Stellantis Bingo: Is This Fiat Panda SUV EV the Next Small Jeep, Dodge, or Chrysler?
This is the 2023 Fiat Panda compact SUV, which is part of its “affordable electrification” march towards a full lineup of electric vehicles. But Fiat is doing poorly in the US, and Fiat headquarters is looking for big production numbers for the Panda. So it looks like a thinly-disguised Panda will end up here from either Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep. With so many needy brands under the Stellantis umbrella, it’s like brand bingo for new models.
What else will Stellantis choose the 2023 Fiat Panda to be?
Fiat’s plan is to launch the Panda with an “economical price.” And there will be other versions according to the UK’s Auto Express. Besides the SUV, there will also be a B-segment “supermini” based on the 2019 Centoventi concept seen at the Geneva Auto Show. And from there, more variations are in the production pipeline.
Right now the new Panda, based on Auto Express renderings, looks very Fiat-like. That’s to be expected. But with some slight tweaks and a different grille, this could also be an entry-level Dodge or a small Jeep. And Chrysler is down to almost no models at all, so it can use anything it can get its hands on. Virtually all of Fiat Chrysler’s efforts went into Ram and Jeep, so Dodge and Chrysler’s landscape is looking plenty barren.
Stellantis’ CMP platform is ripe for variants in the US
Stellantis has developed its CMP architecture, currently used for the Peugeot 208 and 308 hatchbacks. The CMP platform could be used for a Fiat as well, possibly the 500. But Fiat probably wouldn’t market a 500 here due to abysmal sales and reputation.
It pushed almost 50,000 out the door in 2012, but then saw sales fall before launching off a cliff in 2016. By 2019 it saw sales of only 3,000 units. Alfa Romeo saw similar disastrous numbers, so both of the Italian brands need to rethink every new model for the US. That’s why Stellantis may see more acceptance with a Dodge or Chrysler nameplate on it.
“We all need more or less the same thing”
Fiat CEO Olivier Francois recently said, “I have siblings now – Peugeot, Opel, Citroen, DS, even Lancia, who are in the business of doing small and compact European cars. So we all need more or less the same thing, the same technologies. Obviously, the cars are going to be fundamentally different, but the underpinnings can be shared.”
But he forgot to mention Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep. So in reality, there are 10 brands looking for new models, including Ram. But Ram, and to some extent Jeep, are too specialized to be seeing anything with Fiat underpinnings. Maybe a Jeep Renegade or Compass replacement, but nothing else.
So we’ll keep watching and imagining what every new Citroen, Peugeot, or Fiat might be as a Chrysler or Dodge, or even a Jeep. The picture will become clearer as we get into 2022 a bit more.