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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.

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Silverado v. Ram Heating up Over Incentives

Could Ram outsell Silverado consistently?

by on Apr.04, 2014

The amount of incentives Chevy and Ram have put on their trucks to entice buyers has become a point of contention in the analysis of Ram outselling Silverado in March.

The Ram celebrated its best-ever sales month in March, highlighted by the fact it actually outsold the Chevrolet Silverado for the first time on a monthly basis in 15 years.

Ram sold 42,532 trucks compared with Chevy’s 42,247 Silverados last month. In discussing the flip-flop, GM officials suggested that its competitor bought market share with heavy incentives on its trucks.

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Critics of the call out noted that Chevy turned right around, extended its current incentives, which were due to expire in April, and plunked more cash on the hood of selected Silverado models to ensure it takes back second place in the monthly truck sales race. Ford sold 70,940 F-Series models during the month, which was up 5% on year-over-year basis. (more…)

Ram Diesel Claims Lead in Truck Fuel Economy

But will Ford take the lead with aluminum F-150?

by on Feb.04, 2014

The Ram EcoDiesel is leaving competitors behind with its 28 mpg highway rating.

In the race for supremacy in the enormously profitable full-size pickup truck market fuel economy has become an increasingly competitive issue – and is likely to become even more important going forward, so makers that once put horsepower and towing limits atop their ads are now just as likely to emphasize mpg.

That’s meant some significant changes in truck design, with a growing emphasis on so-called “lightweighting,” and the emergence of a new generation of higher performance V-6s, such as the Ford EcoBoost V6 that has left competitors domestic and foreign scrambling.

Fuel for Thought!

But Chrysler has struck back with its new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, landing a string of kudos, including the coveted Motor Trend Truck of the Year. And now, Chrysler is claiming what could be an even more significant victory, the EPA giving the diesel version of the Ram a car-like 28 mpg Highway Cycle mileage rating – the best ever recorded for a full-size half-ton pickup.

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Ford Considering Downsized F-Series Pickup

But Detroit maker looks at car-based alternative.

by on Feb.22, 2013

Ford has yet to find a replacement for the old Ranger, which ended its long production run in 2011.

When Ford announced it would finally pull the plug on the long-lived Ranger compact pickup a few years back, many expected the maker would simply replace it with the all-new Ranger model it had develop for worldwide use, launching it into production in Thailand in 2011.

Surprisingly, Ford stressed it had no intention of offering a new Ranger in the U.S. market, insisting that for the price it would have to charge for the global Ranger model buyers would all but certainly opt for the bigger F-Series, long the American market’s most popular truck. Indeed, there’s been a steady shrinkage of the compact pickup segment over the years, buyers either upsizing or abandoning trucks entirely, Ford officials insist.

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So how respond to General Motors’ decision to deliver an all-new Chevrolet Colorado, never mind the ongoing presence of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier? By shifting into an entirely new direction, Ford officials hint, that was pioneered by Honda with its distinctive Ridgeline pickup.

In other words, what some are dubbing the Ford F-100 just might adopt a crossover, or car-based, platform, a senior marketing executive reveals. That might seem a surprise considering the mixed response the Honda Ridgeline has generated.

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Chrysler Predicts $14 Billion in Earnings by 2014.

CEO Marchionne insists he will eventually repay governments.

by on Nov.05, 2009

Just months after the automaker emerged from bankruptcy, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is predicting an operating profit in 2010.

Just months after the automaker emerged from bankruptcy, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is predicting an operating profit in 2010.

Less than five months after emerging from bankruptcy, Chrysler Group LLC has laid out an aggressive turnaround plan that will, if successful, more than double its North American sales, restore most of the market share it has lost in recent years, finally position it as a serious global player – and generate as much as $14 billion in profits over the next five years.

During an all-day session that explored the minutia of a far-reaching turnaround plan, Chrysler’s new CEO Sergio Marchionne promised no miracles but insisted that even using conservative estimates for the recovery of the U.S. market, Chrysler could be back in the black on an operating basis next year, and turn a net profit in 2011.

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In a message likely to be particularly well received by taxpayers worried about the $80 billion in money used to bailout Chrysler and General Motors, Marchionne said he expects to pay back the U.S. Treasury by the end of the 5-year bailout program.

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Chrysler Reveals Product Plans 2010 – 2014

Half of all future models will be Fiat-based in a plan that will take several years to implement.

by on Nov.04, 2009

The little Fiat Cinquicento, or 500, will be joining the Chrysler line-up, along with an array of other products derived from the Italian maker's own line-up.

The little Fiat Cinquicento, or 500, will be joining the Chrysler line-up, along with an array of other products derived from the Italian maker's line-up.

“Nobody’s promising a miracle here,” declared Chrysler’s new CEO Sergio Marchionne, as he wrapped up a day-long presentation that went into the minutia of his turnaround plan for the troubled U.S. automaker.

Nonetheless, observers might be excused for thinking otherwise in light of a plan that projects a doubling of Chrysler’s U.S. sales, by 2014, and a huge bump in market share, as well.

The good news is that Marchionne is no novice.  The Canadian-educated executive pulled off a similarly unlikely revival of Fiat, starting nearly six years ago.  Now, the Italian automaker will lend its talent, engineering and financial resources to Chrysler, which it gained control of as part of the U.S. maker’s bankruptcy.

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But most of all, Fiat will lend product, plenty of it, most notably the pint-sized Cinquicento, or 500, which will arrive in U.S. showrooms in 2013.  In all, said Marchionne, wrapping up the eight-hour session, Fiat-derived vehicles will account for roughly 50% of Chrysler’s volume-weighted product mix by the time the five-year revival plan wraps up.

And the European automaker’s diesel and small gasoline engines will make up around 40% of Chrysler’s powertrains.  Smaller displacement engines, and high efficiency technology, such as the Fiat Multiair direct injection system, will combine to boost Chrysler’s fleet averaged mileage 25% by 2014, Marchionne said.

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Nissan and Chrysler Scrap Three Vehicle Programs

Nissan scrambling for alternative for next-gen Titan pickup.

by on Aug.26, 2009

The Titan has never come close to hurting domestic pickup trucks.

Titan never hurt domestic pickup truck sales.

Chrysler and Nissan have decided to part ways, scrapping three joint-vehicle programs originally intended to fill yawning gaps in their respective line-ups.

“For the past several months, teams from both companies have been studying the viability of the projects in light of significant changes in business conditions since the projects were announced in January and April of 2008,” Chrysler said in a brief statement. “Today, it was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects,” it added.

With Nissan officials recently telling TheDetroitBureau.com they were still open to working with their Detroit counterpart, it appears that the announcement was heavily influenced by Chrysler’s new parent, the Italian automaker Fiat. It also appears Nissan is the loser in the latest developments.

Chrysler has already been selling a version of the Nissan Versa through some of its Latin American retail outlets.  And it was originally expected to add another Nissan-based small car to its line-up, next year, in a bid to expand its global presence. Chrysler’s need for both small vehicles was eliminated by its merger with Fiat, which also sells a full-line of small cars around the world.

For the Japanese maker’s product portfolio, its erstwhile collaborator was expected to provide a rebadged and redesigned version of the Dodge Ram pickup truck as a replacement for the slow-selling, loss making Nissan Titan.  The Chrysler-based pickup was to reach Nissan showrooms, in the U.S., by 2011. Now Nissan dealers won’t have a pickup truck to sell.

That particular joint venture appeared to run into snags, according to Nissan’s truck chief, Larry Dominique, about the time it became clear that Chrysler would fall under the control of Fiat, post-bankruptcy.  Indeed, he suggested, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, early this month, that Nissan couldn’t get any clear answer as to Chrysler’s plans – no surprise, suggested other sources, considering the turmoil at the troubled American automaker.

Actually it looks like the vehicle-sharing project was put on hold almost as soon as it started after Renault/Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn expressed reservations about the plan when Chrysler began to run into serious financial problems last fall. Chrysler’s financial difficulties wound up with the company filing for bankruptcy on April 30. After Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June, Fiat gained effective management control of the U.S. car maker and has been pressing ahead with a complete overhaul of its operations.

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