Last week Fiat announced its five-year plan for Chrysler. Up until this point, it hadn’t said “boo” about its newly purchased car company.
There was obviously much to talk about. Several hours into the press conference some in attendance wondered, “is it the plan, or the reading of the plan, that’s going to take five years?”
In the end, the plan was delivered in just less than seven hours.
And now all is clear. Not really, but let’s pretend.
This much we know…
The very tiny and very cool Fiat 500 will be sold at selected urban dealerships sometime in late 2010 and will remain a Fiat — not a re-badged Dodge or Chrysler.
Fiat will spend $23 billion on Chrysler over the next five years. It will take two to three years before we start seeing Fiat-based Dodges, Jeeps and Chryslers, and then we’ll see a slew of them.
For example, Fiat-based B-segment cars are not expected until 2013. Currently Chrysler sells no B-segment cars (think Honda Fit, Toyota Versa, Ford Fiesta, etc.)
The first Fiat-based models will be C-segment vehicles in 2012, under new Dodge and Chrysler and nameplates (Jeep variants come a year later).
The Dodge brand will no longer include trucks. Some entries will be phased out sometime after 2010, like Nitro, Dakota, and Viper.
They are not in denial about quality issues. Noted Doug Betts, Chrysler’s senior vice president for quality: “We get it… We’ve got an issue to deal with, in terms of what people think about us and the reasons behind what they think.”
We also know the Chrysler will no longer play that game, where it produced too many cars, and then had to deep discount them to get them moving. It will also sell fewer cars to the less-profitable fleet markets.
What we don’t know:
• How the Jeep fraternity might relate to some Fiat-based Jeeps?
• Much about Fiat/Chrysler’s long-term alternative-energy minded products.
• How future storms might affect “the plan” and ultimately, Chrysler’s future?
But it’s great that Chrysler is finally moving forward with a plan, and in partnership with a globally based partner that has experience in turning fortunes around.
– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.
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