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FCA Set to Open New SUV Plant in Detroit

Move would come as GM prepares to idle three plants.

by on Dec.06, 2018

The converted engine plant will produce a three-row version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to open a new assembly plant in Detroit to expand its capacity to produce hot-selling sport-utility vehicles, according to several reports.

The automaker has yet to confirm that it will completely retool an old engine plant on Detroit’s east side, but company officials have, in recent months, indicated that they are strained to the limits of capacity at their existing light truck plants.

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The news comes at an awkward time for FCA’s largest domestic rival, General Motors. GM’s CEO Mary Barra on Thursday spent a second day in Washington trying to minimize criticism of the automaker’s plan to close three assembly plants building slow-selling passenger car models like the Chevrolet Cruze. That would leave what has long been known as the Motor City with only one working assembly plant within its borders, at least unless and until the new FCA truck plant were to come online.

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Midsize Truck War May Heat Up Fast

Once seemingly dead, market is going to get crowded fast.

by on Nov.07, 2018

The new Ford Ranger is likely to be just the first of a wave of new midsize trucks.

Once written off for dead – or at least dying – the midsize pickup market is coming back with a bang, but not only are sales on the rise, but also is the number of players entering, or returning, to the segment.

The question facing the industry is whether the list of brands might be growing too fast and too large, something that could make it hard for anyone to turn a profit.

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Among the latest to target the U.S. midsize market are Ford and Jeep, both returning after lengthy absences. But Volkswagen could be eyeing its opportunities, as well as Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian automaker that recently begun building off-road vehicles at a small plant in the Detroit suburbs. And Hyundai is moving forward with the development of a car-based compact pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept of a few years back. (more…)

Automakers Deliver Some Neat Tricks and Plenty of Treats for SEMA Show

Here's our round-up of the coolest, hottest and wackiest concepts to roll into the Las Vegas Convention Center.

by on Oct.31, 2018

The Honda Rugged Open Air concept.

Trick or Treat? Make that trick and treat, as the annual SEMA Show gets underway in Las Vegas.

Perfectly timed for Halloween, the annual aftermarket event regularly sees the debut of some intriguing concept vehicles from U.S., Asian and European automakers, and this year is no exception.

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In fact, there’s a Demon-chaser from Mopar which reveals a 1,000-horsepower crate motor that takes last year’s version of the Hellcat line to new levels. (more…)

Mopar Caps SEMA Surprises with 1,000 HP Hellephant

Mopar puts a distinctive spin on a pair of FCA icons.

by on Oct.30, 2018

Looking to blow away a Dodge Demon? Good news! Mopar has you covered with the Hellephant-powered Super Charger.

You can never be too rich, nor have too much horsepower. And for those who thought the Dodge Demon was pushing the limits, Fiat Chrysler’s Mopar division will deliver a high-performance surprise at this year’s SEMA Show.

Taking things into four digits for the first time, Mopar gave a handful of journalists a sneak peek at three customized models it will bring to the annual accessories show in Las Vegas next week – as well as the most powerful, factory-supplied “crate” engine ever to be offered to serious performance fans.

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And you can be sure that anything using the 1,000 horsepower V-8 will be hitting 60 by the time you pronounce its full name, the Fiat Chrysler 426 Crate Mopar Hellephant. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler’s Q3 Profits Dinged Due to Diesel Emission Charges

Record earnings before diesel issue may mean dividend payment.

by on Oct.30, 2018

Fiat Chrysler's third quarter earnings were hurt by charges tied to possible diesel emissions violations.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles net income dropped 38% during the third quarter despite record adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2 billion euros, or $2.27 billion, opening the door for the company to pay its first dividend since it was re-organized in 2014.

However, net profit decline 38% to 600 million euros, or $681.16 million, including a 700 million charge related to U.S. diesel emissions matters. FCA is now under investigation by U.S. Department of Justice for the company’s failure to disclose software on about 104,000 diesel-powered pickups and SUVs that regulators said could be similar to the “defeat devices” Volkswagen AG used to cheat emissions-testing on millions of its diesel-powered vehicles.

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FCA’s worldwide shipments increased by 3% and net revenue grew by 9% to 28.8 billion euros during the quarter. Despite cost of the diesel penalties, FCA’s adjusted EBIT in the North America region grew by 51% with margin at 10.2%, according to the financial information released by the company. (more…)

Consumer Reports: Domestic Vehicle Reliability Slipping

Domestic brands struggled in this year's survey.

by on Oct.25, 2018

Toyota and its luxury sibling topped this year's Consumer Reports reliability survey of 29 brands.

Toyota and Lexus came out on top in Consumer Reports annual reliability survey thanks in large part to a cautious approach to adapting to new technology.

However, the Toyota Tundra, the automaker’s entry into the full-size truck segment, slipped off Consumer Reports list of recommended vehicles, Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing, disclosed during a meeting of Detroit’s Automotive Press Association.

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Fisher said overall it was a difficult year for domestic brands as Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Chrysler were among the brands that dropped in the Consumer Report’s new car reliability survey. Honda, which performed well in earlier years, also has slipped, he said.  (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Chief Manley Shuffles Executive Team

Gorlier takes over supervision of European operations.

by on Oct.01, 2018

FCA CEO Mike Manley handed out new assignments to his executive team including naming Pietro Gorlier to COO with oversight of European operations.

After just about six weeks as CEO, Fiat Chrysler’s Mike Manley has shuffled the company’s top managers to his liking, with one appointment in particular drawing attention.

He announced the changes in an email sent to employees.

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“The next five years will continue to be extremely challenging for our industry, with tougher regulations, intense competition and probably slower industry growth around the world,” he wrote.  (more…)

Fade of Zero-Percent Financing Makes Leasing More Appealing

Rising interest rates pushing buyers toward leases.

by on Sep.14, 2018

Zero-percent financing deals are increasingly difficult to find these days, pushing some into leasing.

Car shoppers are always looking for a deal, and often they’re excited by the prospect of zero percent financing; however, those deals are getting tougher and tougher to find.

The percentage of sales with zero percent finance deals has been cut in half in the last two years — dropping from 14.6% of transactions in August of 2016, to 10.4% last August to just 7.4% this August, according to Edmunds.

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This drop during the last three Augusts sparks interest because zero percent financing deals usually abound in August and September.

“August truly represents the month that we would have expected to see a turnaround in this trend if one was imminent,” said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ manager of industry analysis. “Moving forward, shoppers will likely need to do a bit more digging to find other ways to save on a new vehicle because it looks like zero percent finance deals are going the way of the dodo.”

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Lexus, Volvo Tie for Top Spot in New Brand Survey

Overall, consumers slightly happier with ownership experience.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Volvo tied with Lexus for the top brand honors in the latest ACSI survey, receiving its highest score ever.

Vehicle owners in the U.S. are slightly happier with their ownership experience this year than last year, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The index, which is the result of surveys of car owners on their overall service and product experience with specific auto brands, creates a score between 1 to 100. According to the latest edition, the industry-wide score for 2018 is 82, up from 81 in 2017.

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“Car owners are often highly satisfied—they’ve kicked the tires enough times that they’re happy with their decision when they buy,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI.  (more…)

Odyssey, Pacifica Top IIHS 2018-19 Minivan Rankings

Toyota Sienna falls from top ranking.

by on Aug.16, 2018

The Honda Odyssey earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2018-19.

The competition among minivans is already tight and the most recent ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the current model year have only made that wrestling match tighter.

The Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey are 2018 Top Safety Picks. They were among the qualifiers when IIHS announced initial winners of the 2018 awards last December. Both earned a superior rating for front crash prevention and have acceptable-rated headlights. Better headlights would have secured Top Safety Pick+ awards – the group’s top rating – for these minivans.

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To earn a 2018 Top Safety Pick, according to IIHS, a vehicle must have good ratings in all IIHS crashworthiness tests except the passenger-side test. Other requirements are a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating and headlights that earn an acceptable or good rating.  (more…)