The Group’s emphasis on innovation plays a key role in product research and development.
The global innovation and product development activities are centrally coordinated by the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Powertrain Coordinator, Product Portfolio Management responsible and Design responsible who are members of the Group Executive Council, the Group decision-making body. In particular the CTO leads the Group Research & Development and is responsible for stimulating opportunities for synergies and technology transfer across the entire enterprise.
The 1st of January 2014 Fiat S.p.A. announced the acquisition of the remaining equity interests in Chrysler Group LLC, finalizing the global strategic alliance started in 2009. This process of corporate integration brings major benefits like the sharing of architectures, components, know-how, best practices and tools across the two organizations, which leads to common innovation programs. The two groups have been able to draw on the core strengths of the other, with the whole being a far stronger, unified enterprise. Fiat's presence and experience in smaller car segments combined with Chrysler's in the medium and larger vehicle segments produces a full range of products competing in diverse market segments. The number of offerings, however, is not the most important factor, but rather that they are capable of meeting customer expectations in terms of fuel efficiency, safety, quality and affordability. Fiat is recognized for its technological know-how and commitment to sustainable mobility, as well as for its ability to introduce fuel-efficient powertrain technology, including diesel and compressed natural gas engines. Chrysler Group brings to the partnership a wealth of experience in larger displacement engines, and has led the development of electric and hybrid vehicles for the Group.
The 78 R&D centers across the Group’s operating regions (EMEA, NAFTA, LATAM and APAC) employ a combined headcount of about 18,700 individuals. The two primary R&D facilities in EMEA and NAFTA are the Centro Ricerche Fiat (Orbassano, Italy) and the Automotive Research & Development Centre (Windsor, Canada).
The Global Innovation Process (GIP), an innovation network, was established in 2012 and is led by the Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF). This network serves as a framework for all Group innovation activities around the world. The GIP covers activities from idea generation to pre-competitive development and results in the formulation of the Global Innovation Master Plan. The starting point of the plan are the strategic priorities defined in two annual publications: the Strategic Research Agenda, which sets long-term research priorities, and the Strategic Innovation Agenda, which provides short and medium-term guidelines. Both collaborative and competitive research are launched according to the Master Plan.
To ensure successful global product stewardship, centralized databases measuring the environmental impact of materials, components and processes are used and continually enhanced. Similarly, CO2 and fuel economy databases are in place to provide for constant performance monitoring and precise reporting to the relevant organizations and stakeholders in each region. In particular, a specific system tracks compliance to European CO2 emission regulations. In the US, fuel economy is expressed in miles per gallon, which is the parameter used to measure vehicle efficiency. At Fiat Group, we constantly monitor the fuel economy of our product portfolio and report the values recorded according to the requirements of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board.
The Group's product strategy is based on the development of innovative solutions to minimize the impact on the environment by reducing fuel consumption and emissions, improving product recyclability, reducing traffic congestion and diversifying mobility products and services, while in turn helping our customers become increasingly more responsible when driving.
All of these topics have been determined to be material during sustainability-focused Stakeholder Events conducted in 2013 across the regions. In particular, participants expressed a strong focus on the need for an expanded view of the concept of moving people and goods: this concept could include mobility services, car-sharing and connectivity solutions.
Diverse, changing market conditions, as well as the evolving needs of our stakeholders, call for the constant adaptation of product strategy in order to remain fully competitive worldwide. The Group accepts this continuous challenge by developing its sustainable mobility approach.
The Group’s commitment to sustainable mobility is based on a balanced approach that takes into account best-in-class technologies, with the awareness that there is no single solution to the challenges faced by the automotive industry. Immediate and tangible results can be achieved only by combining the best conventional and alternative technologies, while recognizing and accommodating the different economic, geographic and fuel requirements of each market. Ecological mobility results and targets are a tangible sign of its long-term commitment to combine environmental responsibility with business viability.
The Group addresses this commitment on a variety of fronts:
- optimizing the ecological performance of conventional engines
- continuing to offer a wide range of vehicles with alternative fuels
- developing alternative propulsion systems that are widely accessible
- designing systems to cut emissions and reduce vehicle energy demand
- developing initiatives to meet new mobility needs
- engaging with consumers to raise awareness of driver behavior on fuel consumption.