Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' new CEO Mike Manley has a lot on his plate. He has address multiple challenges in the U.S. that were left by the passing of Sergio Marchionne last month - moving forward with the five year plan, figuring out the future of Chrysler and Dodge; and getting new vehicles out the door. But that doesn't compare to the challenges in Europe.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Manley has a number of issues that need be addressed. The biggest one is improving the overall profitability in the region. Last year, FCA had an operating profit of $5.96 billion in the U.S. In Europe, only $840 million. A key reason for this is that three-quarters of FCA's European sales are made up of Fiat models that have razor-thin profit margins. Each Fiat sold makes an operating profit of €250 ($288), compared to the average of €2,850 ($3,274) for every Jeep and Ram model sold. Alfa Romeo was seen as a possible way to help boost profits, but sales have fallen very short of targets in a market where the likes of the Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz dominate.
“FCA would need a merger to improve the profitability in Europe,” said Martino De Ambroggi, an analyst with Equita told the journal.
Marchionne tried his best to court FCA to other automakers such as GM, but to no avail. Earlier this year, FCA said the search for a possible partner was taken off the table and that it could survive on its own.
There is also the question as to whether FCA has too many workers in Europe. The region makes up about 36 percent of FCA's workforce, but only a tenth of its profit. A key example is FCA's Mirafiori plant which employs 13,000 people, but is on track to build 50,000 vehicles this year. In 1997, the plant produced 463,000 vehicles.
Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)