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SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

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GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

Breaking News!

The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told TheDetroitBureau.com that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.

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Feds Get Guilty Plea in FCA-UAW Training Center Scandal

Brown is third exec to plead guilty.

by on May.29, 2018

Former FCA executive Michael Brown is the third FCA executive to plead guilty in the FCA-UAW scandal. (Photo credit: UAW-Chrysler)

Another Fiat Chrysler executive pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the ongoing federal investigation of FCA leaders bribing key United Auto Workers officials to make it easier to gain their cooperation on labor-related issues in which the UAW had a voice.

Michael Brown, the third FCA official charged by the U.S. Depart of Justice, pleaded guilty to misprision of felony because he admitted to providing misleading and incomplete information to a federal grand jury when he asked specific questions of a conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act.

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Brown, 60, a former senior executive on FCA’s labor relations staff and co-director of joint FCA-UAW training center, was accused lying to cover up a conspiracy in which FCA executives making illegal payments to UAW officers and staff members. (more…)

Is Dodge Viper Set for Another Revival?

All-new version could make an appearance as early as 2019.

by on May.29, 2018

Early versions of the Dodge Viper GTS Coupe and the Viper Roadster.

The original Dodge Viper was an icon of the 1990s, even though it never came close to matching the sales of America’s other domestic sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette. Shortly after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, Chrysler finally pulled the plug on the snake, but after merging with Fiat, brought it back to life four years later, albeit to a largely indifferent market.

Fiat Chrysler has not only pulled the plug on the Viper but is in the process of converting its Detroit assembly plant into a conference center and museum. But could the Dodge Viper rise from the grave, Lazarus-like, for a second time? That appears to be a distinct possibility, at least according to several new reports.

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“A new Viper is happening,” at least according to one of those sources, Car and Driver, though, if true, we could see some distinct changes made to the once-popular snake that could take some loyalists by surprise, starting with the replacement of the distinctive V-10 engine that has been a hallmark of the nameplate since the first Viper Roadster debuted more than a quarter century ago. (more…)

US New Vehicle Sales Bloom in May

Analysts predicting more than 3% jump.

by on May.29, 2018

New vehicles sales are expected to rise 3.1% on year-over-year basis in May, according to analysts.

New vehicle sales are expected to increase during by more than 3% in May, reflecting the strong showing by General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., according to new monthly forecasts, but the overall sales rate is falling behind the pace in 2017.

Cox Automotive predicted that overall, U.S. new-vehicle sales in May 2018 are expected to increase 3.1% compared to May 2017. The seasonally adjusted annual rate or SAAR, projected at 16.6 million for this month, is expected to fall to its lowest level since August 2017.

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The Cox forecast 16.6 million SAAR is down slightly from the 16.7 million level in May 2017, and down from the 17.1 million pace the market has been averaging in 2018. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Recalling Nearly 5m Vehicles Because Cruise Control Could Lock On

Problem could make it more difficult to stop vehicles.

by on May.25, 2018

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of 15 different models covered by the new FCA recall.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million sedans, utility vehicles and pickups due to a problem that could prevent drivers from shutting off their cruise control, making it difficult, though not impossible, to stop a vehicle.

The problem is the latest in a series of large recalls involving the third-largest of the domestic automotive manufacturers, FCA recalling millions of vehicles over the last several years for issues as varied as transmission problems and fire hazards.

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The latest service action involves a wide range of products produced for the 2014 through 2018 model-years, and even one 2019 model, and is meant to cope with a cruise control circuit that could short out.

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In Final Move as FCA CEO, Marchionne Expected to Order Massive Shift in Product, Manufacturing Plans

Small Fiat models likely to be dropped, brand may leave U.S.

by on May.18, 2018

Could FCA pull the Fiat brand out of the U.S.?

As Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prepares for life beyond its founding chief executive, CEO Sergio Marchionne is expected to announce major shifts in the automaker’s product and manufacturing strategy, according to several reports.

During a June 1 meeting meant to reveal FCA’s next five-year plan, the 65-year-old executive reportedly will announce that the Fiat brand will abandon two of its base models, the Punto and Mito, while shifting emphasis to more up-market models. The automaker also will put more emphasis on its Jeep brand which, Marchionne said during the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, could help Fiat Chrysler double its earnings during the next five years.

The Last Word!

One of the key questions hanging over the Euro-American automaker may not be resolved during a meeting bringing together analysts and journalists from around the world: who will replace Marchionne as CEO? He has dropped hints that his successor will come from FCA’s current top management ranks, which means no women or outsiders are in the running.

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Fiat Chrysler Backs Off Proposed CAFE Rollbacks

Automaker changes tone about move to stifle tougher fuel economy rules.

by on May.15, 2018

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne amended his position on the rollback of CAFE standards after meeting with President Trump.

This story has been updated with new information.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is now adding to the remarks he made after a meeting with President Donald Trump in which he appeared to endorse the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back fuel economy standard and revoke the state of California’s ability to enforce tighter standards.

“I appreciated the opportunity to talk to the President today about our shared commitment to the automotive industry,” Marchionne said in a statement after the White House meeting at which Trump reportedly described Marchionne as his favorite person in the room.

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“Consumer preferences and technological advancements in our business are constantly evolving. Therefore, revisiting and assessing EPA standards, as was originally intended, is the right thing to do. With this process just beginning, it would be a mistake to jump to conclusions and pre-judge the outcome.  (more…)

Trump Meets With Automakers About CAFE, Blasts NAFTA Instead

President pushes companies to build more cars in U.S.

by on May.11, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett looks on as President Donald Trump makes a point during a meeting with automakers.

The much-anticipated meeting between a 10 automakers and Trump administration officials to discuss rolling back Obama-era fuel economy standards resulted in smoke, but no fire.

President Trump and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt met with the heads dozen automakers, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

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A proposal from the U.S. Transportation Department would freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE,requirements at 2020 levels through 2026, rather than allowing them to increase as previously planned. Trump’s administration is expected to formally unveil the proposal later this month or in June. (more…)