Newly-merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles laid out aggressive plansTuesday, including a revitalization of the Alfa Romeo sportscar line and thedoubling of Jeep sales, mainly in China.Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the Italian-American carmaker aims to buildsales not only in the United States but in other markets as it seeks to rivalVolkswagen and General Motors.“The history of the automobile industry is littered with alliances that have failed,”Marchionne told investors, suppliers and reporters at the Chrysler headquarters inDetroit, newly relabeled Fiat Chrysler."In the past five years, Fiat and Chrysler have learned to work together and trusteach other," he said.
This has led to a sharing of technical knowledge and market savvy, which is turningthe company into a true global automaker, he said."In a flat world, you cannot be secure in your own market unless you can competeon a global basis,” Marchionne added.Fiat completed its takeover of Chrysler in January, with the strong profits from the
American unit helping hold up the parent, suffering from the deep downturn in theEuropean economy.Critical to the combined company's future is building more presence in the world'sstrongest markets, including the United States and China.Jeep especially has been singled out for a broad growth effort, Mike Manley, head ofthe Jeep brand, told investors.Jeeps are now built only in the US but the firm expects expects sales to grow by 20percent per year over the next five years, doubling this year's expected 1 millionunits by 2018, Manley said.To the next five years Jeep will begin building cars in Brazil, Italy, India and China."Jeep is one of the fastest growing imported brands in China and this is our largestJeep market outside the US," Manley said.A separate push is in store for Alfa Romeo, which has sagged behind rival luxurysports cars in Europe and has been virtually absent in the United States whileMercedes Benz, Audi and BMW have enjoyed booming sales.Harald Wester, the Fiat executive in charge of Alfa Romeo, said the brand has earnedmuch glory on the race track but has never had much financial success."It neglected its roots," noted Wester, adding Alfa-Romeo’s commercial offeringslacked the technology and spirit that had been the brand so appealing when it wentracing.But a presentation showed a challenging effort to grow sales from 74,000 cars in2013 to 400,000 in 2018, introducing eight new models over that time.Two senior heads from Ferrari, another Fiat unit, will run Alfa's day-to-dayoperations, amid rumors the top-end model might have a Ferrari-developed engine.“Our German competitors have enjoyed phenomenal success,” noted Wester. AlfaRomeo, will double in size of its engineering staff to 600 by the end of next year andthe goal is to deliver the best rear-wheel-drive automobile architecture in the world,he said."Our future products will be equipped with cutting edge powertrains,” he added.Meanwhile Gualberto Ranieri, a Fiat Chrysler spokesman, said the full legal merger
of the two should be completed during the middle of 2014 and that it will thenmove for a listing of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange later in the year.