Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is scheduled to reveal a company-wide strategy Friday at an investor meeting in Balocco, Italy, his last before his retirement next year, and there are rumors swirling the plans might call for the axing of Chrysler, which sells just the 300 and Pacifica.
The rumor was reported Wednesday by Automotive News (subscription required), which cited an anonymous source.
Another Automotive News source said the plans might also call for the pull out of Fiat from the United States and China, as well as a shrinking of the iconic Italian brand's lineup.
This rumor is backed up by a report from Bloomberg published May 25 claiming Fiat's lineup would shrink to just the 500 and Panda, and that production of the affordable cars would be moved outside of Italy to make way for additional higher margin luxury models from Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
The irony isn't lost that the two brands that form FCA's name are two of the most neglected in the automaker's portfolio (the worst is actually Lancia which has one model and operates exclusively in Europe). However, given Fiat and Chrysler's low margins and limited markets compared to FCA's other brands, the result is not at all surprising.
It was in Balocco in 2004 where Marchionne, who had just been named CEO of a Fiat, announced a turnaround plan for the automaker which was struggling at the time. Since then he's merged Fiat with Chrysler and boosted the group's value more than ten-fold.
Also expected in his final strategy to be announced Friday will be more models for current cash cow Jeep, expansion of Ram into more markets, redesigns for Dodge's aging fleet, and possibly greater integration of Alfa Romeo and Maserati ahead of a possible spinoff of the Italian brands.
We should know more tomorrow so stay tuned.