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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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FCA Going Grand with New Wagoneer

Maker rumored to be showing new SUV to dealers in August.

by on Jun.08, 2015

Dealers are rumored to be getting a look at a new Grand Wagoneer in August. The full-size SUV will be introduced in 2018 as a 2019 model allegedly.

Suddenly every automaker “needs” a full-sized, high-end sport-utility vehicle in their line-up with Fiat Chrysler being the latest maker coming to the party as it is rumored to be showing dealers a new Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

The new three-row SUV, which isn’t expected to arrive until 2018 as a 2019 model, will be shown at the dealers’ biennial show in Las Vegas in August, according to Automotive News. It would be aimed directly at the luxury end of the segment.

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The idea of a new Wagoneer suddenly showing up is a bit ironic given recent news out of FCA that several Jeep product development efforts are being delayed to allow Sergio Marchionne time to find a strategic partner for the company. (more…)

Jeep Chasing Renegade Software Glitch

Marchionne implies problem is related to nine-speed transmission.

by on May.22, 2015

FCA may be battling a software issue with the Jeep Renegade and its nine-speed transmission.

Fiat Chrysler may be battling a new software bug with its Jeep Renegade …and it may have CEO Sergio Marchionne experiencing a case of deja vu.

Marchionne told multiple media outlets earlier this week implied there is a problem and implied it is related to the automaker’s problematic nine-speed transmission it sources from ZF.

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The same transmission that caused the automaker to delay the introduction of the Jeep Cherokee as the automaker attempted to recalibrate it to improve the ride quality. (more…)

FCA Appealing $150 Million Jeep Verdict

Maker claims award violates Georgia law.

by on May.11, 2015

Despite testimony by CEO Sergio Marchionne saying the Jeep's rear-mounted fuel tank is safe, jurors awarded a $150 million to a Georgia family.

Fiat Chrysler asked a Georgia judge to set aside the $150 million verdict levied by a jury against the company and grant a new trial in the case of a boy who burned to death in a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee after a rear-end collision.

In its appeal, which is pound to prolong the high-profile case, which has garnered substantial media attention, FCA US is claiming that the damages were excessive and unconstitutional under the state of Georgia’s laws. The case, which was decided in April, featured a video deposition of FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne, who argued FCA US should not be held liable in the case.

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The jury awarded $150 million to the family after finding that the rear-positioned fuel tank in the Jeep posed a fire risk and killed the child. (more…)

Chinese Turn Car Clones into High Art

Copycat makers often outsell the originals.

by on Apr.24, 2015

No, that's not a $475,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

That may look, at first glance, like a vanity license plate on a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but take another glance and you might be in for a surprise. You’re actually looking at a Geely GE, a Chinese knock-off that has closely copied the classic Rolls grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament – but which goes for a fraction of the original’s $475,000 price.

Automakers from around the world put their latest wares on display at this month’s Shanghai Motor Show. But a walk down the hall revealed that local Chinese automakers already had fresh copies of a number of the hottest products from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

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While some picked up subtle styling cues and features, others blended attributes from several different models to create weird Franken-cars, like the Suzhou Eagle EV that was one part Porsche Cayman, with a face lifted from a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a battery-electric drivetrain to make things even weirder.

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Slow Jeep Repairs Could Create Problems for Fiat Chrysler

Only 4% of recalled Grand Cherokee models have been fixed.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Mandated repairs on 1.56 million recalled Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs are not being completed as quickly as expected.

This coming June will mark the second anniversary of a settlement between Chrysler and federal regulators that resulted in the recall of 1.56 million Jeeps due to a potential fire hazard.

But so far, only a tiny fraction of the vehicles covered by that service action – 4% of the Jeep Grand Cherokees and 27% of the Jeep Liberty models – have actually been brought in for repairs. By comparison, about 75% of the vehicles subject to recalls in the U.S. are typically repaired within 18 months.

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The slow response rate has generated concerns in Washington where Mark Rosekind, the new chief at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has been hinting the agency might re-open its investigation. (more…)

Marchionne Defends Jeep Safety in Court

CEO deposed in wrongful death trail about 4-year-old.

by on Mar.27, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of Jeep vehicles in a deposition in Atlanta.

Sergio Marchionne is defending the safety of Jeep products in a high-profile Georgia lawsuit, involving the death by fire of a 4-year-old boy.

The top executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles denied trying to stop top federal regulators from finding a safety defect in older Jeeps with rear-positioned fuel tanks. Instead, he argued that the vehicles are safe, in a recorded deposition that was played for Georgia jurors in a wrongful death trial about a fuel tank fire that killed the boy.

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Marchionne and the plaintiff’s attorney clashed over a 2013 meeting with then-U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood in Chicago in June. (more…)