PARIS – Look forto take Jeep into India as part of a push to establish the brand more firmly on the global stage.
“We need to find a way to globalize Jeep better,”/ CEO Sergio Marchionne says here in a wide-ranging media briefing on the sidelines of the biennial auto show. “So get ready, because I think we’re going to come back with some Jeep offerings in India relatively quickly.”
Jeeps are sold in more than 120 countries outside of North America, but the rugged SUVs are not offered in India.
Overall, Jeep deliveries outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico totaled 102,576 units through August, up 58% from like-2011. The Compass is the marque’s top-selling model internationally.
Jeep is one of two brands, along with Alfa Romeo, that Marchionne says will be taken on a drive up market.
“We have the potential to move some of our brands into the higher level of the market in pricing,” he says. There’s “additional space to try and occupy” with Alfa and Jeep.
Chrysler is playing a big role in Alfa’s slowly emerging comeback effort, and Marchionne now is preparing to turn to Ferrari to lend an additional hand.
Chrysler, he says, has helped provide the volume needed to make Alfa viable. He points to earlier cars such as the Alfa 159, launched in 2005 and shelved six years later, that costan “appalling” €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) to develop and never provided a return.
Based on that outlay, each 159 sold cost the auto maker “in excess of what I get paid on a yearly basis,” Marchionne says. “It was the most expensive car we’ve ever produced historically, I think.”
The Chrysler acquisition has changed that metric, he says.
“It’s the kind of mistake we needed to avoid (in the future),” Marchionne says of the 159 program. “And the only way to avoid it is by effectively relying on our American friend, which now because of all the work that has gone on in the U.S. in the last 36 months is in position to launch a variety of vehicles off the Alfa-established architecture that effectively provide us the benefits of world volumes.”
Chrysler tapped into the Alfa Giulietta platform for its new Dodge Dart, and that architecture also is slated to foster replacements for the Chrysler 200/Dodge Avenger, Dodge Journey and Jeep Liberty and spawn the upcoming Chrysler 100.
Ferrari, Fiat’s CEO says, can help finish the job for Alfa.
“The thing we’ll be addressing is, how do we reconstitute all the engine know-how that sits within the (Fiat Group)?” Marchionne says. “One of the things that is now visible to me is the available knowledge and technical understanding that sits within Ferrari.
“I think it would be an incredible shame if we continue to live our life without finding a way (to) leverage (that) technical know-how.
“My hope is that in the next 30-60 days we will be in a position to be better detailed about what we intend to do on the powertrain side, now that we have the architectural solution with Alfa resolved.”
A new Alfa story is about to be written again, Marchionne adds, with new models positioned upmarket from the Giulietta.
“Alfa needs to go back to its roots. It needs to be the best sports car in its class.”
No timetable has been revealed for bringing the brand back to the U.S.