With over 50 per cent of Chrysler Group owned by Italian manufacturer Fiat, the American set of companies, which includes Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Chrysler brand, are now under complete Italian control.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has been actively involved in restructuring the American brands and under his leadership the group has seen strong growth in many international markets. Nonetheless, with the Italians now in charge of some of America’s most iconic brands, many are left wondering if there will be fundamental changes to the look and feel of these American icons.
Speaking with CarAdvice at last week’s Beijing motor show, the group’s head of design, Lorenzo Ramaciotti (who has been behind such iconic car designs as the Ferrari Enzo, Maserati Quattroporte and Alfa Romeo Giulietta), stressed the Americans will keep their identity and design philosophy.
“I don’t want to mess things,” Ramaciotti told CarAdvice. “I think we have a clear portfolio of brands and we must not mess with these brands. Dodge is an American brand and we don’t have to transform it to something midway between American and European car. Fortunately most of the brands we have, have a clear character and direction.. and they have to keep [that].”
Asked if there would be more integration between the two groups, Ramaciotti admitted that he’s likely to leave the American designers to their own ideals.
“If we want to have a portfolio of so many brands, everyone should have his own reason and his own design philosophy and that’s why I don’t want to put too much pressure on the American side because they have the knowledge of their side… they are much closer to their customers than I am.”
Speaking about Alfa Romeo, Ramaciotti confessed the brand is in need of more consistency. “Alfa Romeo is producing amazing cars from time to time… challenge is to design remarkable cars continuously.” He hinted at more affordable sports cars on the way from the Turin-based manufacturer.