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Jeep Invading Easter Safari in Utah with Modded 4x4s

Three Wranglers bring Cherokee siblings for first time.

by on Apr.11, 2014

Jeep Wrangler MOJO is one of the six concept vehicles developed by the Jeep and Mopar brands for the 48th Annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari.

Jeep is rolling into Moab, Utah, for the 48th annual Easter Jeep Safari with six new concept vehicles, including for the first time two Cherokees and a Grand Cherokee, for enthusiasts to pore over and give a thumbs up or down.

The three Wranglers, two Cherokees and one Grand Cherokee are laden with Jeep and Mopar accessories that are currently available as well as some that are in development.

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The week-long event attracts Jeep enthusiasts across the country who spend their days crawling along several trails in the Red Rocks area of the southwest. The Jeep owners often modify their Jeep Wranglers extensively to meet their needs so it’s perfect spot for Jeep to get feedback on these developmental items. (more…)

Russian Auto Industry Could Be Hurt by Ukraine Crisis

Ford cuts jobs, production..

by on Apr.04, 2014

Workers on the line at the Ford plant in St. Petersburg, where 700 jobs are being cut.

The temperature might finally be warming up after the frigid Russian winter, but the country’s auto industry is suddenly feeling a big chill.

Russia has been the target of increasing sanctions in the wake of its disputed annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the threat that Russian President Vladimir Putin might send troops into the neighboring country in an expanded land grab.  That has led to a flood of capital leaving the country and signs that the crisis could strike hard the Russian economy.

The crisis is causing “uncertainty in the marketplace,” warns consulting firm Accenture.

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Ford sent a chilling signal this week when it announced plans to trim 950 jobs at its two Russian plants, including 700 full-timers at its primary facility in St. Petersburg – almost one in five of its employees in the country. The maker is blaming an already weak economy, as well as the weak Russian ruble, but observers warn that this could be just the first sign of a serious setback for the country’s auto industry – especially if the Ukrainian crisis drags on, or rose, escalates.

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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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Chrysler Recalling Nearly 900,000 SUVs

Service action focused on possible brake problems.

by on Apr.02, 2014

Jeep calls back its latest-model Grand Cherokee due to potential brake problems - especially in colder climates.

The U.S. side of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to recall nearly 900,000 recent sport-utility vehicles because of potential brake problems that could become especially severe in colder climates.

The automaker originally said it didn’t see a recall-worthy problem when it notified federal regulators of a possible issue with brake line corrosion last year, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thought otherwise after learning that the problem can be worsened if the vehicles are operated in sub-freezing conditions.

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The recall involves 2011 through 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs, 644,354 of them sold in the U.S., 42,380 in Canada, and another 181,061 delivered to customers in Mexico and other parts of the world.

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Despite Pressure from Public, Lawmakers, Are Unsafe Cars Still Sidestepping Recall Process?

GM ignition switch scandal could lead to crackdown.

by on Mar.17, 2014

A Jeep Grand Cherokee fire. The maker long fought a recall - but critics aren't happy with the final settlement.

Things were supposed to change a decade ago.  After an estimated 270 people were killed in rollover accidents involving Ford Explorer SUVs and Firestone tires, Congress passed the so-called TREAD Act.  Short for the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it was intended to create a new process by which manufacturers had to reveal known safety-related issues – while encouraging motorists to report their own complaints.

But while federal safety regulators and automotive industry officials alike insist the new process is working, there are plenty of skeptics – all the more in the wake of the recent revelations that General Motors may have known for more than a decade that many of its compact cars were equipped with faulty ignition switches that could inadvertently shut the vehicles off and disable their airbag systems – a problem that last month led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

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What some are dubbing “Switch-gate” has already spawned a series of investigations – including hearings on both sides of Capitol Hill, a preliminary Justice Dept. criminal probe, a query by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a new internal investigation at GM itself ordered by the maker’s new CEO Mary Barra.

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Chrysler Next-Gen Minivan May Get Hybrid Option

Marchionne says Jeep Cherokee line might get third shift.

by on Mar.14, 2014

The Windsor, Ontario, plant that builds the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan will also be home to then next-generation minivan coming in 2016.

When the next generation Chrysler minivan hits the road in 2016, buyers may be able to get it with a hybrid powertrain, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters after officially launching production of the 2015 Chrysler 200 at the FCA plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., outside Detroit.

“You have to look at a hybrid,” considering where the fuel-economy standards are headed, added Marchionne, who emphasized the next minivan will be built in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit.

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Marchionne also said Chrysler is reviewing the design of the next generation Jeep Wrangler to make it lighter to help meet fuel economy standards. “It has to look like a Wrangler but it has to be lighter and more efficient,” he said. (more…)

Chrysler Adding 1,000 Part-Timers at Toledo Plant

Strong Cherokee, Wrangler sales necessitate additions.

by on Mar.11, 2014

The demand for Jeep Cherokees and Wranglers has forced Chrysler to add as many as 1,000 part-time employees.

The fits and starts of production of the new Jeep Cherokee in Toledo have now morphed into a torrent of SUVs that in conjunction with a similar demand for the Wrangler have forced the maker to add 1,000 part-time employees.

The Toledo, Ohio plant where the two vehicles are built are adding these additional workers because the full-time employees are working as much as 60 hours a week, according to published reports.

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“Our people have been working a tremendous amount of hours,” plant manager Chuck Padden told the Toledo Blade. “To get them more time off is important to us, to make sure they’re refreshed, and can work safely.” (more…)

VW, Jeep Again Looking at Options for U.S. Pickups

A resurgent midsize pickup segment could draw new contenders.

by on Mar.06, 2014

The current VW Amarok is not sold in the U.S. market and may be too small to import.

Only a few years ago, the pundits were writing off full-size pickups as dinosaurs set to vanish from the market. But last year they set their best sales mark since the crash of the U.S. automotive market.  Now, many analysts are starting to rethink forecasts predicting the demise of the midsize truck segment.  That apparently includes product planners for both Volkswagen AG and Jeep.

In recent years, the segment has dwindled to insignificance and key players like Ford and Chrysler have abandoned their entries. Ford actually developed a new version of its Ranger for global markets but decided against bringing it to the States.

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But with General Motors counter-programming, as it were, with the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models, might other manufacturers follow?

There are several who continue to consider their options, including both of the Korean carmakers, Hyundai and Kia.  But the makers most likely to take some action could be Detroit-based Jeep, and German giant Volkswagen AG — which already has an option available, the midsize Amarok pickup it sells in a wide range of overseas markets.

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Small is Big as Jeep Unveils New Renegade

New ute could become Jeep's best-seller.

by on Mar.04, 2014

The Jeep Renegade makes its Geneva debut.

Big things come in small packages, or so Jeep is hoping as it enters one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments with the new compact Jeep Renegade which is making its public debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show.

Using an all-new platform and a mix of 16 different powertrain packages targeting different markets, Jeep is counting on the Renegade to give it some much-needed momentum as it presses forward with its global expansion plan.

The Renegade, explains Jeep CEO Mike Manley, “will act as an entryway to our brand.”

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Manley is so confident about that  global expansion that he is boosting Jeep’s sale forecast for 2014 from the original target of 800,000 to a full1 million.  And it could grow even faster if Jeep can soon wrap up plans to launch production in China, the world’s largest automotive market. Significantly, the new Renegade will be assembled in Italy, at Fiat’s Melfi plant — and will be exported, eventually, to about 100 countries.

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The Consumer Reports List To Avoid: Worst Vehicles

Magazine chronicles problem vehicles in all categories.

by on Feb.26, 2014

Taurus adds Torque Vectoring Control, which uses smart brake control to help the car smoothly accelerate through curves, which helps build confidence for drivers.

Consumer Reports cited the Ford Taurus as car to avoid due to reliability issues and a lack of interior space.

Annually, potential car buyers, industry observers and executives await Consumer Reports’ top picks for the year. What the list shows is there are plenty of great cars and trucks to choose from; however, the magazine doesn’t stop there.

While it doesn’t take long for everyone to figure out the mag thinks that Tesla’s Model S is the best car – maybe ever – and that the Dodge Ram is pushing to make the full-size pickup race a three-truck competition, there is a side of the industry that tends to get pushed by the wayside.

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The pub also creates a list of vehicles to avoid. Some on the list are not a shock, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer, but others are a bit of a surprise, including the Land Rover Evoque. (more…)