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First Drive: 2017 Jeep Compass

All-new crossover lives up to Jeep's off-road reputation.

by on Feb.27, 2017

The 2017 Jeep Compass replaces the previous generation model as well as the Patriot.

Any vehicle carrying the Jeep nameplate is expected to maintain the brand’s reputation for off-road capability even when chances are it is going to spend most of life on city or suburban streets, local highways and maybe on an occasional gravel road.

The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass certainly maintains the brand’s character. The 4×4 Trailhawk version of the Compass will certainly wade over rocks with the best of them and even 4×2 version of the can ford a shallow river with ease and style.

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The new Jeep compact crossover utility vehicle is now replacing the older version of the Compass and the Patriot, which were more or less grafted onto the Jeep model line several years ago thanks to some clever work by engineers and designers. As crossover vehicles became steadily more popular, the Compass and Patriot accounted for a substantial chunk of the sales the compact CUV segment even though purists insisted they really didn’t have an authentic Jeep pedigree. (more…)

Jeep Sales Likely to Flatten This Year

Retooling in U.S. may cost some sales while China, Brazil expected to be strong.

by on Feb.22, 2017

FCA is moving production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to Illinois as part of its production overhaul.

After a long run up in sales, Jeep sales in the United States will probably be flat or down slightly this years as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. pulls back from sales to rental car fleet and moves through a series of new product launches that require closing key plants for model changes.

However, Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, also said that the Jeep brand could still post a modest sales increase in Europe, China and South America, particularly in Brazil.

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In China, for example, sales of Jeep branded vehicles increased by 131% last years to more than 147,000 vehicles. Manley said he expects another big increase in Jeep sales in China this year since it will have three different vehicles, the Cherokee, the Renegade and the new Compass, available for Chinese customers. Jeep will also have the capacity to build 350,000 units in China and could build more as demand increases. (more…)

FCA Laying Off 3,200 Employees in Toledo as Plant Transformation Begins

Marchionne's master plan being put into action.

by on Feb.16, 2017

FCA is moving production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to Illinois as part of its production overhaul.

This story has been updated with new information.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to lay off more than 3,000 hourly workers as moves into the next stage of its manufacturing transformation, shifting car production to plants outside of the U.S., and allowing U.S. plants to build the company’s more profitable trucks and SUVs.

FCA expects to temporarily lay off 3,200 workers starting in April as it begins $700 million retooling of a plant in Toledo, Ohio, to build the next-generation Wrangler.  The workers will be laid off for up to six months, according to documents the company filed with the city and the state, and reported by the (Toledo) Blade.

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The layoffs were not a surprise, Jodi Tinson, an FCA spokesperson, told the Detroit Free Press. The plant currently produces the Jeep Cherokee and needed to end Cherokee production in Toledo in an adjacent plant and prepare for production of a new Wrangler there.  (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Latest to be Charged With Rigging Diesel Emissions

Automaker’s stock price tumbles in wake of EPA allegations.

by on Jan.12, 2017

The Ram 1500 turbodiesel has won a number of awards since its 2015 introduction.

Barely 24 hours after the U.S. Justice Department announced a $4.3 billion settlement with Volkswagen AG in connection with the German maker’s diesel emissions scandal, the Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of rigging its own diesel engines to illegally pass emissions test.

The agency said the so-called defeat device technology “appeared to cause the vehicles to perform differently when being tested” than when in use in real-world conditions. That was the same thing the EPA, in September 2014, charged that Volkswagen had done. Since then, VW has paid out close to $25 billion in fines and penalties related to the scandal. And FCA stockholders, apparently fearing a similar financial hit, sent the maker’s stock tumbling in the wake of the latest revelation.

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“This is a clear and serious violation of the Clean Air Act,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The undisclosed software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides from the vehicles, threatening public health by polluting the air that we breathe.”

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FCA Shuttering Toledo Cherokee Plant to Prep for Wrangler

Maker continues plant re-organization efforts.

by on Jan.03, 2017

FCA is moving production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to Illinois as part of its production overhaul.

Fiat Chrysler N.V. is preparing to shut down production of the current Jeep Cherokee as soon as April in what will be a crucial step in preparing for the introduction of next generation Jeep Wrangler and the long-rumored Jeep pickup.

The shutdown of the Cherokee plant in Toledo, one of the most valuable in the FCA production system, has been in company’s plans ever since FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne announced a sweeping re-organization of the company’s production plants.

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The transformation started last fall when FCA halted production of the Dodge Dart at the company’s assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois. In December, the Belvidere plant also stopped building the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass, which will be replaced this spring by an all-new replacement built in Mexico, while the FCA assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, also stopped building the Chrysler 200 in December. (more…)

Jeep Compass Blazes New Path for Small Utes

New global SUV offers five powerplants for world markets.

by on Nov.17, 2016

The new Jeep Compass sets the bar higher for the influx of new small utes flooding the market.

Automakers are flocking to the small sport-utility segment, but Jeep continues to set itself apart from the pack with its newest iterations of the Compass that bowed at the L.A. Auto Show.

A truly global all-new compact SUV, the 2017 Jeep Compass will be manufactured in Brazil, China, Mexico and India, for consumers in more than 100 countries around the world.

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“Our all-new 2017 Jeep Compass enters an extremely important and growing segment worldwide, and does so with an unmatched list of attributes that includes benchmark 4×4 off-road capability, exceptional on-road driving dynamics, fuel-efficient powertrains, countless advanced technology and safety features, all wrapped in a premium, authentic Jeep design,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. (more…)

A $140,000 Jeep?

SUV brand wants new Grand Wagoneer take on luxury competitors directly.

by on Oct.10, 2016

Would you pay $140K for a Jeep? FCA may be planning on it when it re-introduces the Grand Wagoneer in 2018.

How much would you be willing to pay for a fully loaded, full-size SUV? We’ve seen the new Bentley Bentayga push over the $250,000 mark, and there are several versions of the Range Rover not far behind. But a $140,000 Jeep?

The ute arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is getting close to the long-awaited revival of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and it’s apparently looking to move the full-size model significantly up-market compared to where the Jeep brand competes today.

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How far up? “Pushing the car up to $130,000 to $140,000 may be possible,” Jeep brand boss Mike Manley tells Britain’s Auto Express, though he cautioned that, “We need to establish Grand Wagoneer in its own right first.” (more…)

Jeep Finds its Bearings with New Compass SUV

American unveiling set for L.A. Auto Show.

by on Sep.27, 2016

A "baby" Grand Cherokee? Jeep pulls the wraps off the all-new Compass SUV.

Jeep is heading off in a new direction with the launch of the all-new 2017 Compass model.

Though the name is a carryover, the compact SUV that made its debut in Pernambuco, Brazil on Monday night gets a new platform and an entirely new look that more closely echoes the styling of the Jeep brand flagship, the Grand Cherokee. As part of the transition, Fiat Chrysler’s SUV brand will abandon the near-twin Jeep Patriot when the new model starts rolling into showrooms early next year.

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The debut comes months later than originally expected. FCA had first planned to roll out the new Jeep Compass at the New York Auto Show last March, but decided to use it to help highlight the new plant it has opened in Brazil.

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Tesla Updates Software After Chinese Hackers Take Control of Model S

Researchers take complete control of vehicle from up to 12 miles away.

by on Sep.21, 2016

Chinese researchers take control of a Model S, even remotely popping open its rear hatch.

Tesla has issued an urgent update to the software controlling virtually aspect of its high-tech battery-electric vehicles, a move triggered by reports that a Chinese security team had managed to hack into the Model S sedan’s control system.

Researchers from Keen Security Lab were able to take remote control of the vehicle from distances of up to 12 miles. They were able to take control of functions such as the vehicle’s brakes and windshield wipers.

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The news only adds to growing concerns about automotive cybersecurity at a time when the industry is in the midst of what some are calling a “transportation revolution.” Just this week, federal regulators issued the first national guidelines for the development of autonomous and even more advanced driverless vehicles. Some observers fear hackers could make such vehicles a target for criminal efforts and even for terrorist activities.

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Cops Nab Suspects in Jeep Cybersecurity Theft

Robbers reportedly used laptop computers to steal over 100 vehicles.

by on Aug.05, 2016

A thief uses a laptop computer, possibly to pair his own key to the Jeep's electronic ignition.

Police in Houston have two suspects in custody and believe they used laptop computers to steal and then export more than 100 vehicles.

The arrests were a major break in a case that had stymied authorities, leaving few clues other than a video taken by a security camera set up by the owner of a Jeep that was among the vehicles stolen. Investigators believe the two exploited a weakness in Jeep and Dodge products that allowed them to hack into the vehicles’ electronic ignition systems.

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The thefts have highlighted growing concerns about automotive cybersecurity, a threat that has drawn warnings from a variety of authorities, including the FBI, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts fear that as automakers load more technology onto their products, tomorrow’s cars will become even more vulnerable to hackers and thieves.

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