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Electrifying Design

Autonomous and electric drive technologies will radically transform the way tomorrow’s car look, inside and out.

by on Feb.10, 2017

Double sliding doors make it easier than ever to climb in and out of the Chrysler Portal Concept.

You can call it a minivan, if you wish, but while the Portal shares the same, underlying platform as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan that debuted last year, they don’t have much else in common.

There are the four sliding doors, for example, and the unusually short nose. Though it’s a full 19 inches shorter than the Pacifica, the Portal boasts a larger interior. It also has a steering wheel that, with a touch of a button, folds into the instrument panel.

Stay Plugged In!

The Portal is, for now, just a concept vehicle, but it hints at some of the dramatic changes reshaping the auto industry as manufacturers start to adopt electrified drivelines and prepare to introduce autonomous driving systems. Both those technologies will, in turn, give automotive designers an opportunity to radically shift the way tomorrow’s vehicle look and are laid out, says Ralph Gilles, the head of design for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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Fiat Chrysler Earnings Near $2b for 2016

Company says it will boost profit-sharing for hourly workers by 25%.

by on Jan.26, 2017

Despite weak sales of the now-cancelled Chrysler 200, FCA earnings surged for 2016.

Detroit’s smallest automaker closed the books on 2016 on a high note, delivering full-year earnings of $1.92 billion, after only marginally squeezing into the black the year before.

The turnaround should be good news to both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles investors and workers. The Euro-American automaker said it will nearly halve its net debt in the coming year. It also announced it would boost profit-sharing for U.S. hourly workers by 25%.

By the Numbers!

Net profits for all of 2016 jumped to 1.81 billion euros, or $1.92 billion, for FCA, which is officially registered in Amsterdam but operates one of its primary headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills. That compares with a meager 93 million Euro profit for all of 2015.

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Waymo Launches Test of All-New Autonomous System

Google self-driving subsidiary starts producing its own hardware.

by on Jan.08, 2017

Waymo CEO John Krafcik with the specially modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid using the tech firm's latest autonomous technology.

Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, will start testing a fleet of specially modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Arizona and California later this month, moving a big step closer to reaching the point it can start moving its self-driving technology from prototype to production, CEO John Krafcik said during an appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Sunday.

That was one of several big announcements made by Krafcik during his appearance at the annual NAIAS. Krafcik also noted that Waymo is now producing the various LIDAR – 3D laser – cameras, radar sensors and other hardware used for its autonomous vehicle technology. That has helped it drop costs by as much as 90% and speed up the development process.

“This future isn’t very far away,” said Krafcik, a former Hyundai Motor America chief executive, adding that Waymo’s goal is “building cars that can help millions of people every day.”

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Chrysler Portal EV Concept Opens Door to Millennials

People-mover prototype offers 250 miles range, 20-minute fast charge.

by on Jan.03, 2017

The Chrysler Portal Concept offers a different take on family transportation aimed at Millennials.

Call it a minivan, if you want, but with the debut of the new Portal Concept, Chrysler is looking at an entirely new approach to family transportation.

Making its debut at CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, the Chrysler Portal envisions a “fifth generation” people-mover that is clean, roomy and even roomier than today’s familiar minivans despite a smaller exterior footprint.

Out of the Box!

Following on the recent launch of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid which, despite its name, is actually an extended-range plug-in, the Portal opts for an all-electric drivetrain that can deliver up to 250 miles of range on a charge. And, using one of the new DC Fast Chargers just starting to pop up across the country, the Chrysler Portal can add another 150 miles of driving in less than 20 minutes.

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Last Chrysler 200 Rolls off Sterling Heights Line Today

Marks end of FCA compact car production in U.S.

by on Dec.02, 2016

An FCA employee installs a center console on a Chrysler 200. Production on the 200 ends today.

“Imported from Detroit” no more. Today marks the end of production for the Chrysler 200, a sedan seen only a few years ago as critical to the revival of the once-bankrupt automaker.

But like the Dodge Dart sedan that was pulled from production in September, Chrysler’s four-door has fallen victim to shifting market trends. Sedans, especially midsize ones, have taken a beating as motorists by the millions switch to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles. Light trucks, in general, now account for more than 60% of U.S. new vehicle sales.

Product News!

The precise time when the last Chrysler 200 will roll down the assembly line at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, isn’t clear. The 1,700 hourly employees are scheduled to work the line until around 3 p.m., “but it’s all a matter of parts,” noted spokesperson Jodi Tinson. When they run out, workers will be sent home. (more…)

New Film Reveals the Reality of the Auto Bailout

“Live Another Day” – but at what cost?

by on Sep.12, 2016

Storm clouds over Detroit. At the depth of the recession, two of the three US makers went bankrupt.

The economy was collapsing more rapidly than during the Great Depression, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Detroit, where the Big Three automakers faced the very real prospect of going out of business – destroying a million or more jobs in the process.

Ford Motor Co. was able to survive by mortgaging everything; not only its factories, but even its Blue Oval logo. General Motors and Chrysler didn’t move fast enough to secure equity lines. They had to be salvaged with the help of the largest federally funded bailout in history. It broke precedent and, many would argue, broke the law. The rescue effort may also have saved the economy, according to its proponents.

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Was it good or bad? “It was something in-between,” contends Bill Burke, suggests Bill Burke. He’s a media industry veteran and co-producer of the new documentary, “Live Another Day,” which has received strong praise on the film festival circuit and which will open at theaters nationwide on September 16th.

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“Unnatural Acts” at Chrysler?

Code words may have signaled potentially illegal sales moves.

by on Sep.02, 2016

Were Fiat Chrysler dealers told to commit "unnatural acts" to help boost sales?

When does the “unnatural” cross into the illegal? That’s apparently something that federal prosecutors are looking into as they ramp up an investigation into potential sales fraud by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Both the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into the way FCA handled sales, probes that have already resulted in the trans-Atlantic automaker having to restate its numbers and admit its streak of month-after-month sales increases actually ended several years ago.

Breaking News!

FCA is by no means the only automaker to have pushed the boundaries, according to industry insiders. But the feds want to know if it crossed the line into illegal actions. The probe has uncovered some of the steps FCA took to boost its sales. Among other things, if the numbers were falling short, corporate officials would tell regional managers and dealers that the “unnatural acts department” was open, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

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FCA Earnings Increase Overwhelmed by Sales Reporting Scandal

Maker says profit rose 25% for second quarter.

by on Jul.27, 2016

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has reason to celebrate Q2 - albeit cautiously.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported a 25% year-over-year increase in profits for the second quarter, despite hefty recall costs, thanks to strong demand in North America and Europe. That has led the maker to up its guidance for all of 2016.

But recalls aren’t the only problems the maker is dealing with. The trans-Atlantic automaker yesterday acknowledged misreporting its sales numbers in recent years, a problem that has reportedly led to a grand jury investigation. The problem could lead to closer scrutiny by industry analysts and investors.

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“Overall we had a good quarter,” Fiat Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said during a conference call with analysts and reporters.

FCA earned 321 million euros, or $352 million, for the second quarter, a 25% jump from last year’s 257 million euros, or $282 million.

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Grand Jury Looking into FCA Sales Reporting Scandal

Maker acknowledges fudging numbers.

by on Jul.27, 2016

The FCA scandal could prove a new headache for CEO Marchionne' search for a merger partner.

A federal grand jury is issuing subpoenas as government investigators expand their investigation into potentially illegal Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sales reporting practices, according to published reports.

The news comes a day after the automaker acknowledged that it has misstated its sales figures for a number of years and that rather than having six straight years of sales records, its upward climb actually came to an end in September 2013.

Auto Insider!

But several sources who have spoken to TheDetroitBureau.com caution that any probe of sales policies could eventually spread beyond Fiat Chrysler and look at broader industry practices that can misrepresent the numbers. Such practices, said a senior executive at one of the nation’s largest automotive retailers, can negatively impact investors, dealers and consumers alike.

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Fiat Chrysler Wants Help from Hackers

Automaker offering “bug bounty” to find software vulnerabilities.

by on Jul.13, 2016

Last year, security experts managed to hack into a Jeep Cherokee and remotely drive it into a ditch.

“Help Wanted. Hackers.” That’s the message sent out by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today as it searches for help enhancing the cybersecurity of its vehicles.

The announcement comes shortly after police in Texas began investigating a series of stolen Jeeps that may have involved the use of laptop computers to start the vehicles’ computerized ignition systems. And it’s been just a year since a pair of security specialists showed how they could remotely take control of another Jeep, sending it into a ditch.

Bugged Out!

Cybersecurity, in general, has become one of the auto industry’s biggest concerns, experts worried that hackers will not only be able to break into vehicles – physically or remotely – but also access drivers’ personal data. So, manufacturers are turning to so-called “white hat” hackers for help.

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