Marchionne Stokes Ferrari SUV Interest, Rules Out Jeep SaleBy , , and
Luxury brand to determine production level in about 30 months
Utility vehicles to account for most of industry’s growth: IHS
Sergio Marchionne confirmed speculation that Ferrari NV will make its first sport utility vehicle model while tamping down rumors that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV may part ways with Jeep.
Ferrari is beyond just considering an SUV and will take about 30 months to decide on production, which will be limited to preserve exclusivity, Marchionne told reporters Monday at the New York Stock Exchange. The comments went a step further from when the CEO said during an August earnings call that an SUV would “probably happen.”
“We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said of what he referred to as the “FUV” model. “We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.”
Marchionne, 65, also said Fiat Chrysler won’t consider selling Jeep as a separate entity and rejected the idea of making a deal with Chinese rival Great Wall Motor Co., which has expressed interest in buying the brand. Marchionne has spoken about the rationale against splitting Jeep from the rest of Fiat Chrysler before, telling analysts in July that Fiat Chrysler needed “to worry about the stump that’s left behind.”
The CEO has increased the value of Fiat Chrysler for top shareholder Exor NV and other investors by spinning off units and spending heavily on a global expansion of the Jeep SUV brand. Industry sales of the profitable vehicle type will probably increase by 9.4 million units worldwide from 2017 to 2024, accounting for two thirds of the auto industry’s expansion, IHS Markit estimates.
A deal with Great Wall wouldn’t make sense, at least today, because the two companies have no market overlap and wouldn’t achieve greater scale together, Marchionne said. He reiterated that Fiat Chrysler would produce better returns by combining with another automaker, but it hasn’t had any offers from a suitor that meets his criteria, so he’s focusing on an independent strategy for the carmaker.
“It’s incorrect to assume that FCA’s future hinges on doing a deal,” he said.
The U.S.-listed shares of the companies Marchionne leads rose in Monday trading, with Ferrari jumping 2.9 percent to $115.83 at 1:28 p.m. in New York and Fiat Chrysler advancing 1.4 percent to $17.84.
Ferrari will present a new five-year plan that runs through 2022 in the first quarter of 2018, Bloomberg News reported in August. The Maranello, Italy-based company is considering adding a roomy four-seat utility vehicle as part of a major expansion push beyond its traditional supercar niche in a bid to double profit by 2022, people familiar with the matter said at the time.
— With assistance by Tommaso Ebhardt