FCA Open to More Autonomous Partners; Marchionne Talks Product Location

FCA CEO says 200 will live on despite poor sales.

by on May.06, 2016

FCA chief Sergio Marchionne said that he would not limit the company's autonomous vehicle partners to just Google at this point.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could use the re-tooled assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, to build another vehicle now under development, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters after the official launch of the company’s latest version of the minivan, the 2017 Pacifica.

Marchionne said the new vehicle would require additional investment in Windsor, but said the platform underneath the new Pacifica was versatile enough to support other vehicles.

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“It was designed that way,” said Marchionne, who declined to add further details, but noted. “Just to clarify, this plant and this architecture is capable of making the successor front wheel drive – all-wheel drive replacement for the Chrysler 300.”

However, quickly backtracked, adding, “Warren will continue making the Ram 1500 for a time and then embrace the architecture for Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer.

With the focus on the new Pacifica and the recent partnering of FCA and Google on autonomous minivans, Marchionne noted that Fiat Chrysler would be open to expanding its collaborative efforts – whether with Google or other possible partners when it came to self-driving vehicles.

“It’s too early in this process to try and make a call about with who we’re going to end up with for sort of the winning solution going forward,” he said, according to the Detroit News, of autonomous technology. “We are exploring with people who are willing to explore with us, who are willing to allow us into their world.”

The Sterling Heights (Michigan) Assembly Plant, which is being shuttered for part of the summer due to the slow sales of the Chrysler 200, still has a “very bright future,” he said.

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The plant will be completely re-tooled to build a new Ram pickup truck “late this year or early next,” he said. The new truck built in Sterling Heights plant will appear in late 2017 or early 2018, he added.

At the same time, FCA is continuing to look for a partner to build the Chrysler 200. So far the discussions are incomplete, but Marchionne said he expects the next version of the Jeep Cherokee to roll out of the FCA plant in Belvedere, Illinois, before new makes its debut in late 2017 or early 2018.

“The 200 will live on,” he said.

For the first time, Marchionne also confirmed that FCA’s plans envision both of its existing plants in Toledo, Ohio, which currently build the Cherokee and the Jeep Wrangler. “The plan embraces using both of those plants,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the FCA Windsor has built more than 14.3 million minivans have been sold to date, of which 10 million have come through the Windsor plant.

The Windsor plant continues its legacy as the home of the minivan with the start of production of the sixth generation family vehicle, the 2017 Pacifica.

Of the $2.6 billion spent to develop the Pacifica, $744 million was allocated to the Windsor Assembly Plant to build a modest addition to complement the company’s product quality initiatives, such as the addition of a Component, or Metrology, Center and Complete Technical Vehicle Validation (CTVV), as well as upgrade equipment and processes to produce the all-new Pacifica and the existing minivan on the same line.

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The Windsor plant will also continue to build the older version of the minivan, the Dodge Caravan, “until people stop buying it,” according to FCA officials.

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One Response to “FCA Open to More Autonomous Partners; Marchionne Talks Product Location”

  1. JAE says:

    He is too blinded by hanging EVERYTHING on the Fiat-derived Cherokee platform and trying to expand the Grand Cherokee platform. And those underneath him suffer from the same group-think. You can’t flood the world with Jeeps…

    Moving the 300 to a FWD / AWD platform is a bad mistake; or at least remove the “300″ designation. People outside of most diehard Mopar fans don’t even remember / recognize the 300M.

    I’m sensing another bailout in their future if this short-sightedness continues…

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