By this time next year, Ferrari, the world’s most famous sports car builder, will be spun off and operating as an independent company for the first time in 47 years. While it will stay firmly in the orbit of current parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the impending breakup raises a number of questions for both companies.
The loss of Ferrari will leave a pretty sizable hole in FCA – an $11 billion sized-hole, approximately. While Ferrari has always limited the number of cars it produces annually, its profits, on top of the billions it makes in licensing will be desperately missed by the soon-to-be ex-parent company. To make up for it, FCA is ramping up both Alfa Romeo and Maserati production to levels neither company has ever experienced before.
By 2018, FCA hopes to be selling 400,000 Alfas worldwide (including 150,000 in America), and 50,000 Maseratis. While most agree that this is an uphill battle at best, FCA hopes that an aggressive all-new lineup at Alfa, plus new premium SUV models from several of its other brands will stand out enough to overcome whatever doubts car buyers may have about these largely unproven (at least in America) companies. With that, here’s a look at six models that FCA hopes will make up for the loss of Ferrari.
1. Maserati Levante
A Maserati SUV has been in the works for a long time (see the 2011 Kubang concept above), but come January 2016, we should be getting our first look at the production-ready 2017 Levante at the Detroit Auto Show. Little is known about the Levante for now, other than it will be marketed toward women and families, and that FCA sees it as the key for Maserati to reach its 50,000 cars a year sales goal by 2018.
2. Maserati Alfieri
Due in 2017, the Alfieri is Maserati’s first breakup car, one that seems ready to shout “Ferrari who?” to whoever will look and listen. Well, with a twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter V6 that could deliver up to 520 horsepower to all four wheels in top trim, and sinuous lines that make this the best-looking Maser in decades, we’re paying attention. That it’s rumored to start just under the six-figure mark is icing on the cake.
3. Alfa Romeo Giulia
So far, all we’ve seen of Alfa’s new product lineup is the Giulia sedan, and we’re far from disappointed. In go-fast Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) guise, the Giulia will come to the party armed with a 510 horsepower V6 that should be enough to give the BMW M3 a serious run for its money. Even in more sedate trim, the Giulia rides on its own unique platform, so the car we’ll be getting won’t be a rebadged Dodge or Fiat. It’s all Alfa, just the way we like it.
4. Alfa Romeo 4C Quadrifoglio
Alfa’s mass-market (we’re using that term lightly) American return has been nothing short of spectacular with the 4C. Despite miniscule sales figures, the little Alfa is a mid-engined, turbocharged carbon fiber rocket that makes up for its lack of everyday drivability with a 237 horsepower powerplant, a zero to 60 time in the low-four second range, and world-class handling – all for under $55,000. But if the 4C’s baby Ferrari performance isn’t enough, it’s rumored that a high-performance Quadrifoglio version is in the works to join Alfa’s onslaught of new cars, and could break cover as early as this year.
5. Alfa Romeo SUV
If Maserati is jumping on the SUV bandwagon, you better believe that FCA is working on one for Alfa too. According to Automotive News Europe, the unnamed SUV, internally known as Project 949 will likely be based on the Giulia platform, and be similar in size to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Unlike its competitors, however, it’s rumored that the base-model version will be rear-wheel drive, and offer a high-performance V6 diesel. It’ll be different from its European competitors, but if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be an Alfa Romeo.
6. Jeep Grand Wagoneer
No, including a Jeep on this list isn’t a mistake; FCA is resurrecting the mighty Grand Wagoneer nameplate (1984 model shown in its natural habitat, above) to take on the Mercedes GL-Class, Range Rover, Audi Q7, and Cadillac Escalade, with a preproduction version to be unveiled to dealers within the next few weeks. Once a staple among the Hamptons set, FCA has been wringing its hands over Jeep’s 24-year hiatus from the ultra-premium SUV market. Announcing the return of the all-American classic, FCA chief Sergio Merchionne declared: ““When I see a Range Rover on the street, my blood boils, because we should be able to do a thing like that,” he said. “And we will.”
Even if FCA can’t sell the 450,000-plus cars it hopes to by 2018, it should get along just fine without the Prancing Horse. The most profitable cars for automakers are luxury cars and SUVs, and with a lot more joining the FCA fold, it looks like the company should be out just fine.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS