Next is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA – not exactly a ‘domestic’ anymore, but becoming more of a force in the market every month. Under the Fiat banner and Marchionne’s expert guidance, the Chrysler Group has recovered dramatically from the dark days of 2007/2008 — are you watching Daimler? – are you watching Cerberus?
Introductions at the show for FCA included the Fiat 500X, the Alfa Romeo 4C cabrio, the Jeep Renegade, the Ram 1500 Rebel and the facelifted Chrysler 300. The 500X should be a big plus for the Fiat distribution network in North America. Having struggled for a long time with just the 500 that was only recently supplemented by the homely looking 500L, US dealers must be breathing a sigh of relief that they have a car in the 500X that they can actually sell in decent quantities. The styling is more ‘good’ than ‘fantastic’, but the car is “cute” enough to perhaps create the cult following among younger people that the brand desperately needs. Thumbs up for Fiat on this one.
The Jeep Renegade, built on the same platform as the 500X and in the same plant in Italy (a first outside the US for Jeep), looks a little bit awkward at first due to its compact dimensions. On closer examination, however, the interior is certain to win over a lot of buyers. The package is excellent and the interior styling, materials and features are extremely well executed. Two hits on the same Platform.
FCA cleverly has the displays for Alfa Romeo and Maserati on the outside of the big central FCA stand – separate, but together. Alfa displayed some historic racecars to reinforce the brand image, while Maserati featured the previously introduced Alfieri concept – a beautiful design that we all hope they build. The wheels are especially interesting with unusual rod spokes finished in a blue accent colour that was also used to highlight other areas of the car.