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First Drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade

Little SUV delivers big performance on road and off.

by on Jan.23, 2015

The 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on Jeep’s heritage. It has the Wrangler-inspired round headlights and a seven-slot grille.

The Jeep Renegade is one of the most important vehicles the Jeep brand has launched, well since last year when it introduced the Cherokee. But it’s vital to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is eager to emerge as a truly global company.

The launch of the Renegade also means FCA has to show it can take the secret sauce that has made the Jeep brand popular over the years in the U.S. and transform it into a truly global brand. It also certainly means that the Renegade also has to show that it can live up to the brand’s reputation for agility and capability when the pavement ends.

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My distinct impression, after driving the Renegade, both on road and off is that the Renegade measures up to the other vehicles in the Jeep portfolio. The only difference is that the Renegade is smaller. (more…)

Renegade to Lead Jeep’s Global Expansion

Jeep’s Manley expects big results from little Jeep.

by on Jan.20, 2015

The Jeep Renegade - shown here at its Geneva debut - will be a critical piece of FCA's global focus.

The new Jeep Renegade holds the key to the brand’s global expansion.

Mike Manley, president of the Jeep brand, said that Jeep sales have tripled during the past five years expanded by revitalizing and renewing the existing product portfolio. The sales growth surprised many observers who thought it was unlikely or even impossible for Jeep to sell 1 million vehicles, the target set out in the first five-year plan laid out by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne last January.

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The Renegade, however, represents a genuine expansion of Jeep portfolio, Manley said. It also represents Jeep’s coming of age as a true global brand. (more…)

NHTSA Opens Two New Investigations

Agency checking Jeep Cherokees and Nissan Rogue problems.

by on Jan.16, 2015

NHTSA is investigating 195,000 2013 Nissan Rogues due to an airbag inflation problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened two probes involving more than 200,000 Chrysler and Nissan vehicles.

The safety agency is examining 195,000 2013 Nissan Rogue models due to airbag problems after receiving two complaints about the deployment times of the devices. In both cases, the airbags inflated slowly, taking as long as a minute to inflate, and did not fully inflate. Additionally, both devices deployed several seconds – more than a minute in one case – after the crash.

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Additionally, NHTSA is looking to 50,000 2015 Jeep Cherokees for fire risks. The report in this case stemmed from an incident in San Diego, which was captured by a local news crew. The vehicle began smoking right after it was parked and within minutes it was fully engulfed in flames – some nearly 20 feet high – and was a total loss. No injuries were reported. (more…)

Marchionne Throws Down Jeep Sales Gauntlet: 1.9 Million

FCA leader expects brand to hit the mark by 2018.

by on Jan.14, 2015

Sergio Marchionne gave Jeep a few years to meet his latest sales goal: 1.9 million units.

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne is at it again. After Jeep met Marchionne’s goal of selling 1 million vehicles in 2014, he’s thrown out another sales target: 1.9 million Jeeps. Fortunately, he’s given the rugged off-road brand until 2018 to hit the mark.

“This is the goal,” added Marchionne, who favors bold announcements.

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Marchionne laid down the new objective during an informal chat with reporters after his annual press conference at the North American International Auto Show. It was during this chat at last year’s show that Marchionne predicted that Jeep sales would reach 1 million units in 2014 even though FCA, then known as the Chrysler, was struggling with the launch of the Jeep Cherokee. (more…)

Jeep Sales Trek Past 1 Million Mark in 2014

Brand surpasses FCA Chief Marchionne’s lofty goal.

by on Jan.09, 2015

Sergio Marchionne set a sales goal of 1 million units for Jeep this year and the brand hit the mark.

When FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne told reporters at last year’s Detroit Auto Show he expected Jeep to sell 1 million units worldwide in 2014, many considered it a stretch goal, especially since the original forecast was for about 800,000 units. Well, what Sergio wants, it appears he gets as frenzied U.S. sales helped propel Jeep past the mark.

Jeep set a new all-time record for the third consecutive year with sales of 1,017,019, which bettered the brand’s 2013 record of 731,565 by 39%.

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“2014 marks the fifth consecutive year that Jeep vehicle sales have increased both globally and in the U.S. market,” said Mike Manley, president and CEO – Jeep Brand. “While we are especially pleased with the way the new Jeep Cherokee is resonating in the marketplace, the fact is that every vehicle in the Jeep lineup recorded significant worldwide sales gains.” (more…)

Jeep Closing in on 1-Million Unit Sales Mark

Brand’s sales up more than 40% through November.

by on Dec.29, 2014

Jeep sales were up 44% through November. The Renegade is helping push Jeep toward sales of 1 million units in 2014.

Global sales of the Jeep brand are expected to top 1 million units for the first time ever when the numbers are added up by Fiat Chrysler next week. However, the company isn’t resting on its laurels, FCA is charging ahead with ambitious plans for the future.

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne laid out the goal of 1 million units for Jeep during the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of 2014. Through November, the brand’s sales are up 44%, which puts it on track to hit the mark.

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In fact, the company’s massive plant in Toledo, Ohio, hit an all-time production high this year, surpassing 500,000 vehicles built just a couple of weeks ago. While much of the news from Jeep has been good, the brand has come under some new criticism from Consumer Reports. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited wound up at the bottom of CR’s New-Car Value ratings. (more…)

Ford F-150 Lassoes Truck of Texas Trophy

Ford, Jeep and Ram corral a hatful of victories.

by on Oct.13, 2014

Ford's new F-150 snags a welcome honor.

The Ford F-150 scooped up the first of what the company’s executives hope will be several awards over the weekend as it was named Truck of Texas at the 2014 Texas Auto Writers Association Truck Rodeo.

That’s particularly good news for Ford considering the growing concerns about whether the maker can pull off a smooth launch for the “aluminum-intensive” remake of what has long been the country’s best-selling motor vehicle.

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Ford actually got a triple-dose of good news from the Lone Star State’s automotive scribes who named the 2015 Lincoln MKC the crossover of Texas, while Ford also was named the Truck Line of Texas. But the Detroit carmaker couldn’t pull off a clean sweep, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee capturing the SUV of Texas title for the fifth straight year.

(more…)

Chrysler Recalls 349,000 Vehicles for Ignition Switch Defect

One crash linked to defect.

by on Sep.25, 2014

The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of the vehicles covered by Chrysler's ignition switch recall.

General Motors isn’t the only automaker facing problems with ignition switches. Chrysler is recalling 349,442 older sedans, wagons and SUVs because of a problem that could inadvertently lead vehicles to shut off while being driven.

The announcement is one of the latest involving faulty ignition switches, though the most notorious case involves 2.6 million small cars produced by GM that were recalled last February and which have since been blamed for at least 21 deaths.

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In the case of Chrysler, the ignition switches may inadvertently slip out of the Run position without a driver’s intervention. In some cases, that will simply shut off accessories such as the windshield wipers. But if the key turns all the way to the Off position, the vehicle’s engine may then shut off, leading to a potential loss of control and possible crash.

(more…)

Buyers Question Value of Trouble-Prone Tech Features

New JD Power APEAL study finds buyers, on whole, less satisfied with latest vehicles.

by on Jul.23, 2014

Porsche dominates APEAL with products like the 911.

Automakers are intent on entering the connected world, loading their latest vehicles up with high-tech features such as 4G WiFi hotspots, voice-operated navigation, and even infotainment systems that can read out Facebook posts. But while these may appeal to young, tech-savvy shoppers, other buyers question the benefits, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates.

The quality consultancy’s latest APEAL study finds that, on the whole, car buyers are slightly less pleased with the new cars, trucks and crossovers they are being offered this year. But the survey of recent buyers did find gains in owner satisfaction when it comes to improvements in vehicle fuel economy. Buyers are much more ambiguous about high-tech additions to their new vehicles.

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Porsche was the highest-ranked brand in the latest study, while Hyundai delivered a surprise by landing the top spot among mainstream brands.

“Manufacturers often look to new features and technologies to keep their vehicles fresh and attractive, but designing systems that consumers find intuitive and easy to use has been a challenge,” said Power Vice President Renee Stephens.

(more…)

Chrysler Recalling 800,000 Vehicles for Ignition Switch Problem

by on Jul.22, 2014

Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 2005-2007 are part of a larger recall of Chrysler vehicles with ignition problems.

Chrysler is expanding an earlier recall, targeting nearly 800,000 older Jeep models because of an ignition switch problem that could cause the vehicles to stall and disable their airbags and other safety systems.

The move comes as federal safety regulators investigate reports that drivers inadvertently can bump the keys on as many as 1.2 million Chrysler products, causing them to turn from the On to Off or Accessory position. The problem is similar to one that has led to the recall of millions of General Motors products in recent months. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the possibility the problem could occur on products built by other manufacturers, as well.

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While Chrysler and its dealers prepare to notify customers and schedule repairs, the maker is advising owners to remove everything but the ignition key from their key rings to reduce the risk of an unintended stall-out. (more…)