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EIGHT’S A CHARM

STELLANTIS ANNOUNCES NEW MODELS AND LOCAL MANUFACTURING PLANT

As the parent company of eight car brands currently available in South Africa, Stellantis is responsible for the largest number of brands distributed under a single banner in Mzansi. Despite this, significant sales success has eluded the automaker since amalgamation here in 2022, a position the fourth-largest automaker in the world hopes to change in 2024 as it announces several new vehicles for local introduction, and a R3 billion investment in an assembly plant in Coega.

Who is Stellantis? This is a question that many South African car buyers will likely not be able to answer out of hand. There are several reasons for this, including that the brand is only three years old globally and barely 18 months old locally.

Also, while Stellantis is the parent company to eight car brands distributed here, its local subsidiary, Stellantis South Africa, is directly responsible for seven (Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Opel, and Peugeot), excluding Maserati, which is imported by another entity. 

Stellantis has been marketing and selling these brands separately for the past 18 months when it was first amalgamated locally, but recently announced big plans to make significant changes to its dealer model, available line-ups, and assembly capacity, that should see the company’s fortunes change for the better in the short- to medium term.

WHAT ARE THEY PLANNING?

As a start, Stellantis announced last month at an event at Gerotek testing grounds in Gauteng that they will be launching eight new cars from six different brands this year, with two more confirmed for 2025. 

Also, the French-Italian automaker (headquartered in the Netherlands) has embarked on a programme to consolidate its various individually-branded dealerships into Stellantis dealerships, so that buyers will have purchasing and servicing access at any of the company’s touchpoints across the country.

On the after-sales side, Stellantis has invested in a new, consolidated parts distribution warehouse In Roslyn outside of Tshwane, and will be breaking ground on a greenfield manufacturing facility in Coega by mid-year, to make them South Africa’s eighth local manufacturer.

A LINE-UP OF NOTE

While the current Alfa Romeo line-up will not change this year, the recently released Junior (initially called the Milano) has not been ruled out for local distribution at a later stage.

The first car to debut locally this year is the facelifted Opel Corsa, which will appear in showrooms before the end of the second quarter. Although Stellantis did not provide pricing or model breakdown of every model at the event, the incoming Corsa will likely use the same 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine as the current model, which produces either 74 kW and 205 Nm, or 96 kW and 230 Nm, depending on transmission type.

Opel will also introduce the new Frontera to replace the Crossland in our market, although this model is expected to be available only in 2025.

Fiat will release its first EVs in South Africa – the electric version of its evergreen 500 hatchback under the 500e moniker – during the second half of the year.

Depending on its sticker price, the Fiat 500e could become one of the cheapest EVs in the country alongside the GWM Ora, Volvo EX30, and Mini Cooper SE.

Abarth also plans to launch its 500e derivative at the same time. Although it will use the same size battery, a more powerful electric motor with 113 kW and 235 Nm promises to endow the pocket rocket with a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of approximately 7.0 seconds.

Also on the cards for the second half of 2024 is the facelifted Jeep Wrangler, featuring several under-the-skin and visual upgrades. Perhaps the most extreme change will be under the bonnet, where a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with 200 kW and 400 Nm will up the iconic 4×4’s towing capacity by an additional 1,000 kg, and is sure to bring welcome relief in the form of better fuel consumption, too.

A new 12.3” driver display, a revised grille, a Gorilla Glass windshield, and an updated infotainment system complete the changes.

Stellantis’ two French brands will also be reinvigorated this year, with the Landtrek bakkie being the first model to be produced at the new Stellantis plant by 2025. New base model single cab and double cab derivatives – positioned below the Allure and 4Action versions – will bring the line-up to four models in total. Both will feature the now familiar 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox combo. 

Lastly, Stellantis continues its strategy to reposition the Citroën brand as its value champion in our market. We first witnessed this in action in 2023 when the Euro-spec C3 was replaced with a more affordable model sourced from India. Initially only consisting of the manual “Feel” derivative, the C3 squad was recently updated with an additional “Max” model, and a new six-speed automatic option will join the line-up later in the year.

As for the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross, Citroën will introduce the latter at a sub-R400,000 price point later in the year, with a similarly priced C5 Aircross coming in 2025.

LAST WORD

With Stellantis soon to be the first brand to establish a feasible manufacturing operation in the country in decades, it is heartening – even in a depressed market such as we’re currently experiencing – to see continued optimism and investment in the local industry. If you don’t yet know who Stellantis is, you’re simply not paying attention.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © STELLANTIS

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