Fiat Chrysler Brand Plan: Chrysler Up, Dodge Down

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne Lays Out 5-Year Plan for Growth

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Sergio Marchionne looks forward
Sergio Marchionne looks forward Credit: Bloomberg/Jeff Kowalsky

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne unveiled an aggressive 5-year business plan Tuesday. The early line among the auto giant's various brands: Chrysler wins, Dodge loses and Jeep is positioned as a global driver of sales growth.

Perhaps the biggest news from a brand perspective was the corporate shakeout between Chrysler and Dodge, which have long cannibalized each other's sales by competing for the same minivan and sedan customers.

Under the long-term strategy announced at Chrysler's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters, Dodge loses the Dodge Caravan and Avenger sedan, which compete too closely with Chrysler's Town and Country minivan and 200 sedan. Chrysler, meanwhile, will gain a plug-in hybrid version of the Town and Country in 2016, a compact car called the 100 to compete with Toyota Corolla and a full-size crossover SUV.

The goal: to turn Chrysler into a "mainstream" North American brand that can go head-to-head with GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda while repositioning Dodge as a sporty, performance marque aimed at younger buyers. Dodge, for example, will get new versions of its two muscle cars -- Charger and Challenger -- this year.

"We've cleaned up all the duplicity and the misunderstandings between these brands within the house," said Mr. Marchionne during a press conference late Tuesday night. "We're in execution mode now."

Fiat Chrysler executives are expecting big things for the Jeep brand too. Jeep will more than double global sales to 1.9 million vehicles by 2018 from 732,000 in 2013, they predicted. The company also plans to make Alfa Romeo and Maserati into global brands in an attempt to double profit in the next five years.

A tired-looking Mr. Marchionne alternated between serious strategizing and light-hearted banter, at one point telling a reporter he would not let him get inside his "shorts."

Credit: Bloomberg/Jeff Kowalsky

As a physical symbol of change, the merging companies took down the old Chrysler sign outside headquarters and replaced it with Fiat Chrysler's new logo: a large light blue "FCA," with "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles" in smaller letters underneath.

The new logo was designed by Robilant & Associati in Milan, Italy, a shop that's done design work for Fiat in the past.

Fiat Chrysler's U.S. ad agencies include: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland; The Richards Group, Dallas; GlobalHue, Detroit and New York; and Doner.

Traditional AOR designations don't matter as much at Chrysler as at GM or Ford since CMO Olivier Francois frequently pits shops against each other for new creative assignments.

Chrysler spent nearly $900 million on advertising in 2013, according to Kantar Media.

For complete coverage of the day-long presentation of Chrysler's 5-year plan, check out Automotive News.

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