With no less than 14 brands to manage under its portfolio, newly formed Stellantis has one hell of a juggling act on its hands. It’s been widely anticipated that the auto giant – formed by the joining of FCA and PSA – would rid itself of excess baggage, but thus far, the most likely targets seem to be safe.
One thought to be under threat was Chrysler. Its line-up consists of just three cars: the Pacifica and Voyager minivans plus the 300C saloon, the latter effectively a 16-year-old vehicle. Sales in the US market last year reached just 110,000, about a third of its 2015 results. Sister brand Jeep, meanwhile, shifted nearly 800,000 vehicles in 2020. And yet, Chrysler is to live on.
In a virtual media roundtable, Stellantis Carlos Tavares referred to Chrysler as “one of the three pillars, which represents the foundation of Stellantis”. He added, “I would feel uncomfortable to think that for one of those three pillars we don’t have a clear vision and destination for the brand”.
A rebirth for Chrysler is on the cards, and Tavares’ further comments bolster theories about the brand pivoting to electric-only in the near future. “It is an opportunity for us to make the brand rebound…We do not forget that Chrysler was in the past the expression of the automotive American technology, the best technology available at that point in time,” he said, adding that one way to do this would be with “zero-emission vehicles”. He did, however, note that “we have concluded anything so far”.
Dodge has been seen as another at-risk Stellantis brand. Sales fared better than Chrysler’s with 267,000 vehicles shifted last year, but like it has the same problem of a shrinking, ageing line-up. Tavares is committed to the 121-year-old American icon, however, even if there are question marks as to how Dodge’s reliance on rumbly V8s will be broached when such powerplants cease to be viable. “It’s something we have to work on. There are solutions for that,” he said.
The most likely victim of all in any streamlining efforts was, we thought, Lancia. It makes just the one car, the near-prehistoric Ypsilon, which is only sold in Italy. Against all odds, the once-great Italian brand remains safe too.
Last week, we learned that a grand rebirth is planned for Lancia, which will involve products jointly developed with Alfa Romeo and DS. According to DS product director Marion David, this will mean the sharing of “common premium features including drivetrains that would separate them from mainstream Stellantis brands such as Peugeot”. So, how about a rear-drive, Giorgio-platformed stunner with an HF-badged version in the line-up, Stellantis?
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