As part of its highly anticipated announcement of its plans for the next five years, representatives from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) laid out the groundwork of its plans for the next five years which not only build on new models, but also key shifts in strategy which aim to accelerate its recent resurgence in the marketplace. Check out the plans for each brand below and tell us what you guys think (Fiat, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari will be released in a separate piece).
Chrysler: The troubled division has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs in recent years with its current lineup limited to a trio of models, the full size Chrysler 300, the Town & Country minivan, and the lamentable but recently redesigned Chrysler 200. However if today’s plans hold true to their word, look for that trio to welcome some new stablemates during the next few years. A key model we’re interested in is a “thoroughly refreshed” 300 sedan which is expected to appear at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. This arrival date is consistent with the current generation’s initial appearance back in 2011 and would be on par with the average shelf life of a vehicle (which is usually 4 years).
Following that models unveiling, Chrysler will use 2016 to showcase the new 100 subcompact which will also be a key model, and finally give Chrysler a legitimate contender in a bustling C-Segment that is populated by rivals such as the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic. Joining the 100 will also be a new Town & Country minivan which not only kills of its badge engineered sibling the Grand Caravan, but also features a new plug-in hybrid model that is capable of achieving the equivalent of 75 miles per gallon. This lofty figure is impressive and would make the T&C one of the most fuel efficient minivan offerings on the market. 2017 is primarily focused on the refreshening of the 2014 200 sedan, though look for a Ford Escape fighting CUV to debut sometime in 2018. Look for all of these unveiling to help achieve its sales target of 800,000 units by 2018 while also allowing the brand to become more mainstream (versus its current semi-luxury theme) and better prepared to meet the varied needs of buyers in the near future.
Dodge/SRT: Dodge’s resurrection as a performance oriented brand kicks off with the unexpected announcement that the SRT brand will return to the fold. Existing as a separate entity for the past few years, the unexpected reunion will not only prevent sales cannibalization between the two brands, but also help Dodge hone its sales towards enthusiast minded buyers. The reunion also spearheads a slew of new product which aims to appeal to a wide range of buyers and enthusiasts. A refresh for the slow selling Viper is upcoming for 2015 which is expected to try and address the car’s rather sluggish sales against rivals such as the Chevrolet Corvette. The following year will bring a refresh to the Dart lineup and also mark the debut of the Dart SRT. Serving as a spiritual successor to the original Neon based SRT-4, the SRT Dart will feature a tweaked turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive to aide to its performance intent, but other details were kept under wraps. However look for more information to slowly trickle out closer to its official unveiling. In addition to the refreshed Dart, 2016 will also mark the debut of a new Dodge Journey with an SRT variant (shocking we know) making its arrival sometime in 2017.
2018 however will serve as the most ambitious part of the brand’s five year plan with the debut of an unnamed B-segment sedan and hatchback as well as an all new Challenger/Charger. Look for SRT versions of the fore-mentioned models to arrive towards the end of the year with rumors suggesting that motivation will be provided by the upcoming 6.2 liter “Hellcat” supercharged V8. Wrapping up things are the demise of two models (the Dodge Avenger and the Dodge Grand Caravan) with both models meeting the axe later this year and 2016 respectively. The Caravan’s demise in particular appears to largely conform more to Dodge’s revamp as a performance oriented brand versus its goal of 600k sold units for 2018 (a figure the company currently achieves with that model already in its lineup).
Jeep: Look for the iconic off-road brand to spend the next five years in a period of great expansion in not only its sales numbers but also its lineup with the brand aiming to transform from building five nameplates solely in the U.S.A to building six nameplates in six different countries (part of a bid to expand the brand’s global footprint). To help makes this goal a reality, Jeep will expand its roster of dealerships to include 1,300 new franchises that will all do their part to meet the brand’s other goal of doubling its overall sales numbers by 2018.
The first wave of new models will be headlined by the recently unveiled Renegade CUV which will make its appearance in showrooms later this year alongside its Fiat cousin the 500X Crossover. As a neat bonus, the brand revealed that a 2017 refresh is in the cards for the compact Renegade. Meanwhile a new three row model based on the Grand Cherokee will herald the return of the iconic Grand Wagoneer nameplate. Designed to target rivals such as the Cadillac Escalade and the Range Rover, brand CEO Michale Manley claimed that it will be “the most premium Jeep we will have ever made”. This sounds promising considering the great leaps in luxury and quality that many of its models have made in recent years especially the Grand Cherokee and we look forward to seeing what the Grand Wagoneer will have to offer when it eventually makes its debut in 2018.
Wrapping up the proceedings are launches of the all new Grand Cherokee and Wrangler as well as the brand’s 76th anniversary in 2016 which will not only highlight the brand’s 76 years on the market, but also mark the anticipated exit of the mediocre Patriot and Compass CUVs with a new C-segment CUV taking their respective places.
Ram: Like its sister brands above, Ram is also pushing to not only expand pickup truck sales, but also the influence of its commercial vehicle business and the next five years should prove to be a key period for both fronts thanks to several new models, as well as its alliance with Fiat’s “Fiat Professional” brand. The first salvo for 2016 will bring the Ducato’s smaller cousin the Doblo to U.S. buyers where it will be re-badged as the ProMaster City. The ProMaster City aims to lure buyers away from the Ford Transit Connect while also offering Ram buyers a smaller alternative to the Bigger Ducato based ProMaster. A new Fiorino compact van will also be unveiled in 2016 but expect that model (also known as the Citroen Nemo and Peugot Bipper) to remain out of reach of U.S. buyers due to our market’s chilly reception of similarly sized offerings while a refresh of the Ram 1500 set to appear next year, will allow the truck to compete more effectively with the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado as well as the aluminum bodied F-150.
An all new 1500 will appear to replace the refreshed version in 2017, while its more capable HD siblings will also receive a refresh in 2016 before being replaced also by a new redesigned HD lineup in 2018. The commercial models will also receive a balanced mixture of updates with the ProMaster slated to receive a new diesel power-plant to supplement the existing 3.0 liter diesel currently offered while the Ram Chassis Cab will receive a modest update for the 2016 model year which builds up to a crescendo of major updates for not only that line, but also the Heavy Duty and Light Duty lineups for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
This all adds up to a very ambitious plan that should help propel Chrysler and its stable of brands to new-found levels of relevance, as well as allowing the brand to extend its influence to segments that it either abandoned or largely ignored prior to Fiat’s acquisition of the brand (the C-Segment in particular). While the future certainly looks more promising for Chrysler than it did during the dark days of its complete and utter domination by Daimler and later Cerberus, only time will tell whether these five year plans will meet their objectives and goals. We at Autoinfoquest are fans of many aspects of these plans and look forward to seeing the fruits of these efforts in the near future. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for part two of our series where we cover plans for Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari, and Alfa Romeo for the next five years and share our thoughts in particular on the return of Alfa Romeo to the United States.