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Big Surprises in 2018 JD Power Initial Quality Survey

Overall quality reaches record high – and Korean brands lead the surge.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The Genesis G90 topped its segment while the Genesis brand led the industry overall.

New vehicle quality has reached an all-time high according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, and the 2018 IQS reveals a number of surprising trends, starting with the fact that three Korean brands lead this year’s study.

The latest IQS, which looks at “things-gone-wrong” with vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership, reveals that traditional mechanical issues, whether powertrain problems or squeaks, rattles and wind noise, are today increasingly rare. Motorists are far more likely to experience issues with infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems, but many of those problems are also being addressed.

High Quality News!

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent, the head of global automotive research for Power. “That said, some vehicle owners are still finding problems. As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers’ ability to deliver fault-free vehicles.”

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Korean Newcomer Genesis Tops Vehicle Satisfaction List

Nissan, GMC, Hyundai and Ram also score well in annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Genesis was the top brand overall in the 2018 VSA, while the G90 sedan was top Luxury Car.

Reflecting the massive shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs, CUVs and pickups, light trucks are doing a better job of pleasing buyers, at least if the 2018 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are any indication. And SUVs are the most satisfying products of all, reports consulting and research firm AutoPacific, Inc.

But that isn’t a hard and fast rule. Genesis, the new Korean luxury brand that has yet to introduce its first utility vehicle, was the number one brand in the 2018 VSA, edging out more established competitors, such as Lexus, and achieving the highest score ever in the annual satisfaction study.

Best of the Best!

“In just two years, Genesis has reached a level of owner satisfaction unattained by more established luxury brands,” said AutoPacific President George Peterson, adding that the Genesis G90 sedan also won the VSA for Luxury Car for the second year in a row.

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Automakers Launch Full-Size Truck Incentive War

Up to $16,000 in givebacks and discounts on some 2018 models.

by on Jun.07, 2018

FCA has some of the largest incentives -- up to $16,000 -- available on its 2018 Ram.

Despite strong demand, US. Automakers have launched some of the most lavish incentives on full-size truck models seen since the end of the Great Recession, with discounts of as much as $16,000.

The move might come as a surprise considering pickups have retained strong momentum despite the weakening of the broader U.S. automotive market over the last year, and the latest round of incentives threaten to cut into the earnings delivered by what are traditionally the most profitable product segment in the market.

Buying Tips!

Automakers appear to be acting for a variety of reasons, including the need to clear inventories ahead of the launch of all-new models from both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as the potential weakness of segment leader Ford which lost thousands of units of production due to a supplier problem last month.

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What’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Without Fiat and Chrysler?

Two namesake brands will survive – barely, for now.

by on Jun.04, 2018

The Chrysler Pacifica may soon go it solo as the brand continues to shrink.

It’s been nearly a decade since struggling European automaker Fiat combined with the post-Chapter 11 Chrysler, and if the 5-year plan unveiled during a day-long meeting in Milan last week comes close to being accurate, the carmaker could be in for a “brighter future” than ever, according to John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the heir to the Italian side of the company’s founders.

There’s just one problem: neither the Fiat nor Chrysler brands seem poised to share in the spoils. The Fiat Capital Day briefing focused all but exclusively on just four brands – Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati – expected to dominate FCA’s future. For now, Fiat and Chrysler will survive, but in greatly diminished form, and observers question whether they’ll be around for the long-term.

We Keep You In the Know!

“There was enough doubt…about their future because they barely showed up in the presentations,” said Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, after attending the day-long session at Alfa’ proving grounds near Milan. Fca’s management team “took pains to say (Fiat and Chrysler will have a future, at least in the near-term. But it will be up to the next management team to determine whether they will remain in the portfolio for the long-term.”

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FCA Maps Out a Self-Driving Strategy

Automaker teams up with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, but carves out its own path.

by on Jun.01, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

While there are a growing number of autonomous vehicle prototypes on the road these days, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made headlines when they announced, earlier this week, plans to direct as many as 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans into the self-driving ride-sharing service the Google spin-off will launch later this year.

By some estimates, 20% or more of the miles Americans clock on the road will be in driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services like Waymo, Uber and Lyft by the end of the coming decade. Millions of motorists may opt to give up their personal vehicles and switch to those services. Millions more are expected to own their own autonomous vehicles.

The Last Word!

Until recently considered a laggard in the self-driving field, FCA has jumped in big, relying on partnerships with not only Waymo, but BMW and mega-supplier Aptiv. And that approach will not only help it to make up for lost time but give FCA several alternative paths to follow.

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FCA Planning to Plug In

After slow start, automaker reveals big plans for electrification.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The production version of this Maserati Alfieri concept will use an electrified drivetrain to launch from 0 to 60 in barely 2 seconds.

Sergio Marchionne isn’t much of a fan of battery power, or at least he hasn’t been until recently. When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched its first all-electric model, five years ago, the CEO actually urged motorists not to buy it, admitting FCA lost about $25,000 on every one of them.

But at the automaker’s “Capital Day,” in Milan on Friday, Marchionne and his management team were far more upbeat, announcing plans to add dozens of electrified vehicles – everything from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles – into the FCA line-up over the next give years.

Electrifying!

The economics still aren’t great, noted Mark Chernoby, the automaker’s head of technology compliance, but in an era of increasingly stringent emissions and mileage regulations, it’s the only real day to meet targets being set in markets as diverse as the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil. That’s all the more so as FCA continues to migrate from traditional sedans and coupes to the less efficient SUVs and CUVs that will overwhelmingly dominate its global line-up.

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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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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.

Safety News!

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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Car Thieves Nab Eight Ram 1500s from Michigan Plant

Police have recovered one of the stolen trucks.

by on May.04, 2018

Police recovered one of the eight Ram 1500 pickups stolen from the Warren Truck Plant. (Photo credit: Warren Police Dept.)

It’s not unusual for new truck buyers to want to get their hands on their new purchase as soon as possible, however, it was thieves, not overzealous truck aficionados, that snuck into Fiat Chrysler’s plant in Warren, Michigan, took eight trucks right off the end of the assembly line.

The group stole a 2003 Ram from a home in Warren and rolled into the facility through a hole cut in the fence before dawn, to grab the trucks, roar out of the site crashing through the gate like something straight out of a movie.

The Last Word!

Since the theft, which took place at 3:55 a.m., one of the trucks has been recovered, but the Warren Police Department and surrounding cities, including Detroit, are on the lookout for these full-size pickups. The truck that was recovered was found in Detroit. (more…)

FCA Recalling 300K Ram Pickups for Gas Tank Problem

Automaker's second Ram pickup recall in last month.

by on Mar.16, 2018

FCA is recalling 300,000 Ram pickups due to a problem with the gas tank.

Fiat Chrysler issued another gas tank-related recall, ordering more than 300,000 Ram pickup trucks to head to dealers because the fuel tanks can sag.

The action affects Ram 1500 pickups from 2009–12, mainly in cold-weather U.S. states and Canada where salt is used to clear snow from roads. In the U.S. the trucks are in 20 states and Washington, D.C.

Safety News!

An investigation found a bracket can corrode, allowing the tanks sag, the company noted. The remaining structure will stop the tanks from falling. Fiat Chrysler says it’s not aware of any crashes, fires, leaks or injuries due to the problem. (more…)