Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will produce no more passenger cars in the U.S. early next year. The Dodge Dart will end production in September, while production of the Chrysler 200 will cease in December. This is to make way for more production of SUVs and trucks - Jeep Cherokee at Belvidere, Illinois and Sterling Heights, MI for the next-gen Ram 1500.
"By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States — if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold — all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne during a call with analysts yesterday.
Why would FCA end passenger car production in the U.S.? Profit margins. The Detroit Free Press reports this is part of Marchionne's multibillion-dollar plan to match the profit margins seen at Ford and General Motors. Part of the plan involves taking advantage of the popularity of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks in the U.S.; low gas prices, and the lower costs of producing passenger cars in Mexico.
"When you look at the economics of car manufacturing ...the margins that we were getting from our experience of both the Dart and the Chrysler 200 ...yielded returns that would not, on a competitive basis, match even anything close or remotely close to what we could derive from utilization of those assets in the Jeep or Ram world. So we have made that shift," Marchionne said.
Despite FCA ending production of both the Dart and 200, Marchionne said he is still looking for a partner to build these vehicles.
“I think we have made progress. We’re not in a position to announce anything."
But would any automaker be willing to take up FCA's offer?
"Who would want to commit to that capacity in their own plant when they didn't sell well when they were new?" said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific to Automotive News.
"No one wants to build sedans when their own capacity is at a premium and they can't build enough crossovers to satisfy demand."