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FCA Investing $1 Bil to Retool for New Jeeps

Company provides details on product, plant line-ups.

by on Jul.15, 2016

Jeep will continue to build the Wrangler in Toledo, Ohio, according to the company's retooling plan.

(This story has been updated.)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans for a sweeping overhaul of its North American operations took another step forward with the announcement that the company will invest more than $1 billion to retool assembly plants in Illinois and Ohio.

The retooling investment supports the future growth of the Jeep brand and creates 1,000 new jobs, the company said in its announcement, which also underscores the urgency behind FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plans to build more Jeeps.

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At the same time, FCA U.S. is pushing ahead with a broad strategy to expand the company’s line of trucks and utility vehicles while relegating passenger car production to a secondary position. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Wants Help from Hackers

Automaker offering “bug bounty” to find software vulnerabilities.

by on Jul.13, 2016

Last year, security experts managed to hack into a Jeep Cherokee and remotely drive it into a ditch.

“Help Wanted. Hackers.” That’s the message sent out by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today as it searches for help enhancing the cybersecurity of its vehicles.

The announcement comes shortly after police in Texas began investigating a series of stolen Jeeps that may have involved the use of laptop computers to start the vehicles’ computerized ignition systems. And it’s been just a year since a pair of security specialists showed how they could remotely take control of another Jeep, sending it into a ditch.

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Cybersecurity, in general, has become one of the auto industry’s biggest concerns, experts worried that hackers will not only be able to break into vehicles – physically or remotely – but also access drivers’ personal data. So, manufacturers are turning to so-called “white hat” hackers for help.


FCA Expects Wagoneer to Stand Apart … Literally

Jeep boss Manley says new SUV will be separate from Grand Cherokee.

by on Jul.08, 2016

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is part of the product and plant shuffle that is part of the new labor deal.

Fans of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer have been dancing around as if Christmas came in July since the announcement the Fiat Chrysler planned to bring the nameplate back; however, details have been sparse until now.

When the beast returns in 2019, the new model will come in two trim lines: Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. To ensure that everyone understands it will be a cut above – and a separate vehicle – the Grand Cherokee, Jeep boss Mike Manley elaborated a bit on what to expect in the future.

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“The Wagoneer name represents, historically, the pinnacle of premium for the Jeep world,” Manley said to the Automotive News. “But in the same way as you may have an Overland and a Summit, you have different trim levels. (more…)

Texas Cops Blame Hackers for Jeep Thefts

Mobile cybersecurity risks continue to mount.

by on Jul.08, 2016

In an image caught by a security camera, a thief looks around before entering a Jeep Wrangler.

The thief spends a moment, nervously looking around before entering the Jeep Wrangler parked in the owner’s Houston, Texas driveway. Once behind the wheel, he opens a laptop computer and spends a couple minutes tapping on the keyboard. Suddenly, the engine starts up, he shifts into gear and drives off.

That event, caught on video by a home security system, was one of several vehicle thefts reported recently that suggest a potential change in the way car thieves are doing their work, hacking into vehicles’ computer control systems, rather than hotwiring the cars.

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“We think it is becoming the new way of stealing cars,” said Roger Morris, a vice president at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, told the Wall Street Journal. “The public, law enforcement and the manufacturers need to be aware.”


Jeep Electrified – SUV Maker Adding EVs, Plug-Ins

Battery-based Jeeps “under active development.”

by on Jun.24, 2016

The Jeep Renegade could be one of the first models electrified, a plug in the Chinese market.

Today’s battery-based vehicles tend to be small sedans, coupes and hatchbacks. But that’s beginning to change with high-end products like the Tesla Model S and, more recently, the Model X.

Tesla will soon have some challengers in the battery-electric SUV market including Audi, set to debut an all-electric ute in 2018. And Jeep is getting ready to weigh in, as well, according to brand boss Michael Manley.

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While Fiat Chrysler’s SUV division isn’t ready to release specific plans, Manley told that new battery-based products are “under active development,” and other company sources indicate they aren’t very far from launch.


Jeep Climbing Up to Another Record Sales Year

Top exec suggests new SUV smaller than Renegade may be coming.

by on Jun.24, 2016

Jeep CEO Mike Manley believes there is room at both ends of the Jeep portfolio for new products.

The Jeep brand is rocketing towards another sales record this year and it also looking for new worlds to conquer.

Mike Manley, president of chief executive officer in charge of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s Jeep brand, said during a session with reporters at the FCA’s Chelsea Proving Ground that he believes there is ample room in the market for a B-Class-size Jeep smaller than the Renegade, which is now the smallest vehicle in the Jeep model line.

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“I have a strong feeling a small Jeep below Renegade would do well outside of (North America),” said Manley, who has been responsible for pushing the Jeep brand into new market in Europe, Asia and now South America. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Sending Out Fix for Faulty eShifters on Recalled Jeep, Sedan

Jeep investigating possible link to death of Star Trek actor Yelchin.

by on Jun.23, 2016

Jeep had been hoping to gain momentum with the Grand Cherokee's appearance in the new film, Independence Day Resurgence.

A top official at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the carmaker wants to investigate the weekend accident that took the life of actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his role in the Star Trek movie series. He was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee unexpectedly pinned him against a gate at his home, apparently leading to asphyxia.

The 2015 sport-utility vehicle was one of 1.1 million FCA vehicles recalled earlier this year to fix an electronic shifter system that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration System called “unintuitive,” citing numerous complaints from owners who said they could not figure out what gear they were in. The automaker had issued a warning to owners but had not begun repairs at the time Yelchin was killed.

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“We’re waiting to be able to start our own investigation,” said Michael Manley, the president and chief executive of the Jeep brand, during a media roundtable at FCA’s proving grounds an hour outside Detroit on Thursday. “Obviously, we would like our own people to go over the vehicle.”


FCA to Stop Using Recall-Targeted Takata Airbags

Jeep Wranglers will switch to newer airbags “by next week.”

by on Jun.21, 2016

New Jeep Wranglers will now use an updated version of the Takata airbags, at least for North America.

(This story has been updated.)

The last Jeep Wrangler to use potentially defective Takata airbags will roll down the assembly line next week – for the North American market, anyway.

Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was recently identified as one of four manufacturers still using airbags produced by Japanese supplier Takata in new vehicles due to a shortage of safer replacement parts. The other manufacturers identified by the Senate Commerce Committee include Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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FCA said it will switch to a new airbag design, “by next week,” for vehicles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It will, however, continue to use the older Takata airbags in Jeep Wranglers shipped to other markets.

The suspect airbags currently are not on the list of active recalls ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – but they will be over the next several years.


Death of Star Trek Actor Highlights Concerns About Faulty Electronic Shifters

Anton Yelchin reportedly driving recalled Jeep Grand Cherokee.

by on Jun.20, 2016

Actor Anton Yelchin was best known for his role as a young Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot.

It could take months to complete the investigation into the accidental death of Anton Yelchin, the 27-year-old actor best known for his role in several recent Star Trek movies – but it appears that the vehicle involved in his death was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, an SUV recently recalled because of problems with its electronic shifter.

A Los Angeles coroner’s spokesman said the cause of death was “blunt force asphyxia” in which the actor was pinned against a gate at his home. The vehicle appears to have been one of the models involved in a large recall initiated by Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in April.

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FCA recalled three different models — covering a total of 1.1 million vehicles — following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency found the shifter could confuse motorists by not giving clear feedback as to what gear the automatic transmission was in.


FCA Set to Wind Down Passenger Car Production

Trucks Moving in at two current sedan plants.

by on May.09, 2016

The Jeep Crew Chief concept reveals some "hints" of a production Jeep pickup to come.

With pickups, utility vehicles and vans now capturing about 60% of the U.S. market, automakers are struggling to shift production to match consumer demand, in some cases dropping once-popular passenger car models and refitting plants to produce light truck lines.

Nowhere is that shift becoming more apparent than at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. At least two of the maker’s sedans will soon head off to the junkyard, making room for expanded production of updated and possibly all-new pickups and SUVs.

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At least two plants will be impacted by the shift at the trans-Atlantic automaker, including one in Belvidere, Illinois and another in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights where 3,000 workers have been on temporary layoff due to slow sales of the Chrysler 200 since early this year. Nearly half will be put on indefinite layoff in July, likely for as much as two years.