CHICAGO -- As demand grows for flashy customization of profitable vehicles including Jeeps and Ram trucks, Fiat Chrysler's Mopar parts business has morphed from its roots in the company's muscle-car past to a pillar of the automaker's global operation.
"Fiat Chrysler has established Mopar as a brand and a service outlet around the world," said Joe Phillippi, principal at AutoTrends Consulting. "If you're in the Fiat Chrysler family, you can find everything from spark plugs to advanced electronics at Mopar."
Mopar was born as the name for Chrysler's branded antifreeze in 1937. It came to fame selling drag racing and stock car parts in the '60s, but today it's more than a parts shop for tuners. It's probably the most internationally integrated of Fiat Chrysler's brands. Mopar handles the accessory, replacement parts and service business for vehicles ranging from the tiny Fiat 500 to rugged Jeeps, family hauling Chrysler minivans, 840-hp Dodge Demon muscle cars and luxury models from Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
That's not to mention the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup that just got the full Mopar treatment at the Chicago auto show, and special-edition vehicles that rake in cash.
"Selling aftermarket parts helps build and strengthen brand loyalty, and it's very profitable," Phillippi said.
Mopar is established in North America, and growing everywhere Fiat Chrysler does business in the rest of the world.
"If you go to the Sao Paulo auto show, you will see Mopar vehicles," Mopar chief Pietro Gorlier told me at the Chicago auto show as he prepared to unveil a Ram 1500 bedecked with upgrades that would probably net thousands of dollars for parts and labor. "Of course, there are Mopar special edition cars in the United States, but there's also a Mopar 1 Jeep Wrangler in Europe."
Custom parts like the Ram pickup's two-inch lift kit and the metal-tube doors Mopar developed for the new Wrangler are just the beginning. Mopar already has more than 200 custom parts available for each of the new models.
Some parts are installed at the factory, others by dealers or do-it-yourself owners. Mopar's 500,000-part catalog includes everything from floor mats to a $19,530, 707-hp supercharged Hellcat Hemi V8 engine.
Mopar develops almost 1,000 new products a year, Gorlier said. Designers and engineers worked more than 10,000 hours to have about 200 new accessories ready when the 2018 Wrangler went on sale. Another couple of hundred will be ready when the 2019 Ram 1500 arrives in dealerships shortly.