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FCA’s Marchionne Races to Answer Product Questions

Grand Cherokee, Stelvio may share a platform.

by on Jan.10, 2017

Sergio Marchionne said a determination is underway to determine if the Stelvio and the Jeep Grand Cherokee will share a platform.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. is spinning so many product plates these days that CEO Sergio Marchionne’s announcement that FCA will have new products to show at next year’s North American International Auto Show was almost as much of an attempt to convince folks as to make a joke.

Marchionne also said he want FCA to continue working with Waymo, Google’s automotive unit in the future. But he also expects to retire in 2019, following the completion of the five-year plan the company laid out back in 2013.

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FCA is also in the midst of a study that will determine whether or not the platform developed for Alfa Romeo’s new sport utility, the Stelvio, which was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, will serve as the same for the Jeep Grand Cherokee as well.

The Grand Cherokee is the single most important vehicle in the FCA line-up, according to Marchionne, who also hinted the next generation version could wind up being built at more than one plant in order to expand the vehicle’s sales beyond North America.

(FCA touts 2,000 new jobs. For more, Click Here.)

For the time being, the Grand Cherokee will continue to be built at the Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, but the changeover will be a challenge for the company because of the Grand Cherokee’s importance.

A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, modified for Waymo, shown driving autonomously.

Named for a famous winding pass in the Italian Alps, the Stelvio is equipped with a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 280 horsepower and is matched with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. For more power, the Quadrifoglio flaunts a 505-hp 2.9-liter turbo V-6 with an adaptive suspension standard. Alfa claims a zero-to-60 time of 3.9 seconds.

Marchionne also said he expects to have the new Jeep Wrangler in production by next November. The new Wrangler is one of two new vehicles that FCA will launch at the beginning of 2018. The new Ram pick-up truck which will be built at the re-tooled assembly plant will also make its debut early next year probably at the 2018 NAIAS, Marchionne said. Introducing two new vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 will pretty much require the attention of the entire FCA U.S. organization, he said.

(Marchionne pushing for FCA manufacturing revival. For more, Click Here.)

The launch of the new Ram 1500 will allow FCA to clear the Warren Truck assembly plant, which will be used to produce the Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer and Heavy-Duty pickup, which will be moved up to Michigan from Mexico.

Marchionne also said he was satisfied with the current level of sales new Chrysler Pacifica, which was name North American utility vehicle of the year at the NAIAS, but has not yet produced the kind of sales numbers the company expected. The current version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was introduced in 2010, also got off to a slow start, he noted.

FCA, however, is not yet prepared to end production of the Dodge Grand Caravan. “It’s a subject of heated debate inside the company,” he said.

(Click Here for more about FCA’s Jeep manufacturing plans.)

Marchionne said FCA hopes to continuing working with Waymo after delivering the first 100 autonomous minivans. “Our objective is to continue to work with Google,” he said.

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