Stellantis is here, which represents the new name for the newly merged Fiat Chrysler – PSA Groupe entity. Headquartered in the Netherlands, with regional headquarters in Michigan, Italy, and France, this automaker controls 14 brands. That’s two more than the Volkswagen Group, which previously had the largest portfolio.
Although just finalized in January 2021, the new company is working diligently to shape its future. That future will follow the exacting scrutiny of each brand and its place in the Stellantis universe.
Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram
Of the American brands, Chrysler and Dodge are the most vulnerable at this point. Ram and Jeep, the other two domestic brands, are in excellent shape. Both have a clear mission and will likely supply huge profits for Stellantis.
There has been much speculation about the future of Chrysler and Dodge, but already the two brands have received some good news. The company’s CEO, Carlos Tavares, recently toured North America and said that Chrysler, along with the Fiat and Peugeot brands, represents the “three pillars” of the new company or the hallmarks of American, Italian, and French heritage as reported by the Detroit News.
Chrysler and Fiat are considered among the most vulnerable of the 14, with Peugeot’s place secure. However, Peugeot’s plans to return to the U.S. have already been scuttled.
Chrysler and Technology
The Chrysler brand is a shell of its former self. It’s comprised of two models: the Pacifica/Voyager minivan and the 300 large sedan. The Pacifica rolled out in 2017, while the 300 in its present form is a decade old. Tavares indicated Chrysler will receive new products, which is the best endorsement yet for this near century-old marque.
Tavares also indicated that Chrysler might once again become a showcase for American technology as it once was. Specifically, it might become the leader of autonomous vehicles, zero-emission vehicles, and connectivity reports Motor Trend. Notably, with the Pacifica Hybrid, the brand has already served as a testbed for autonomous vehicles, including for Waymo.
Dodge’s place also seems secure, with Stellantis describing it as its “performance brand.” The Charger and Challenger, like the Chrysler 300 are aged models, but both provide an important halo for the brand. Dodge’s remaining product line includes the Durango, a model that shares its bones with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With a new Grand Cherokee on the way, the Durango may see a similar revision. That’s important as the product portfolio lost the Grand Caravan minivan the Journey crossover this past year.
The soul of the Dodge brand is its supercharged Hellcat V8 engine, developed by SRT. SRT, by the way, is a casualty of the merger as the department has been disbanded and its engineers dispersed among other brands according to Motor1.com.
All three Dodge models utilize the Hellcat engine, but its future is limited as emissions regulations continue to tighten. Instead of utilizing the Hellcat engine to provide range-topping performance, Stellantis might add electrification to a V6 engine to achieve similar results. Eventually, the performance models might yield a pure-electric variant, which could provide similar results on its own.
Peugeot’s return to the U.S. will not happen. The brand had plans to establish a dealer network to sell its vehicles stateside over the next few years, but the Stellantis merger killed that initiative. Similarly, Fiat may eventually retreat from the domestic market as it comes under review. Its U.S. sales have been paltry since its return a decade ago.
Without Peugeot-badged models present in the U.S. market, Stellantis might tap the PSA’s three core brands – Peugeot, Citroen, and DS — to expand the Chrysler and Dodge portfolios. Stellantis could simply rebadge some models or utilize existing platforms to create new product lines. Another option is to turn to Opel/Vauxhall to supply some vehicles as these brands once did for Buick when they were owned by GM.
All in all, the future for Jeep and Ram looks bright, while Chrysler and Dodge will need fresh roadmaps to help point the way forward. We think we’ll get an idea in the next few months of how that will transpire or at least a general framework for Stellantis to work with.
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