Fiat Intends to Position Jeep as its Primary Global Brand

During the first half of 2011, Fiat S.p.A. plans to make Jeep its centerpiece global brand as it consolidates its Lancia nameplate in European markets. According to Chrysler Group’s international chief, Michael Manley, the automaker will also rebadged the Chrysler minivan, Sebring and 300 models as Lancias around the end of the first quarter of 2011.

Last November Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne laid out his strategy to share models among the Chrysler and Lancia brands. Under that plan, Jeep is expected to account for about half of all Chrysler Group’s global sales. Manly said the Jeep brand has historically accounted for about one third of the automaker’s total international sales. Last April, Marchionne said he plans to increase Fiat’s revenues from its sales of passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles to $63 billion over the next four years.

At an event to launch the newest version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee held last month in California, Manley said Fiat plans to have two Chrysler Group brands, including Jeep, in each of its global markets. Manley told attendees at the event that the Jeep brand is already well known around the world. He said, “With our partnership with Fiat we can now focus on Jeep as an international brand.”

Fiat’s global strategy is to share parts, drivetrains and engines among its Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo and flagship Fiat models is expected to save the automaker an estimated $2.9 billion over the next five years. Fiat also owns Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari. Fiat S.p.A. was given a 20% stake in Chrysler Group as the embattled American automaker underwent a government-backed bankruptcy last summer.

Manley said the Chrysler name will be retained for the minivan in the UK and that some Dodge models will also be sold in other European markets. He said Fiat will continue selling vehicles under the Chrysler name in Asia, Latin America and North America. Fiat hopes to increase sales by 73% by 2014 by increasing its footprint in Europe and emerging markets. It also plans to re-enter the North American market and re-launch its Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands.

Fiat has set an annual global sales target of 3.8 million cars and commercial utility vans in 2014, compared with 2.2 million sales in 2009. Including Chrysler Group models, Fiats 2014 sales goal is 6 million units.

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