The latest results from USA and Italy indicate that there is a big change within FCA brands. Following my own forecast for this year, Jeep is set to become the group’s largest brand by sales volume by the end of this year. It would be the first time that the Fiat brand doesn’t lead the ranking since the merger in 2009. It is not only a figure, but a historical thing.
After a year of stagnation in 2017, Jeep is back to positive results this year. The growth is being boosted by the latest arrivals, which are posting big increases not only in USA but also in Europe, Brazil and India. It started with the second generation Jeep Compass, which was launched in H1 2017 but is already recording big increases.
The Compass was followed by the all-new Jeep Wrangler, which hit the American dealers in Q1 2018, and has just been launched in Europe. The Wrangler is conceived mostly for the consumer in USA, so it is not expected to bring a lot of new clients overseas. The updated Jeep Cherokee is the other driver of growth, and as the Wrangler, it is more dependent on the US demand.
Global sales through May 2018 show an increase of 18% to something between 670.000 and 680.000 units. The Renegade and Grand Cherokee declines were offset by the strong sales increase coming from the new Compass (+164%) and Wrangler (+41%), which became the brand’s top-selling models. The Cherokee had a good month in May with volume up by 19%, and the Chinese-made Commander made its debut.
With the worrying exception of China, Jeep’s situation is improving everywhere. North America still counts for the largest part of its sales, with double-digit growth. In Europe the new Compass climbs in the ranking and allows the brand to outperform most of its rivals (Italian registrations more than doubled through May). Brazil and Argentina are among its top 10 largest markets, with volume up by 23% and 147% respectively.
The bad part of the story is that Fiat is facing difficult times. Estimated global sales (passenger cars and commercial vehicles) fell by 6% during the first five months of this year to 630.000 – 640.000 units. Positive results in Brazil and Argentina were not enough to offset the big decline in Italy, UK and Turkey, while US demand shrank. The top 3 best-selling Fiats (500, Panda and Tipo) are all facing challenging times.
In fact the situation is getting more complicated for Fiat. In June it posted its lowest monthly market share in Italy since the year 2000, at 15,7%. As it has been happening in Brazil, Fiat continues to lose ground due to the lack of SUVs. With Jeep on board, the rest of the brands lost their chances of having a big range of SUVs. The rest of the brands of the group really need these vehicles in their lineups if they want to keep attracting consumers around the world.
The Fiat 500X can’t do all, especially now when the segment got busy with the arrival of VW Group (T-Roc, Arona and Q2, and the coming T-Cross). Fiat needs a budget small SUV to sit below the 500X, and a compact SUV to rival with the Skoda Karoq, Nissan Qashqai and Citroen C5 Aircross. In Brazil, there is a big chance that the growth registered so far (thanks to the new Argo and Cronos) could stop if no SUV is launched. Jeep is working on it, but in my opinion, Fiat should also have a key role in the SUV expansion.
If nothing is done, we will likely see Fiat becoming the niche brand that Marchionne mentioned in the Capital Markets day. Despite the arrival of new models (only in Brazil), there won’t be a big positive impact on sales if there are no SUVs in the range. In the meantime we will see Jeep dominating the scene and the historical Fiat lagging behind.
Source: ANFIA, UNRAE, Bestsellingcarsblog.com
It was sad that Marchionne is slowly killing off Lancia, but to do it to Fiat is unforgivable.
Look at the efforts VAG has put into SEAT which is paying off handsomely. Yet, Fiat Chrysler is more or less slowly letting Mother Fiat die with its old limited range. Madness.
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FCA has the right products and platforms to be a truly global group, but Marchionne keeps making “mistake” after “mistake”, no doubt, he’s a magician with numbers but consumers care about cars. First, China: Chrysler was the perfect choice to battle Buick, the Fiat Viaggio should’ve been the Chrysler 100, along with Chrysler 200 and 300, Pacifica and Aspen (Durango) made and sold with Jeep and maybe export them to Australia, but no, Marchionne decided Fiat was better option. India: Fiat Mobi, Uno, Palio/Siena, Argo/Cronos were perfect for that market but Marchionne decided it was better idea to locally make the old Punto/Línea. I don’t understand why Fiat can’t replace the Punto with the Argo just like Ford did with Ka+/Figo. Only he knows why Dodge and RAM are still separated when together both brands sell even more than Jeep in USA even with the archaic 4 speed Journey and Caravan in the lineup. And now he refuses to share with Dodge the billion dollars Giorgio platform that right now underpins just two slow selling Alfa products. He has made every single brand of the group but Jeep niche players, which isn’t necessarily bad but there’s still no Abarth 500X for example. Lancia’s death is murder, now that Punto and Mi.To are gone and Giulietta will be left to agonize for two more years, Lancia could easily take at least on B and C premium segments with a new Ypsilon and Delta above the 500 family. It might sound crazy but I think that Lancia should battle Audi, BMW and Mercedes, just give it a new Ypsilon (Mi.To), Delta (Giulietta), Lybra (Giulia), Thema (Ghibli), 3 SUV (Upcoming Alfa C-segment, Stelvio and a G.Cherokee or Levante derived) and Stratos (4C). Alfa should battle Porsche with 4C, Stelvio, a 911 fighter (Alfieri) and a big sedan (Ghibli) and SUV (Levante). Maserati should aim higher to Bentley, Rolls and Maybach level with Quattroporte, Grand Turismo/Cabrio, Levante and Ferrari’s help. It’s sad but it looks like Marchionne will keep only Fiat, Jeep, RAM, Alfa and Maserati and will let Abarth, Chrysler, Dodge and Lancia starve to death or until someone buy them. I hope the new CEO or the Elkann/Agnelli family won’t let this happen. Shame on him.
Great analysis Mauricio. I agree with the first part: there have been continuous bad management decisions. However, I disagree with the second part: Lancia is dead, and now one wants a Lancia. No time/money to go back.
The analyze is ok , but again it sounds more like a wish and not a real realistic approach .
Plain and simple , no suvs no growth at the moment.
Chrysler and Lancia have been in trouble for years .
Miracles won’t happen . Even though the former still have a little chance because of the American market and the size of it , but again will be hard to get it up and running . They should stick with the current plan and just try to push and hopefully get lucky with some good models and they sell well . Unfortunately the majority of FCA brands have very poor image and unless you are their fan , it’s hard to convince people to buy it nowadays .
We can discuss and suggest make this model and that model but at the end of the day just making it doesn’t automatically translate selling it .
The fact that Jeep is only just outselling Fiat now, shows how strong the Fiat brand is because compared to Jeep it has had hardly any investment. Fiat is crying out for another SUV in Europe – a Panda based B-SUV would be perfect maybe to replace 500L…
The fact that Jeep is only just outselling Fiat now does not show how strong Fiat brand is , it just shows that Jeep always had a hidden potential and now with the boom of SUV sales it’s flourishing . Fiat itself is struggling in almost every market . Hope they will get things together before it’s too late for a come back
Who do you want to speak with? There is no one to speak to…
The fact you mentioned is almost a surprise… such is the lack of investment in FIAT…
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