Ten years is an eternity in the automotive business. So as Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares grants each of the newly merged company's 14 brands a full decade to justify their existence or face a possible culling, the decision seems more than generous.
The clock is clearly ticking on storied American brands Chrysler and Dodge, as well as long-troubled Italian brands Fiat and Lancia — and maybe even Alfa Romeo and Maserati. There is no time to waste on fanciful, nostalgia-indulgent comeback plans long on promises but short on results.
Tavares says he will give each of his brands a fair shot, pledging both adequate resources and opportunity to make long-term success possible. If true, that alone gives Chrysler and Dodge better odds of survival than what they faced in the last decade, when their product futures were sacrificed by then-Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's indulgent and ultimately futile obsession with resurrecting Alfa Romeo.
The sentimental attachment that Marchionne had for his stable of Italian brands beggared his decision-making. When Fiat and Chrysler merged in 2009, his team operated under the assumption that pushing together weak brands such as Chrysler and Lancia would make each stronger. The experiment failed and left weaker brands adrift. Even FCA's strongest, Jeep and Ram, saw vehicles that carried the promise of big profits — including the Wagoneer — delayed for years while management chased impossible dreams for Alfa Romeo.