Just one year ago, Fiat Chrysler outlined an ambitious $50 billion plan to create a slew of new models for each of its marquees over the next five years. But things have changed since then, according to a report from Reuters. The automaker has postponed the release of at least 12 new vehicles in North America, including the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500.
Chrysler’s suppliers said there could be several reasons for the delays, including last-minute design and engineering changes. But the delays would also let the automaker defer billions of dollars in investment as FCA searches for a business partner, Reuters says. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has reportedly been looking to consolidate costs by merging with another car company like General Motors.
The automaker is holding off on updating some of its high-margin models, suppliers claim. A redesigned Jeep Wrangler was originally expected to go into production in early 2017, but FCA has pushed back that date to July 2017. The new model is expected to incorporate more efficient engines and improved transmissions, and possibly an aluminum body. Meanwhile, a replacement for the Patriot and Compass has been shoved back at least six months from spring 2016. A new Grand Cherokee will also not arrive until engineers can take “a complete re-look” at the vehicle’s underpinnings.
The Ram 1500, which was slated for mid-2017, will now arrive in November 2017. Other models have been delayed by a year or more. A fully redesigned Dart sedan and Journey SUV were originally scheduled for mid-2016, but it looks like we won’t see completely new versions until 2019 or 2020. And those Chrysler-branded full-size and mid-size crossovers may never see the light of day, at least anytime soon.
Amid all the reported delays, Alfa Romeo may actually benefit from recent product changes. According to Reuters, Alfa Romeo may see new models arrive faster than originally planned. The same can’t be said for some other sports cars like a redesigned Dodge Charger and Challenger, which have slipped from debuting in the second half of 2018 to 2019 or later.
An FCA rep told us the company is unable to comment on specific future product plans, but noted that schedules sometimes get tweaked. “Those plans need to be flexible and fluid, with the potential to add some vehicles, pull some forward and extend the life cycle of others,” the company said. “We look at these programs on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.”