Stellantis owns many brands, and a number of those brands aren’t in the greatest health. Lancia sells exactly one car in one country (though, admittedly, it prints money), Alfa Romeo is stagnant and Chrysler offers one minivan it pretends are three, plus the 300 for some reason. And despite Dodge’s eagerness to brand itself as the last bastion of the muscle car, it still continued to sell the ancient Journey and Caravan until very recently.
It’s a concern that keeps coming up, leading to the same question posed to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares for months now: will you cull some of those wayward marques, or try to build them back up again? Tavares and company have responded diplomatically to date, saying Chrysler and its ilk aren’t going anywhere. But this week he gave perhaps the firmest indication of an investment — as well as an ultimatum — to save those brands in an interview with Autocar:
“My clear management stance is that we give a chance to each of our brands, under the leadership of a strong CEO, to define their vision, build a roadmap and make sure they use the valuable assets of Stellantis to make their business case fly,” said Tavares.
“We’re giving each a chance, giving each a time window of 10 years and giving funding for 10 years to do a core model strategy. The CEOs need to be clear in brand promise, customers, targets and brand communications.
“If they succeed, great. Each brand is given the chance to do something different and appeal to customers.”
Ten years in the automotive realm is kind of a long time but also not — that covers what, two product cycles max? But it would seem like just enough breathing room to enter with new models, potentially change the tone and cultivate a future for these brands. Then again, we’ve seen executives issue ultimatums and ditch them well ahead of schedule, so perhaps if there’s no forward movement on these goals, a few names will be shuttered sooner rather than later.
If anything, I think it’s a more prudent strategy than keeping Chrysler on life support for no other reason than clinging to some outdated notion of American exceptionalism.
Fortunately, Stellantis already has projects in the pipeline to try and inject some new energy into these brands. Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep will reportedly share a small crossover that will hit showrooms over the next couple of years, while Lancia, Alfa and DS will work together to jointly develop powertrains and technologies that will go into their products exclusively, rather than being shared with the wider Stellantis network. As ever, I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on at Chrysler or Dodge. Is the Barracuda still happening?
Correction May 13, 11:53 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this article stated Stellantis still manufactures the Dodge Journey and Caravan. Those models were discontinued after the 2020 model year. We regret the error.