Chrysler and Fiat are not going away, though the strategy is shifting

Rumors that Chrysler might be killed off were wholly false

BALOCCO, Italy — At FCA's five-year plan extravaganza last week, most of the news was focused on just four brands — Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. In fact, Chrysler, Fiat and Dodge weren't even on the day's agenda. That led to some speculation that Chrysler might finally get the axe. Well, rumors of the brand's demise have been greatly exaggerated. In addition to an updated deal with Waymo, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne expanded on future plans for Chrysler and Fiat during a Q&A session with investors and journalists.

Marchionne said that Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat make up only 20 percent of global sales. While that means Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo make up the bulk of FCA's profits (and most of that comes from Jeep and Ram). Currently, the Chrysler and Fiat brands just aren't important or valuable enough to warrant their own press conferences, but that doesn't mean things are doom and gloom. Marchionne said that both brands still have a future in FCA's portfolio.

For Chrysler, that means more vans and possibly crossovers, and only in the North American market. The Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid are doing well enough, so those will continue. Look for a crossover or two to come sometime down the line. Every Chrysler going forward will focus on utility and that's bad news for 300 enthusiasts: Marchionne said flat out that the Chrysler lineup won't contain any cars. Expect hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric versions of each new model. FCA plans to have an electrified version of every global model by 2022.

Details were less clear for Fiat's future, though it won't be going away. The only new model that was announced was a new version of the all-electric Fiat 500e, a car Marchionne famously encouraged customers not to buy as the company lost $14,000 on each one sold. For North America, Fiat will focus on "green cars," though what exactly that means is unclear. Expect a refreshed version of the 500X in the next couple of years.

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