The Latest: Alfa Romeo aims to boost sales in luxury cars

BALOCCO, Italy — The Latest on Fiat Chrysler's new business plan (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

Fiat Chrysler's premium brand, Alfa Romeo, is still targeting 400,000 in annual sales, but now for 2022, having missed the initial goal of this year.

Alfa Romeo has grown from 66,000 vehicles a year in 2014 to 170,000 a year forecast for 2018. That is well-shy of the 400,000 mark the carmaker had set out in its last five-year business plan in 2014.

Brand chief Timothy Kuniskis told an investor presentation that Alfa will roll out seven new launches over the five-year period, including updates of the Giulia and Giulietta passenger vehicles.

He said "the timing of our expansion plans couldn't be more optimal" given the premium market is forecast to grow at twice the rate of the mainstream passenger car segment. Like the Jeep and Maserati brands, Alfa will put a fresh focus on electrified powertrains and discontinue diesel.

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12:20 p.m.

The head of Fiat Chrysler's luxury brand Maserati says they are targeting Tesla with their five-year plan to launch all of its vehicles also with electrified versions.

Brand chief Timothy Kuniskis said Maserati is entering an exclusive deal with Ferrari for all future powertrains, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-battery electric, while it eliminates diesel engines. Ferrari was part of the Fiat Chrysler portfolio until its 2016 spinoff and the two companies share a CEO, Sergio Marchionne.

The brand will introduce two brand new vehicles over the five-year plan, including an all-electric supercar named "Alfieri" that will accelerate from 0-100 kilometers an hour around two seconds. The other new vehicle will be a larger utility vehicle.

He added: "with an all-electric supercar, it may look like we are targeting Tesla. We are."

He said Maserati targets sales of 100,000 cars a year and 15-percent margins by 2022, from 50,000 sales in 2017.

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11:45 a.m.

Jeep brand chief Mike Manley says all Jeep vehicles will have an electrified version by the end of the company's five-year business plan to make the brand more environmentally friendly.

Manley said that Jeep currently sells around 1.9 million vehicles a year. He did not give a target for sales in 2022 but said that currently one in every 17 utility vehicles sold in the world is a Jeep and he expects that to be one in 12 by 2022.

Manley said that transformation to more environmentally friendly technology will include dropping diesel engines in Europe and the Middle East. He said Jeep should be more able than most brands to recoup the investment in electrification because the technology will also enhance torque controls, something he believes Jeep customers are willing to pay for.

Jeep will enter three new segments: a small city-car size SUV targeting customers accustomed to sedans and hatchback, larger SUVs with three rows of seats which comprise the largest segment in key markets and the extra-large SUV.

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10:30 a.m.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has told investors that he expects Fiat will reach zero debt by the end of this month, and maintained a promise to wear a tie to make the announcement.

The 65-year-old Italian-Canadian manager is famous for unfailingly wearing navy blue cashmere sweaters and never a tie, no matter the event. But as he announced the approach of the zero-debt milestone, Marchionne unzipped a knit cardigan to reveal a blue tie — the first, he said, he has worn in a decade.

Marchionne said debt is "a legacy that has dogged both Fiat and Chrysler for decades," and that erasing it "is a fundamental change in how this company is perceived. It is a significant milestone in the process of healing of a structural weakness."

The CEO said that the day-long presentation of a new business plan would focus on Jeep SUVs, Ram trucks and premium brands Maserati and Alfo Romeo. He said: "these brands comprise the most significant part of our revenues."

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9:20 a.m.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is outlining his business plan for the automaker's next five years in his last big presentation to investors before retiring next year.

The presentation Friday of the 2018-2022 business plan marks Marchionne's grand finale, 14 years to the day after he was named Fiat CEO. During that time he has merged Fiat with U.S. carmaker Chrysler and spun off the industrial vehicle business and sports carmaker Ferrari.

Markets will be watching for Fiat's plans in Italy, where Marchionne has focused production on the premium Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands; the United States, where Fiat Chrysler has led the strategy of dumping passenger cars for higher-margin trucks and crossovers; and China.

Marchionne has said a successor would come from within the company.

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