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    Drew Dowdell

    ...End of the line for the famous Grand Caravan...

    The Dodge Caravan is one of the vehicles that helped saved Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s. Introduced in November 1983, the Caravan, along with the Plymouth Voyager, was based on the K-Car platform championed by Lee Iaccoca.  Chrysler recently re-introduced the Voyager under the Chrysler brand as the low cost entry into the minivan market. The Voyager is a low cost version of the Chrysler Pacifica Minivan that was introduced in 2016.  Dodge continued production of the Grand Caravan as the low-cost model while the Pacifica aims for higher end customers.
    The Voyager, starting at $26,958, will come in three trims, L, LX, and LXi, the last one reserved for fleet buyers. Chrysler has previously taken this two-prong approach of Voyager being the value option and Town & Country being the premium offering during the 2001 - 2007 time frame. Voyager production begins in August 2019 at Chrysler's Windsor Ontario plant and will run alongside the Grand Caravan for now.
    If you're looking for a Grand Caravan, you have some time left.  The Grand Caravan is scheduled to go out of production in May 2020. 

    William Maley

    And yes, the Hellcat models could play a role

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been lagging behind other automakers in terms of electrification, tending to focus more on how many more vehicles they drop the Hellcat V8 into. But that appears to be changing.
    The Detroit Bureau had the chance to speak with FCA's new global powertrain chief, Micky Bly. He said that within the next twelve to eighteen months, FCA would try to reposition itself as one of the industry’s leaders in electrification.
    “We’re not leaders now,” said Bly, “but we will be soon.”
    Bly wouldn't go into detail as to how FCA plans to do this. But we already know that a number of FCA brands have plans for hybrid and electric vehicles - including a new Fiat 500e. Sources also revealed that there is the possibility of the Hellcat V8 being teamed with a mild-hybrid setup that could add 130 pound-feet, and only add around 100 pounds to the overall curb weight. There is also the possibility of a production version of the Chrysler Portal concept, going with a full electric powertrain.
    Source: The Detroit Bureau

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Head of Ram blows the horn...

    At FCA, amid the backdrop of a proposed merger and its subsequent collapse,  a lawsuit has been filed by Reid Bigland, head of the RAM brand and CEO of FCA Canada alleging that FCA has retaliated against Bigland for cooperating in a Federal prob of FCA's sales reporting process. 
    Bigland joined Chrysler in 2006 and in turn took over the reigns of Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Dodge, eventually serving as CEO of FCA Canada.  The lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses FCA of retaliation for not taking the fall for the sales reporting prob.  Bigland claims his compensation has fallen by more than 90% and that the sales reporting process under scrutiny was one that he inherited. 
    The probe of FCA's sales reporting started after two dealerships in Illinois filed a lawsuit alleging they were offered cash in return for reporting falsely inflated sales numbers. From that lawsuit, FCA was forced to recount and re-report its previous sales reports.  The Security and Exchange Commission continued its investigation and Bigland cooperated. 
    Bigland's position is that the sales reporting methods existed well before he assumed his roles, and he did nothing to change the reporting process already in place.  Bigland claims that the SEC tried to settle with some admission of wrong-doing by the company and Bigland. Bigland declined to admit wrong doing and later sent a letter detailing the sales reporting practices to the SEC.
    Bigland sold his shares in the company in 2018 and he claims that FCA is withholding bonuses to pay for SEC fines if and when they come. 
    For FCA's part they say via Detroit News:
    We'll have more information as it comes out. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...FCA accepts a compromise from the French government...

    The merger between FCA and Renault has crossed another hurdle overnight with FCA agreeing to a compromise with the French government.   The issue surrounded the French government's desire for a guaranteed seat on the company's board of directors and effective veto power on CEO appointments.  In a compromise, Renault would give up one of its own board seats for one occupied by a representative of the French government. The makeup of the board would then be 4 seats allocated to FCA appointees, three to Renault appointees, and one to the French government. France is Renault's largest shareholder with a 15% stake in the company. 
    Additionally, Renault would give up one of its two seats on the 4 member CEO selection committee to the French government. 
    The new proposal goes to Renault's board for consideration. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...50/50 proposal is being reviewed by Renault's board of directors...

    FCA has sent a merger proposal to Renault in what would start as an operational tie-up leading to a full merger. The proposal is a 50/50 deal that will not involve Nissan or Mitsubishi and it estimated to be worth around $33 billion. Few details have been revealed, however, Renault's board said it would issue a press release after the meeting. Rumor has it that Renault is negotiating with FCA without the approval from Nissan or Mitsubishi.
    If the merger does go through, it would happen over the next 12 months and the combined companies would rank 3rd in the world in terms of production, just behind Toyota and Volkswagen.  One complication to the deal is the French government's 15% stake in Renault. FCA has offered a guarantee to keep existing production locations but left the door open for white-collar job cuts. 
    This comes after FCA turned down a merger proposal from PSA back in March of this year. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...worth hundreds of millions for Tesla...

    FCA is paying Tesla hundreds of millions of dollar to pool their vehicles with Tesla to avoid EU fines over emissions. Tesla put out an invitation to other automakers to use its fleet to lower their emissions totals and FCA took them up on it.  Neither company released financial specifics of the deal, but it is estimated by the Financial Times to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  
    Similar to California which allows manufactures with a surplus of ZEV credits to sell them to manufacturers who need them, the EU Commission allows manufacturers to pool together their fleets to avoid paying fines. Tesla makes significant money selling these credits in the US, earning $103.4m in 2018 and $279.7m in 2017. Once set up, the pool in Europe is good for several years.
    Vehicles in 2018 are allowed an average CO2 emission of 120.5g per kilometer. That figure will drop to 95g per kilometer next year.  FCA's average for 2018 was 123g per kilometer, one of the largest off the mark of the 13 major manufacturers. FCA is seen to have fallen to near the back of the pack when in comes to reigning in CO2 emissions.
    FCA was forecast to be facing fines exceeding €2 billion ($2.25 billion) without pooling with Tesla. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...company bosses are no longer talking.

    The rumors that PSA and FCA may merge can be put to bed now.  Sources familiar with the discussion told the Wall Street Journal that executives from the respective companies are no longer in talks.  FCA was reticent about the idea because it would increase the companies reliance on the struggling European market, and the Agnelli family, who has a controlling stake in FCA, was not interested in a deal that was paid for with PSA stock. PSA would need to use equity to pay for FCA because they are still digesting their acquisition of Opel from General Motors. 
    Had they merged, the combined company would produce over 9 million vehicles per year, putting them on a playing field with Volkswagen and Nissan-Renault.  It would also give PSA a much needed foothold into the U.S. market for their planned 2026 re-entry. 

    Drew Dowdell

    Issue was discovered and reported by FCA.

    The EPA has announced that FCA will be issuing a voluntary recall of 862,520 gasoline vehicles in the United States that do not meet emissions standards. The vehicles covered are the 2011-2016 Dodge Journey, 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, 2011-2016 Jeep Patriot and Compass (with CVT and FWD), and 2011-2012 Dodge Caliber.
    Due to the scope of the recall, the fixes will be issued in stages starting with the oldest vehicles. The fix involves replacing the catalytic converter. FCA has stated there are no safety concerns and no fines will be issued by the EPA. 
    The issue was discovered during routing in-use emissions testing by FCA and subsequently reported to the EPA. 
    FCA just settled a claim by the EPA that FCA used a cheat device in its diesel trucks and SUVS. 

    Drew Dowdell

    One way to make the best even better.

    The Chrysler Pacifica is often considered the best of a very small market.  There are only five mini-vans left on the market, and only one of those has all-wheel drive optional, the Toyota Sienna.
    That stat could be changing if rumors about the Chrysler Pacifica prove true.  According to Automotive News, Chrysler is hard at work on an AWD option for the Pacifica.  While not officially confirmed by Chrysler, the union chief for the Windsor plant where Pacifica is built appears to have spilled the beans. If AWD does come to the Pacifica, it may not be until the 2021 model year.
    Adding AWD would be likely help to boost sales in the North East US and in Canada. Chrysler moved 118k Pacificas in 2018 vs. 151k Dodge Caravans which sell at a lower price. Combined, the two minivans are 56% of the total minivan market. 

    Drew Dowdell

    $4.5B for new plant; around 6,500 jobs created

    Fiat-Chrysler announced a $4.5 billion investment today to build a new assembly plant in Detroit and add production at five existing facilities in Michigan. The move will increase capacity for Jeep, Ram, and Dodge Durango. 
    $1.6 billion will go to the Mack Avenue Engine complex to convert the site into a manufacturing facility for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV. This will create 3,850 new jobs. $900 million will go to Jefferson North for retooling and modernization for production of the Dodge Durango and next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. This will create 1,100 jobs. The investment into Warren Truck increases to $1.5 Billion for the production of the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, plus continued production of the Ram 1500 Classic. This will create 1,400 new jobs. In addition to the plant investments, FCA has announced that future Jeep products will be electrified.  All three facilities will be able to produce plug-in hybrid versions with fully electric model capability in the future.  
    The project is contingent on land acquisition near the Mack Avenue plant.  FCA plans to move quickly and start construction on the new facility in late Q2 2019.  When complete, the facility will be the first new vehicle assembly plant built in the City of Detroit since 1991.  The Mack Ave I plant currently builds the 3.0, 3.2, and 3.6 liter Pentastar V6. That production will move to the Dundee Engine Plant. 
    The plan would bring around 6,500 total jobs to the region.
    FCA Press Release on Page 2

    FCA to Expand Production Capacity in Michigan to Grow Core Brands, Electrify Jeep® Vehicles

    $4.5 Billion to Build New Assembly Plant in Detroit and Add Production at Five Existing Michigan Facilities, Creating Nearly 6,500 Jobs
    FCA total committed investments in the U.S. grow to nearly $14.5 billion since 2009, with nearly 30,000 jobs created to date Investment would be next step in Company’s U.S. industrialization plan, announced in 2016 to expand Jeep® and Ram brands Introduces two new Jeep-branded “white space” products in key market segments Enables electrification of new Jeep models $1.6 billion investment would convert Mack Avenue Engine Complex into manufacturing site for next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV, creating 3,850 new jobs $900 million investment at Jefferson North to retool and modernize plant for continued production of Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee with 1,100 new jobs expected Warren Truck 2017 investment increases to $1.5 billion for production of all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, as well as continued assembly of Ram 1500 Classic with addition of 1,400 new jobs All three assembly sites would also produce plug-in hybrid versions of their respective Jeep models with flexibility to build fully battery-electric models in the future Sterling Stamping and Warren Stamping plants to receive more than $400 million total investment to support additional production, potentially creating about 80 new jobs at Sterling $119 million investment to relocate Pentastar engine production currently at Mack I to the Dundee Engine Plant; production at Mack would end by Q3 2019 Projects contingent on land acquisition and the negotiation of development incentives with the cities of Detroit, Sterling Heights, Warren, Dundee and state of Michigan City of Detroit has 60 days to deliver on commitments outlined in Memorandum of Understanding related to Mack and Jefferson North projects February 26, 2019 , London - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) confirmed today plans to invest a total of $4.5 billion in five of its existing Michigan plants, and to work with the city of Detroit and state of Michigan on building a new assembly plant within city limits. The move would increase capacity to meet growing demand for its Jeep® and Ram brands, including production of two new Jeep-branded white space products, as well as electrified models. The proposed projects would create nearly 6,500 new jobs.

    The plant actions detailed in today’s announcement represent the next steps in a U.S. manufacturing realignment that FCA began in 2016. In response to a shift in consumer demand toward SUVs and trucks, the Company discontinued compact car production and retooled plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to make full use of available capacity to expand the Jeep and Ram brands. Those actions have resulted in the recent launches of the award-winning all-new Jeep Wrangler and all-new Ram 1500, and the introduction of the newest member of the Jeep family, the all-new Jeep Gladiator, at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

    “Three years ago, FCA set a course to grow our profitability based on the strength of the Jeep and Ram brands by realigning our U.S. manufacturing operations,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, FCA N.V. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in that strategy. It allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.”

    The city of Detroit has 60 days to meet the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding, which requires the acquisition of property critical to the execution of the Mack project. The additional investments are subject to the successful negotiation and final approval of development packages with the state and other local governments.

    Plant Investment Details
    FCA would invest $1.6 billion to convert the two plants that comprise the Mack Avenue Engine Complex into the future assembly site for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, adding 3,850 new jobs to support production. The Company intends to start construction of the new Detroit facility by the end of Q2 2019 with the first three-row vehicles expected to roll off the line by the end of 2020, followed by the all-new Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021.

    Also as part of this announcement, the Jefferson North Assembly Plant would receive an investment of $900 million to retool and modernize the facility to build the Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. FCA expects to create 1,100 new jobs at Jefferson North.

    The reborn Mack facility would be the first new assembly plant to be built in the city of Detroit in nearly three decades. In 1991, Jefferson North was the last new assembly plant built in the city. When complete, Mack would join Jefferson North as the only automotive assembly plants to be located completely within the city limits of Detroit.

    The Pentastar engines – the 3.6-, 3.2- and 3.0-liter – currently built at Mack I would be relocated to the Dundee Engine Plant as part of a $119 million investment. Pentastar production at Mack I would end by Q3 2019. Mack II has been idle since it ceased production of the 3.7-liter V-6 in September 2012.

    FCA also confirms the investment at Warren Truck to retool for production of the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, announced in 2017, along with their electrified counterparts, would increase to $1.5 billion. Production is expected to launch in early 2021. In addition to the new Jeep models, the plant would continue building the Ram 1500 Classic, which is being extended to meet market demand. It is expected that 1,400 new jobs would be added. As a result of this investment announcement, production of the all-new Ram Heavy Duty will continue at its current location in Saltillo, Mexico.

    To support the additional production, the Company’s Warren Stamping (Warren, Michigan) and Sterling Stamping (Sterling Heights, Michigan) plants would receive investments of $245 million and $160 million, respectively, with Sterling Stamping expected to add more than 80 new jobs.

    This investment is part of the Company's capital spending plan presented in June 2018.

    Realignment of FCA U.S. Manufacturing Operations
    Over the past two years, FCA has realigned production at four plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan to increase capacity for the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 light-duty truck, and created additional manufacturing capacity for the Jeep Gladiator in Ohio.

    The investments included:  $350 million in the Belvidere Assembly Plant (Illinois) to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which moved from Toledo, Ohio, in 2017. More than 300 new jobs were added to support production, which launched in June 2017. $700 million in the Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio) to retool the North plant to produce the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. Approximately 700 new jobs were added to support production, which began in December 2017. $1.48 billion in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (Michigan) to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, adding more than 700 new jobs. Production of the new truck began in March 2018. Production of the Ram 1500 Classic continues at Warren Truck (Michigan). $273 million in the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex to prepare the facility to produce the all-new Jeep Gladiator. The new truck is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.   In total, FCA has committed to invest nearly $14.5 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations, creating nearly 30,000 new jobs since June 2009.

    William Maley

    Van to based on 2017 Portal Concept

    The Chrysler 300 will disappear in two years according Automotive News. Their annual future product pipeline reports that Chrysler will eliminate the 300 from their lineup in 2020. No replacement is planned. This follows rumors we've been hearing for the past couple of years that the 300 would be bumped off.
    But this presents a big problem for Chrysler. Without the 300, the only car in the lineup is the Pacifica minivan. But Automotive News says there is a model to take its place. It will be a fully-electric minivan based on the Portal concept that debuted at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas. The report says expect the concept to retain the reconfigurable interior that seats up to six people and possibly the sliding French doors. Production is expected to begin in 2020.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley

    Marchionne answers a number of questions on the future of FCA

    For the past few years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne holds a conference with journalists and analysts at the Detroit Auto Show, taking various questions. According to Motor Trend, Marchionne revealed that more crossovers are on the way for Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and Ferrari.
    Alfa's Three-Row Crossover: Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Alfa Romeo is working on a larger SUV to sit above the Stelvio. He says this model is very important for the brand. As we reported towards the end of December, the model would use a stretched version of the Stelvio's platform and possibly feature a mild-hybrid powertrain.
    Chrysler's Pacifica-based crossover: It seems the platform that underpins the Pacifica will be used for a long-promised crossover. The model was in the previous five-year plan for FCA, but was pushed back. The model will be in the next five-year plan (expected to be shown sometime later this year) and could go into production within the next 18 months.
    Ferrari SUV: Progress on Ferrari's upcoming SUV is moving quite quickly as Marchionne said it would be ready by the end of 2019 or early 2020. At the moment, the Italian automaker has mock-up bodies of the SUV, but nothing driveable.
    “I have seen the car when I was in Europe. It’s not finished. It’s going to be Ferrari. It will drive like a Ferrari or I’ll be taken to the shed. But it looks good,” said Marchionne.
    Other bits from Marchionne:
    When asked about a performance electric vehicle, Marchionne said, “Ferrari has looked at this forever, and if there is an electric supercar to be built, Ferrari will do it,” FCA hasn't "found an economic way to get this done” when asked if there was the chance of a midsize Ram pickup. Wrangler Pickup is expected to debut towards the end of 2019 Marchionne is planning to retire as FCA CEO next year The most pressing question asked during the session? Where does he buy his sweaters? Answer: Online. Source: Motor Trend

    William Maley

    We have some clarification on the right-hand drive mess at FCA

    On Friday, we brought you the news that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be pulling Chrysler and Dodge from South Africa.
    "This unfortunate situation has arisen from our principals in the USA no longer building Chrysler or Dodge vehicles in Right Hand Drive configuration," the company told Wheels24.
    But there was a wrench thrown into this story, courtesy of FCA's Australian office. 
    “I am not at liberty to comment on South Africa’s decision. What I can tell you is that Australia will continue to sell the right-hand drive Chrysler 300 as an ongoing product in our lineup. In relation to Dodge, at this stage, this brand is represented as a parts and service operation only,” said FCA Australia's manager of public relations Alessia Terranova.
    This left us confused. Was FCA ending RHD production or not for Chrysler and Dodge models? Thankfully, we might have some clarity.
    “We do continue to build the Chrysler 300 RHD at the FCA Brampton Assembly Plant,” said Lou Ann Gosselin, head of communications for FCA Canada to The Truth About Cars.
    It seems for the time being, FCA will continue to build RHD variants of the 300 which plays into the comment made by FCA Australia. We're wondering if there was some sort of miscommunication that to this confusion.
    We also need to note that Chrysler isn't a big seller. To use Australia as an example, Chrysler has only sold 210 300s so far this year.
    Source: The Truth About Cars

    William Maley

    What are you doing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?!

    If there is one thing that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is consistent on, it is their ability to change their future plans on a whim and cause us to scratch our heads. Case in point, Automotive News has learned that FCA has ditched plans on moving the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger/Challenger to the Giorgio platform - what underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Instead, all of the models will get will one more refresh in 2019 that will cut weight and boost fuel economy. There is also talk about the 300 getting the option of the Hellcat V8 because FCA thinks we don't have enough vehicles with it?!
    In 2021, the Charger and Challenger will be (finally) redesigned. They'll be based on the platform the underpins the Maserati Ghibli. There is no mention about the 300 moving to this platform, possibly hinting that the 300 will be shown the door - something we reported on back in November.
    Will there be any Chrysler or Dodge model that will use the Giorgio platform? Yes and that will be the next-generation Journey that is possibly arriving in 2019.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2

    William Maley

    Except in California

    There is a huge difference between hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. So it seems interesting that Chrysler will be dropping the plug-in part of the Pacifica Plug-In hybrid in their marketing for almost all of the U.S.
    Bloomberg reports that Chrysler will advertise the Pacifica PHEV as the Pacifica Hybrid for the majority of the country. The reason is that most Americans see 'plug-in' and think limited range. For the record, a plug-in hybrid can run on electric power alone for a time. Once the battery is depleted, the gas engine will kick on to provide propulsion and charge the battery.
    There is one exception to this plan, California. Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA's passenger-car brands in the U.S. tells Bloomberg buyers in the state understands what a plug-in hybrid vehicle is.
    “People here see it as a benefit and understand that that’s worth more,” said Kuniskis.
    Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds echo's Kuniskis' statement, saying Californians under the value of plug-in hybrids. It doesn't hurt that plug-in hybrids qualify for government incentives.
    “In California, it’s not seen as something that’s negative. It’s seen as like ‘that’s cool, that’s progressive,’” said Caldwell.
    In due course, Chrysler will be marketing the Pacifica PHEV as plug-in hybrid in the rest of the U.S. once more consumers become educated on what plug-in hybrid is and isn't.
    Source: Bloomberg

    William Maley

    What is up with this 300 SRT?

    The internet went mad yesterday when spy shots of a unique 300 SRT mule was caught.
    The pictures - caught at an apartment complex and on the highway - show a 300 SRT sporting some wider fenders and a set of drag radials. The spy photographer notes the wheels fitted to the 300 are the same ones that Dodge was using for the early Demon mules. Behind the wheels are a set of four-piston Brembo brakes. Also, the spy photographer says the mule was making engine noises similar to the Charger/Challenger Hellcat.
    What could this be? It might just be an engineering mule that will likely not go into production. Another possibility is Chrysler building a Hellcat version of 300 for certain markets. While Chrysler hasn't sold the 300 SRT in the U.S. for a few years, it is sold in other markets such as the Middle East and Australia. 
    Source: Autoblog, Car and Driver

    Cmicasa the Great


    WASHINGTON -- The EPA has accused FCA of using similar software as, already found guilty VW,  that allowed excess diesel emissions in over 100,000 U.S. trucks and SUVs sold since 2014.
    FCA has declined to comment, and Reuters cites sources that declare that FCA will contest the claims.
    It is common practice for automakers to use secondary emission controls to protect engines from internal damage. When doing so the maker must proclaim and document it to the EPA.
    Currently, Fiat-Chrysler’s 2017 diesels are not certified for sale in the United States, forcing Chrysler to continue selling 2016 models instead.
    On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Volkswagen was fined $4.3 Billion for criminal and civil violations in misleading regulators and selling vehicles that pollute.

    William Maley

    More FCA vehicles are being investigated for rolling away

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn't out of the dog house when it comes to vehicles rolling away. A few months after issuing a recall on a number of models equipped with the stubby transmission lever for rolling away, NHTSA is investigating models equipped with the rotary knob gear selector for the same problem.
    The investigation is looking at the 2013–2016 Ram 1500 and the 2014–2016 Dodge Durango which have the rotary knob selector. NHTSA has gotten 43 complaints about these models moving away. Out of the 43 complaints, 25 have resulted in crashes and another 9 resulted in injuries. NHTSA also says that 34 complaints said the vehicle was moving while in park.
    FCA said it is cooperating with the investigation. In the meantime, FCA and NHTSA are urging owners to engage the parking brake
    Source: NHTSA, Reuters

    William Maley

    The end result after making their announcement six months ago

    Back in May, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made a startling announcement. The two would partner on building 100 specially prepared Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans with Google's autonomous driving technologies to be used for testing. Today, Waymo (the offshoot of Google's self-driving program) and FCA revealed what the van would look like.
    Yes, the van looks a little bit goofy with sensors sticking out on the front fenders and under the grille, along with massive radar dome. Other changes include major modifications to the chassis, electrical system, powertrain, and structure. Considering this took around six months, it is quite the achievement.
    “The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months. They've been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer of Waymo in a statement.
    The vans will join Waymo's test fleet early next year.
    Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
    Press Release is on Page 2

    CA Delivers 100 Uniquely Built Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans to Waymo for Self-driving Test Fleet
    Waymo and FCA reveal first look at fully self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan Program kickoff to full vehicle assembly completed by technical teams in six months December 19, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Waymo (formerly the Google self-driving car project) and FCA announced today that production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans uniquely built to enable fully self-driving operations has been completed. The vehicles are currently being outfitted with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology, including a purpose-built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics and other systems, and will join Waymo’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017. Waymo and FCA also revealed today the first images of the fully self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicle. 
    This first-of-its kind collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate Waymo’s fully self-driving system into the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan thereby leveraging each company’s individual strengths and resources. Engineering modifications to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were implemented to optimize the Pacifica Hybrid for Waymo’s fully self-driving technology.
    “The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo. “They've been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”
    Waymo and FCA co-located part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the overall development process. In addition, extensive testing was carried out at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as Waymo test sites in California.
    “As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”
    Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94 percent of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help FCA and Waymo better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.

    William Maley

    Down under, the 300 could be seen in police livery

    As the Ford Falcon and current Holden Commodore head off into the sunset, Australian police departments are wondering what should replace them. V6 models were used for patrol duty, while V8 models would be used for pursuits. One possibility is the Chrysler 300.
    “With the going away of Australian manufacturing, from potential fleet customers we’ve had a lot of enquires for the 300,” said Steve Zanlunghi, head of FCA Australia to Car Advice.
    “Specifically we’ve had the police come to us, asking for a bid, if it would make sense.”
    Zanlinghi didn't mention whether the police were interested in the V6 or the 300 SRT with a 6.4L V8. Our possible guess is that the police are interested in both.
    The Chrysler 300 isn't the only vehicle under consideration by Australia's police forces. The Ford Mustang is a possible contender for replacing the V8 Commodore and Falcon. Both Kia and Holden have been in talks about having the Sorento and next Commodore be used for police duty. Meanwhile, the Queensland Police have opted for the Hyundai Sonata to take the place of their current six-cylinder fleet. The turbo version is under consideration for possible pursuit duty.
    Source: CarAdvice
    Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

    William Maley

    Coming soon, an autonomous ride-sharing service using Chrysler Pacificas?

    Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made waves earlier this year when it was announced the two would build 100 autonomous prototypes based on the all new Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid. Now the two could be working together on a ride-sharing service using autonomous vehicles.
    Bloomberg has learned from sources that Google will deploy a semi-autonomous vehicle, most likely the Pacifica possibly towards the end of 2017 for this new service. The sources go on to say that Google will need more than 100 vehicles that FCA agreed to in their original deal.
    This comes on the heels of Google's announcement today that it will be spinning off their autonomous vehicle project into a new holding company called Waymo. During the press conference, CEO John Krafcik said the goal of this new company isn't to make better cars but “making better drivers."
    "We've completed the first versions of these cars and will get them on the road in the near future," said Krafcik when asked about the Pacificas.
    “FCA has been a wonderful partner.”
    Source: Bloomberg
    Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

    William Maley

    FCA's restated sales numbers reveal the 200 sold worse than we first thought

    As Fiat Chrysler Automobiles continues its cooperation with the federal investigation into its falsified sales, they have begun to issue restate monthly sales results. They reveal that the Chrysler 200, a midsize sedan the company was hoping to be a success was even less popular than we first though.
    Automotive News reports that in a three-month period from July to September 2015, FCA reported that it sold 21 percent more 200s (8,577) than the new numbers. To put this in perspective, the second-largest discrepancy in sales was the Dodge Charger with 2,258 over-reported sales. 
    "There was a lot of pressure on the 200 to offset the loss of sales from discontinuing the Dodge Avenger," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific.
    "FCA was under pressure to deliver a midsize car that could compete with the Accord and Camry after they emerged from bankruptcy. They were vilified for not offering competitive cars after we saw gas spike to $4. The 200 was meant to show how FCA was committed to offering passenger cars that could compete."
    There was also a $1 billion investment FCA made into the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to build the 200. There was a lot of pressure for this sedan to succeed and could explain some of the reason as to the inflated sale numbers.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

    William Maley

    The airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioners may not work in the event of a crash

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced yesterday that it would be recalling 1,908,911 vehicles worldwide due to the airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners possibly not deploying in the event of a crash. Approximately 1.4 million vehicles involved in the recall are in the U.S.
    In a statement released by FCA, the issue deals with a specific restraint control module and front impact sensor wiring.
    "The condition may occur when vehicles equipped with a particular occupant restraint control module and front impact sensor wiring of a specific design, are involved in certain collisions. If all these factors are present, there may be an increased potential for occupant injury.”
    The vehicles involved include,
    2010 Chrysler Sebring midsize car 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 midsize cars 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber compact car 2010-2014 Dodge Avenger midsize cars 2010-2014 Jeep® Patriot and Compass SUVs FCA says it is aware of three fatalities and five injuries possibly linked to this issue. The company has also said that it stopped using the affected parts and wire routing in newer vehicles.
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is currently working on a notification schedule to alert owners about the problem. If you have questions, you are asked to call FCA US Customer Care Center at 1-800-853-1403.
    FCA's recall comes a week after General Motors announced a similar recall for 4.3 million vehicles because of a software bug.
    Source: Reuters, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
    Press Release is on Page 2

    Statement: Occupant Restraint Controller
    September 15, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC is voluntarily recalling an estimated 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. to resolve a condition that may prevent air-bag and seat-belt pretensioner deployment capability in certain crashes.
    The condition may occur when vehicles equipped with a particular occupant restraint control module and front impact sensor wiring of a specific design, are involved in certain collisions.
    If all these factors are present, there may be an increased potential for occupant injury.
    This action was prompted by an FCA US analysis of certain field events and other vehicle data. The Company is aware of three fatalities and five injuries that may potentially be related to this condition.
    FCA US no longer uses the occupant restraint controllers or wire routing design found in the affected vehicles, which are:
    2010 Chrysler Sebring midsize car
    2011-2014 Chrysler 200 midsize cars
    2010-2012 Dodge Caliber compact car
    2010-2014 Dodge Avenger midsize cars
    2010-2014 Jeep® Patriot and Compass SUVs
    An additional 142,959 of these vehicles are subject to recall in Canada; 81,901 in Mexico, a population that includes the 2010 Chrysler Cirrus compact car; and 284,051 outside North America, which also includes the 2012-2013 Lancia Flavia midsize car.
    FCA US will advise affected customers when they may schedule service, which will be performed free of charge. Customers with questions may call the FCA US Customer Care Center at (800) 853-1403.

    William Maley

    Come 2017, FCA will not be building any passenger cars in the U.S.

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will produce no more passenger cars in the U.S. early next year. The Dodge Dart will end production in September, while production of the Chrysler 200 will cease in December. This is to make way for more production of SUVs and trucks - Jeep Cherokee at Belvidere, Illinois and Sterling Heights, MI for the next-gen Ram 1500.
    "By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States — if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold — all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne during a call with analysts yesterday.
    Why would FCA end passenger car production in the U.S.? Profit margins. The Detroit Free Press reports this is part of Marchionne's multibillion-dollar plan to match the profit margins seen at Ford and General Motors. Part of the plan involves taking advantage of the popularity of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks in the U.S.; low gas prices, and the lower costs of producing passenger cars in Mexico.
    "When you look at the economics of car manufacturing ...the margins that we were getting from our experience of both the Dart and the Chrysler 200 ...yielded returns that would not, on a competitive basis, match even anything close or remotely close to what we could derive from utilization of those assets in the Jeep or Ram world. So we have made that shift," Marchionne said.
    Despite FCA ending production of both the Dart and 200, Marchionne said he is still looking for a partner to build these vehicles.
    “I think we have made progress. We’re not in a position to announce anything."
    But would any automaker be willing to take up FCA's offer?
    "Who would want to commit to that capacity in their own plant when they didn't sell well when they were new?" said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific to Automotive News.
    "No one wants to build sedans when their own capacity is at a premium and they can't build enough crossovers to satisfy demand."
    Source: Detroit Free Press, Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley

    New sales reporting practices reveal that FCA's sales streak ended in 2013

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is making some major changes in how they report sales and has admitted that their 75-month streak was only 40 months and it ended in September 2013.
    The new sales reporting methodology announced by FCA in a statement will comprise of,
    Sales reported by dealers Fleet sales delivered directly by the company Retail 'other' sales, including those by dealers in Puerto Rico

    Using this new methodology, FCA went back and reviewed past monthly reports and found a 3 percent decrease in sales in September 2013 - a month that it had reported a 1 percent increase. Likewise, in August 2015, sales would have dropped 1 percent - not an increase of 2 percent.
    FCA says its “annual sales volumes under the new methodology for each year in the 2011-16 period are within approximately 0.7 percent of the annual unit sales volumes previously reported.”
    "Recent press reports have raised questions about the manner in which FCA US reports vehicle unit sales data on a monthly basis. These reports have mistakenly suggested that potential inaccuracies in the monthly data somehow impact the integrity of FCA's reported revenues in its financial statements," FCA said in a statement.
    This implies that there isn't a connection between monthly retail sales reporting and revenue disclosures, something the company is being investigated for by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.
    FCA went on to say that individual dealers were to blame for inflating sales and then 'unwinding' the transaction the following month. The company says there isn't any economic incentive for a dealer to do this as any incentives are reversed once the sale is unwound.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
    Press Release is on Page 2

    July 26, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Recent press reports have raised questions about the manner in which FCA US reports vehicle unit sales data on a monthly basis. These reports have mistakenly suggested that potential inaccuracies in the monthly data somehow impact the integrity of FCA’s reported revenues in its financial statements.
    This note is intended to explain how FCA US’s monthly sales reporting process has worked, recognizing the limitations inherent in a process that collects sales data entered by some 2,600 dealers until midnight of the last reporting day of a month and releases the aggregate data typically within 8 hours of the final data entries.
    FCA US believes that its current process has been in place in more or less the same form for more than 30 years, with reporting previously being made every 10 days and eventually evolving into monthly cycles.
    The vehicle unit sales data reported by FCA US is comprised of three main components: (a) sales made by dealers to retail customers; (b) sales of vehicles shipped directly by FCA US to fleet customers and © other retail sales including sales by dealers in Puerto Rico, limited deliveries through distributors and a small number of vehicles delivered to FCA employees and retirees and vehicles used for marketing.
    Dealer Sales
    Retail sales data is collected from the dealers (through a reporting system called the New Vehicle Delivery Report, or NVDR). This system is primarily designed to capture the time of a retail sale for two purposes. First, the date of sale recorded in the NVDR system begins the retail customer’s warranty coverage on the vehicle. Second, the recording of the retail sale in the NVDR system triggers FCA US’s obligation to make any manufacturer’s incentive payments to the dealer. These incentives may be based on the particular model sold, the number of certain models sold in the period and the achievement of certain overall dealer volume objectives.
    These retail sales are made by dealers out of their own inventory of vehicles. This inventory was purchased by the dealers from FCA US before any retail delivery to the customer. Consistent with other automakers’ practices, it is this initial sale -- by FCA US to the dealer -- that triggers revenue recognition in FCA US, and not the ultimate sale of the vehicle by a dealer to a retail customer. It is for this reason that the process of reporting monthly retail unit sales has no impact on the revenue reported by FCA in its financial statements.
    It is possible for a dealer to “unwind” a transaction recorded in the NVDR system and return the vehicle to the dealer’s unsold inventory. This “unwind” results in the return by the dealer of any incentives paid by FCA US to the dealer for the sale and it cancels the beginning of the warranty period. These unwinds may, and in fact do, occur for a number of reasons including: inability of the retail customer to finalize financing for the purchase or a change in customer preferences, among others. It is admittedly also possible that a dealer may register the sale in an effort to meet a volume objective (without a specific customer supporting the transaction). There is, however, no obvious economic incentive for a dealer to do so, since FCA US’s policy is to reverse all incentives due or paid to a dealer that resulted from the unwound retail sales transaction.
    When reporting monthly retail sales in the morning of the first day of the following month, a manufacturer cannot know which, if any, transactions may be unwound after the data is released. Because FCA US believes that most unwinds are recorded shortly following the time the initial sale is registered in the NVDR system, FCA US has not historically reflected either unwinds or the subsequent sales of these vehicles in its sales reporting. As a safeguard against double reporting, however, FCA US blocks the vehicle identification number (VIN) in its NVDR files to ensure that a subsequent retail sale of the vehicle does not enter into any tally of reported sales in any future month (i.e. a vehicle cannot be counted twice as a retail sale by the dealer).
    Fleet and Other Retail Sales
    The other component of the monthly reported unit sales has been vehicles that FCA US delivers directly, principally to fleet accounts, and retail and other sales consisting of limited deliveries through distributors and a small number of vehicles for company and marketing uses. Sales by dealers in Puerto Rico have also been included in other retail sales.
    It has been a matter of historical practice (going back many years before 2009 bankruptcy) for FCA US and its predecessors to maintain a “reserve” of vehicles in this category that had been shipped but not been reported as “sold” in the monthly sales reports. While the origin of this practice is unclear and is being looked into, FCA US believes that it was probably originally designed to exclude from the reported sales number vehicles that were in transit to fleet customers, as well as vehicles that were not yet deployed in the field (because, for example, they were being tailored by the fleet customer or a third party to the fleet customer’s specifications). The rationale for this exclusion, we believe, was to introduce some level of conformity in the reported monthly numbers, since the sales data was intended to reflect vehicles put in use during the month.
    This “not-in-use reserve” has ranged in size from month to month, and resulted from a subjective assessment at month-end. A review of the data suggests that the reserve has always been positive, such that FCA US has always, in the aggregate, reported fewer sales than the aggregate number of shipped units on a running basis. Nevertheless, there appears to be no objective methodology for establishing and maintaining such a reserve and thus several plausible values exist for such a reserve. To the extent that the methodology historically used does not yield a unique value, the outcome is inherently arbitrary.
    Our Evaluation of Past Practices and a Way Forward
    Our review of industry practice has not revealed a standard reporting practice among OEMs in the U.S., although we believe that FCA US’s competitors have used broadly similar approaches in compiling monthly sales data.
    The complexity of this compilation task is unique to the U.S. In Europe, for example, automakers generally report data generated by the national vehicle registration offices on the basis of the number of vehicles licensed by government agencies in a given month. The data is thus verified by a third party and is not subject to interpretation by the automakers. Due to the nature of the U.S. registration system involving 50 states with diverse recording and reporting practices, applying a registration-based system in the U.S. has never been thought to be feasible.
    FCA US has seriously considered simply ceasing to report this sales data on a monthly basis, and to rely only on published quarterly financial statements as a gauge of improvement or deterioration in our U.S. activities. We understand the sales data are used by some market followers, the automotive press in particular, to opine about the state of the industry and we accept that our decision to suspend monthly reporting would impact those constituencies and possibly may impair their perception, and in turn the public perception, of FCA US.
    FCA US has therefore decided to continue monthly sales reporting with a revised methodology.
    Total sales will be comprised of Dealer reported sales in the U.S.; Fleet sales delivered directly by FCA US; and Retail other sales including sales by dealers in Puerto Rico.
    [*]Dealer reported sales (derived from the NVDR system) will be the sum of
    All sales recorded by dealers during that month net of all unwound transactions recorded to the end of that month (whether the original sale was recorded in the current month or any prior month); plus All sales of vehicles during that month attributable to past unwinds that had previously been reversed in determining monthly sales (in the current or prior months).
    [*]Fleet sales will be recorded as sales upon shipment by FCA US of the vehicle to the customer or end user. [*]Other retail sales will either be recorded when the sale is recorded in the NVDR system (for sales by dealers in Puerto Rico and limited sales made through distributors that submit NVDRs) or upon receipt of a similar delivery notification (for vehicles for which NVDRs are not entered such as vehicles for FCA executives and employees).


    The objective of this new methodology is to provide in FCA US’s judgment the best available estimate of the number of FCA US vehicles sold to end users through the end of a particular month applying a consistent and transparent methodology. It continues to include some level of estimation in respect of, for example, unwound transactions that straddle a month end and fleet deliveries, which may be placed into service at various times after shipment and delivery. FCA US believes, however, that the consistency in application and transparency of this new methodology provides the most appropriate data for the limited uses to which the monthly vehicle unit sales data should be applied.
    FCA US has prepared unit sales reports going back to the beginning of 2011 using this approach, and has included the results in the attached Exhibit. The Exhibit also compares the data derived under this new methodology with previously reported US monthly sales data. This comparison yields the following results.
    1. FCA US in March of this year last commented specifically about a “streak” of year-over-year monthly sales improvements since April of 2010. Applying this new methodology, during the periods presented below, year-over-year monthly sales would have declined in September 2013 (-3%), August 2015 (-1%) and May 2016 (-7%). The so called “sales streak” would have stopped in September 2013 (after 40 months) and would have had three additional periods of sequential year-over-year improvements of 22, 8, and 1 month(s).
    2. Annual sales volumes under the new methodology for each year in the 2011-2016 period are within approximately 0.7% of the annual unit sales volumes previously reported.
    3. The monthly adjustments to previously reported sales as a result of the adjustment to deduct sales later unwound and add back sales attributable to previously unwound sales over the period January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016 are a mix of positive and negative numbers which did not exceed 0.5% of the reported data in any month. The maximum numerical reduction from previously reported data was 770 units (0.5% of the month’s volume) in May 2015 and the maximum numerical addition to previously reported data was 437 units (0.4%) in September 2014. The total over the 2011 to 2016 period representing unwound transactions previously reported as sold for which vehicles remain in dealer stock at June 30, 2016, is approximately 4,500 vehicles, or 0.06% of the total volume reported over the period (7.7 million cars).
    FCA US will report its July 2016 sales using the new methodology.

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