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
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.
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.
Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
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.”
Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
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
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.
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)
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
FCA US LLC EXPLANATORY NOTE ON SALES REPORTING PROCESS 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.
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.
Where there is smoke, there is a possible fire. An internal audit reveals bogus sales at FCA.
Following the news last week that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was under investigation by both the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission over inflated sales, Automotive News has learned from various sources that an investigation done by the company revealed misreported sales numbers.
According to the sources, FCA ordered an internal review last year over their sales reporting. What the review found is "that 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles had been reported as sold by dealers and then "unwound." It is unknown the time period that was covered by the review. After the review, U.S. sales head Reid Bigland attempted to put a stop to the practice. But a source said the overstating of sales has been creeping back in this year due to increased competitive pressures on FCA's field staff. Another source says this increased pressure is causing the turnover rate of FCA's sales staff to be four times higher than the rest of the company.
But why inflate the numbers in the first place? According to the sources, the inflation was to help preserve FCA's of U.S. monthly year-over-year sales increases (which currently stands at 75 months). This run is the longest streak of any automaker and has been a source of pride for them. But interestingly, Automotive News notes that FCA stopped mentioning this fact on its March sales release. This is also the same time they added this disclaimer,
"FCA US reported vehicle sales represent sales of its vehicles to retail and fleet customers, as well as limited deliveries of vehicles to its officers, directors, employees and retirees. Sales from dealers to customers are reported to FCA US by dealers as sales are made on an ongoing basis through a new vehicle delivery reporting system that then compiles the reported data as of the end of each month."
"Sales through dealers do not necessarily correspond to reported revenues, which are based on the sale and delivery of vehicles to the dealers. In certain limited circumstances where sales are made directly by FCA US, such sales are reported through its management reporting system."
Those amazing sales numbers posted by FCA last year are now being investigated by the SEC and DOJ
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is facing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission over their sales reporting practices. Bloomberg learned about the investigation from two sources this morning and since then, FCA has confirmed it.
This investigation stems from lawsuits filed earlier this year by dealers in Florida and Illinois saying the automaker inflated sales numbers by having them file false 'New Vehicle Delivery Reports'. At the time, FCA denied the charges made and is seeking dismissal of the suit.
But as Automotive News notes, FCA added a disclaimer to their sales reports in April about how sales are reported.
“FCA US reported vehicle sales represent sales of its vehicles to retail and fleet customers, as well as limited deliveries of vehicles to its officers, directors, employees and retirees. Sales from dealers to customers are reported to FCA US by dealers as sales are made on an ongoing basis through a new vehicle delivery reporting system that then compiles the reported data as of the end of each month. Sales through dealers do not necessarily correspond to reported revenues, which are based on the sale and delivery of vehicles to the dealers. In certain limited circumstances where sales are made directly by FCA US, such sales are reported through its management reporting system.”
Investigators from the FBI and SEC visited various FCA field staff at their homes and offices on July 11th. That same day saw federal attorneys visit FCA's headquarters to gather information. According to a source, FCA employees were advised not to speak with investigators without counsel.
In a statement today, FCA said that it would "cooperate fully" with the SEC investigation into its "reporting of vehicle unit sales to end customers" in the U.S. It also mentioned that is has received similar inquiries from the DOJ and will cooperate with them.
For better or worse, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne will say whatever comes to his mind. Case in point, saying the next-generation Chrysler 300 could go front-wheel drive.
"This plant and this architecture is capable of making the 300 successor, the front-wheel, all-wheel drive successor," Marchionne told reporters at FCA's Windsor plant - home to Pacifica production.
The architecture in question what underpins the new Pacifica minivan. Now when asked if the 300 would switch from a rear-wheel to a front-wheel platform, Marchionne said, "It's capable. It's not a commitment."
The current Chrysler 300 and its stablemates, the Dodge Charger and Challenger use the LX platform that uses suspension bits from older Mercedes-Benz models - the W211 E-Class and W220 S-Class. This move makes some sense as Chrysler is slowly being positioned as a competitor to the likes of Honda, Chevrolet, and Ford. Plus, it would give Dodge some breathing room to become the performance brand by having a rear-wheel drive platform for themselves.
But who can be sure at the moment since plans at FCA seem to be in a constant state of change.
Source: Reuters Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
We had a feeling this was coming. The Detroit News reports that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be cutting a shift at the Sterling Heights Assembly plant - home of the Chrysler 200 - and laying off 1,420 workers at the plant and a supporting stamping plant. In a statement, FCA explained the cut is “to better align production with demand,” and “a direct result of shifting demand toward trucks and SUVs.”
“Our truck and SUV plants are running six days a week about 20 hours a day,” the company said. “And while 1,300 people will be impacted by layoffs (at Sterling Heights Assembly), we have been able to add 11,000 hourly jobs in Michigan since 2009 to keep up with that demand.”
Since February, FCA has put Sterling Heights Assembly on a temporary shutdown to in an effort to reduce the stockpile of 200s sitting on dealer lots.
FCA says the layoffs will start on July 5th and the affected workers will be placed in full-time positions in other plants “as they become available within the Detroit labor market based on seniority.”
How much will a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica set you back?
Before its arrival at dealers this spring, Chrysler has the revealed pricing structure for the 2017 Pacifica minivan.
The base LX will start at $29,590 (includes a $995.00 destination charge). This undercuts the Honda Odyssey LX ($30,300 with destination) and Toyota Sienna L ($29,750 with destination). Standard equipment includes a backup camera, 17-inch aluminum wheels, power driver’s seat, six-speaker sound system, Stow-N-Go seating, and an active noise cancelation system.
The remainder of Pacifica lineup looks like this,
Touring ($31,490) - Automatic headlights, power sliding doors, and SiriusXM satellite radio
Touring L ($35,490) - Leather seats, heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, remote start, blind spot monitoring, rear crosstraffic alert, and power liftgate
Touring L Plus ($38,890) - rear-seat entertainment system, 7-inch Driver Information Display, 8.4-inch UConnect system, Alpine audio system, power passenger seat, and heated second-row seats.
Limited ($43,490) - HID headlights, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate, ventilated front seats, vacuum, and 3D navigation
“With nearly 40 innovations not offered by any others in its class, the all-new Chrysler Pacifica is the new benchmark in the segment that we invented more than 30 years ago. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offers more features – and at a better value than our key competitors – on each and every trim level,” said Timothy Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands, FCA - North America.
Pricing for the Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid will be announced sometime later this year.
Press Release is on Page 2
All-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Delivers Unprecedented Functionality, Versatility and Technology Starting at $28,595 MSRP
2017 Chrysler Pacifica lineup offers five highly equipped models, starting at $28,595 U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
2017 Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid revolutionize the minivan segment with nearly 40 new minivan firsts
Re-engineered from the ground up on an all-new platform for class-leading ride, handling, and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH)
2017 Chrysler Pacifica brings sculptural styling, beautiful surfacing and highly crafted execution to the minivan segment
Offers more than 100 standard and available safety and security features, including 360-degree Surround View camera, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Hold and Forward Collision Warning-Plus
The most technologically equipped of its kind with available all-new Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment, 8.4-inch touchscreen display and premium audio systems
Full array of comfort and convenience technologies available, including Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum, tri-pane panoramic sunroof, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate and redesigned Stow ‘n Go seating with Stow ‘n Go Assist and Easy Tilt access to the third row
March 10, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica delivers unparalleled levels of functionality, versatility, technology and bold styling – all at a price that bests key competitors.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica lineup features five highly equipped models, starting at $28,595 U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), not including destination.
Not only does the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offer more major standard content at a lower price point than its key competitors, it also offers features not available at any price from the competition. These exclusive features include Stow ‘n Go seating, Stow ‘n Go Assist, heated second-row seats, 20-inch wheels, tri-pane panoramic sunroof, 10-inch seatback touch screens, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, 360-degree Surround View camera, ventilated seats, rotary e-shifter, capless fuel filler, LED fog lamps and headlamps, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate and KeySense programmable key fob.
“With nearly 40 innovations not offered by any others in its class, the all-new Chrysler Pacifica is the new benchmark in the segment that we invented more than 30 years ago,” said Timothy Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands, FCA - North America. “The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offers more features – and at a better value than our key competitors – on each and every trim level.”
Chrysler Pacifica LX The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica LX offers a multitude of standard features at a starting price lower than key competitors.
Standard interior highlights include Stow ‘n Go seats, Stow ‘n Go Assist (driver side), power driver’s seat, Active Noise Cancellation, six-speaker sound system, first-row one-touch up/down windows, second-row power windows and Bluetooth connectivity. Other standard features include ParkView rear backup camera, passive entry, halogen headlamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels and capless fuel filler.
The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica LX has a U.S. MSRP of $28,595, plus $995 destination.
Chrysler Pacifica Touring Building on the standard equipment of the Pacifica LX, the Pacifica Touring adds standard SiriusXM satellite radio, power sliding doors, passive entry on all doors and automatic headlamps.
The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has a U.S. MSRP of $30,495, plus $995 destination.
Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L The Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L offers the key comfort, convenience and safety features customers want, including leather seats, heated first-row seats, remote start, three-zone automatic temperature control, projector headlamps, fog lamps, chrome trim accents and power liftgate. The Touring-L also adds the SafetyTec Group as standard, which includes ParkSense rear park assist with stop, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection.
The all-new Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L has a U.S. MSRP of $34,495, plus $995 destination.
Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus Offering the best-in-class rear seat entertainment system as standard, the Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus also adds additional convenience and technology features, including a 7-inch Driver Information Display (DID), heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, Stow ‘n Go Assist (passenger side), heated second-row seats, 13-speaker Alpine sound system and 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen.
The all-new Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus has a U.S. MSRP of $37,895, plus $995 destination.
Chrysler Pacifica Limited Inside, the Chrysler Pacifica Limited is loaded with memory functions for the Nappa leather seats, audio and mirrors and includes power third-row seats, ventilated front seats, 3-D navigation and Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum – the segment’s most powerful vacuum.
The exterior features HID headlamps, LED fog lamps, power folding mirrors, and handsfree sliding doors and liftgate. The standard tri-pane panoramic sunroof adds to the feeling of spaciousness with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof over the front- and second-row seats and fixed glass pane over the third row.
The all-new Chrysler Pacifica Limited has a U.S. MSRP of $42,495, plus $995 destination.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will be available in dealer showrooms in spring 2016, with the Pacifica Hybrid arriving in the second half of 2016.
Discussions are ongoing with FCA and possible partners to build the next Dart and 200
It was in late January when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would "run their course”. A diplomatic way of saying we wouldn't see a second-generation of either model. But Marchionne mentioned that both models could continue on if a partner was found.
Motor Trend has learned that FCA is currently with potential partners, although who isn't mentioned.
“There are discussions going on now. I think we will find a solution. We continue to talk. It’s both a technical solution and an economic one. We need to find a solution that works economically,” Marchionne said to Motor Trend on the floor of the Geneva Motor Show.
The key thing FCA is looking for in a partner to build their small cars is someone “who is better at it than we are and who has got capacity available.”
This comes on the heels of FCA announcing an extension of the temporary shutdown at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan - home of Chrysler 200 production. The plant was shut down on February 1st and workers were expected to return on March 14th. This was to help cut down on the massive supplies of 200s sitting on dealer lots. FCA has decided to extend it by three weeks to April 4th.
A FCA spokeswoman tells Reuters the reason for the extension is to match supply with demand. At the start of this March, FCA had a 147 day supply of 200s. This is an improvement from February where there was a 217 day supply.
Mixed year in earnings and big changes for the five-year plan
Today was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' earnings report day and the results for the past year was a bit mixed.
FCA reported a profit of 377 million euros (about $410 million) for 2015. This is a large decrease compared to the 632 million euros (about $689 million) profit for 2014. FCA attributes the decrease to investment costs and a large number of recalls on their vehicles.
For the year, FCA said reported adjusted earnings increased 39 percent to 5.3 billion euros (about $5.75 billion) thanks to a strong performance in North America and a European market that is recovering. Total global deliveries for 2015 were 4.6 million vehicles. This is in line with 2014, but falls slightly short of FCA's goal of delivering 4.8 million vehicles.
Along with the announcement of earnings, FCA has updated its five-year business plan. Here are the highlights:
FCA will be shifting North American production capacity to produce more SUVs and trucks. The reasoning behind this comes down to the company believing low fuel prices will be “permanent” and expects the trend of consumers going toward utility vehicles and pickups to continue.This move will affect the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne both “will run their course,” likely meaning we will not see a second-generation of either model.
[*]Alfa Romeo's product plans has been realigned once again (insert shocked face here -WM)
Reason for this comes from "uncertainties" in China and giving the brand extra time to "guarantee proper global distribution network execution."
Manufacturing, product investment, and R&D investments slimmed down till 2018.
The planned product lineup (including a hatchback, full-size sedan, two utility vehicles, and two speciality vehicles) will now be completed by mid-2020
The Guila is still planned to go into production and launched this year.
A midsize utility vehicle will be launched late 2016/early 2017
[*]The next-generation Jeep Wrangler will be coming out in 2017 with a variety of new powertrains and a pickup version. 2018 will see a mild-hybrid and diesel powertrain options being available. 2022 will see a full-hybrid Wrangler. This is part of a plan to meet new regulations.
[*]Ram is also expected to get a mild hybrid system sometime in 2020 or so
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2, The Detroit News
The hybrid system found in the Chrysler Pacifica could go into smaller vehicles
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have been a bit behind the curve when it comes to alternative powertrains. But the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid shows the company is beginning to catch up.
Speaking with The Truth About Cars, FCA's global hybrid chief Michael Duhaime said that hybrid power found in the next-generation minivan is very scaleable.
“This’ll be the largest footprint — in the Pacifica. As we get into the smaller vehicles, basically what we’ll do is put smaller electric motors. The power electronics is part of the transmission … all that stays consistent. We’ll just go with smaller motors, and then the final drive will change with the different vehicles,” said Duhaime.
Compared to the old two-mode hybrid system, the new system uses planetary gears to increase variability and efficiency for the three modes, not a set of fixed gears. Also, the new system can be used in a number of front-wheel drive models. Two-Mode was never used on a front-wheel drive vehicle, only the four-wheel drive Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.
FCA slapped with lawsuit accusing the manufacturer of racketeering.
Two Chicago area dealership groups have filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles accusing the auto manufacturer of falsifying monthly sales figures in the U.S. FCA says the allegations are without merit.
FCA has reported 69 monthly sales gains in the years since its bankruptcy in 2009.
In the lawsuit, the one of dealerships claim that they were offered $20,000 to falsely report the sales of 40 new vehicles on the final day of a month. Those sales would then be backed out on the first day of the next month preventing the warranty clock on those vehicles from starting.
The lawsuit further alleges that FCA rewards dealers who falsify the sales reports with a greater allocation of the best selling vehicles.
FCA's CEO Stops Talking About Mergers, Focuses On the Five-Year Plan
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is giving it a rest when it comes to merger talk. Speaking with Bloomberg, Marchionne says he will focus on growing FCA through 2018. After 2018, Marchionne could retire from the company.
Last year, Marchionne campaigned publicly for a merger of FCA and General Motors. GM's board looked at his proposal in the summer and rejected it. After this, Marchionne backtracked somewhat, saying the merger could generate $30 billion a year in cash.
But now, Marchionne says any chances of a possible GM merge are done.
“I met Mary Barra less than a month ago in Washington. I don’t think I will have another coffee with her. It won’t happen again in the future.”
Of course, the talk of merging with GM must have brought some other companies out of the woodwork? Marchionne explained that he did get proposals, but were deemed not very attractive. He still believes a big merger is possible, but "it will be someone else's duty."
Now with the merger stuff mostly out of his system, Marchionne will focus on finishing the current five-year plan for the company. His overall goal is to increase global deliveries to seven million units a year by 2018. To achieve this, FCA will invest around $52 billion for new products.
Changes Could Be Affoot for Chrysler's Future Lineup
FCA's second five-year plan had some interesting products for Chrysler, including a new compact called the 100 due in 2016. But there could be some changes in store for Chrysler's lineup due to current situation in the market.
Allpar reports that investor presentation mentioned that Chrysler's future lineup was “under re-evaluation”. Causes for the re-evaluation include fuel prices going down and are predicted to stay there for the next few years, the increasing popularity of crossovers, and the decline in small car sales.
The original plan for Chrysler in the second five-year plan included,
Compact 100 sedan to be launched in 2016
Next-generation minivan to be launched in 2016, with a PHEV to follow a year later
New full-size crossover to be launched, with a PHEV in 2017
200 sedan is refreshed in 2017
Midsize crossover is launched in 2018
Next-generation 300 is launched in 2018
Allpar believes that the 100 might morph into a crossover, complementing the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade. But there could be the possibility of 100 being sold elsewhere in the world and not the U.S. and Canada. The midsize crossover is speculated to be the replacement for the Dodge Journey and is expected in the near future.
Not a pleasant day at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as the company was handed a $70 Million fine by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report death and injury claims to regulators.
Now this penalty comes from FCA admitting to NHTSA that it failed to provide Early Warning Report data to NHTSA over several years starting in 2003. Now this is required by the TREAD Act of 2000 where an automaker provides claims of death and injuries, warranty claims, consumer complaints and field reports of safety issues as a way to identify a possible defect.
Automotive News reports that FCA has brought in a third-party to do an audit of its reporting failures.
“FCA US LLC accepts these penalties and is revising its processes to ensure regulatory compliance. However, FCA US is confident that it identified and addressed all issues that arose during the relevant time period, using alternate data sources.” FCA said in a statement.
This new fine is in addition to a $70 Million penalty that FCA agreed to pay in July to settle a probe by the U.S. government into a pattern of violations found in FCA’s handling of 23 recalls since 2009.
It is now official; the UAW and FCA have a new contract. This morning the UAW announced the 77 percent of its members at FCA approved a new four-year labor contract. This comes three weeks after a majority of UAW workers voted down the first agreement reached by the two parties.
“The recent bargaining process that took place on behalf of our members at FCA is a testament to the UAW’s democratic values and commitment to our members. The resolve of our membership and the dedication of our negotiating team has produced an agreement that affords UAW members a strong wage package and job security while still allowing the company to competitively produce high quality vehicles for our customers," said UAW President Dennis Williams in a statement.
So what does the new contract entail? According to the Detroit News, the new contact features a plan to end the two-tier wage program, a larger signing bonus, and cutting the proposed health care co-op.
"I think this contract was presented much more clearly. It included larger raises for the people who were considered tier two before and are now called 'in progression workers,' and it was much more clear about what changes were being made to health care," said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
So with FCA all done, the UAW turns its attention to the next automaker. Who is that lucky automaker? According to Automotive News, that happens to be General Motors
Source: Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Automotive News (Subscription Required)
The next-generation Chrysler Town and Country has been kept under wraps for most part. That was until earlier this week when The Windsor Star was somehow able to get shots of the next-generation van as it was being loaded into a transport truck at the Windsor Assembly line.
From the couple of shots published, we can tell that the next-generation van will be using design from the 700C shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012. The front looks to have a similar shape the 200 sedan, while parts of the side match up to the 700C concept.
Its expected that we'll be seeing the production version of the Town and Country at the Detroit Auto Show.
Before the deadline, FCA and UAW Announced They Have Agreed to Another Deal
Last night was a tense time for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as the clock was ticking to a 11:59 PM deadline before the contract extension for 40,000 UAW workers would end. But FCA and the UAW announced this morning they have reached another tentative agreement. The deal now heads to members to be voted on.
“We heard from our members, and went back to FCA to strengthen their contract. We’ve reached a proposed tentative agreement that I believe addresses our members’ principal concerns about their jobs and their futures. We have made real gains and I look forward to a full discussion of the terms with our membership,” said UAW President Dennis Williams in a statement.
Details of new contract are not being talked about at this time since members have to vote on it. But Bloomberg reports that entry-level workers - second-tier - will now have a top wage of $29 per hour. In the previous contact, second-tier workers had a wage cap of $19.50 per hour.
The wage cap increase for entry-level workers addresses was one of main reasons why the first proposed contract for union workers was voted down.
The clock is ticking now as the UAW has issued a strike notice to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that will end a previously agreed upon contract extension tomorrow at 11:59 PM EDT if a new deal for its 40,000 members isn't reached.
FCA issued a statement saying they have received the notice and are continuing discussions with the UAW to possibly alleviate this situation.
The Detroit Fress Press has learned from sources that negotiations between the two groups have broken down and that the UAW negotiators have left the bargaining table.
A number of union members have been wanting a strike since the two groups went into negotiations. How serious is the UAW with the strike. An unnamed UAW official says elected leaders are being asked to pick up picket signs and are meeting with plant officials on keeping machinery running for safety reasons.
What's unclear at this moment is the UAW's plan for the strike? Would it be national strike or would the Union target certain plants?
“They don’t have to go long if they do strike. A strike causes pain on both sides and applies pressure to get back to the table,” said Kristin Dziczek, director of the Labor & Industry Group at the Center for Automotive Research
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
FCA US Statement Regarding UAW Strike Notification
FCA US confirms that it has received strike notification from the UAW. The Company continues to work with the UAW in a constructive manner to reach a new agreement.
UAW Workers At FCA Say No To The Proposed Contract
The United Auto Workers has announced today in a statement that 65 percent of members at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has rejected the proposed contract that was reached by the two parties last month.
“As I said at the press conference: ‘What I love about our organization most of all is that no matter what we do, what action we take, the ultimate decision and the power of the union is our members and they make the final decision,’” said UAW President Dennis Williams.
“That is the design of our constitution and who we are ... We don’t consider this a setback; we consider the membership vote a part of the process we respect.”
The UAW will be meeting with national bargaining committee and FCA council to discuss the issues that caused the rejection and figure out the next move. There are three options on the table that the UAW can choose from: go back to the negotiation table with FCA, move on to Ford and GM, or issue a strike.
FCA said in a statement it was disappointed in the result in the vote.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News, United Auto Workers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Press Release is on Page 2
“As I said at the press conference: “What I love about our organization most of all is that no matter what we do, what action we take, the ultimate decision and the power of the union is our members and they make the final decision.” That is the design of our constitution and who we are. We will gather the issues together; notify FCA that further discussions are needed. We don’t consider this a setback; we consider the membership vote a part of the process we respect. We will be meeting with the UAW-FCA National bargaining committee and council to discuss the issues.”
Statement Regarding UAW Ratification Vote
FCA US is disappointed that UAW members voted not to ratify the tentative agreement.
The bargaining teams on both sides worked hard, for many days and nights, to craft a transformational agreement that would adequately reward the commitment of our workforce while ensuring the Company’s continued success and competitiveness. Striking the right balance in these two objectives has been the most difficult thing to accomplish in these negotiations, but after many hours of dialogue and debate between the UAW and FCA US leadership, the Company felt that a just and equitable compromise had been reached.
The memories of our near-death experience in 2009 are vivid to this day in the minds of most of us at FCA. A large number of new employees have been brought into the Group since then who, thankfully, did not have to endure the pain and sacrifices that were required of the workforce then.
But it is that knowledge and those memories that continuously reinforce the FCA leadership’s resolve to never let those events repeat.
While significant progress has been made since the events of less than seven years ago, much more work remains to be done and challenges remain while new, significant ones surface. The cyclical nature of the automotive business demands that while we must recognize the need for rewarding employees during times of prosperity, we must also protect against the inevitable market downturn. This agreement accomplished both of these objectives.
The tentative agreement was designed to yield a strong and competitive FCA US, thus providing stability for our workforce and opportunity for future growth and investment in an increasingly complex global marketplace.
The Company will make decisions, as always, based on achieving our industrial objectives, and looks forward to continuing a dialogue with the UAW.
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