The changes come after setbacks at Alfa and Maserati.
Alfa’s ambitious relaunch is considerably overbudget, supplier sources told Automotive News Europe. Fiat Chrysler did not reply when asked if the relaunch was overbudget.
The market introduction of the brand’s Giulia midsize sedan was also delayed and the car will go on sale in Europe at the end of this month, five months behind original plans and won’t be in the U.S. until the fall. Marchionne said at the Geneva auto show in March that the Giulia’s launch was delayed to make sure it would be a true rival to competitors such as the BMW 3 series.
Also, Alfa’s first SUV, based on the Giulia, will not come to market before early 2017, nine months later than planned, according to supplier sources.
Alfa’s aggressive product timetable -- revealed to the media and investors in May 2014 -- sought to develop at least eight new models by 2018 and expand global sales more than fivefold to 400,000 vehicles. Marchionne said on Oct. 28 that the company is re-examining Alfa’s global expansion because of the slowdown in China. He reaffirmed the 5 billion euro relaunch announced in 2014 but said the investment will be completed in 2019 or 2020.
In February FCA reviewed Alfa’s business plan with an eye toward recasting it more toward European and North American consumer tastes but did not announce details.
Maserati has been hit by fading profitability, an aging lineup and a delay in launching its first SUV, the Levante. Its first-quarter operating profit fell 56 percent to 16 million euros after its shipments dropped 16 percent in the U.S. and 8 percent in Europe. The Levante went on sale in Europe this month, a year later than planned and will launch in the U.S. in October.
The setbacks at Alfa and Maserati are likely to be costly for cash-strapped FCA, the only major global automaker with more debt than cash on hand.
Before his current position, Wester held a variety of roles at FCA, other automakers and top suppliers. He had worked with Magna Steyr, Ferrari, Audi and Volkswagen.
A brilliant engineer, Wester was the key force behind the reinvented Giulia, with its rear-wheel-drive platform that will be flexible enough to underpin future Alfa Romeo and Dodge vehicles. At Maserati, Wester pushed for an expansion of the luxury brand’s lineup to include the Ghibli sports sedan as well as a planned Alfieri coupe.
Roberto Fedeli, a former Ferrari chief engineer who rejoined FCA in February from BMW, will continue as chief technical officer for Alfa and Maserati.