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Is Your Car Up for a Buyback?

Sorting through Fiat Chrysler’s massive safety settlement.

by on Jul.30, 2015

The buyback covers a wide range of Ram pickups, including this heavy-duty 4500 model.

As part of a settlement with NHTSA over mishandled recalls, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to not only pay a record fine but also to buy back a select group of recent truck models with suspension problems while offering discounts to owners who might want to trade in older Jeeps facing recall.

The complex consent order has created plenty of confusion, dealers and factory phone lines – not to mention news outlets – inundated with calls and e-mails from owners wondering if they qualify for one of the deals.

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Here’s some help in figuring out if you qualify for one of these programs, and what to do even if you don’t.

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Chrysler Will Buy Back – Then Resell — Vehicles Under Consent Order

Agreement actually could drive increased FCA sales.

by on Jul.27, 2015

About 193,000 of the Dodge, Chrysler and Ram trucks may be eligible for buyback.

As part of the consent order Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reached with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the maker will pay a record $105 million in fines and penalties – while also taking hundreds of thousands of recalled vehicles off the road.

In some cases, however, that may only be temporary. TheDetroitBureau.com has learned that the trans-Atlantic automaker intends to repair some of those vehicles and then resell them to the public. That could affect as many as 193,000 pickup trucks and SUVs, according to documents FCA has filed with NHTSA.

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“If we repurchase them we will resell them after performing the necessary service,” spokesman Eric Mayne told TheDetroitBureau.com, noting that was a step approved by federal regulators as part of the extensive consent order.

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Automakers Struggle to Keep Hackers Out of Increasingly Automated Vehicles

Chrysler recall not likely to end the problem.

by on Jul.27, 2015

A Wired journalist winds up in a ditch after hackers took control of this 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Sometime next month, if all goes well, California battery carmaker Tesla Motors plans to ask a select group of owners to begin testing its latest vehicle operating system. Dubbed version 7.0, it will include a beta version of Tesla’s new Pilot system which will offer the ability to drive on the highway hands-free.

As with previous updates for the Model S sedan, Tesla will upload the software wirelessly, rather than requiring owners to visit its showrooms. It’s an approach many other automakers are expected to adopt in the coming years. But it also raises some serious concerns among industry observers who question whether such an approach might make it easy for hackers to shift their focus from computers to cars.

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The risk was highlighted this past week when a pair of professional hackers gained access to a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter working for Wired magazine. They turned on the Jeep’s windshield wipers, shut the engine down while it was being driven down the highway, took control of the steering wheel and then disabled its brakes, sending it into a ditch.

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Jeep Owners Urged to Act to Lock Out Hackers

Hackers take control of Jeep Cherokee, crash it into ditch.

by on Jul.22, 2015

A journalist crashes into ditch after hackers take control of his 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Image courtesy of Wired.

Fiat Chrysler has released an urgent update for the software on a number of its connected vehicles after learning that two hackers were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee and crash it into a ditch.

The news comes amidst growing concern that hackers are beginning to target automobiles as they have computers and cellphones. But in this case, there’s more than just private information at stake. Experts fear that such cyberattacks could pose the actual risk of death or injury, as well as major chaos on the highways.

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The possibility that hackers could gain access to hundreds of thousands of FCA vehicles was revealed in a story in Wired magazine. The potential was demonstrated by two professional hackers, including one who previously worked for the National Security Agency. They plan to reveal at least some of their tricks during a so-called Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month.

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European Car Sales Post Biggest Gain in Five Years

June numbers jump 15%.

by on Jul.16, 2015

The Nissan Sway concept at its Geneva Auto Show debut. Nissan is ahead of Toyota in European sales so far this year.

Despite the threat of a Greek banking collapse and a breakup of the Euro Zone, European car sales posted their biggest gain in five years, surging 15% in June.

Marking the region’s 22nd consecutive month of growth, Europe has now seen an 8% rise in sales since the beginning of 2015, though volume is still well off from the industry peak. Nonetheless, the latest upturn is good news for an industry that has lost billions of dollars in the region and struggled with massive excess capacity.

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“This is all good news if this trend continues,” said Carlos Da Silva, an analyst with IHS Automotive, who described the upturn as “robust” and “quite convincing.”

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FCA’s Marchionne Still Undecided about Wrangler Plant

CEO says next-gen ute will use aluminum extensively.

by on Jul.15, 2015

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne is still undecided about keeping Jeep Wrangler production in Toledo.

The final decision on whether to revamp the Toledo factory that now builds the Jeep Wrangler or find another location still isn’t final yet, according to the FCA US’ top executive.

Sergio Marchionne, while turning aside questions about whether the decision of whether to keep the Wrangler production in Toledo is tied to the negotiations with the United Auto Workers, said he still has not ready to make a final decision on the next generation Wrangler. The replacement for the current generation Jeep Wrangler is due before the end of the decade, according to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles five-year plant unveiled in 2014.

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Marchionne did confirm during a question-and-answer session that followed the formal opening of contract negotiations with the UAW that the next generation Wrangler – now due out in 2018 – would have significant amount of aluminum. (more…)

With New Plant in India, Jeep Set to Build SUVs on Four Continents

All-new model planned for $280 million plant in Ranjangaon.

by on Jul.02, 2015

The new Renegade marked a turning point for Jeep which is producing it in Italy, rather than the US.

Little more than a domestic American brand just a few years ago, Jeep is going global, expanding both its distribution network to markets as far flung as Berlin, Beijing and Mumbai. It will soon have production facilities, meanwhile, on four continents.

The subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles confirmed this week that it will invest $280 million as part of a joint manufacturing venture with India’s Tata Motors. The factory will produce several vehicles, including both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new model, company officials indicated.

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That project is an “important step as we continue to expand the availability of Jeep products around the world,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said.

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Jeep Expects to Hit 1.2 Million in Sales in 2015

Company struggles with Wrangler production issues.

by on Jun.29, 2015

FCA is struggling with what to do about increasing the production capacity of the Wrangler's long-time home plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Sales of Jeep-branded vehicles are on track to hit roughly 1.2 million this year, according to the FCA U.S. executive responsible for the nameplate.

Michael Manley, president of the Jeep brand, noted that Jeep sales have increased by 20% so far this year, after topping 1 million units for the first time ever in 2014. The plants belonging to FCA U.S., formerly the Chrysler Group, building vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler are having difficulty keeping up with the demand from customers, he told reporters at the company’s proving grounds in Chelsea, Michigan.

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Sales of the Jeep Cherokee, which was introduced last year, and the sales of the Jeep Renegade introduced this past spring are also doing well in the U.S. The Renegade is proving very popular with European customers and sales of other Jeep products also remain strong in Europe. (more…)

New Grand Cherokee Delayed, Jeep Says

Manley claims Marchionne’s search for partner played no role.

by on Jun.26, 2015

The next iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is on hold until 2018, Jeep officials said today.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to push back the introduction of the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee until the 2018 -2019, Mike Manley, president of the Jeep brand, confirmed during a meeting with reporters at the company’s Chelsea Proving Ground.

Manley said the talk of FCA merging with another automaker played no part in the decision to delay the introduction of the next generation Grand Cherokee, which has been at the heart of the Jeep line when it was first introduced by Chrysler back in the 1990s.

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Reports from Italy also have indicated that FCA has delayed the introduction of some models to free up cash for new investment in Alfa Romeo, which is expected to total $5 billion by the end of the decade. (more…)

Feds Slam Fiat Chrysler for Lax Safety Efforts

FCA “has not remedied vehicles in a reasonable time,” claims NHTSA.

by on Jun.19, 2015

A fire involving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The recall for a potential safety problem has gone slowly.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been dragging its feet when it comes to safety problems, or so claims the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a new document released ahead of a public hearing on the issue.

The statement by federal regulators follows admissions by the automaker that it has been slow to handle repairs to vehicles covered by a recall linked to numerous vehicle fires. And it appears to be part of a broader crackdown on automotive safety in the wake of record recalls that saw more than 60 million vehicles impacted due to defects last year.

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“NHTSA has tentatively concluded that Fiat Chrysler has not remedied vehicles in a reasonable time and has not adequately remedied vehicles,” the NHTSA said in a document posted on its website ahead of a hearing to determine whether FCA met federal rules on properly reporting defects and then making repairs.

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