On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne put to rest rumors that the company was phasing out the Chrysler brand.
FCA, based in Auburn Hills, rolled out its five-year plan and Marchionne called the reports that the company would kill the Chrysler brand, “nonsense.” However, no new upcoming products were revealed for Chrysler, which currently sells the 300 sedan and the Pacifica minivan.
As part of the announcement, Marchionne said the company would focus on bolstering the Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ram brands. “These brands comprise the most significant portion of our revenues and our earnings,” he says.
FCA announced aggressive targets for expanding Jeep, which has been one of the company’s most successful brands. FCA will launch nine new products and enter three new segments, including large SUVs.
In North America, the company will add a new three-row version of the Grand Cherokee, as well as the return of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The company hopes that by 2022, one in every 12 utility vehicles sold industry wide will be a Jeep.
The company is also hoping for bigger sales from the Ram truck brand. FCA hopes to grow global sales by to 30 percent and in doing so, become the No. 2 commercial vehicle brand in North America behind the Ford F-Series.
Ram brand head Mike Manley says that Ram will enter the midsize pickup race soon, joining the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, as well as the new Ford Ranger.
FCA also announced that it intends to establish a captive financial services arm to provide U.S. consumers with more options to finance vehicle purchases while supporting the company’s sales volumes and bolstering its earnings.
More than 2.1 million new cars and trucks were sold by FCA in the U.S. last year. FCA currently is the only major automaker in the U.S. without a captive financing arm.
“Given our strong financial performance and improving credit profile, we believe the time is right to pursue a U.S. Finco strategy,” says Marchionne. “FCA will have adequate capital to fund the equity needed and expects to have the credit rating to make the Finco funding competitive.”
Chrysler Capital, which is owned and operated by Santander Consumer USA Inc., along with a variety of banks, currently provides consumer financing for most FCA vehicle purchases in the U.S.
In related news, auto sales were up across the board in May as FCA announced its monthly sales climbed 11 percent, while Ford sales were up almost 1 percent. General Motors is no longer reporting monthly sales, but industry analysts estimate GM’s sales rose about 10 percent in May.