Don't worry, your Wrangler won't suddenly become a Chinese car anytime soon.
It’s not exactly news that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was looking for ways to raise money for his cash-strapped company, with the possibility of a merger with Volkswagen and even a spin-off of the Jeep and Ram divisions being floated. On the other hand, FCA has great faith in Jeep given the brand’s popularity and the rising demand for SUVs, making a Jeep spin-off seem like a bad idea. Thankfully, Marchionne now sees that spin-off the same way.
In an interview with Autocar, the CEO claimed that he has no intention of selling Jeep to anyone, not even FCA's Chinese partner GAC. “We have no intention of breaking up the company or giving it to the Chinese,” said Marchionne. “We have a very good partner in GAC. They have global ambitions, they want to come to the US and we're talking to them about if and how they can accomplish that. None of that is designed to impact on the independence of FCA.” Though Chinese automakers have been looking for ways to break into the US market recently, it appears that buying up popular brands from troubled American automakers isn’t one of the ways that will happen.
It might seem more worthwhile for FCA to sell off brands that have yet to generate a profit, such as Alfa Romeo, but if Marchionne’s vision for the future of the auto market—which consists of shared autonomous vehicles for the mass market with premium luxury brands kept alive by wealthy customers who can afford them—plays out, FCA will need to hold onto any premium automaker it can keep. What’s more is that Alfa Romeo and Maserati will be the platform FCA uses to debut its hybrid and electric technology given that FCA’s loss on these expensive to make vehicles will be mitigated by the higher prices luxury cars command.
Marchionne claims that it's still too early to debut pure EVs for FCA, likely taking into account the loss his company incurs on every Fiat 500e it sells, but he remains committed to the future. “We will remain technology-neutral to meet regulatory demands,” Marchionne said. “I don’t know anyone who’s making money out of selling electric vehicles and I don’t think we’ve answered the CO2 issue with electric. We need to be realistic about what’s going on. It will eventually go in that direction, it will just take a lot longer than people think. [Talk of] electrification is not outlandish, but it's premature.” For now, we can at least remain happy that business at Jeep will continue as usual.