The FCA-PSA merger will result in one company controlling an incredible number of global automotive brands. 13 to be exact. Carlos Tavares, the future company’s chief executive, has a reputation of being a cost cutter, but has promised that all 13 brands shall remain. The new venture has yet to announce a corporate brand, as I am sure FCA-PSA or PSA-FCA make very little sense.
I have the remedy.
The merged company should be called Chrysler. While it does not necessarily have global cache or brand recognition, it is certainly more relevant than some portmanteau name that some hipster brand firm comes up with. In fact, Chrysler is actually something that FCA and PSA have in common. Two factories that PSA currently operate were once owned by Chrysler Europe, which was purchased by PSA in 1979 for one dollar. While it is somewhat of a reach, it begins to emerge as the most pressing option.
With that, I believe Chrysler should cease operating as an automaker globally. Its current lineup is dismal, and half of it is very old. It does not have the kind of appeal or heritage that Dodge does, and will be hard to reposition as a premium marque. The money it would take to revive Chrysler as an automaker could be better spent a number of ways elsewhere in the portfolio.
FCA labored under the banner of being a house of niche brands, a banner that clearly cannot continue to fly with the coming winds of change. Tavares has said that the future of most of the portfolio is models based on only two platforms. So, it makes sense to create two columns: Makes and Models; and from there develop a product mix of makes and models that reflect relavence to the local markets. It is a very VW or 70s-80s GM badge branding approach. That is of course with one exception of Jeep. Jeep is probably what motivated the merger in the first place, so should be a global mainstay. Say what you will about American foreign policy, it exposed the world to the Jeep brand and the global appetite for Jeeps and SUVs has never been higher.
With all of that being said, here is a how I would reshuffle the portfolio for the US Market:
• Kill off Fiat stateside, slide models into Dodge as new Journey (500L) and Caliber (500x)
• Bring back the crosshair shield badge, currently still on the Grand Caravan and Journey
• Use single slash for the RT badge
• Use double slash for the SRT badge
• Bring the Overland trim over from Jeep to be used on ruggedized models
• Rebadge the existing Pacifica as the Caravan, aiming to refresh with a squarer style, much like the recently dead Ford Flex
• Make a shorter awd only Voyager, with swing open doors, slightly lifted, in the vein of a 90s Mazda MPV
• Make a Magnum wagon, sedan and ute based on the existing Pacifica platform to be a lower-cost competitor with the Subaru Outback/Baja, and Toyota Avalon. In many ways, this new Magnum range hearkens back to the AMC Eagle, but with a model name more relevant to the current era
• Reintegrate Ram lineup into Dodge, while maintaining large ram emblems and bed dressing
• Bring Fiat Toro/Ram 1000 here as the Dakota as a competitor to the Ridgeline
• V8 Viper – Sure, it’s not a V10 and diehards will moan, but a hellcat Viper is better than no Viper
• Replace Renegade model name with Patriot in refreshed model
• Use Renegade Trim to create serious off roaders like the Raptor trim has become
• Badge Engineer Ram trucks as the Jeep Scrambler. While Gladiator would have been truer to the heritage of bigger Jeep Trucks, that model name is already in flight. This is a far better use of the name than a single cab Gladiator, which can simply be an offered configuration of the existing model
• Middle of the range:
o Rebrand the current Cherokee as Liberty
o Current Grand Cherokee as just Cherokee
o New Grand Cherokee sized like the current Durango
• Ram based SUVS:
o Wagoneer: a Tahoe/Expedition/Armada/Land Cruiser competitor
o Wagoneer Sport: slant back, like an RR sport and similar to the original Wagoneer design
o Grand Wagoneer (Suburban)
o Grand Wagoneer HD based on a Ram 2500 with a Cummins option
• Make stuff I want to buy, your triangles make me cry.
• If Hyundai can launch an entirely new brand with attractive models that are competitive offerings, there is no reason Alfa Romeo cannot be interesting as a global luxury player
• With Jeep as a stable to select from, badge engineer 4 SUVs that people will want to buy
• Stop being terrible to own. It can compete with Bentley if there was a focus on great tech and reliability.