Fiat Chrysler targets Europe, Africa, Mideast for double-digit sales growth

Altavilla: “We were waiting for a tailwind, and the moment has come. Industry recovery has begun.”

DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to introduce 34 new or redesigned models to its portfolio in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and is targeting an overall 27 percent increase in sales in those regions by 2018.

The company, in a report today, said it expects that European countries will account for about half of the growth, with sales in the rest of the region, which includes Russia, doubling. More than two-thirds of the projected 400,000-unit increase comes from the Jeep brand, which will see its dealership network grow by 25 percent to support the higher volumes.

The plan calls for using plants more efficiently -- raising capacity utilization from 66 percent in 2013 to 100 percent in 2018 -- largely by increasing exports to other parts of the world. As much as 40 percent of the company’s output in 2018 will be exported, up from 7 percent last year.

A significant portion of the plan for the region involves reshaping the lineups of the Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands to increase profit margins and eliminate overlaps. Information about specific products was not provided. Combined sales of the Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Lancia brands are expected to fall 20 percent from now through 2018 and account for just 5 percent of total sales, down from 10 percent last year.

“For us, it’s time to move upmarket,” said Alfredo Altavilla, COO of the company’s Europe, Africa and Middle East region. “We were waiting for a tailwind, and the moment has come. Industry recovery has begun.”

Altavilla said Europe’s economic crisis caused the company to miss many of the targets it laid out in 2010. It introduced 12 fewer products than planned, and sales this year are expected to be 57 percent below its original estimate.

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