- FIAT Chrysler announces grand plans
- Some vehicles will come, some will go
- Business as usual for the most famous Italian car maker
Ferrari. It's arguably the most evocative name in the car business, conjuring up images of beauty, power, money and speed. It might be hard to believe that this famed marque is related to the humble 2014 Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. But it is, thanks to the establishment of a new company, FIAT Chrysler Automotive (FCA). Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009, then Italian car maker FIAT bought a controlling slice. And FIAT owns Ferrari. Even if this connection is only by virtue of a business marriage, the prancing horse is still a part of FCA's recently announced plans for every one of its marques, which encompasses FIAT and Chrysler (of course), plus Jeep, Dodge (including the high-performance SRT sub-brand) and Alfa Romeo.
The big 5-year strategy for FCA concentrates on more pressing needs, such as dealing out merciful deaths to ailing models while pinpointing the areas where new products would work best. Considering this division made a trading profit of around $109 million in the first three months of the year, there isn't much that the marque is doing wrong. It actually wants to limit the volume of cars it makes, deciding to build -- as founder Enzo Ferrari once said -- "one less car than the market demands." Therefore, production for 2014 will be capped at 7,000 to preserve exclusivity and keep resale values strong.
Nevertheless, one new model a year is the intention. This year has already seen the debut of the 2015 California T, a revised version of the marque's entry-level car, costing a mere $200,000 or so. An updated 458 Italia, the Speciale, is expected to follow, at around $235,000. Both machines use V8 engines: The California T enjoys a turbocharged 560 horsepower, while the current 458 Italia develops 570 hp. The engine configuration -- along with a V12, found in the 730-hp F12 Berlinetta -- will remain under those long, sleek hoods. "One new model a year is the strategy we've had in place for a long time," said Jason Harris, director of communications for the company's operations in northern Europe. "So is the retention of V8 and V12 engines ... this is what defines and differentiates Ferrari from our competitors."
Hybrid drivetrains are making their way into this year's Formula One racing series, an arena where Ferrari (which, incidentally, is Italian for blacksmith) has forged a fearsome reputation. Hybrid technology will make its way into the upcoming LaFerrari, and we can assume that other racing-derived technologies will continue to appear in the street cars -- carbon fiber parts, active suspensions, adjustable limited-slip differentials and more turbocharging.
The world-famous Scuderia isn't the only prestigious sports-car badge owned by FCA. Don't forget Maserati, which has cars that are often designed in the same Pininfarina studios and features engines (along with many other parts) that are sourced from Ferrari. By 2018, the motoring world will be blessed with coupe and convertible versions of the voluptuous Alfieri sports car (expected to rival machines such as the Jaguar F-Type) that debuted as a concept earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Show.
When one car door opens, though, another one closes. Soon we'll be bidding arrivederci to the GranTurismo Convertible. The recently redesigned Quattroporte and Ghibli full-size and midsize sedans are sticking around (with hikes in power), and next year should see the introduction of the Levante -- the first ever SUV to be built by Maserati.
What it means to you: Well, here are some things to look forward to when you sell your tech company or develop that killer app.