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Jeep Shows Off Four Beijing Concepts, Plans to Launch China Production

Fiat Chrysler aims to gain momentum in world’s largest car market.

by on Apr.20, 2014

The Jeep Cherokee Urbane, one of four concept vehicles the maker is showing in Beijing.

Beijing Auto Show-goers will get a look at four new Jeep concept vehicles this week, vehicles the maker said are “uniquely designed for China,” the world’s largest automotive market.

But perhaps more significant is the news that parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has finally locked down a long-sought joint venture that will allow it to begin producing Jeeps in China for the first time in nearly a decade. The SUV brand was the first foreign maker into China but lost that Beijing production base after the break-up of DaimlerChrysler AG.

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The tie-up with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group is a critical step for Jeep which has been pushing to expand its presence abroad in recent years. The maker sold 731,000 vehicles worldwide in 2013 and brand CEO Michael Manley recently announced a target of 1 million for 2014, well ahead of earlier plans.

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Fiat Chrysler Hopes to Boost Global Production by 25%

CEO Marchionne aiming for 6 mil target by 2018.

by on Apr.02, 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has big plans in mind for the newly-merged company.

Automakers often talk about economies of scale – a moving target in an industry where industry giants like Toyota Motor Co., General Motors and Volkswagen AG are all shooting to reach 10 million annual sales during the next year or so.

By comparison, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is little more than an also-ran, with a total worldwide sales volume of “just” 4.4 million vehicles last year, and a goal of 4.6 million in 2014. But with the company’s formal merger of its U.S. and Italian operations now complete, CEO Sergio Marchionne has some big aspirations.  He is targeting a nearly 25% increase in production over the next four years.

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“By 2018, Fiat will be able to make more than 6 million cars,” Marchionne said after a shareholders’ meeting in Turin, where the Fiat side of the company is headquartered. “I don’t want to give any details of the plan, but we are going in that direction.”

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Despite Setbacks, Jeep Sets a Global Sales Record

Sales surge despite Cherokee launch delays.

by on Jan.07, 2014

Despite a slow start of production with the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep sales set a new record.

Despite the painfully long delays in launching production of the new Cherokee model, sales of Chrysler’s Jeep brand products hit an all-time global sales record for the second year in a row.

Jeep, the cornerstone of Fiat/Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne plans to remake the Italian-American automaker , delivered 731,565 vehicles across the globe, beating the previous record of 701,626 established in 2012.

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Ever since taking over management of Chrysler after its 2009 bankruptcy, Marchionne has been keen to exploit the potential of the Jeep brand, which he has noted has a strong reputation around the world but which needed the broader distribution network that Fiat could provide.

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Chrysler Wants IPO Ready by Year-End

“That horse left the barn,” says CEO Marchionne.

by on Oct.30, 2013

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at an awards ceremony for suppliers.

After repeatedly delaying plans for a public stock offering and then suggesting Fiat might sever its ties with Chrysler if it went ahead with an IPO, the CEO of the two automakers now says he’s ready to put the process into overdrive.

“That horse left the barn,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne told reporters and analysts during a news conference called to discuss the maker’s third-quarter earnings. “We are now bent on executing the IPO.  I hope that we can get it done by the end of this year.”

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Fiat initially acquired a 20% stake in the U.S. maker following Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy in mid-2009.  Through a series of steps it has increased its holdings to 58.5%, and Marchionne has repeatedly expressed Fiat’s interest in acquiring the remaining 41.5% held by a union retiree health care trust. But the two sides are battling over the worth of the United Auto Workers Union’s holdings in a Delaware court and the union is now pressing to let the market set the price with an IPO.

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Chrysler Net Income Surges 22%

Strong truck sales drive results – but mask other problems.

by on Oct.30, 2013

Strong demand for the Ram pickup -- the 2014 diesel model shown here -- buoyed Chrysler's Q3 earnings.

The resurgent boom in pickup sales was good news for the Chrysler Group which saw net income surge by 22% during the third quarter, in sharp contrast to the declines posted by both of the maker’s cross-town rivals.

Chrysler earned $464 million during the July to September period, up from $381 million the year before, marking the once-bankrupt automaker’s nine consecutive quarterly profit. Revenues, meanwhile, jumped 13.5%, to $17.6 billion, on the sale of 603,000 vehicles. That was an increase of 8% from a year ago.

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But barely one in seven of Chrysler’s products – 82,000 in all — were sold outside North America, in sharp contrast to the results at General Motors and Ford Motor Co., who now depend on overseas markets for the majority of their demand and an increasing share of their revenues. And there are other challenges revealed by Chrysler’s latest earnings report.

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Chrysler Grabs #1 Spot in Canada

Strong demand “North of the Border” offsets other problems.

by on Apr.04, 2013

Oh, Canada! Chrysler takes a rare lead.

Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has had some tough times lately trying to launch production in China while hoping to revive a faltering deal in Russia. Then there’s the challenge of a crumbling European car market that has hammered the Italian side of the trans-Atlantic automaker – so it’s good to be getting a lift from one corner of the globe.

Chrysler is now the sales leader in Canada, nudging its way in the relatively small market past traditional industry leader General Motors, as well as rival Ford Motor Co. and Japanese giant Toyota. With its strong network of rural dealers, Chrysler’s unexpected dominance “North of the Border” serves to provide some credibility to Marchionne’s ongong efforts to build Chrysler/Fiat into a global power house.

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(It also comes as a point of personal celebration for the Fiat/Chrysler CEO who grew up in Canada.)

Up until now, Marchionne’s efforts, while scoring some impressive results in the U.S., have still been greeted by a large measure of skepticism by analysts who don’t believe the American-Italian company can compete long-term.

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Romney’s Jeep Claim called the Political “Lie of the Year”

Campaign ad wins “four Pinocchios.”

by on Dec.13, 2012

GOP candidate Romney wound up taking fire from both Chrysler and General Motors for his claims during the final weeks of campaigning.

It looks as if Mitt Romney won something after all for his expensive campaign to become President of the United States despite his loss to the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama.

PolitiFact has selected Romney’s claim that Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs as the 2012 “Lie of the Year.” The site itself has notably been praised for holding politicians on all sides of the spectrum accountable for comments, claims and ads.

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“People often say that politicians don’t pay a price for deception, but this time was different: A flood of negative press coverage rained down on the Romney campaign, and he failed to turn the tide in Ohio, the most important state in the presidential election,” the influential web site noted.

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Chrysler Looking to Further Boost Jeep Production

“We need more,” says CEO Marchionne.

by on Nov.19, 2012

Marchionne's biggest problem at Chrysler, for now, is a shortage of capacity.

Chrysler is looking for ways to increase production of its Jeep models at a key plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne says the company is looking for ways to increase production and may add even more to the already announced commitment to invest $500 million to re-tool the Toledo assembly complex.

Chrysler needs more production of vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler, which is in particularly short supply, Marchionne said. “We need more of everything,” but especially Jeeps, he said, noting that Chrysler has seen 31 months of consecutive, year-over-year sales increases.

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Marchionne’s comments come in sharp contrast to the picture portrayed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the final weeks of the 2012 campaign. Incorrectly interpreting a wire service report, the GOP nominee declared that Chrysler was going to transfer Jeep production from the U.S. to China, a claim that continued to be used on the campaign trail despite Chrysler’s efforts to correct the confusion.

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New Fiat 500 Helping Chrysler Ramp Up Exports

Jeeps by the boatload bound for China.

by on Jan.28, 2011

Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America, stands with the new 500 minicar.

In a move that underscores the complexity of the global auto industry,  the new Fiat 500 being launched in North America will also debut on a wider, global stage as the Chrysler Group assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico ramps up production later this year.

The facility will help Chrysler’s Italian affiliate, Fiat, deliver on its promise of boosting worldwide exports which, in turn, will allow Fiat to gain a larger stake in the U.S. maker.

During a conversation in San Diego, this week, Chrysler officials confirmed the Mexican made Fiat will not only be sold in North America but also exported to a range of markets as far-flung as Brazil and China by the end of 2011.

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The Brazil-bound 500 will be equipped with a special engine that can run on 100% ethanol or ethanol –gasoline blends, according to a senior Chrysler engineer.  Chrysler officials have until recently been reluctant to discuss the wider plans for the 500, which is scheduled to go on sale next month, as the Fiat brand returns to the U.S. for the first time in nearly 30 years.

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