From Sergio’s Plan to Drag Racing at Over 250 mph
You’ve got to give Sergio Marchionne credit. In 2009 he rolled out with a five-year plan regarding the future of Chrysler—and if you recall, back in 2009, the future of Chrysler wasn’t particularly bright—and here he is, five years later, with a significantly more robust company that even has a new name: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Last week, he presented still another five-year plan, one that is no less aggressive than the first, although one that, with a few exceptions (e.g., going from 0 Alfa Romeo sales in North America to 150,000 by 2018—and it is worth noting that in 2013, Alfa had total global sales of 74,000, and the plan calls for that number to go to 400,000 by 2018, so they are counting on North America to suddenly rise up and take about 37% of the output), calls for there to be massive growth in places like China, where Jeep is expected to have meteoric growth.
Mike Manley, president and CEO of Jeep Brand, said that right now there is production capacity, all based in the U.S., to produce 798,000 Jeeps. By 2018, there will be capacity for 1-million in NAFTA; 200,000 in Latin America; 200,000 in Europe, Middle East and Africa; and 500,000 in Asia-Pacific.
As the Chrysler Pentastar goes down, its star is rising in terms of support for the brand, as it will be getting additional products in its lineup, including a full-size utility, a mid-size utility, and a compact car. The goal is to have Chrysler, which presently has a full-size car, a mid-size car and a minivan, compete in the U.S. market with the likes of Chevy and Ford. Marchionne noted that in 2013, Chrysler’s NAFTA sales were 332,000 units. By 2018, that’s to go to 770,000, or a 132% increase. Presumably, he doesn’t think that Ford and Chevy might have a little something to counteroffer to the market.
Meanwhile, over at Dodge, things are feisty but fading somewhat. In the presentation of Tim Kuniskis, CEO of Dodge, a slide says: “We think the blame for America’s ambivalence toward cars goes to import brands. We want to bring back America’s passion for driving. We will do this one Dodge at a time.” Has he heard of BMW? Anyway, Dodge is going to lose its minivan and pick up a B-segment car. SRT is melded into Dodge, and its products will have SRT variants. But in Marchionne’s calculation, Dodge sales will be 660,000 units in NAFTA in 2018. They were 736,000 in 2013. That’s right: Dodge is going to lose 76,000 units, or about 10%.
(Let’s see, in 2013, Chrysler had sales of 332,000 and Dodge 736,000. . .so it makes sense to hobble the popular one?)
The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plan, the remarkable resilience of full-size SUVs, and other topical topics are addressed by John McElroy of Autoline, Karl Henkel of the Detroit News, and me on this installment of “Autoline After Hours.”
In addition to which, we are joined in the studio by JP and Phil Gutierrez of the Gutierrez Brothers Racing Team, who happened to bring along their National Hot Rod Association Top Alcohol dragster, which is so massive that it barely fits in the studio. JP drives and Phil is the engineer.
If you think drag racing is old-school, these guys will take you to school.
Ram Truck chief exterior designer Joe Dehner talks about how they’ve developed the all-new pickup. “We’ve been building trucks for over 100 years,” he says. “Best I could come up with is that this is our 15th-generation truck.”
When Suzuki developed the GSX1300R, it set out to build the fastest mass-production motorcycle on the market. As competitors gained ground and stringent emission regulations were set, Suzuki set out to reinvent the bike.
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?