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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    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.

    • Upvote 1

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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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