The merger with Fiat Chrysler may nix the French automaker’s plans.
If you’re a fan of French vehicles, you may have been looking at Peugeot’s return to the U.S. market with anticipation. Indeed, Peugeot has been working toward making its return after a decades-long absence, leaving only Renault as the lone other major French vehicle manufacturer left behind.
Alas, the best-laid plans of man sometimes must change due to unforeseen circumstances. For Peugeot, those circumstances have nothing to do with its ability to sell cars in the United States. Instead, the automaker must now find out what its new parent company wants to do. And that company, Stellantis, emerges as the final arbitrator of how its 14 brands will operate around the globe.
The World Welcomes Stellantis
Stellantis was officially birthed in January 2021 as a new company overseeing the operations of two previously separate automakers: Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA. Together, there are 14 brands and most already have a presence in the U.S. market. These include the former Chrysler Corporation brands: Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler. And Fiat brands: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, and Lancer. The PSA Groupe brings with it Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall.
Peugeot, though, must reconsider its possible place in the American market. That point was driven home recently in a talk Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparto had with British journalists this week as reported by Automotive News.
Explained Imparto, “We can’t not take into account that in the coming days Peugeot will be part of this new world. I imagine in the coming months due to the new strategy we will have to adapt and reconsider all elements, including this one.”
The overlap would likely cover some car models, including those from Alfa Romeo. Lancia doesn’t have a U.S. presence, but the other Italian brands are embedded in the states. The Chrysler brand is currently a shell of its former self, but Stellantis may have plans to breathe new life into the marque. As Imparto indicated, it will take months for the new entity to formulate a plan moving forward.
The Jeep and Ram Brands
One of the big challenges for Stellantis is navigating its Jeep brand and, to a lesser extent, Ram. The Jeep brand is the crown jewel of Fiat Chrysler, benefitting from billions of dollars in investments, including new models and factories. Recently, Jeep unveiled its all-new Grand Cherokee L, an extended wheelbase model of its strong-selling SUV. Other models will follow, including a still larger Grand Wagoneer. Jeep is a huge profit center for the automaker and will do likewise under Stellantis.
Ram is also a big moneymaker for the automaker. Indeed, sales of the 1500 pickup truck line and its 2500/3500 companions are surging. In particular, the Ram 1500 finds itself edging the Chevrolet Silverado in sales most months, although both are far behind the Ford F-150. The Ram brand has room for growth and may eventually gain a new SUV and definitely one or more additional electrified models.
Electric and Autonomous Vehicles
Electrification and vehicle autonomy are the driving factors for automakers today. A wholesale shift from the internal combustion engine to electrical systems is underway. It’ll take decades to complete, but the industry is headed that way.
In addition, some level of vehicle autonomy is in the works. That transition may take longer, although the fundamentals are firmly in place. These two challenges may trump everything else for Stellantis, including Peugeot’s plans to return to the U.S. market.
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