We predict a big crash & burn in 3, 2, 1…
The Fiat-Chrysler automotive group are preparing to make big moves to ensure profitability across the board, and address concerns raised by certain quarters within the group, particularly those worried about the sustainability of its European operations. Thanks in part to a huge lump of money from the sale of Magneti Marelli, FCA will now move to bolster one of its more profitable brands to shore up its prospects, and so Alfa Romeo will soon welcome a smaller, sub-Stelvio into the fold.
But worryingly, FCA’s decided to share its platform with the Jeep Compass, rather than trying to shrink the Giorgio platform used in the dynamically-excellent Giulia & Stelvio.
This is of course in line with known FCA tactics: To take a model they already have, rebadge it, and push it down the line, incurring relatively little cost in the process. This is a system that works well in certain areas – take the Volkswagen-Skoda-SEAT trio of the Tiguan, Kodiaq, and Tarraco, and you kind of get where we’re going with this.
If we take the Volkswagen Group trio of large SUVs, there is something worth noting – the platform they share, MQB, is widely-recognised for being very cost-efficient, weight-efficient, and also very rigid, making it a great scalable platform on which to underpin everything from the Audi A3 to the Volkswagen Atlas. However, the Jeep Compass platform is not one showered with praise, as our last drive of it revealed soft, soggy handling, lacklustre steering feel, and a range of breathless engines. About par for the course with Jeep, but not something that’d pass mustard as an Alfa Romeo.
We’re sure the FCA bosses know this, but there’s little they can do. There are jeers in Italy about how little marketshare the company’s managed to win there, and there are also concerns that its Italian manufacturing operations are in jeopardy. By utilising the Compass platform, FCA can move the manufacturing of the baby Alfa SUV to its Italian plants, in line with plans laid out by late FCA supremo Sergio Marchionne to convert its facilities from low-margin Fiat plants to high-margin Jeep & Alfa Romeo plants instead.
Of course there are other things in the pipeline for FCA according to Motoring, thanks to that €5-billion cash injection. There are battery-electric and plug-in hybrid versions of the Fiat 500 & 500X coming respectively, and there’s talk that the Alfa Romeo Stelvio will be restyled & rebadged to offer Maserati something to offer beneath its Levante.