of small MPVs, where the 500L sits, fell by 41% to only 62.500 units. A cheap/frugal B-SUV is likely to be the successor of the 500L when it is retired in 2019-2020.
Alfa Romeo Mito
Fiat announced the end of production of the Mito after 10 years of its presentation. Many reasons explain this flop that won’t have a direct successor. There have been rumors about a small crossover that is currently being developed by Alfa Romeo, which is due to occupy the space left by the 3-door hatchback. But I’m afraid we will have to wait some more years to see this new vehicle.
After 25 years in the market, Fiat can’t count on the Punto anymore. The model that once led the European car market is not produced anymore, and the worst part is that there won’t be a successor in the short term. FCA Europe simply abandoned this key segment as it focused all of its few resources on the Fiat 500, 500X and Jeep. The Punto has been slowly agonizing during the last 3 years, which has allowed the company to adapt and go on without it. This is why there won’t be a fourth generation Punto: Fiat can’t afford an all-new subcompact project and it won’t just change anything.
The gorgeous Maserati Granturismo/Grancabrio is living its final days but the brand doesn’t have a successor in the pipeline, at least for now. This car was unveiled at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show or some years before the arrival of the Ghibli, new Quattroporte and Levante. The end of production of the Granturismo this year means that for the first time in its history, Maserati won’t offer a sport car in its range of products. Unfortunately for its fans, the focus now is on SUVs and the beautiful Alfieri will have to wait more to become a production car.
Alfa Romeo 4C
Another Alfa that may not see a second life. The 4C was launched in 2013 and should be available until next year. There are no official plans for a successor of the 4C, actually because it was a quite expensive project that more than sales intended to create brand awareness. Like Maserati, Alfa Romeo is now focused on SUVs in order to boost its global sales.
There are some reasons to think that there won’t be a new Fullback after the current generation. The first one is that Mitsubishi is no longer an independent maker, which means that any future pickup will be developed with its new partners, Nissan and Renault. The second reason is related to the very limited success the Fullback has had so far. Consumers do not associate Fiat with big trucks but with small cars and frugal light commercial vehicles.
Source: Goodcarbadcar.net, Bestsellingcarsblog.com, focus2move.com, ACEA, JATO, AID Newsletter
In what concerns Fiat/Abarth 124 it must be said:
1 – The car dynamics are as good or even better than the Mazda
2 – The design is good
3 – The engine was a bad choice (at least for the NA market)
How can you sell a sports car with the same engine/power of a
500L????? 1.4 L for US market???? The 1.4 should have at least
200hp and it should also have a 1.8 or 2.0 with at least 250 hp.
That (bad) decision decided the “faith” of this car.
Having said that, Felipe do not forget that this deal was good for Mazda to share costs… many wrote this MX5 generation only received green light because of that agreement with FCA.
Great insights “Boss”, as usual
Sergio Marchionne will outline a new plan to EXPORT SUV’s (Alfa Romeo Stelvio XL, Maserati Levantino and Baby Jeep models from Italy to prevent plants from closing, protect Italian jobs and reduce FCA Italy’s dependence on Jeep & Ram truck profits in the U.S.
Marchionne – who turned around Fiat in 2004 and resurrected Chrysler from near death – is aiming to strengthen Italy by exporting premium brands from Italy to North America, China and Europe (Baby Jeep).
Instead of new FIAT’s, Marchionne wants to launch a new Baby Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati SUV’s between 2019 and 2022.
Critics will be skeptical, again…
There are plans, and then there is execution. Marchionne has had considerably more of the former than the latter.
I think everyone apart from Marchionne sees only madness in letting the Punto die without a replacement. Oh well, Fiat is helping sales of the new Ford Fiesta, SEAT Ibiza and Citroen C3 I suppose. How kind of them.
The Fullback should be replaced with a RAM, starting the process of the brand becoming the commercial brand of FCA worldwide. FIAT should just concentrate on being a sub premium brand of small cars, so the Punto should not be the new Argo, but a ‘500’ ised version of this car, maybe called the 600.