Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, DS, etc. get 10 years to prove themselves

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told reporters yesterday that each brand manager is being given funding and ten years of time to implement their core model strategy. “The CEOs need to be clear in brand promise, customers, targets and brand communications.” If they succeed, they stay—but “they” isn’t perfectly defined. Most writers are reporting that “they” are the brands; but “they” might be the brand executives.

Stellantis brands are Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, and Vauxhall.

Many observers will quickly cross half of these off the list. Jeep and Ram have both been highly profitable, though the Bronco and Hummer are likely to do serious damage to Jeep. Maserati has been making hefty profits for most of the past few years, and is one of the world’s most recognized sport-luxury cars. Peugeot, Citroën, and Opel/Vauxhall have all been turning in good sales and profits, sharing extensively even in the same countries (Opel and Vauxhall have long been absolute twins). Fiat dominates Italy and Brazil, while Abarth is a tuned version of Fiat which could join SRT as a model rather than a brand, but that’s not really “going away.”

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At risk are Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, DS, and Lancia.

Chrysler badge (on 300G)

Alfa Romeo and DS were both gambles by companies tired of making mainstream cars with low margins, hoping for a more upscale audience. Neither seems to have really caught on; Alfa Romeo was likely a heftier investment with higher maintenance costs. However, DS and Alfa Romeo are reportedly going to share far more; and in North America, Chrysler may also share with DS. Sharing doesn’t always work, though; Lancia and Chrysler were twinned briefly, but partly due to insanely high pricing on Lancia, that only lasted for a couple of years. If the three brands can share enough, even operating (as Opel and Vauxhall) as vendors of the same vehicles but in different countries, all three are likely to survive.

That leaves us with Dodge, which is currently very successful in the United States and Canada; but its muscle-car image and product line is highly vulnerable to attack from electric cars over the next five years. It’s quite possible Dodge is looking at a limited run, unless buyers prefer Peugeots presented as Dodges to Peugeots presented as Chryslers.

There are two pieces of good news from this tweet. First, the company is giving the brands ten years, which means they will be able to transition into their future states and have a few years to fix mistakes and perceptions before getting the axe. Second, Stellantis has already made some of their strategy clear, and has shown that it does not feel any need to cut brands just because they can; if they did, Opel would likely not be around. The path forward is almost certainly having more local brands that are almost total shares with brands from other regions. The pairings, once again:

  • Mainstream: Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat/Abarth, Opel/Vauxhall, (Dodge, Chrysler, and/or Jeep)
  • Upscale: Alfa Romeo, DS, (maybe Chrysler)
  • Truck: Ram, Fiat (as they are today)

For Mopar folk, the big question is what product goes to Dodge and Chrysler. We know the large cars we have now, have to make it three more years. Who will get Peugeot designs? Will Alfa or Chrysler share with DS in the United States? Will Alfa Romeo, as a brand, remain here? Stay tuned for these and other questions.

David Zatz started what was to become the world’s biggest, most comprehensive Mopar site in 1994 as he pursued a career in organizational research and change. After a chemo-induced break, during which he wrote car books covering Vipers, minivans, and Jeeps, he returned with some friends to create StellPower.com, which is intended to end up as an enduring partnership. Contact him at (973) 925-6058 or check out the new junkyard/slant six book he edited.

1 thought on “Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, DS, etc. get 10 years to prove themselves”

  1. I wonder if the bigger question is “what products will sell given the current state of the U.S./Canada market”. Car brands (BOP, Lincoln) have pretty much gone away, with the exception of Chevy. The current question seems to be will car brands come back, or is Jeep and Ram the new normal.

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