When Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) listed on the New York Stock Exchange last October, the share price debuted at $9. Six months on, buoyed by a strong U.S. and European auto sector, the stock has risen more than 60 per cent to become one of the best-performing shares in the category.
The big kicker driving FCA’s popularity is the group’s global expansion strategy, outlined by CEO Sergio Marchionne in 2014, as part of his audacious five-year plan.
The prime mover of this is Jeep. The ionic off-road brand has been going gangbusters in the U.S. and selected territories ever since the launch of the third-generation (WK) Grand Cherokee in 2005. Since then, there have been several updates designed to retain the vehicle’s freshness in what is an intensely competitive segment.
FCA also plans to use these latest releases to drive Jeep sales in key markets such as China, South America and Europe from 720,000 vehicles in 2013 to 1.9 million vehicles in 2018.
Also factoring largely in the group’s global expansion is the relaunch of the coveted sports car badge, Alfa Romeo. FCA has a US$2 billion budget to create an entirely new generation of Alfa Romeos with a goal of netting a reasonable slice of the global prestige market by 2018.
Alfa’s new halo car, the highly acclaimed 4C sports car, has already launched in some markets, with a Spider version to join its coupe sibling later this year.
Additionally, the company is developing several new Alfa models including sedans and SUVs aimed squarely at BMW’s big-selling 3 Series and 5 Series (and X3 and X5 SUVs). In 2014, the German luxury carmaker sold about 1.8 million vehicles and while Alfa Romeo doesn’t expect to get anywhere close to that number, they do expect sales to ramp up to about 400,000 units per year by 2018.
FCA has also begun repositioning its Dodge and Chrysler brands with a view to attracting a wider audience. With last year’s launch of the ballistic 707hp “Hellcat” versions of the four-door Charger and two-door Challenger cars, Dodge has been charged with going after the “performance car” market. Chrysler, on the other hand, will target more mainstream buyers with a range of new sedans, SUVs and Minivans.
In what is an unprecedented move, FCA also plans to sell off its legendary Ferrari subsidiary with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 10 per cent, while the remainder will go to existing stockholders.