Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa and Chrysler South Africa, responsible for the sales and after-sales business of the Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Fiat Professional, MOPAR, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, and have existed side-by-side in the South African market since 2012.
The National Sales Companies of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have been operating locally as separate financial entities for the past five years, albeit under one management team, and are due to take the next step towards full integration under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles South Africa banner from early in 2018.
This may appear confusing as for the foreseeable future there will be no actual Chrysler, or for that matter Dodge, vehicles for sale here as both brands have chosen to discontinue the production of righthand-drive vehicles worldwide.
Only one in three countries in the world drive on the left and this translates to an even lowerpercentage of actual vehicles sold being right hand drive.
Some sources quoting wordwide right hand drive production as low as 12%.
Unfortunately for us in South Africa this leaves many exciting models off limits, as by definition production runs of exotic cars are small and the marginal cost of producing right hand drive versions prohibitive.
Where there is growth in automotive markets it is predominantly in left hand drive markets so this trend is unlikely to improve from a South African point of view.
Fortunately, South Africans still have an abundance of choice when it comes to vehicle brands and the fact that FCA has chosen to retain the Chrysler name hints at optimism on their part.
Indeed, recently-appointed FCA CEO Robin van Rensburg is “looking forward to taking FCA South Africa to new heights”.
The year in general has been a challenging one for the motor industry as a whole yet FCA remain confident in their brands.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia was launched to huge acclaim in March into the D-Segment, introducing technology from the Ferrari and Maserati sibling brands.
This was followed by the C-Segment Fiat Tipo in May, and the reintroduction of the Fiat Panda.
This range includes the functional 4×4 and Cross versions to a nation that loves its off-roaders. With 2017 drawing to a close, FCA still has to introduce the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the first SUV from the marque.
In 2018, the FCA expansion is set to continue with new models being launched locally; the all-new Jeep Compass is due to arrive in the first quarter, and the venerable Jeep Wrangler replacement will also make its first appearance later in the year.
In between these models, the stonking Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, powered by a supercharged 520kW V8 engine, will make its local debut and is certain to set the cat amongst the pigeons in the performance SUV segment.
Numerous new model additions will also be added to the various Italian brands to keep the line-ups fresh.
In addition to the product line-ups, FCA will also be expanding its dealer network with new dealerships being planned for Sandton, Fourways, Menlyn and Durban following the consolidation of its dealer network in 2017.
FCA’s MOPAR brand has also grown significantly in 2017 offering service and parts to the dealer network from its modern and spacious warehouse in Rosslyn.
With a supply rate of 95%, MOPAR has remained highly competitive in the premium segment. FCA will also be moving house with a new head office planned in the second half of 2018.
The company has outgrown the current facilities and is looking to relaunch itself with a brighter and more modern corporate image.
“The future for FCA in South Africa is certainly an interesting one. My management team, indeed, my entire staff complement, have their work cut out for them and I am confident that we will succeed.
“FCA’s brands will once again become a force to be reckoned with,” said Van Rensburg.