TURIN -- A big question is whether Stellantis -- the new company that will result from the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles -- will be able to support all its brands in the future because of the huge investments that will be needed for electric cars, autonomous driving and connectivity.
Stellantis' top-selling brand will be Jeep, followed by Peugeot. Those brands seem safe from being axed. Fiat, the third-largest brand in the group, could have a brighter future using PSA platforms.
At risk could be Dodge, whose high-horsepower cars will come under more pressure from tougher emissions rules, and Chrysler, which has not been promised any new models. PSA's upscale DS brand and FCA's upmarket Lancia marque face uncertain futures.
Alfa Romeo may be retained but this will mean Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, who moves to the role from his current job as PSA Group boss, will have to find a successful niche for a storied brand that inspires huge enthusiasm among auto fans but doesn't make money.
Neither PSA nor FCA has said that it plans to reduce the number of brands that will be owned by Stellantis. In an interview with Automotive News Europe in November, Tavares said the merged company will leverage its double-digit brand portfolio to compete with larger rivals such as Volkswagen Group.
The following analysis of the brands is based on January-September 2020 global sales provided by JATO Dynamics. Brands are ranked by sales.
Jeep: 860,753 sales (-23% from 2019). Status: safe
A growing global appetite for capable SUVs pushed Jeep to become Stellantis' largest brand in terms of volume and the champion in terms of absolute profits.
When Fiat merged with Chrysler in 2014, Jeep sold 1 million units and had four plants in the U.S. By 2018, Jeep's global sales had grown by more than 50 percent to 1.55 million units, with a total of 10 manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Italy, Brazil, China and India. Its iconic model is the Wrangler, an heir to the original World War II-era Jeeps. In its latest generation, it is also available in a low-emissions plug-in hybrid variant.
A big boost to Jeep sales in Europe could come from an entry model to slot below the Renegade that FCA has announced and postponed several times. The so-called B-Jeep now seems slated for a late-2022 launch and will be underpinned by PSA's CMP platform and built in Poland.
Jeep will expand its reach in the U.S. and in China with the new Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer. Production begins in the second quarter of 2021 for the pair of body-on-frame premium-level SUVs. The three-row vehicles will go up against the likes of the GMC Yukon and Lincoln Navigator.
Peugeot: 764,720 sales (-29%). Status: safe
The "P" in PSA has a history that dates back more than 200 years. The family business that preceded the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810 to manufacture coffee mills and bicycles.
The Peugeot group remained under family control until February 2014, when to stave off financial collapse it accepted a capital hike in which Dongfeng Motor of China and the French government bought 14 percent stakes for about 800 million euros each. The Peugeot family stake was consequently reduced to 14 percent; it will have a stake of about 7 percent in Stellantis.
The majority of Peugeot sales are in Europe, where it is the No. 3-selling brand after Volkswagen and Renault. Peugeot has renewed its product portfolio in recent years to emphasize SUVs and crossovers, with the next major launch being a new generation of the 308 compact, set to appear in late 2021.