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    Analysts Think FCA Has Too Many Brands, CEO Marchionne Disagrees


    • Analysts and Marchionne Butt Heads On The Five Year Plan

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' five-year plan for each of its nine core brands doesn't sound realistic to analysts. Automotive News Europe reports that analysts cannot see FCA achieving its goal of doubling or tripling sales without investing a lot of money, something FCA doesn't quite have at the moment. Analysts believe for FCA to pull this monumental plan off, they'll need to cut some brands out.

    “The problem is PowerPoint presentations are a lot easier than real life. These brands need a huge amount of work to get where they need to be. The world changes very slowly and you have brands at the bottom of the pile in many regions. It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Harald Hendrikse, a London-based analyst with Nomura Holdings.

    CEO Sergio Marchionne disagrees with analysts, saying that FCA’s advantage is that “we now have brands in the marketplace that are not butting heads.” Marchionne also pointed out that plan already eliminated two brands; Lancia and SRT.

    Marchionne also responded to comments that Chrysler and Dodge should be combined.

    “Co-mingling Dodge and Chrysler would have cost us a lot of share. That combination doesn’t work in our view,” Marchionne said.

    Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    They need to NOT waste billions on Alfa and accept having it as a performance package under a better marketable name.

    I agree with the Analyst, they do not have the money to support 9 core brands. They will end up having to sell off and fail if they go down this road as FCA needs to realize where their money is best spent. They should learn from GM and consolidate brands, focus on specific core brands.

    Jeep - off road

    RAM - trucks

    Dodge - Performance

    Chrysler - mid market

    Fiat - fold into Chrysler as their eco line.

    Luxury - Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari - Call it the AMF group

    This would give 5 core groups and each group builds off a universal platform to reduce cost. If they truly try to keep each name plate as stand alone divisions with their own unique underpinnings, they will blow billions and loose.

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    I don't like any of these brands, they are all weak in line-up and image except for Jeep and Ferrari. The brands can somewhat co-exists because they have do few models in each brand, so the overlap isn't too bad. However, can brands with 3 vehicles really survive long term? Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep are in the same dealership at least, but their brands don't have vehicles to move up through except for Jeep. Jeep has entry level SUVs like the Compass, the Cherokee for middle and Grand Cherokee at the top. But Chrysler has no entry level car, Fiat has nothing but compact cars, Dodge has a small car and a big one and nothing in the middle, Ram has 1 pickup and a commercial van, etc. It is just an odd mish-mash of products.

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    They should definitely dump Lancia and Abarth. They can merge Ram back into Dodge. Fiat can be Europe only and the Chrysler/Dodge should be North America only and they can completely share products worldwide.

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    I don't like any of these brands, they are all weak in line-up and image except for Jeep and Ferrari. The brands can somewhat co-exists because they have do few models in each brand, so the overlap isn't too bad. However, can brands with 3 vehicles really survive long term? Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep are in the same dealership at least, but their brands don't have vehicles to move up through except for Jeep. Jeep has entry level SUVs like the Compass, the Cherokee for middle and Grand Cherokee at the top. But Chrysler has no entry level car, Fiat has nothing but compact cars, Dodge has a small car and a big one and nothing in the middle, Ram has 1 pickup and a commercial van, etc. It is just an odd mish-mash of products.

    That is why they just need to kill off the Fiat name and move those eco cars into Chrysler as the entry level and then build a high end car for the name.

    Ram is more than just 1 pickup as you have from standard cab to crew cab same with the van line so they are fine.

    Dodge is the performance line now so with Viper, Challanger, Charger and Dart SRT, I actually think this is a smart move for Dodge.

    Jeep is solid and fine.

    Their Ubber luxury is where they need to merge and combine under one roof with one under pinning to reduce cost, increase profits.

    At the current rate they are going, I expect FCA to either have to sell off a model line or two or declare bankruptcy in 5-7 years. If they do not change the way they handle the brands they will loose just like MB did and any other auto company that does not consolidate and standardize platforms.

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    At the current rate they are going, I expect FCA to either have to sell off a model line or two or declare bankruptcy in 5-7 years. If they do not change the way they handle the brands they will loose just like MB did and any other auto company that does not consolidate and standardize platforms.

    So you think Dodge, Ram and Jeep are fine, all they need to do is consolidate Fiat into Chrysler and they are good. Yet then you say they might be bankrupt in 5-7 years. That doesn't make sense. And the Chrysler went bankrupt twice in the past 30 or so years, clearly this strategy isn't working, yet they keep doing it. Part of the problem they face is Fiat has name value in Europe, where Chrysler has zero. The personalities of all these brands are so different, and the platforms that sit under Dodge-Chrysler vehicles are dated.

    How did MB lose? 2011, 2012, 2013 Mercedes set a company record for annual sales and net profit, and they have been in business for 125 years, pretty good to have the top 3 years since 1886 in this decade. Daimler's mistake was in buying Chrysler, but it goes to show what a mess Chrysler is and how far beyond saving they are. If Daimler couldn't save them, I don't think Fiat has any chance in doing it.

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    Well, fiat has zero name value in the U.S., so perhaps that evens out.

    People never "move up" within one brand, that's marketing fantasy spun to support additional models in segments outside the brand's established arena.

    Edited by balthazar
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    Well, fiat has zero name value in the U.S., so perhaps that evens out.

    People never "move up" within one brand, that's marketing fantasy spun to support additional models in segments outside the brand's established arena.

    They don't ever move from Focus to Fusion or from Sonic or Cruze to a Camaro or Malibu? I mostly agree with you though, I could see a lot Cruze or Focus drivers buying another of the same car, or jumping to another brand that has the hot model that year. What seems more likely is small car driver moves to a small crossover for some perceived level or luxury or safety, and they feel like they upgraded when really that CR-V is the same as the Civic they just traded in, they just paid more for it.

    As far as Fiat Chrysler goes, anyone that buys a Fiat and wants to trade up will probably go to Mini, Audi, Volvo, maybe Volkswagen but those are a bit boring, unlikely that they trade that Fiat on a Chrysler 200. I also don't see a Chrysler 300 driver saying they want more luxury and buying a Maserait Ghibli, they'll go get a Cadillac or Lincoln because they want a big American car. Chrysler can't really even get people to move up into other brands with their line up (excluding Jeep where you can go Patriot/Compass to Cherokee to Grand Cherokee).

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    I have never figured out why anyone would buy a Fiat 500 here in the first place. I suppose you could say that about the USA lineup in Europe.

    GM has already slashed its car brand name lineup some years back, and FIAT has more than GM ever had right now. Then again, I do not think that Sergio has fully figured out what to do with each and every brand at all. Once he does, then FCA will become a lot more cohesive and more profitable in a few years. But Sergio needs to figure this out sooner rather than later. AFAICT, the only melding of FIAT into anything Chrysler is a FIAT 500 in the USA and the Dodge Dart. Who buys either of those?

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    10 years from now, I think that Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and Ferrari will be the only survivors of this company. I don't think Alfa Romeo will be any more successful than the new RWD Cadillacs are. I don't think the new 200 will be any more successful than the Dart. CAFE eventually will kill the Hemi powered Chargers and Challengers.

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    That could all be true, but even Maserati could die. They aren't ever going to compete with Mercedes or BMW or Audi. Maserati is really low volume. I'd think Chrysler had a better chance to stick around. Really almost any of these brands could go away and few people would care. Pontiac and Oldsmobile are gone, few people care anymore, I mean they built some fun cars in the past, but people move on and buy something else.

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    FCA does have too many brands. I think the optimal set-up would be three mainstream ones, with two dealerships total.

    Dealership A: Chrysler = Dart/200/300/Journey/T&C & Jeep = Wrangler/Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

    Dealership B: FIAT = 500/Ram/Promaster

    FIAT has enormous brand awareness outside of North America and it's already gaining ground in our market. Dodge is the opposite and its few recognizable nameplates can be appropriated by the Chrysler brand. Charger isn't needed because the 300 exists. Chrysler Challenger would only sound weird for about a month or two before everyone moves on. 'Dart' hasn't done too well so losing it for another name likely won't cause many issues.

    Edited by FAPTurbo
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    I think all of the mainstream brands could be under one dealership with the super premium having their own dealerships.

    It was a mistake to make Chrysler into a true mainstream brand, they should have moved up to a premium American brand that straddles Buick and Cadillac. The lower priced 200 should have been the Avenger and a properly restyled 200 with features and appointments befitting a $27,995 price point should have been the Chrysler brand's base sedan. The 200 is an excellent car, but it is trying to be too many things to too many people with a price range of $21,000 to $38,000.

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    I looked at the 200 (per the request of 2QZ) and really liked it a lot. I do not think it is a 38K car though.......

    But the new 200 you (Drew) were talking about really gives me some hope they could be finding their way.

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    How did MB lose? 2011, 2012, 2013 Mercedes set a company record for annual sales and net profit, and they have been in business for 125 years, pretty good to have the top 3 years since 1886 in this decade. Daimler's mistake was in buying Chrysler, but it goes to show what a mess Chrysler is and how far beyond saving they are. If Daimler couldn't save them, I don't think Fiat has any chance in doing it.

    Keep drinking Chevroletdes Benz Kool Aid. Daimler bought ChryCo with only intent to use its coffers and become #3 in the world. Juergen Schrempp's "Merger of Equals" was a good spin for pillage of the Germans. His intentions were to make Chrysler a "mere" subsidiary of Daimler. Chrylser's products were stymied, the management was left in disarray and yet, with the fear of "American Bravado" Germans were scared of completely taking control per Schrempp's plan to make anything decent.

    Schremp's promise of a "merger of equals" had been fiction, and he even admits as much. He told the Financial Times that if he had been honest with the Americans about German dominance before the merger, they never would have made a deal.

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    Schremp messed up. Really 1996-2005 were the weak years at Mercedes. That era E-class was worse than the W124 it replaced and they were all about the M-class that had shaky reliability in the beginning. Mercedes in the 1980s over engineered, then management decided they over did it and backed off to save money, the Chrysler mess happened, more models, no focus, lack of quality, etc. Thankfully Dr. Z came to the rescue and they dumped Chrysler like a bad habit and got back to the core values and over engineering cars.

    Chrysler is again a mess, and possibly with even worse leadership this time around. The 300/Charger are getting quite dated and that is really the bulk of their car sales, the 200 and Dart aren't lighting up the sales charts, nor is the Fiat 500. I don't see how this company survives for that long because they don't have the money to keep making new platforms, engines, etc to keep all these cars fresh.

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    I think all of the mainstream brands could be under one dealership with the super premium having their own dealerships.

    It was a mistake to make Chrysler into a true mainstream brand, they should have moved up to a premium American brand that straddles Buick and Cadillac.

    Hyundai has shown that it's possible to straddle multiple tiers and price-points with a single nameplate. I don't think keeping Dodge in the mix is helpful because FCA will never be able to decide if it's the value brand, or if it's the performance brand. It'll be muddy, like it is right now.

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    And yet all Chrysler brands are showing year over year growth for more than 48 months IN A ROW. GM and Ford wish they were working as well as Chrysler. Heck, a couple of months ago the Ram outsold the Silverado. This is being done with a dated lineup slowly being replaced with new product. Look at the new Cherokee, which has sold more in the first five months than the last model Liberty did in a year. In a few more years, the lineup will have turned over, THEN we shold be able to judge how they are doing.

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      Once at the destination, interior and exterior cameras can capture the moment with a selfie, which is then automatically downloaded to everyone’s personal device and can be shared via social media.
      Affordable, upgradeable technology designed to be added as needed
      Keeping the user experience affordable, the Chrysler Portal concept’s in-vehicle technology is designed to be adaptable and upgradeable. Cost-conscious consumers are able to decide what technology they want to add and when they want to integrate it into their vehicle, such as adding technologies to meet the ongoing needs of a new family.  For example, the vehicle’s short-range wireless network enables parents to connect a baby monitor camera to a seat, with the image appearing on the high-mount display.
      Another way consumers could integrate their personal devices is by using the Chrysler Portal Concept Companion App. Once downloaded to a mobile device, the companion app has the ability to customize vehicle lighting, control vehicle and home settings, lock/unlock doors and operate other functions from any location. 
      Advanced driving assistance
      A key element of the Chrysler Portal concept’s user experience is the graphic-rich, high-quality information available to the driver.
      The hub of this information is the high-mount display, located above where a traditional instrument panel would be placed. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology in the display makes the screen brighter and sharper. The technology embedded in the Chrysler Portal collects a wide spectrum of visual, sensor-based and infrastructure data; organizes and configures the information for display; and tailors the presentation to keep the driver’s attention on the highest priority functions.
      The display, which spans nearly the entire length of the instrument panel, is positioned higher intentionally for greater visibility and to aid the driver keeping his/her eyes on the road. Maintaining visibility with the horizon helps reduce the possibility of motion sickness while interacting with the 3-D graphics, especially if Level 3 autonomous driving mode is engaged.
      The length of the screen enables three zones of information. The first section of the screen, located in front of the driver, offers traditional vehicle information, such as speed. The middle section displays a 360-degree situational awareness view, such as surrounding vehicles, GPS information and points of interest, and can be viewed by other vehicle occupants. The third section can be used for media sharing, status updates of passengers, such as their seat temperature, music or videos being played and a view of them.
      During Level 3 autonomous driving, the display communicates the status of the vehicle and the surrounding environment. Should the vehicle come to a stop or perform a quick maneuver, the viewable display makes it clear to all occupants the status of the vehicle.
      The Chrysler Portal concept is constantly using Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication that enables the vehicle to “talk” with the public infrastructure, Internet, and other vehicles via an array of sensors. For example, if an approaching ambulance is out of sight, V2X systems will notify the vehicle that the ambulance is approaching. Graphics on the high-mount display will communicate the oncoming ambulance by simulating its approach and direction, and the audio system will provide cues that the vehicle is approaching.

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    • By William Maley
      It may not be the electric Pacifica we were hearing about last month, but Chrysler does have an electric minivan concept that will be debuting later today at the Consumer Electronics Show. Meet the Portal concept which Chrysler describes as "created by millennials for millennials."
      The Portal does look like something from the set of Blade Runner with an interesting front end, massive wheels, and a set of huge double-sliding doors. The Portal rides on a 118.2 wheelbase, making it slightly smaller than the Pacifica. Inside, the seats are mounted on rails that allow them to move fore and aft, fold flat, or be removed completely. There is also a prominent LCD screen that runs the length of the dashboard, along with a touchscreen mounted in the center. Finally, there are 10 docking stations for various smartphones and tablets.
      A single electric motor provides the motivation for the front wheels. Under the floor lies a 100-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that can provide an overall range of more than 250 miles. When plugged into a 350-kW fast charger, the Portal's battery pack can be recharged to have a 150 mile range within 20 minutes. 
      Like most concepts being shown now, the Portal boasts autonomous driving technologies; in this case, Level 3 tech. This means a driver can let the vehicle drive on its own under certain conditions on the highway. Chrysler says the technologies in the Portal can be upgraded to feature such things as facial recognition and voice biometric technologies.
      Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 
      Press Release is on Page 2


      The Chrysler Portal concept is designed to keep the driver and passengers connected – to each other, to the vehicle and to the surrounding world.
      Starting with today’s widespread use of the Internet and social media for communication and information, the FCA User Experience (UX) team, and an internal UX Tiger team from the Panasonic Automotive Advanced Engineering function, jointly picked a blend of emerging and future technologies to engage the next generation of vehicle users.
      “When our teams began imagining the user experiences inside the Chrysler Portal, we set out to identify a long-time supplier partner who could help push the limits of customization and personalization,” said Scott Thiele, Chief Purchasing Officer for FCA NV and Head of Purchasing and Supplier Quality for FCA – North America. “Working with Panasonic Automotive on this concept vehicle is just one example of how FCA is engaging strategic suppliers early in the development phase to bring to life innovations that can become industry benchmarks.”
      Tapping the Panasonic Cognitive Infotainment (PCI) platform as the foundation of the UX feature set, the Chrysler User Experience team matched future consumer needs (life, finances and new technology) to those new technology solutions now exhibited in the Portal concept.
      “Working together, FCA and Panasonic Automotive are showing a more cognitively enhanced set of technologies that can give drivers and passengers a superior, more accurate, just-in-time in-vehicle experience,” said Tom Gebhardt, President, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America.
      “In fact, we are so delighted by the partnership, Panasonic has created a complimentary technology exhibition to further showcase our joint interests in UX, software, hardware, and cloud services specifically featuring a unique e-commerce retail use case.”
      The battery-powered Chrysler Portal concept electric vehicle was unveiled today at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
      Facial recognition, voice biometrics provide a seamless, personalized experience
      For members of the millennial generation, the target audience for the Chrysler Portal concept, technology is more than a tool – it’s an integral part of their lives.
      The hub of this technology is the mobile phone. The Chrysler Portal concept is engineered to seamlessly detect and connect with passengers’ mobile devices, expanding the social canvas.
      Recognition and user authentication is the next level of personalization and a primary driving factor for the user experience. Facial recognition and voice biometric technologies work together to provide a seamless personalization experience. As a result, all passengers can set up individual and group settings for an enjoyable, customized experience. For example, facial recognition tells the Chrysler Portal who is in the vehicle and how to automatically configure preferred settings, such as music, lighting, vehicle temperature, heated or cooled seats, etc. Internet cloud-based technologies, combined with facial and voice recognition, keep those preferred settings in sync should a passenger move to another seat.
      Accessing technology inside the vehicle is naturally intuitive using a blend of voice controls with familiar touch controls. With an array of microphones inside the Portal concept, voice control is available to all occupants. Advanced speech software can identify who is speaking to accurately determine an action, such as which display screen to access. Embedded interior and connected portable device cameras also facilitate conversations and interactions.
      Want to play music tailored for an individual, such as a child? Simply say, “Play Johnny’s ‘Naptime Favorites’ playlist.” Personalized audio zones enable each passenger to listen to their own content isolated to their seat without the need for headphones. 
      Facial recognition enables the Chrysler Portal concept to track the driver’s directional gaze, as a result, the intensity of the high-mount display screen can automatically dim or increase to help reduce eye strain. If the driver is looking at a specific location on the display and a critical notification occurs, such as an oncoming emergency vehicle, a message pop-up in the area where the driver is looking helps reduce reaction time.
      Turn road trips into social memories
      Social media plays a large role in the lives of many Millennials. In the Chrysler Portal concept, sharing content between passengers is as easy as a swipe to the right. A personal tablet or mobile device becomes a community display screen via a docking station in the Chrysler Portal’s headliner, making it easily viewable by second- and third-row passengers. Media such as music, images and videos from personal devices can be shared with a simple upward swipe to the display screen. The community display is ideal for road trips with family and friends. At a glance, infographics show the progress of the vehicle to the trip destination. 
      The Chrysler Portal concept also takes into consideration each passenger’s media preferences and enables them to contribute to the road trip experience. Using predictive intelligence, passenger preferences can be merged to create an overall community setting that can help the group find destinations and plan the best route, select a restaurant, and play music and videos everyone can enjoy. 
      Once a route is set, it can be added to the community display so all passengers can monitor the trip’s progress. At the lunch break, passengers can use the technology in the Chrysler Portal concept to order from a quick service restaurant via voice or touchscreen without rolling down the window or leaving the vehicle, a real convenience in inclement weather. If someone is not sure what to order, the system’s intelligence can offer suggestions based on the passenger’s personal settings. With ecommerce, there is no need for cash or a credit card as the payment can be securely transacted from the vehicle while in transit.
      Once at the destination, interior and exterior cameras can capture the moment with a selfie, which is then automatically downloaded to everyone’s personal device and can be shared via social media.
      Affordable, upgradeable technology designed to be added as needed
      Keeping the user experience affordable, the Chrysler Portal concept’s in-vehicle technology is designed to be adaptable and upgradeable. Cost-conscious consumers are able to decide what technology they want to add and when they want to integrate it into their vehicle, such as adding technologies to meet the ongoing needs of a new family.  For example, the vehicle’s short-range wireless network enables parents to connect a baby monitor camera to a seat, with the image appearing on the high-mount display.
      Another way consumers could integrate their personal devices is by using the Chrysler Portal Concept Companion App. Once downloaded to a mobile device, the companion app has the ability to customize vehicle lighting, control vehicle and home settings, lock/unlock doors and operate other functions from any location. 
      Advanced driving assistance
      A key element of the Chrysler Portal concept’s user experience is the graphic-rich, high-quality information available to the driver.
      The hub of this information is the high-mount display, located above where a traditional instrument panel would be placed. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology in the display makes the screen brighter and sharper. The technology embedded in the Chrysler Portal collects a wide spectrum of visual, sensor-based and infrastructure data; organizes and configures the information for display; and tailors the presentation to keep the driver’s attention on the highest priority functions.
      The display, which spans nearly the entire length of the instrument panel, is positioned higher intentionally for greater visibility and to aid the driver keeping his/her eyes on the road. Maintaining visibility with the horizon helps reduce the possibility of motion sickness while interacting with the 3-D graphics, especially if Level 3 autonomous driving mode is engaged.
      The length of the screen enables three zones of information. The first section of the screen, located in front of the driver, offers traditional vehicle information, such as speed. The middle section displays a 360-degree situational awareness view, such as surrounding vehicles, GPS information and points of interest, and can be viewed by other vehicle occupants. The third section can be used for media sharing, status updates of passengers, such as their seat temperature, music or videos being played and a view of them.
      During Level 3 autonomous driving, the display communicates the status of the vehicle and the surrounding environment. Should the vehicle come to a stop or perform a quick maneuver, the viewable display makes it clear to all occupants the status of the vehicle.
      The Chrysler Portal concept is constantly using Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication that enables the vehicle to “talk” with the public infrastructure, Internet, and other vehicles via an array of sensors. For example, if an approaching ambulance is out of sight, V2X systems will notify the vehicle that the ambulance is approaching. Graphics on the high-mount display will communicate the oncoming ambulance by simulating its approach and direction, and the audio system will provide cues that the vehicle is approaching.
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