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FCA Continuing Diesel Settlement Talks with DOJ, CARB

Discussions centering on potential penalties for automaker.

by on Apr.11, 2018

The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is part of the group of vehicles that allegedly used a cheat device to beat emissions tests.

Despite repeatedly denying any wrongdoing, Fiat Chrysler is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and California Air Resources Board to reach a settlement about accusations it used illegal used software to beat diesel emissions tests.

The discussions, which according to multiple reports, are very far along, address allegations that FCA used the software, in a manner similar to Volkswagen’s diesel testing cheat device, for 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles – mostly light trucks – sold since 2014.

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According to Reuters, Ken Feinberg, an adviser in the process, at a federal court hearing in San Francisco revealed that government lawyers and Fiat Chrysler were swapping documents as part of the settlement process, which was moving “at a rather swift pace.” (more…)

3 Familiar Models May Vanish as Sales Shift to SUVs

Ford Taurus exiting for a second time, along with Fiesta and Chevy Sonic.

by on Apr.05, 2018

The Taurus is one of two Ford models that are expected to be dropped over the next few years.

March saw an even bigger surge in demand for SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks but, according to industry data, sales of sedans, coupes and hatchbacks continued to decline – an ongoing trend that is expected to lead to the demise of a number of once-popular passenger car models, including Ford’s big Taurus and subcompact Fiesta, as well as the little Chevrolet Sonic.

And even more passenger car models could be on the way out, according to industry sources, even as manufacturers move to expand their light truck portfolios to take advantage of one of the biggest market shifts in decades.

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“I think we’re going to see some contraction in passenger car nameplates,” said Stephanie Brinley, principle automotive analyst at IHS Automotive. “That’s not to say they’ll go away. Some people still like them….but there’ll be some rationalization over time.”

(more…)

Back From the Dead: Chrysler Finds New Use for Old Viper Plant

Maker auctioning Viper memorabilia for charity.

by on Mar.21, 2018

The last Viper - and the original Viper Concept - will join 400 other classics kept at the newly renamed Conner Center.

The Dodge Viper may have been relegated to the automotive scrapheap but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has found a new use for the old factory on Detroit’s Northeast side that spent a quarter-century building the high-powered sports car.

The Conner Assembly Plant, which was idled last year when production of the Viper was halted, is in the midst of being converted into a combination corporate meeting center and car museum, FCA officials revealed Wednesday. At a media gathering at the 77,000 square-foot plant, meanwhile, they also announced that nearly 2,000 items of Viper memorabilia – ranging from signed hoods to kiddy cars – will be auctioned off, the money to go to a regional charity.

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“This is a way to get this memorabilia into the hands of people who will appreciate it … while giving back to the community,” said Mike Tonietto, the last manager of the Conner plant and now a director of manufacturing for FCA. (more…)

Dodge Aims to Shake Down the Competition with New Shakedown Package

Dodge goes Plum Crazy.

by on Mar.08, 2018

The 2018 Dodge Challenger with Shakedown Package and old-is-new Plum Crazy paint.

The Dodge brand is continuing its push to dominate the classic muscle car segment with the launch of its new Shakedown Package.

Inspired by the old-is-new 1971 Dodge Shakedown Challenger concept that was revealed at the 2016 SEMA show, it adds a range of customized features, from paint colors like Plum Crazy to a new Alpine audio system, but it’s specifically designed for the three current shaker versions of the Dodge Challenger.

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“Dodge//SRT has a rich history of using iconic heritage and high-impact colors and unique graphics to make our vehicles look custom, straight from the factory,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and Fiat – FCA North America. “These paint colors and unique Shaker stripes stand out in the crowd and speak to our customers’ passion for their cars and their love of the Dodge and SRT brands.”

(more…)

Fiat Chrysler Said to be Exiting Diesel Business on Car Side

Plan reportedly set to be announced in June.

by on Feb.26, 2018

FCA appears ready phase out diesels in all but pickups and Jeeps.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to end production of diesel-powered passenger cars by 2022, according to a newly published report, though it left open the possibility the automaker will continue offering the high-mileage technology in some of its trucks.

The plan is set to be announced in June as part of the broader five-year strategy the carmaker will unveil – about the same time it is expected to outline plans to replace the soon-to-retire CEO Sergio Marchionne.

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A phase-out of diesel production by FCA would not be entirely unexpected in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal sales of the technology has slumped in many markets, especially in Europe. And regulators in many places, including the city of Paris, are now considering diesel bans. Porsche last week announced its own plan to phase-out the technology. (more…)

Dodge, Mopar Sponsoring NHRA Event

Dodge enhancing racing status with NHRA partnership.

by on Feb.19, 2018

Dodge and Mopar continue to support NHRA racing with the sponsorship of the Mile High Nationals in Denver.

With the releases of the Hellcat and Demon models, it may seem like Dodge is looking to fill the world with street-legal drag racers. Well, now it’s working with the track-only monsters as it has signed on as title sponsor of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.

The brand has a long history with the NHRA, including its aftermarket performance brand, Mopar. The 2018 Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar marks the 30th year that FCA US LLC brands are race sponsors, one of the longest partnerships in all of motorsports.

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“Performance and competition fuel Dodge owners and the Dodge//SRT team every day,” said Steve Beahm, head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America. (more…)

Lexus and Buick Lead Industry in Long-Term Dependability

But latest J.D. Power study finds reliability is up overall.

by on Feb.14, 2018

The Lexus ES led in the Premium Compact Car segment, while Lexus was ranked the most dependable brand overall.

While many studies look at the quality of vehicles soon after they roll off the showroom floor, the real question is how they hold up after a few years on the road. And the answer, according to annual J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, is better than ever.

Almost across the board, reliability showed a large jump – the first improvement since 2013 – though some manufacturers did notably better than others. For the seventh consecutive year, the Japanese luxury brand Lexus led the VDS overall while Buick was tops among mass market brands. Chrysler lagged at the back of the pack, with nearly twice as many problems as those two rivals, but it also showed some improvement.

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“For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers’ vehicle dependability expectations,” said Dave Sargent, the head of automotive practices as J.D. Power and Associates. “A 9% improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever. For people looking for a new or used model, now is a good time to find that special vehicle.”

(more…)

Upgraded Dodge Durango SRT Blows into the Windy City

Adding some more sport to the big Dodge sport-ute.

by on Feb.08, 2018

The Dodge Durango SRT gets some upgrades for 2018, including new dual-center exterior "racing" stripes.

Considering the near-blizzard conditions soon to descend upon Chicago, Dodge may have picked a good time to offer up an updated version of its Durango sport-utility vehicle.

The roomy crossover, occasionally referred to as the “man-van,” has traditionally balanced a more macho-male driving dynamic with the functional utility of a large ute that all members of the family can appreciate. For the Windy City unveiling, Dodge is putting the spotlight on the sportiest Durango SRT edition, offering a handful of upgrades – though it sticks with the current, 475-hp Hemi V-8.

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“Our Dodge//SRT performance enthusiasts are always looking for ways to make their vehicle their own,” said Steve Beahm, head of Passenger Cars, and the Dodge brand said, ahead of the Durango debut. The latest updates, he added, are meant to “make Durango even more fun to drive.” (more…)

FCA Shuffling Top Execs as Marchionne’s Retirement Looms

Changes in top posts has some wondering who will take CEO's post.

by on Feb.06, 2018

Dodge passenger car boss Tim Kuniskis with the Dodge Demon during a background briefing.

With the choice of a new CEO to replace the soon-to-retire Sergio Marchionne looming ahead for the company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. made a series of executive changes aimed at filling key changes.

Tim Kuniskis was named Head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands globally. Kuniskis, a 26-year veteran of FCA, most recently served as head of passenger car brands in North America, which includes Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and SRT.

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Prior to that role, he held a series of positions in U.S. sales business centers as well as in the Dodge and Fiat brands.  (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Doubles Profit in 2017

CEO Marchionne says company will be debt-free by end of Q2.

by on Jan.25, 2018

Sergio Marchionne said FCA will be debt-free by the end of the second quarter of this year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. profits nearly doubled in 2017 as a more profitable model mix helped overcome a sales decline in North America.

“We were the only leveraged automaker in the world. We no longer are leveraged,” said FCA Sergio Marchionne, who said the company plans to outline new four-year plant on June 1. FCA will not only be debt-free this year, it will also have 4 billion euros in cash reserves.

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“I’m really looking forward to 2018,” he said. “FCA is well positioned to be a top performer.” (more…)