Fiat Chrysler is paying line workers and some local parts providers in euros, at a time when the currency is trading at one of its weakest levels in years. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler will sell the new Jeep Renegade primarily in the U.S., and the dollar is exceptionally strong right now. That exchange rate will give the new Renegade fatter profit margins than if it were built in the U.S., where costs would be higher.
"I doubt anybody knew this would happen," said Matt Stover, auto analyst with Susquehanna International Group. "Currencies move minute by minute, while auto product cycles move every five years, so I would doubt Sergio and his team had any idea this would work out the way it did."
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To his point, around the time Fiat Chrysler was negotiating with labor unions in Italy, the euro was more than 10 percent stronger than it is now.
Adding to the Renegade's profitability projections is that it's a new model coming from a hot brand, which meets demand in a popular segment.
"We're seeing a lot of demand for smaller SUVs right now," Krebs said. "And right now, the Jeep brand is very aspirational for almost all segments of buyers."
The Jeep Renegade will start at just under $18,000 with the top-end models starting at $26,795.
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