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Jeep Will Keep Wrangler Production in Toledo, Add New Wrangler-Based Picked

But maker will relocate production of popular Cherokee model.

by on Sep.02, 2015

The question has been answered: Jeep is re-entering the truck market with the Wrangler-based truck.

After a long debate that put thousands of jobs at risk, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to retain production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler in Toledo, Ohio. And CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that the maker will add a long-rumored, Wrangler-based pickup to the Jeep line-up.

But Toledo did get one setback in its bid to maintain its long-standing role as Jeep’s ancestral home. FCA will now move production of the Cherokee model to another, as yet-unspecified plant. The compromise follows an intense round of negotiations by Toledo and Ohio officials who struggled to help the automaker reduce costs and update the Toledo plant to handle what will be a radically redesigned version of the ever-popular Wrangler.

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“We found a solution that accommodates a variety of other interests to us because of the way in which we can move some product around,” Marchionne told trade publication Automotive News. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (to know) that the only way I can move around the Wrangler is to move it into the other Toledo plant.” (more…)

New Hellraiser? Jeep Grand Cherokee to Get the Hellcat Treatment

Jeep to add 707-hp version of the Grand Cherokee.

by on Aug.27, 2015

Jeep will be adding a 707-hp Hellcat version of the Grand Cherokee it will call Trackhawk.

Things are going to hell at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Which is, apparently, a good thing considering the huge demand for the maker’s two Hellcat muscle cars, 707-horsepower versions of the Dodge Charger sedan and Challenger coupe.

They’ll soon be joined by another Hellcat-powered model. Several FCA insiders have confirmed that the Jeep brand is getting ready to launch a 707-horesepower SUV that will be known as the Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk.

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Fiat Chrysler officials this week have been briefing dealers about plans to expand the Hellcat line during their annual retail get-together in Las Vegas. They’re also advising dealers that they’ve boosted production capacity for the Hellcat engine. Demand has been so strong that orders for the 2015 models had to be cut off well before the end of the model-year.

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Jeep Wrangler Gets Divine Intervention

FCA product tabbed as Popemobile for U.S. visit.

by on Aug.24, 2015

Could this be Pope Francis' new ride during his visit to the U.S. in September?

Could it be the Italian connection at work? Could it be he’s an off-roader at heart?

Regardless, Pope Francis will ride in one of this country’s most identifiable vehicles during his upcoming tour of the U.S.: the Jeep Wrangler.

The Vatican confirmed last Friday that the pontiff will use a Wrangler similar to one he rode around in during a trip to Ecuador in July.

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Pope Francis eschewed the traditional, bulletproof “Popemobile” that became the standard after an assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981. When Benedict XVI succeeded him, he continued to use the bulletproof ride. (more…)

Hackers Take Down a Tesla

High-tech maker poses a tempting target.

by on Aug.07, 2015

The hackers claim they were able to shut down a Tesla Model S driving at low speeds.

Tesla has rushed out a software patch to fix a series of security problems that allowed hackers to take control of one of its Model S sedans.

The announcement is the latest in a swift series of developing involving automotive cybersecurity. While experts have been warning about the potential risks for several years, the issue came to the forefront last month when a pair of hackers remotely gained control of a Jeep Cherokee and were able to send it spinning out of control and into a ditch.

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Tesla presents a particularly tempting target for hackers, several experts have told TheDetroitBureau.com, not only because of its high-tech image but, perhaps more importantly, its use of wireless communications to send software updates to its vehicles. The maker used that path to patch the newly discovered security flaws.

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Supplier Claims Chrysler Hacking Problem Not Widespread

New security issue could leave OnStar-equipped cars vulnerable.

by on Aug.05, 2015

A YouTube video shows a hacker accessing a GM vehicle equipped with OnStar RemoteLink.

Infotainment systems supplier Harman International insists that a security issue that led to the recall of 1.4 million vehicles last month is limited to products sold by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The problem was discovered by a pair of cybersecurity experts who used the vulnerability to take control of a Jeep Cherokee, at one point sending the vehicle skidding into a ditch. The revelation led to a recall by FCA and has triggered an investigation by federal regulators who have grown concerned about the threat hackers pose to increasingly high-tech automobiles.

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Separately, another security expert has posted a video on YouTube showing how he claims he can hack into General Motors’ OnStar technology.

“We do not believe this problem exists in any other car outside of Fiat Chrysler,” Harman Chief Executive Dinesh Paliwal says, referring to the security hole in some of the maker’s infotainment systems.

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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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