FiatChrysler is now FiatChryslerPeugot . . . or something along those lines. But is it a good thing?
Or an ominous thing
The combine is now the world’s fourth largest automaker. Automakers, really, since the new brand subsumes many different brands.
That is good in terms of leveraging economies of scale, which makes it possible to manufacture cars for less and so make more money selling them.
But it’s not so good in terms of preserving the unique identity of the brands subsumed.
The danger – at least potentially – is that Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep will Room 101’d into loving Big Brother and made to sell cars more inline with the kinds of cars that Peugot sells, which are nothing like the cars Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep sells.
Peugot sells primarily smaller and front-wheel-drive-based cars; exactly the kinds of cars that Fiat hasn’t been able to sell here. And exactly the kinds of cars that Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep has had no trouble selling scads of here . . . in spite of the fact that they are almost all “old” designs, in some cases more than ten-year-old designs – which is ancient in terms of what’s called product cycle, in industry-speak.
The current Dodge Challenger dates back to 2007, which is thirteen years ago – and yet continues to sell smartly; also the Charger sedan (and Chrysler 300 sedan) which are kin and also fundamentally the same cars today – almost 2020 – as they were back in 2008).
But it is precisely because Chrysler/Dodge/Ram vehicles are ancient – or ancient in layout (e.g., Ram trucks, Jeeps) because almost all of them are unapologetically big and big-engined.
Americans buy them because they’re not small – and small-engined. You will not find a turbocharged four under the hood of a Charger, Challenger or 300. The smallest engine offered in these cars is a V6 that’s almost as big as some V8s.
And they are all rear-whee-drive, a layout which used to be almost a given for American cars (cheap, small foreign cars were FWD) but which is now almost exclusively the province of expensive (and foreign) luxury cars.
Because they haven’t got all the “latest” driver “assistance” (nanny) technology.
Chrysler/Dodge/Ram vehicles do offer some of this electronicized effrontery – but for the most part, it remains safely optional.
Even in the very latest models – such as the 2020 Jeep Gladiator (my review is here) you don’t have to buy the ssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety crap that almost everyone else de facto forces you to buy since the only way to not buy it is to not buy the vehicle.
It’s standard in virtually everything new that isn’t a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep.
CDJR also didn’t back down when the chorus of acceptableness warbled its dirge about the danger and general awfulness of selling a car like the Hellcat Challenger, with its 707 horsepower supercharged V8 engine. Instead, CDJ doubled down – smearing molten rubber all over the backsides of the chorus – by adding 200 more horsepower. The Demon became the first street legal production car capable of lifting its front wheels off the ground when provoked – and running a 9 second quarter-mile.
Worst of all – as far as the chorus was concerned – anyone could buy it.
No special license or “insider” connections. And though not cheap, the Demon – and Hellcat – aren’t exotic . . . in price. They are not much more exotic in price than a loaded SUV (the Hellcat stickers for $58,995) which makes them accessible to the average person.
This is almost as heinous as VW selling a lineup (not just one model) of affordable diesel-powered cars. Which of course was quickly put a stop to – chiefly because VW’s management lost its nerve and did the one thing that assures a prolonged and torturous death these days.
The company’s management accepted the lie that what it had done – which was to “cheat” on illegitimate government certification tests, which is the equivalent of using a radar detector to “cheat” a speed trap – was some awful thing when it fact what it had done was a wonderful thing.
The testing rigmarole had become onerous for its own sake; it no longer bore any meaningful relationship to harmful exhaust emissions VW’s was crucified over pedantic technicalities – for affronting the Authority of the government – not because anyone was harmed.
VW was the only car company making high-economy/low-cost and long-lived diesel-powered vehicles available to . . . average people. And they sold well, until VW agreed (under duress) to take them off the market, to placate the chorus.
VW should have doubled down.
Made its case to the American people, directly – as the Orange Man has (and this, of course, is the reason for the hair-pulling, carpet-chewing fury directed at the OM by those who cannot abide anyone who stands up them).
Despite unprecedented pressure to stop selling big vehicles with big engines, CDRJ not only continues to sell them, they audaciously expand the number of them. You can now get the Hellcat drivetrain in Jeeps like the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and – soon – you’ll be able to to get the same in Hellcatted versions of Ram trucks.
And there are new diesels on deck, too – including one for the Gladiator.
No signs of an Apology Tour.
If CDRJ can hold the line. Which may be hard to do under the aegis of Fiat and Peugot. They will be the boss of CDRJ and if they decide that big and big-engined cars must go, to placate the chorus, then they will – no matter how well they sell.
Much also depends on the Orange Man. if he stays, it will be easier to hold the line; if he is removed – and replaced – it will be much harder to avoid genuflection. The fatwas currently being held in abeyance and even being withdrawn will be applied, full force no matter which of the OM’s antagonists accedes to the purple.
This includes his Republican antagonists – such as Mittens, for instance. Or JEB! – sulkily waiting for his moment. All of them are just as bad as the rest of them, in terms of being predictable amen’ers of the chorus. Not one of them will stand up; they can be counted on to beg for forgiveness and toe-the-line, as VW tragically did.
So it might be best if CDRJ went its own way – and seceded from the Fiat-Peugot combine. Became the decider of its own fate. This is perfectly doable, because CDJR vehicles are selling.
The conventional wisdom is that the merger is necessary because CDRJ needs a cash infusion to update its aging mode lineup.
No! A thousand times, no.
This is precisely what will kill off CDRJ. If big and big-engined CDRJ vehicles are replaced by “updated” smaller and small-engined cars more in line with the cars that Fiat and Peugot specialize in there will no longer be a reason to buy CDRJ vehicles, beyond the fading memories associated with the brand – and what it used to mean, once upon a time, to own a Chrysler, Dodge, Ram or Jeep vehicle.
Don’t go changing.
. . .
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