Europe: “We need to get this issue under control”, Marchionne

Here there are the main highlights of Sergio Marchionne’s interview with Luca Ciferri, Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News Europe:

  • Inevitable the move of merging Fiat and Chrysler by the year 2014
  • Big effort on relaunching Europe operations
  • 2013 total sales target: 4.3 million from which 2.6 million (60%) correspond to Chrysler. It means Chrysler sales will grow 8% while Fiat ones would decline 6%
  • Problem with distribution of production in North America
  • “Success” for the coming Chrysler 200, to be presented in Detroit 2013
  • Regarding Chrysler 100 he thinks “is a great idea to provide dealers in the U.S. with two options in the compact segment”
  • If Chrysler 100 gets produced will come to Europe as the new Lancia Delta
  • Reason for poor results of Lancia Thema/Flavia/Voyager: selling a premium brand in a difficult market is tough. The market is getting smaller
  • The Dodge Dart effectively started rolling out in late September. The target is unchanged
  • He wants different body types for the next generation Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Marketing study is on the way
  • Fiat 500 results in America: great product. Different approach from different people in charge of its sales
  • Jeep can reach 1 million units but it does not have the capacity right now
  • The new SUV from Maserati, the Levante, will be built in Mirafiori, Turin with a lot of the underpinnings coming from the U.S.
  • Jeep’s production in China: the company will remain in USA. It can do CKD units but everything coming from U.S. market.
  • Alfa Romeo to VW: “there are some things that are not available for sale… I have zero interest in selling Alfa”

Source: Automotive News

USA market and Chrysler slow down in October/12

Once again Chrysler along with all American car market slow down their growth after months of spectacular results. It does not mean that the market is now in a decline phase. The market seems to be stabilizing though it is still far from pre-crisis records. The same happens to Chrysler, still the best performer of the 3 from Detroit. The Group increased its sales registration 10% while the market was up only 7%. Its market share grew from 11.2% last year to 11.6%, which is pretty good but still far away from Chrysler’s target of reaching 13% by the year 2014. One important fact to considered is that hurricane Sandy had an impact on car sales at the end of the month as the area affected contributes to 25% of total sales of the country. The good result of Chrysler Group could had been better if it wasn’t because of the hurricane and Jeep brand, which had a fall for the first time since April 2010. However the group’s results are well-distributed among its 5 brands so Jeep’s tiny fall was compensated by the good performance of the major of them, Dodge, up 20%, and Ram, up 17%. Chrysler brand lost market share as it had lower increase than total markets’ (+5%) while Fiat 500 continues to grow. Compared to competition, Dodge did much better than Ford and Chevrolet, and only VW, among big ones, had a better growth. Jeep lost market share in SUV segment, which was gained by GMC, just 453 units behind. Due to the great sales performance of the group during March-September, October results are under total year’s average: 126.185 units vs. 137.686.

USA car sales registrations October 2012. Chrysler Group continues to be Detroit’s best performer thanks to good results of Dodge and Ram. Its market share is still distant from 2014 target. Maserati and Ferrari sales figures not included. Source: www.carsitaly.net, bestsellingcarsblog.net, Good Car Bad Car

The Ram Pickup did quite well, up 20% or more than 4 thousand units. It is still the best performer of the 3 pickups from Detroit (Ram, F-150 and Silverado) and it allowed it to increase its market share among them from 19.09% last year to 20.94%, almost 2 points. Far behind, more than half of Ram sales, there is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with lower positive increase but now behind the Explorer more than 1.600 units. Wrangler’s sales registrations were as many as Grand Cherokee’s, both counting 67% of Jeep’s total sales. The reason for Jeep’s fall is that the small Compass was down 52%, its worst result so far this year. It seems the facelift it received has not been successful at all. In the other side there is Dodge  with its Caravan, up a massive 49%, when one year ago its sales dropped 13%. The reason for this resurrection is unknown but this minivan is quite old to have this good results. Coming generation should arrive in late 2013, early 2014. The arrival of the Dart is also helping boost sales registrations as other models slow down their growth. Even though the new ‘C-Segment’ sedan is expected to finally take off in January 2013 when it is expected the highest production levels in Belvidere plant (12.000 units/month). Fiat sold 3.720 units, making US market the world’s largest one for this model, and 36 units above Italian figures. The 500 was up 89% compared to October 2011 when the small Fiat began to have troubles in terms of sales in USA (until February 2012). Abarth version continues to boost its sales but also the arrival of the 500 Turbo, on sale since October.

Good for the Ram, with more market share among the 3 large pickups. Bad for the G. Cherokee that loses its battle against Ford Explorer. Very good for MPV, the absolute leaders of the segment. Source: bestsellingcarsblog.net

The Dart has not taken off yet but gained market share among ‘C-Segment’ models. It just sold 220 units more than September but it is expected to reach around 12.000 from next year. Source: bestsellincarsblog.net

 

Click here to see USA November 2012 Results

Click here to see USA September 2012 Results

 

When politics and cars are related

Is not common to hear about politics in a car blog. But America’s political campaign for presidency is so intense that even car industry is part of it. Barack Obama was elected president for the period 2009-2013 and during his first year in office he had to deal with the bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler. To many jobs were pending on his decision of helping them through government loans or just doing nothing. By that time European car market was showing its first signs of crisis and Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s CEO, came to Obama and proposed him what no one was expected. He wanted Chrysler for Italians only if American government helped it through federal loans, and Fiat would saved it from bankruptcy. They made the deal and 3 years later the situation is completely different and really good for Chrysler and American jobs. The story seems to be simple and easy, but was a bit different from that, as so many factors opposed to that deal. First of all, American economic situation by that time made difficult, or political incorrect, to take people’s money to give it to foreigners to save a failed company. Then, Fiat’s proposal was to risky as they did not offer money for the initial 20% of the company and they could get up to 35% of the ownership of Chrysler without doing so. A lot of trust was needed to sign a deal like this. Obama was risking his own popularity and Fiat was risking its future. Of course the deal had opposition inside America’s political class. Mitt Romney, to fight for presidency today, said that it was better not to involve federal funds in the rescue of troubled car makers. As a Republican he believes the government should be as small as it can without interfere in economy, as this one can regulate itself. At the end Fiat and Obama made the deal and the consequences of it is known by everybody: Chrysler and its jobs were not only saved but the company is considered one of the healthiest with continuous sales growth and has become the savior of Fiat in Europe. Today, Americans will decide whether Barack Obama continues in office or Mitt Romney becomes the 45th president of the United States. As polls indicate that there is tight race, both candidates had become more aggressive in the last days, and sometimes imprecise. Regarding automotive sector, Mitt Romney’s Ad said Barack Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians while Jeep would move its production to China. It’s quite normal that when in a political campaign, all candidates become aggressive to gain more votes, but it shouldn’t mean not telling the whole story: Obama did not take GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. He saved them from disaster and now Chrysler is that well that it is planing not to move to China but to establish a new factory to produce its successful Jeep models in world’s largest market. Who ever wins the elections in America should remember this industry is vital for its economy and supporting it instead of atacking it is the best way to keep it healthy.

Fiat 500E gets ready

After Paris and Sao Paulo, the next important auto show will be held in Los Angeles, USA. It is certainly not as important as Detroit motor show, but Los Angeles has some relevance as it is the main city of the largest car market among USA states (California state captures 11% of the US market). California is also important as it is the place where hybrid and new energy-sources cars are really popular. According to California New Car Dealers Association, September YTD sales figures indicate that the hybrid Toyota Prius is the best-selling car over there, with more than 46.000 cars sold so far. The market is clearly dominated by Japanese brands with ‘C-Segment’ sedans, different from what happens in the rest of the country where big trucks and sedans are the kings of the roads. The same source shows that the small Fiat 500 occupies an interesting place, among best-selling models, with more than 6.300 units sold, much more than what it has sold in some European markets such as Spain or the Netherlands. Actually, California counts for 19% of Fiat 500 sales in USA, which is not a small number. It is why, according to some press releases, Fiat is getting prepared to present the 500E in Los Angeles motor show, starting November 30th. According to Autoblog Español, the small electric car will be limited edition, on sale exclusively for US market and will be powered by 100 hp, not bad to be a small and electric car. It follows Marchionne’s statement in which he said the small electric 500 would be ready in early 2013, even though it was not a profitable car, but an image brand car. And that’s really what Fiat needs now in America. After the great success of the regular 500 and Abarth, they must keep working on brand awareness to get more and more clients. The best way is with new presentations or special editions. In Los Angeles it is expected the presentation of the Fiat 500C Abarth and this electric version. They will be in charge of increasing the 500 family while the 500L arrives next year.

Photo by Auto Edizione

Chrysler grows less than American market in August

Good news for Chrysler and American car market. August was again a good month for Chrysler Group sales figures which went up 14% thanks to great results of Chrysler brand. However Chrysler’s results are not as good as total markets’. American car market was up 20% and confirms the good trend it has had in the last months. According to some analysts the good result was led by Honda, VW Group and Toyota, followed by double-digit sales gains by GM, Ford and Chrysler. One year ago the seasonally adjusted sales was 12.5 million units (August 2010 – August 2011) and this year it was 14.53 million (August 2011 – August 2012). Year-to-date numbers indicate that the market has grown 14.7%, which could be considered the best growth among developed countries. There is no doubt that American car market is recovering from the dark years it had during the financial crisis, the opposite of what is happening in Europe nowadays.

Source: Good Car Bad Car

In that great context Chrysler Group plus Fiat occupies fourth place in the ranking of cars sold. In August the whole group sold 148.472 units, up 14%, or 18.300 more cars than one year ago. That result is better than the whole year’s average of 138.579 and is the third best of the year in terms of units. However as it was said before the good result of Chrysler was exceeded by total market’s, so in terms of growth August was the second worst after July when Chrysler Group sales figure were up only 12.6%. That growth is practically the same Dodge/Ram brands had together and is more than Jeep’s which was up only 5.5%. In the other hand Chrysler brand was up 24.8% and Fiat sold a new record of 4.150 units, up 33.6%. Dodge/Ram represents half of total sales. Compared to other car makers, Chrysler did worse than Honda  division (+60%), Toyota (+46%) and VW Group (+48%), but better than Ford (+13%) and GM (+10%).

Though there is a good result in August 2012, sales figures are still far from pre-crisis numbers. Source: http://www.carsitaly.net

Unlike sales figures, market share shows that Chrysler is growing up faster than total market. Source: http://www.carsitaly.net

The Ram is up 19% while the Caravan had a great performance, up 35%. Among Dodge models the new Dart took off with more than 3 thousand units, which is far from the target but is a result that Marchionne liked. The Journey had the best performance, up a massive 58%. The Chrysler 200 slowed down but the 300 grew up 65%. The Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to reach its top with almost 13.000 units sold. Now Chrysler needs more fresh products and new midsize SUV if it wants to keep its good performance.

Source: http://www.carsitaly.net, Good Car Bad Car

 

Click here to see USA September 2012 Results

Click here to see USA July 2012 Results

Fuel-efficient Ram to gain more market share

The 2013 Ram 1500

The 2013 version of the Ram is getting ready to get more market share with better fuel-efficiency. It is powered by 3.6 liter and 305 hp in a V6 engine, and thanks to new features the truck has a fuel economy rating of 18 city/25 highway. It is much better than current model: 14/20. It will be introduced in late 2012 starting at $23.585 and there will be more engine options such as the 4.7 liter V8 or the 5.7 Hemi V8. Outside the car will not change. But the good things come inside as it will offer the Start/Stop system, active grill shutters, adjustable suspension to lower the truck when it goes in high speed roads to reduce air drag. All those features will allow the largest member of Fiat-Chrysler alliance to reduce its fuel consumption and bring new customers as it will be the most efficient truck available in the US market. Recently Ram trucks had gained more market share without being really competitive in terms of fuel efficiency. In the last year Ram has been able to gain market share among big trucks.

Units sold and market share of 3 main trucks in US market. The Ram has gained more market share in the last year but it still far away from the good years before the financial crisis. Source: http://www.bestsellingcarsblog.net

Source: Automotive News

More Fiat 500 for the USA

Fiat USA is doing really good and Marchionne wants more. The arrival of the 500 Abarth was the begining of great sales figures as American buyers love high performance cars and don’t really car about fuel consumption. Nevertheless the American offer was still small and there was a big hole between the regular Fiat 500 with 100 hp and the Abarth version with 160 hp. People love the second one but in some cases it can be really expensive. Fiat solved this problem and today they presented the Fiat 500 T. The car has Fiat logo and no Abarth one and is moved by 135 hp, just the same engine used for Abarth 500 basic version in Europe. The difference is that the American version uses MutiAir system. Though it does not have the Abarth logo it uses some exterior features like the Abarth, such as the bumpers. One more thing: it is the first model to use the Beats sound system just like the Fiat 500L. Pricing will start at $20.200 and will be available this fall.

Here it is the link of the presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEPqttdBkOw&feature=player_embedded#!