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First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Redefining the minivan – will it win back American family buyers?

by on Mar.21, 2016

Perhaps no other type of vehicle does a better job of delivering what it offers than a minivan.

Running from the Southern California Coast towards Lake Elsinore, the Ortega Highway is the sort of torturously twisting two-lane highways that motorcycles and sports cars love. Minivans travel it at their own peril, and yet, we’re planning to run nearly the full 111.5 miles of what’s official known as CA-74 this drizzly, late winter morning.

If we were driving Chrysler’s old Town & Country model, or just about any conventional minivan, for that matter, you might have reason to question our choice of routes. But this is our first chance to drive the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

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No automaker is more closely identified with the minivan. The Detroit side of Fiat Chrysler invented the modern people-move back in 1984, and for years it struggled to meet demand, U.S. sales at one point nudging 2 million a year. These days, the numbers are down for nearly three-quarters and a number of one-time competitors, including Ford and General Motors have dropped out of the minivan market. So, some question whether the new Chrysler Pacifica is the segment’s last great hope.

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Chrysler Drops Price on All-New Pacifica

New minivan’s mileage nears top of its class.

by on Mar.10, 2016

Chrysler's new minivan gets a dramatic new look and a new name for 2017: Pacifica.

Chrysler plans to shave about $1,400 off the base price of its all-new Pacifica minivan compared to the outgoing Town & Country people-mover.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will start at $28,595, plus a $995 delivery charge. The outgoing minivan started at $29,995. But load the new Pacifica up and you’ll top $42,000, the automaker said today.

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Chrysler also revealed that the gas-powered version of the new minivan will deliver a combined 22 mpg, according to the EPA. That’s a significant bump from the old Town & Country and positions Pacifica as second-best in the minivan market – though Chrysler had been promising to lead the segment with “unsurpassed” mileage.

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Fiat Chrysler Idling Midsize Sedan Plant Extra Three Weeks

Sterling Heights line to remain shut a total of nine weeks.

by on Mar.07, 2016

Before the shutdown, the Chrysler 200 stacked up on dealer lots despite hefty incentives.

Fiat Chrysler’s assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights will remain closed until early April, three weeks longer than originally planned, due to sluggish sales.

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has already said he wants to end in-house production of two midsize models, the Chrysler 200, as well as the Dodge Dart, shifting manufacturing to a contract supplier. That would free up space for more popular – and higher profit – models, such as the company’s pickups and SUVs.

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Even though the Sterling Heights plant has already been idled for five weeks, there was still a 147-day backlog of Chrysler 200 sedans, as of March 1, according to industry data. While down from a 217-day supply at the start of the shutdown, that’s still more than twice the industry norm of 60 to 65 days’ inventory.

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Fiat Chrysler Earnings Slide 40%

Major product realignment set to take place.

by on Jan.27, 2016

Jeep was one of the few real bright spots for Fiat Chrysler last year, especially in the US.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fourth quarter earnings tumbled by 40%, to $2.2 billion, during the fourth quarter, and for the full-year – a decline would have been even more severe without the contribution of exotic sports carmaker Ferrari, which FCA recently spun off.

The automaker’s results were hammered by slowing global sales, especially in both Latin America, though it did finally get its Jeep brand back into contention with the opening of a new assembly plant in China. And Jeep again scored well in the U.S. where plunging oil prices have spurred a surge in demand for utility vehicles.

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The earnings report was released just hours before FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was set to reveal a product shake-up designed to adjust to changing global market conditions, including the slowdown in the long-booming Chinese market. Among other things, that is likely to mean a slower ramp-up for the long-struggling Alfa Romeo brand, with more emphasis on Jeep and other truck and utility vehicle lines.

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Pres. Obama Set to See Auto Industry’s Resurgence With Auto Show Tour

Legacy likely to include bailouts and safety moves.

by on Jan.20, 2016

Then-candidate Obama at a Jeep plant.

In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, then-candidate Barack Obama found himself focused on an American auto industry plunging into one of the worst downturns in its history. Among his first duties as president, Obama approved billions of dollars in loans to keep two of Detroit’s bankrupt automakers afloat.

Now, as the two-term president enters his last year in the White House, he’s heading to Detroit for what might be dubbed a victory lap, a chance to see firsthand an industry reporting record sales and, for many companies, record profits.

The Journal of Record!

As the center of the trip, President Obama will make a stop at the 2016 North American International Show which opened its doors to the public last Saturday after a two-day media preview that brought the debut of about 50 new cars, trucks, crossovers and concept vehicles. Preliminary attendance suggests turnout for the show could also reach record numbers.

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Marchionne Provides Map for FCA’s Debt-Free Future

Plans for automaker's production re-alignment coming soon.

by on Jan.12, 2016

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne discusses the automaker's future during the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. plans to re-tool its production base in the U.S.

The broad outline of re-alignment of the production capacity had been included in the company’s new labor pact with the United Auto Workers, which included plans for re-locating  production of the ever-popular Jeep Wrangler to a larger plant in Toledo, Ohio.

The Journal of Record!

Sergio Marchionne, Fiat CEO, said he was preparing to reveal the new production plan by the end of January when the automaker released its final financial report for 2017. “There won’t be any plant closings,” said Marchionne, who also insisted that FCA is on track to meet its objective of becoming debt free before the end of 2018 without any kind of merger with another automaker. (more…)

Reinventing the minivan: Chrysler Betting Big on the 2017 Pacifica

Pacifica Hybrid version to top 80 mpg.

by on Jan.11, 2016

Chrysler's new minivan gets a dramatic new look and a new name for 2017: Pacifica.

It went from being one of the hottest products on the market to the butt of jokes. But is the minivan slated for oblivion, or can Chrysler make it cool again?

That’s likely to be one of the biggest questions of this year’s North American International Auto Show as the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica makes its debut. Not to be confused with the wagon-like crossover of a decade back, Pacifica is the name Chrysler has chosen for the replacement for the old Town & Country minivan.

Keeping the Record Straight!

“People will tell you the minivan segment is dead,” says Tim Kuniskis, the head of the Chrysler brand. “But it’s still selling 500,000” a year. The question is whether the new Pacifica can reverse the steady decline of a segment that once accounted for more than 2 million sales annually. (more…)

Safety Remain Big Issue as 2015 Draws to Close with Flurry of Recalls

Total likely to near new record.

by on Dec.28, 2015

Faulty Takata airbags were a major reason why recall numbers have run so high this year.

From Ferrari to Subaru, the auto industry is ending 2015 with a flurry of safety-related recalls, more than 1 million in the last week alone.

Final figures for 2015 haven’t been released yet, but they’re expected to come in as a close second to the record 64 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. in 2014. And they cover a wide variety of issues and an even wider range of vehicles from faulty transmissions to fire hazards and exploding airbags.

SafetNews!

The huge number of recalls over the last two years is not a surprise to Joan Claybrook, a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The companies are more likely to behave and do a recall when they know the law is going to be enforced.”

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Insurance Industry Safety Group Toughens its Testing, Awards Process

Move follows announcement of stricter federal safety procedures.

by on Dec.10, 2015

The Chrysler 200 was the only domestic model to get a Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2016.

A day after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced major revisions to it its automotive safety testing program, an influential insurance industry group announced it would take similar steps.

It will now be more difficult for automakers to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. A total of 48 of all 2016 models qualify for that award using the more rigorous standards, with another 13 getting the lower, Top Safety Pick imprimatur.

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“We asked auto manufacturers to do more this year to qualify for our safety awards, and they delivered,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the IIHS have been trying to achieve two goals: (more…)

Chrysler, Other Automakers Could Be Swept Up in Emissions Cheating Scandal

Daimler, BMW insist they didn’t rig diesel tests.

by on Sep.25, 2015

The tainted VW diesel was used by other manufacturers for such models as this Dodge Avenger.

© 2015 TheDetroitBureau.com

German authorities now say 2.8 million Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in that country “are affected” by the maker’s rigging of emissions tests. But VW may not be the only maker implicated. The suspect turbodiesel engine used by Volkswagen apparently also was sold to several other manufacturers, including Chrysler and Mitsubishi for use in some of their European models.

Regulators there and in the U.S. are planning to expand random testing to include not just VW models but diesel vehicles sold by other manufacturers. Several reports from Europe indicate that some Daimler AG and BMW models might also exceed emissions standards, though it is unclear if that implies any intentional efforts to game the testing process.

The Last Word!

For their part, the two makers insist they have followed the letter of the law, both in Europe and in other markets including the United States.

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