In 2009 President Barack Obama handed bankrupt Chrysler Corporation to Fiat so that the Italian maker would educate Detroit’s SUV-dependent heathens on how to make small cars in order to save the world from global warming. Five years later and Fiat has announced in Geneva that the new Jeep Renegade will be built in Italy and exported to markets around the world, including the United States.
Save the planet? SUV the planet is more like it.
Fiat’s announcement came one day after Chrysler posted an industry-leading, 11 percent sales increase thanks to record February sales for Jeep SUVs and a 26 percent leap in RAM truck sales.
Those sales records were thanks in large part to frigid winter temperatures that have increased the demand for gas-guzzling, all-wheel-drive vehicles. Indeed, Detroit – Fiat’s U.S. headquarters – recorded the coldest winter since 1978 when the America’s media claimed a scientific consensus for global freezing (solutions, reported Newsweek at the time, included “melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot’).
“The severe weather has been ideally suited for our legendary Jeep 4×4 capability as Jeep brand sales were up 47 percent,” said Reid Bigland, head of Jeep North America sales.
Jeep unit sales of 46,000 dwarfed purchases of Obama’s preferred Fiat small cars (3,500) and the Dodge Dart compact (4,900) — the 40 mpg car that Fiat was required to build in the U.S. in order to complete its takeover of the Detroit automaker. What’s more, Jeep and RAM are much more profitable vehicles than the Italian-designed sedans.
Which is why Detroit’s heathens are now exporting Jeep designs to Italian assembly plants.
Jeep sales saved Chrysler and CEO Sergio Marchionne hopes that they will save struggling Fiat as well. In defiance of their political betters, consumers have made SUVs the hottest-selling vehicles in the world – particularly in emerging markets like South America and China. Sure, they are smaller than the hulking Jeep Cherokees found in the U.S. — but they ain’t global warming-fighting Smart cars either. Even Europeans can’t help themselves — SUV sales have increased there even as total auto sales have declined. Fiat expects Jeep Renegade sales will hit 1 million in over 100 markets around the globe.
Naturally, White House policies will work to trim these Jeep profits. Convinced the earth is hotting up, the EPA’s 54.5 mpg-by-2025 mandate is forcing Jeep to equip its SUVs with expensive nine-speed transmissions. Meanwhile, Ford and GM are already investing billions to convert their trucks to lighter-weight aluminum skins to meet the pie-in-the-sky rules — and industry experts expect Jeep will have to follow suit.
The king must have his sacrifice.