TURIN, Italy -- In the next five years, Fiat Chrysler will try to sell a lot more vehicles with pricey stickers.
CEO Sergio Marchionne, seeking strong profit margins, plans to lavish money on upscale Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep.
At the same time, spending on new products will be modest for the mass-market Fiat brand.
Marchionne's vision for Alfa is particularly audacious. Now, the brand is slumbering in Europe and not on sale in the United States.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' five-year business plan presented last week by Marchionne and his team calls for Alfa sales of 150,000 units in the United States by 2018. Last year, Alfa sold 74,000 units worldwide.
Hybrid brands, between volume and premium, "have no legs," Marchionne told analysts. "The Alfa brand has the DNA to properly compete with German premium automakers."
The planned investment in Alfa is eye-popping: 5.0 billion euros, or $6.96 billion. The global sales goal for 2018 is 400,000. Marchionne added that Alfa could reach 500,000 in 2019.
Many upscale brands, such as Oldsmobile, Mercury and Fiat's own Lancia, have faltered. But Marchionne believes Alfa is different.
"If I did not have plants in Italy with spare capacity to fill, I would invest in a greenfield [assembly plant] to revive Alfa," he said last week. "It's a great project."