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Old 10-27-2009, 02:10 PM   #1
Tim-H
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Default Fiat Models to Drive Chrysler

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Four months after exiting bankruptcy, Chrysler Group LLC is about to unveil a product road map that relies heavily on vehicles from Italian partner Fiat SpA while abandoning many of the U.S. car maker's own models.

The plan, due to be revealed Nov. 4, involves the return of Fiat's premium, sporty Alfa Romeo brand to the U.S. starting in 2012, according to people briefed on the plans. Chrysler also will introduce to Americans the 500, Fiat's tiny car that is popular in Europe.

Fiat and Chrysler also are working on several new vehicles with Fiat technology for the U.S., including a midsize Chrysler sedan slated to be released in 2012, according to these people.

Meantime, Chrysler is preparing to phase out many current models, including a number of Dodge cars, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan and several Jeeps.

The sweeping changes represent a big gamble for Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, who has staked his reputation on the turnaround. Mr. Marchionne, who revamped Fiat as its CEO, appears to be creating a lineup that stays true to Chrysler's strengths in blue-collar muscle cars and pickup trucks while adding European-styled vehicles to attract a new, more white-collar customer.

But Mr. Marchionne's challenge is to keep the company afloat until 2012, when the bulk of the new offerings will arrive. Chrysler is faced with shrinking market share and an aging product lineup. While Chrysler doesn't disclose its finances, Fiat has said repeatedly it won't inject any money into the U.S. company despite receiving a 20% ownership stake under its bankruptcy reorganization. Instead, Fiat is contributing technology and management expertise.

The new Alfa MiTo sub-compact hatchback, displayed at the Geneva International Motor Show in March, will be the first of the Alfa Romeo models to arrive in the U.S., starting in 2012.

"The biggest issue this company has is getting through the next few years," said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst at IHS Global Insight. "They are going to have a hard time maintaining market share let alone increasing it."

Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri declined to comment on the product plan, due to be disclosed in a six-hour presentation next week by Mr. Marchionne and senior executives to analysts and media at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.

For the next two years, Chrysler will have to rely mostly on its current models. It is banking on two revamped vehicles due out next year, a refreshed Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan, as well as boosting marketing spending on Jeep.

Importing foreign-made Fiats in the meantime in any significant number is unlikely because they would need to be modified to meet U.S. safety and environmental standards, a costly and sometimes difficult process. Unfavorable exchange rates also make European imports uneconomical other than for luxury brands.

Analysts worry that Chrysler's market-share erosion will continue as consumers appear to favor smaller cars -- not the trucks and sport-utility vehicles that make up the bulk of Chrysler's offerings. Chrysler's share of the U.S. market fell to 8.3% in September from 11.1% a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.

Chrysler's decision to increase the number of brands runs counter to the current industry trend. General Motors Co. cut back to four brands from eight under its own bankruptcy to reduce development and marketing costs. Ford Motor Co. jettisoned its Jaguar and Land Rover and plans to sell Volvo. Yet both Ford and GM have many more new products coming out in the near future than Chrysler, which could further hurt that company's sales, analysts say.

"What everyone is counting on is enough of an uptick in sales that will heal everybody fairly quickly," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. After cutting costs sharply in bankruptcy, Chrysler "may not have a lot of smash hits but I think there is a core market there that can be profitable for them."

Chrysler received a $9 billion U.S. loan as part of its reorganization. The company's cash position has improved since then, according to a person familiar with the car maker, as production of vehicles restarted in full.
Changing Direction

Under the new product plan, Chrysler will drop several Dodge products, including the Caliber compact, Nitro SUV and Avenger sedan, but will keep the Dodge Challenger, a muscle car, and the full-size Charger sedan.

"I like that plan a lot. Dodge can be the performance brand. They don't have to be something to everyone, but they have to start being profitable," said Ms. Lindland of IHS Global Insight.

Many Chrysler and Jeep models also will die. The Jeep Commander is slated to end next year. By 2012, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler Sebring midsize sedan and Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot SUVs all will exit the market. The auto maker also plans to phase out the Grand Caravan in the next five years, leaving the Chrysler Town and Country as the company's only minivan.

Mr. Marchionne aims to introduce the Fiat 500 subcompact to the U.S. in 2011 and will build the model in Mexico, said a person familiar with Chrysler's thinking. The 500 is viewed by some as Fiat's answer to the Mini Cooper made by BMW AG.

The Alfa Romeo products will be launched in 2012 with the MiTo subcompact, followed by a midsize sedan in early 2013 and the Alfa Milano midsize model, according to this person. All three will be made in North America.

Chrysler plans to introduce a new midsize sedan and compact in 2012 as well as a compact Jeep a year or two later. All three will be based on Fiat underpinnings.

Reintroducing Alfa Romeos to the U.S. will come with challenges, including defining the brand to a public that has a low understanding of it or even may hold the brand in low regard. Alfa Romeo pulled out of the U.S. market in the mid-1990s.

"Bringing in the Alfa name I'm not sure how that is going to help Chrysler," said Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls in Maine. "I'm just not convinced that people in this country have a warm spot in their heart or feel intellectually that it is a good product."

But Alfa will give Chrysler a premium product it hopes can compete with Audi or Infiniti, producing higher profit margins.
Source http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125659536562909009.html
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:14 PM   #2
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Default Fiat planning an entry-level Maserati sedan based on Chrysler 300C



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Two days ago we told you about the intentions of Fiat to built 50,000 units a year at the ex-Bertone plant, but today we find out something new. The Officine Automobilistiche Grugliasco (OAG) a.k.a. the new name for the former Carrozzeria Bertone plant will begin production in late 2011 and will be used to produce 2 cars based on Chryslers. The new models will be officially announced when Chrysler presents its five-year plan on Nov. 4 but sources from Officine Automobilistiche Grugliasco confirmed that the factory will use the rear-drive platform of the next Chrysler 300C and the new Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine, scheduled to debut next year on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The first model could replace the Lancia Thesis sedan while the second model, scheduled to come in 2012 could be ”an entry-level Maserati sedan slightly smaller than the Quattroporte”.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by AVANTI R5 View Post
an Italian sport sedan based on a cheaply trimmed American sedan based on an outdated German sedan. Sounds like a recipe for success.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:26 AM   #4
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Default Could Chrysler Interest You in a Fiat?




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DETROIT — Chrysler’s future lineup of products, which will be disclosed next week in the company’s first major announcement since exiting bankruptcy protection more than four months ago, is expected to add two more foreign brand names to what is already a crowded United States market.

Chrysler’s Italian partner, Fiat, plans to reintroduce Americans to its namesake brand, which abandoned the United States in 1984, and Alfa Romeo, which pulled out a decade later. Those plans were confirmed by Chrysler officials who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Chrysler, whose alliance with Fiat was a condition for it to receive billions in loans from the federal government, is expected to discontinue some of its worst-selling models in favor of the more stylish and advanced Fiat and Alfa Romeo products.

Among the vehicles destined for North America, the company officials said, are the tiny Fiat 500, an Alfa Romeo sport utility vehicle and a sedan based on Alfa Romeo technology to replace the midsize Chrysler Sebring.

Details about Fiat’s plans to bring Alfa Romeo back to the United States and to discontinue certain Chrysler models were first reported in The Wall Street Journal.

The Chrysler strategy is at odds with much of the rest of the industry, which is reducing the number of brands it sells, not adding to them.

General Motors, for example, is cutting its brand lineup to four: Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Buick.

Chrysler also recently said it was splitting its largest brand, Dodge, into Dodge cars and Ram trucks, meaning that within a few years its dealerships could be selling six different brands, including Jeep. That would be three more than Chrysler offers today.

“Chrysler doesn’t necessarily need more brands,” Aaron Bragman, an analyst with the research firm IHS Global Insight. “But it could potentially accommodate more brands that are fairly unique, and Alfa Romeo is a fairly unique brand and has a very specific message. There is really nothing like Alfa Romeo in the U.S. market aside from maybe Mazda.”

In fact, Mr. Bragman said, Americans could take to Fiat and Alfa Romeo more than they have recently to Chrysler and Dodge, whose sales have fallen 52 percent and 37 percent this year. “Chrysler and Dodge are two damaged brands,” he said.

By any measure, Chrysler needs help to make its products more appealing, particularly in smaller-car segments. Toyota and Honda, for example, each have two models that are individually outselling Chrysler’s entire lineup of passenger cars this year.

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, is scrambling to see Chrysler through the next 18 months until the partnership between the two companies begins to bear fruit.

At next week’s announcement, Mr. Marchionne and other executives will also go over Chrysler’s engineering and manufacturing plans as well as the company’s financial goals.

Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy proceedings June 10, with Fiat taking a 20 percent stake in the new company.

Mr. Marchionne’s profitable turnaround of Fiat propelled his successful effort to buy Chrysler with Washington’s help, but he fell short in a bid to also swallow the European operations of G.M. last spring.

While an Alfa Romeo S.U.V. may not be the kind of vehicle envisioned by some when Chrysler and Fiat won government loans, Fiat officials said Chrysler’s new offerings would have more fuel-efficient technology, whatever the size of the vehicle. The S.U.V. would be based on the platform of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and built at the same factory in Detroit where that vehicle is assembled, a plant known as Jefferson North.

The Fiat 500 is expected to be assembled at Chrysler’s plant in Toluca, Mexico. Other models would likely be imported to the United States, at least initially.

“Fiat is bringing environmentally smart technology to the U.S., which Chrysler lacks, not just small-car technology,” one of the Fiat officials said. “The future isn’t about S.U.V.’s; it will just be a niche. We have to think about the whole range.”

Since the Fiat-Chrysler partnership was announced early this year, executives from Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., have traveled to Fiat’s styling center in Turin, Italy, preparing to update the interiors and trims of many familiar Chrysler models. Plans to introduce the Fiat 500, as well as the compact Alfa Romeo MiTo and the midsize Milano have been in the works since the spring.

In addition, the models to be announced over the next five years are expected to offer diesel technology, which consumes less fuel and has been popular in Europe. Fiat’s diesel technology has long been among the best in world, and the company already worked with G.M. to develop a successful diesel engine for Opel earlier this decade.

While an Alfa Romeo S.U.V. or crossover could stir enthusiasm in car circles, reviving the Chrysler brand with a jolt of Italian style will be a much more difficult challenge for Mr. Marchionne, according to analysts.

“I’m sure Americans love Italian suits. Whether they love Italian cars is yet to be seen,” said Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst with Credit Suisse in London.

“The product won’t be a problem. It’s the brand perception,” he said. “It took Volkswagen a long time and they’re still not where they want to be, while the French struggled and eventually left.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/bu...er=rss&emc=rss
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:31 AM   #5
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So, Chrysler has Zero cars and old crappy trucks. No money to make new models. Fiat has no money to retool the plants to make the so called new cars. The whole thing is nightmare . I guess Fiat thought we would give them money, for these issues.
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:58 AM   #6
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Meh. By the time Alfa actually get vehicles here they'll be well past their 'sell by' date. It's going to take until 2012 to get US bumpers and emission controls on the Mito and 159? Really?
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:30 AM   #7
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This whole thing is just soooo sad. I remember when Mercedes share holders were screaming to dump Chrysler and it is painfully apparent that they had a good reason. Its like watching someone play one of those old computer games where the player has 3 or 4 options to pick and the next scene in the game is determined by the choice the player makes. In this case, they need to hit the reset button and start from scratch at some point.
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Old 10-28-2009, 11:03 AM   #8
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FIAT's still got no real investment and even if it all falls apart will end up with Jeep which can still be run or more likely sold to make some easy money. I'd rather not hear about new plans every month or so, though. Stop leaking stuff until there's a real strategy.
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Old 10-28-2009, 11:54 AM   #9
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The plan is due Nov 4th. Anything before then is speculation or a leak.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:35 PM   #10
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it may be worth trading in my MINI for a MiTo in 3 years

... we'll see.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:43 PM   #11
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Fiat should have just bought Saturn and sold their cars under the Saturn badge. Plus, they could of got away with the Fix It Again Tony image. Two birds with one stone.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:47 PM   #12
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Default Alfa Romeo SUV: Meet The New Chrysler Aspen



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Chrysler’s product and business plan is leaking like a neglected radiator, leading up to next week’s announcement. The latest tidbit: an Alfa-badged version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Alfa Romeo has been hunting after an SUV platform for some time, because as Luca DiMeo put it back in ‘08,
We need an S.U.V. for America. Not everyone in the company agrees, but this would be the only practical Alfa Romeo and we will be able to design the sportiest, sexiest and most exciting S.U.V. in the world.
It’s important to note though, that this quote predates the revelation that the Alfa SUV would be a Grand Cherokee reskin, effectively replacing the unlovable Chrysler Aspen as ChryCo’s luxury ute.
According to the New York Times:
The new Alfa Romeo would be manufactured in the United States and be based on the platform of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of Chrysler’s most successful models. A Jeep-like Alfa Romeo would follow in the tracks of such hot-selling upscale sports utility vehicles as the BMW X3 and deliver much fatter profit margins than traditional small cars. It could also help reintroduce the Alfa Romeo brand to younger drivers after a 14-year absence from the United States.
But did Fiat really take over Chrysler so it could rebadge an SUV? Fiat flacks explain:
Fiat is bringing environmentally smart technology to the U.S., which Chrysler lacks, not just small-car technology. The future isn’t about S.U.V.’s; it will just be a niche. We have to think about the whole range.
Well, if we’re thinking about the whole range, expanding Alfa into SUVs seems like a good way to render the Dodge brand wholly irrelevant. After all, a Durango-badged Grand Cherokee is planned as well, unless that’s going to fit into the new, confusing “Ram” brand. Speculating about Fiat-Alfa-Dodge-Ram-Mopar-Chrysler’s product plans is making my head hurt. Maybe we should just wait for an official announcement
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/alf...hrysler-aspen/
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:54 PM   #13
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If the Abarth 500's make it over I'll defintely make a puchase. Hopefully it won't be 3-4 years until that happens.
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