Auburn Hills’ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is establishing a product development organization with central leadership and a global footprint that will leverage the company’s technological, engineering, and management. It will be led by Harald Wester, chief technical officer, and is expected to be fully operational next year.
“The industry has never experienced technological change at the pace we are now seeing,” says Mike Manley, CEO. “So, we’re unleashing the creative energy of our engineers and technical experts for the benefit of our customers and stakeholders worldwide.”
The structure is designed to reduce complexity and improve delivery effectiveness, generating quality improvements while reducing product development timelines.
“Our current structure has produced the most compelling and diverse product lineup in the industry, from Alfa Romeo to Ram and everything in between,” Wester says. “The level of consolidation and integration we are now implementing will further enrich our product offerings in all markets, and the big winners will be our customers.”
Until now, product development had been served by multiple organizations that operated as regional sub-groups or stand-alone units. The new organization consolidates engineering, program execution and management, and program support.
The most significant change will be the integration of FCA’s powertrain and vehicle engineering organizations. Previously, powertrain engineering was decoupled from the vehicle product development process. Now, it is embedded in the organization and will be included in improved cross-regional collaboration and more effective resource deployment. The flatter product development organization will also enable speed in decision making and best use of technical competencies around the globe.
“Our engineering resources will be concentrated and integrated, not diluted,” says Wester.
Engineering activities in the program will be supported by five new centers: body, chassis, interior, and wiring integration to develop core vehicle component sets; electronics and software; propulsion systems, including electrified and conventional systems; total vehicle integration; and advanced technology and pre-development programs.
The new program and execution management functions will be used across all engineering functions, businesses, and brands, including a global vehicle programs team that will implement new product programs as well as an architecture and vehicle concepts unit focused on customer and performance targets, long-range architecture planning, and developing new product proposals. This will help as FCA positions itself in autonomous, connected, and electrified vehicle segments.
The company already has committed €9 billion (about $10 billion) toward a five-year plan to launch 30 new electrified nameplates worldwide. Among the first will be plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, and Jeep Wrangler, as well as a pair of all-electric vehicles – a Fiat brand car and a commercial van from Fiat Professional.
Maserati received a €1.6 billion (about $1.8 billion) investment that will accommodate the integration of hybrid and all-electric propulsion systems and Level 3 autonomous driving technology.