FCA Holds Dealer Meeting, More Rams & Jeeps Coming
Members of FCA’s national dealership network informed about future plansby Mark McNabb, on
Fiat Chrysler’s latest dealer’s meeting, held in Las Vegas on April 1, gave FCA-branded dealerships an early look at the automaker’s future plans. Dealership brass heard from Reid Bigland, FCA’s head of North American sales, on the company’s plans to expand the Ram and Jeep lines with more vehicles.
On the Ram front, confirmation was given that Ram is planning a midsize pickup entry that slots under the Ram 1500. The plans with Jeep are more extensive, including the addition of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs, along with a Wrangler-based pickup.
As we reported earlier, Ram’s midsize pickup could be a joint effort with Fiat, whose Toro pickup sells in markets around the globe. The appointment of Bob Hegbloom to Ram International further signals the possibility. Hegbloom previously led the Ram brand in North America. Jeep head Mike Manley was then tapped to fill Hegbloom’s position, leaving Manley to fill both roles simultaneously.
The dealer meeting wasn’t all about trucks and SUVs. FCA announced would in fact not kill off the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans – a report that contradicts previous statements. However, FCA is looking for a partner to build the two sedans. This helps answer the important concerns about federal CAFÉ standards regarding corporate fuel economy averages. While unconfirmed, it the Ram and Jeep projects likely ride on whether FCA can find a partner to build the Dart and 200. Otherwise, FCA could hinder itself from meeting the impending federal standards.
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Why It Matters
This is exciting news. Normally dealership meeting like this confirm previously unconfirmed reports and rumors, giving dealership leaders a heads-up on what vehicles can be expected. Though the closed meetings are usually airtight on details, the news on Ram and Jeep’s plans, along with FCA’s planned partnership for the Dart and 200 construction, give us plenty of insight. We’re just hoping it all works out.
The addition of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, along with the Wrangler-based pickup – would seriously boost Jeep’s portfolio. This would help widen its customer base and hopefully increase sales. Currently, the Wrangler JK is experiencing exponential growth year over year, despite its design being nearly a decade old. The next-generation Wrangler is expected for the 2018 model year, with the pickup version likely following in 2019. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer would slot above the Grand Cherokee as a larger and more luxurious SUV offering, respectively.
The Grand Wagoneer, according to FCA front man Sergio Marchionne, will be opulent enough to compete with Range Rover in the high-end SUV segment. How Jeep will go about construction of the Grand Wagoneer is yet unknown, but V-8 power with 4WD on a ladder frame base is a likely possibility.
The Ram midsize truck, on the other hand, would be a direct competitor to the current crop of midsize trucks, including the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and the Ford Ranger, should Ford revive the Ranger name as is currently the rumor.
All told, Ram and Jeep will soon have larger lineups, giving customers a wider selection of vehicles to choose from. In turn, this will bring money into FCA’s pocket thanks to increased sales volume.
Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Grand Wagoneer here.
Source: Automotive News