Another Piece of the Stellantis Puzzle Falls Into Place
Future small cars from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will not be using an updated version of their small car platform. Instead, they'll be underpinned by PSA Group's Common Modular Platform (CMP).
Automotive News obtained a letter sent by FCA to suppliers in July stating "to immediately stop any research, development and tooling construction activities on future B-segment (small/subcompact) cars." These include the Fiat 500 and Jeep Renegade to give some context. The letter goes on to say it is moving to CMP and that vehicles based on this will be built at the company's Tychy, Poland plant - home to 500 and Lancia Yplilon production.
FCA had already put a stop, albeit a temporary one on developing parts for the five new small cars that were destined to use this platform due to COVID-19. There will be one model that will move forward on this orphaned platform - the upcoming 500 electric for Europe.
As for CMP, this underpins the Peugeot 208 and 2008; Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Mokka; and the DS3 Crossback. It allows for both combustion and electric powertrains.
Moving to CMP is another step towards FCA and PSA Group's merger to become Stellantis. It is unclear whether or not the U.S. will see any of the new models that will use CMP from FCA's brands.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
...Could this be the last new Fiat for North America?...
Fiat's future is uncertain in North America as the brand struggles to find sales. Already, the Fiat 500 has been dropped from the lineup in North America, and that was one of the better sellers. The Fiat 500X is more of a crossover hatchback. It shares its platform with the fantastically more popular Jeep Renegade. Still, even in spite of its sales troubles, Fiat is releasing a refresh of the 500X Sport for 2020.
The new 500x Sport gets new front and rear fascia designs, a black roof option, dark finished headliner and pillars, new sport seating, an updated version of uConnect with a 7-inch display including navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A new exterior color "Rovente Red" is being added.
The 500X Sport is powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged MultiAir III engine. The engine produces 177 horsepower and an impressive 210 lb.-ft of torque while also delivering 30 mpg highway. Fiat points out that this is the only car in the class to have AWD standard and also get 30 mpg highway.
The 2020 Fiat 500X Sport starts at $26,895 before destination charges and will be available in the first quarter of 2020.
The Fiat 500 that helped re-launch the brand in North America has been dropped from the 2020 Fiat lineup according to FCA. The 500 has lingered on with poor sales for years, selling just 1,692 copies in the first six months of 2019. Existing supplies of the Fiat 500 will sustain what demand there is for the little car for months. Continuing on, though unsure as to why, will be the 500X, 500L, and 124 Spider. Why any of those vehicles are continuing while the 500 gets the scythe is unknown... all of them sell even worse than the 500 does.
The 500 first came to the US in 2011 when gas prices were in the $4.00 range in certain parts of the country. It initially enjoyed a bit of a sales rush with over 43,000 sold in 2012, the first full year on the market. That year, however, also turned out to be the best year as sales have been downhill since. We think this announcement, along with the fact that there is unlikely to be a followup to the 124 Spider, could be the beginning of the end of Fiat in the U.S..... again.
SMART just recently announced they will be leaving the U.S. and reorienting towards China. Could Fiat be throwing in the towel in the U.S.? It could be if the signal of investment location is the tea leaf to be read. While the Fiat brand has nearly disappeared in China and rapidly fading in the US, they are targeting the Brazilian market, Europe, and emerging markets in their new 5-year plan.
Fiat has been struggling in the U.S. for year, and in spite of fielding 4 models, Fiat moved just 15,521 vehicles in the U.S. in 2018, a decline of 41% over 2017. Sales continue to fall in 2019, down another 42% YTD as of April 2019.
According to a report in Bloomberg, Fiat is investing $4 billion in South America to expand and build two new SUVs for the South American market. The money will go towards expanding capacity at a Jeep factory in Pernambuco to 350,000 from 250,000 per year as well as building a new factory to build engines. Fiat plans to release 15 new, refreshed, or special series vehicles in Latin America by 2024. Jeep and Ram will get an additional 10.
Latin America is the only region other than North America where FCA made money in first quarter 2019, however Fiat's market share has been falling from first place in 2015 to third place today. At the same time, Jeep has been expanding in South America from near 0% share as recently as 2014. Fiat brand is most popular in Brazil.
While the 5-year plan does not yet signal an exit from the U.S. market, the reorientation of resources to markets other than the U.S. could be a signal that the end could be near for Fiat brand in the U.S.
We can scrap the idea of this new engine being based on the current inline-four engine
Back in October, the rumorpile brought to light plans at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for a new straight-six engine to replace the Pentastar V6. This engine would be based on the new four-cylinder Global Medium Engine (GME) currently used in the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jeep Wrangler. Max displacement is expected to be around 2.9L due to European taxes. We have some new details on this engine.
Allpar is reporting this engine is likely not going to be based on GME due to size concerns. Instead, it will be a new design that will be featuring small bores that are closely spaced, and aluminum hardening instead of steel cylinder linings. The goal is to have the engine be three-inches longer than the 2.4L four-cylinder at most.
The engine is also being designed with turbocharging, with plans to have it either match or exceed the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8. Its speculated that Jeep and Ram models would use a twin-scroll setup, while Alfa Romeo and Maserati models will use a twin-turbo setup. A set of Ferrari-designed heads are expected to appear on Alfa Romeo and Maserati models.
Allpar speculates this engine could appear in the upcoming Wagoneer or the next-generation Grand Cherokee, putting a possible timeframe of 2020 or 2021.
Hasn't been a straight-six engine in a FCA production since the 2007 Wrangler
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is considering replacing the Pentastar V6 with a brand new straight-six engine. A source tells Allpar the new engine will be based on their new four-cylinder Global Medium Engine (GME) - what is found under the hood of the Jeep Wrangler and Alfa Romeo Giulia. This will allow FCA to build the engine alongside the four-cylinder variant.
Not many technical details are known about the engine aside from it being pegged around 2.9L to avoid taxes in certain European countries. We might expect larger displacements for trucks and SUVs. Production could take place at FCA's Dundee and Trenton, Michigan plants. It is expected that Ferrari will use a variant of this engine for Maserati vehicles. No timeframe as to when this new engine could debut.
Allpar also mentions in their report that FCA was considering adding some sort of boost to the Pentastar, but ran into issues with the size and power constraints.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' new CEO Mike Manley has a lot on his plate. He has address multiple challenges in the U.S. that were left by the passing of Sergio Marchionne last month - moving forward with the five year plan, figuring out the future of Chrysler and Dodge; and getting new vehicles out the door. But that doesn't compare to the challenges in Europe.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Manley has a number of issues that need be addressed. The biggest one is improving the overall profitability in the region. Last year, FCA had an operating profit of $5.96 billion in the U.S. In Europe, only $840 million. A key reason for this is that three-quarters of FCA's European sales are made up of Fiat models that have razor-thin profit margins. Each Fiat sold makes an operating profit of €250 ($288), compared to the average of €2,850 ($3,274) for every Jeep and Ram model sold. Alfa Romeo was seen as a possible way to help boost profits, but sales have fallen very short of targets in a market where the likes of the Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz dominate.
“FCA would need a merger to improve the profitability in Europe,” said Martino De Ambroggi, an analyst with Equita told the journal.
Marchionne tried his best to court FCA to other automakers such as GM, but to no avail. Earlier this year, FCA said the search for a possible partner was taken off the table and that it could survive on its own.
There is also the question as to whether FCA has too many workers in Europe. The region makes up about 36 percent of FCA's workforce, but only a tenth of its profit. A key example is FCA's Mirafiori plant which employs 13,000 people, but is on track to build 50,000 vehicles this year. In 1997, the plant produced 463,000 vehicles.
Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
Sergio Marchionne, the former head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles who is credited for saving Chrysler and Fiat has passed away today at age 66 due to complications from shoulder surgery.
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” said FCA Chairman John Elkann in a statement this morning.
Marchionne came into the spotlight back in 2004 when he was named CEO of Fiat. He was Fiat's fifth CEO in less than two years and had a big task ahead of him. The Italian automaker was struggling as it had lost more than 6 billion Euros (about $7 billion) the year before. Marchionne was somehow able to pull Fiat from the brink by closing various plants, laying off thousand of workers, getting a $2 billion payment from General Motors to settle past contractual obligation, and expanding the company's car lineup. It worked as Fiat would become profitable a year later.
In 2009, Marchionne led Fiat to acquire a 20 percent stake into beleaguered Chrysler following the 2008 financial crisis. Only a few years later, Fiat would buy up the rest of Chrysler and become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. He would oversee the reinvention of Alfa Romeo, expand Jeep into other markets, and spin off Ferrari into its own separate company. Other parts of FCA haven't quite worked out, most notably Chrysler and Dodge which has seen both of their lineups shrink.
Marchionne was not like your normal CEO. He was known for wearing black pullover sweaters and jeans which made him stand out at various events. Marchionne was also known for being direct and speaking his mind (for better or worse).
Next April, Marchionne was planning to step down as CEO and announce his replacement. But health complications over the weekend caused FCA to decide his successor. That person would be Mike Manley, head of Jeep and Ram Trucks.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Bloomberg, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Mike Manley has been chosen as the replacement for the seriously ill Sergio Marchionne as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO today. A source tells Automotive News Europe that the decision was made during an emergency meeting of FCA's board of directors today.
"With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours," FCA said in a statement released a few moments ago.
"As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work."
As we reported earlier this morning, Marchionne has been dealing “massive” and serious complications after surgery to his shoulder. Marchionne was planning to announce his successor next April during the company's announcement of 2018 financial results.
Manley joined DiamlerChrysler in 2000 as the director of network development for the UK branch. He would hold various positions at DiamlerChrysler and Chrysler before being named CEO of Jeep in 2009. Under his leadership, Jeep has expanded into other markets and sales have quadrupled. He would also be named CEO of Ram Trucks in 2015.
Manley prevailed over two other FCA veterans: CFO Richard Palmer and COO of Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, Alfredo Altavilla.
Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
July 21, 2018 , London - With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours.
As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.
The Board of Directors of FCA, meeting today, firstly expressed its closeness to Sergio Marchionne and his family and underlined the extraordinary contribution, both human and professional, that he has made to the Company in these years.
The Board resolved to accelerate the CEO transition process that has been proceeding over the past months and named Mike Manley as CEO. The Board will therefore propose to the next Shareholder Meeting, to be called in the coming days, that he be elected to the Board and serve as an executive director of the Company.
In the meantime, in order to provide for his full authority and operational continuity for the company, the Board has with immediate effect granted Mr. Manley all the powers of CEO. He will also assume responsibility for the NAFTA region.
Mr. Manley and his management team will proceed with the implementation of the 2018 – 2022 Business Plan as presented on June 1 of this year, a plan that will further assure FCA’s strong and independent future.
It seems Sergio Marchionne is making a quicker exit than we first thought
*UPDATE* Automotive News Europe is reporting that Jeep and Ram Trucks head Mike Manley will become Marchionne's successor as FCA CEO. We'll have more in an upcoming news story.
The era of Sergio Marchionne leading Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari is seemingly coming to abrupt end. Last night, both Bloomberg and Reuters reported that Marchionne would not return as CEO of the two companies due to complications from surgery. Earlier this month, FCA said Marchionne would be going on medical leave for shoulder surgery. Sources tell Reuters that since the operation, the CEO has been experiencing “massive” and serious complications.
The boards of FCA and Ferrari are meeting today to decide possible successors. According to one source, the new CEO of Ferrari is expected to be Louis Carey Camilleri - currently a board member and former chairman of Philip Morris International. At FCA, there are three people up for consideration - CFO Richard Palmer, Europe chief Alfredo Altavilla, and head of the Jeep and Ram Mike Manley.
Spokespeople for both FCA and Ferrari declined to comment.
In addition to his roles at Ferrari and FCA, Marchionne is the Chairman of CNH Industrial, an agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer. According to sources, the board is expected to meet today to discuss a succession plan.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Bloomberg, Reuters
Rumors of a possible buyer for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have popped up again. Late last week, the Asia Times learned from sources that Hyundai Motor Group CEO Chung Mong-koo is waiting for "an expected decline" in shares of FCA before launching a takeover bid attempt. This is expected to launch sometime between the summer and "prior to the Fiat-Chrysler annual shareholders’ meeting in May 2019."
Reportedly, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne drew Hyundai's attention by using interest from Great Wall Motor.
The deal is being spurred by Paul Singer, the principal of Elliott Management. Singer made headlines in April by pressuring Hyundai to merge with Mobius, their parts' division to create a new holding company and demanded the company to pay investors more than $10 billion in “excess cash.”
Marchionne has been trying his damnedest to try and find a merger partner for the past few years.
Tried to work with General Motors CEO Mary Barra about possibly merging the two companies in 2015, but was turned down.
Rumors about possibly merging with Volkswagen, but was told no.
Various Chinese automakers considered bidding on FCA, but most deny it.
Great Wall was considering only purchasing Jeep. However, plans for this were put on ice
Here is the question we find ourselves wondering about, why would Hyundai consider buying FCA? Aside from getting their hands on Jeep and Ram Trucks (FCA's money makers), FCA would be gaining the most from this possible deal.
To throw another wrench into this, Hyundai is currently in the midsts of a reorganization effort and part of that includes possibly replacing Mong-koo who is 80 years old.
Both FCA and Hyundai declined to comment.
Source: Asia Times
Thanks @regfootball for the news tip
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced their latest five-year plan at an investor meeting in Italy. This is important as it will be the final plan presented by CEO Sergio Marchionne who will retire next year. Aside from news about Sergio actually wearing a tie (I'm being completely serious here -WM), there were some interesting bits to come out. We're going to breaking down what is in store for each brand along with intriguing information that was presented.
Four new models are expected to launch by 2022. They include the Wrangler pickup, Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, a smaller model to sit underneath the Renegade, and a three-row crossover to sit next to the Grand Cherokee.
By 2021, Jeep is planning to have an electrification option on each nameplate by 2021, along with Level 3 autonomous capability - basically a car can drive itself in limited situations, but requires a driver to jump in at a moment's notice.
Diesels will be gradually dropped from the various models, but no timetable was provided.
A new 'hawk will be joining the Jeep family. Deserthawk will be models setup for "high-speed sand running". Think Ford Raptor as an SUV. This will launch in the first quarter of 2020.
Production capacity will increase to keep up with the demand for SUV and crossovers around the world.
Jeep will also introduce Jeep Wave. It's part 'loyalty program' and connected car services, and part subscription service.
The loyalty part grants owners of the Hawk models and Wranglers 'Jeep Coins' when purchasing. The coins can be used to borrow other FCA products. Additional coins will be available for purchase. A pilot program will begin in 2019.
A more traditional subscription service will launch in 2019. Subscribers pay a monthly fee for access to a fleet of FCA vehicles. Three tiers - Good, Better, and Best - determines vehicle selection, insurance, and concierge services.
Jeep will also launch a in-car payment pilot program in 2019 as part of Wave.
A new Ram Heavy-Duty will be arriving in 2019.
By 2022, Ram will have three new/redesigned models: A midsize pickup, redesigned ProMaster City, and the high-performance Ram 1500 TRX. The TRX will compete against the Ford F-150 Raptor.
Both the Ram 1500 and redesigned ProMaster City will come with Level 2 autonomous capability in 2021.
The Alfieri, which was first shown in 2014 as a concept will finally launch it as the replacement for the GranTurismo by 2022. The platform has been designed in such a way that allows for three different powertrains - including a plug-in hybrid and fully-electric version. Maserati claims a 0-100 kph time of two seconds for the electric version.
The Alfieri EV will serve as the flagship for Maserati's new Blue lineup. This is the designation for any Maserati model equipped with a fully-electric powertrain comprised of three motors, new battery tech, and all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. The Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte will also have Blue models.
Redesigns of the Ghibli, Levante, and Quattroporte will arrive by 2022. All of them will have a plug-in hybrid option.
A new, smaller crossover will sit alongside the Levante. It is expected to possibly use the platform that underpins the Stelvio.
Maserati is hoping to sell 100,000 vehicles by 2022, double the current sales volume.
Remember those rumors about the Giulia Coupe? It is real and will be named GTV. Alfa is promising more than 600 horsepower thanks to electric boost, all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, and 50:50 weight distribution.
8C will also be making a comeback as a mid-engine coupe. With a twin-turbo gas engine and electric drive system for the front axle, the combined output will be 700 horsepower. It will also feature a carbon fiber monocoque chassis.
Alfa looks to getting out of the subcompact game as there is no product listed for 2022. They'll be sticking in the compact realm with a new Giuletta.
Two new crossovers will be joining the lineup. One will sit underneath the Stelvio and the other will sit above. We know a little bit more about the larger model as it will be the first model to debut a new mild-hybrid system. It will be underpinned by a stretched version of the Giulia's platform.
Also in the cards are long-wheelbase variants for the Giulia and Stelvio (most likely for China) and plug-in hybrid models.
Fiat got a brief mention during the meeting. There will be a new 500e and a wagon variant known as Giardiniera. Both models will get a new electric powertrain built for small vehicles. The 500L and 500X will come with hybrid powertrains. No time frames were revealed.
"Chrysler is going to continue to be a relevant brand in the United States," said Marchionne when asked about the brand. No mention of Dodge during the conference.
FCA will be working a number of partners on developing autonomous vehicles. This includes an expanded partnership with Waymo, along with new partnerships with Aptiv and BMW.
Diesel will be phased out from all passenger cars in Europe by 2021.
Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Tomorrow will be Fiat Chrysler Automobile's final five year plan being presented under current CEO Sergio Marchionne. We reported on what is expected to be talked about yesterday in the rumor pile. Today, we have gotten a clear picture of what will be presented in the plan.
Automotive News found the schedule for the five-year presentation on a company website before being taken down. The schedule features sections for Jeep, Ram, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Autonomous Driving and Connectivity, and CO2 reduction. Not listed on the schedule were Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat. This unsurprisingly sent a number of people into a tizzy as they see this as a possible hint that these brands are going bye-bye. An FCA spokeswoman said Chrysler and Dodge will be talked about in other presentations "as appropriate." We're not sure this inspires confidence.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Friday will mark the end of an era as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne will present his final five-year plan before he retires next year. Bloomberg has gotten a possible preview of what to expect from various sources.
The overall plan will see FCA focus their resources on "promising niches" instead of competing against such brands as Volkswagen and Toyota in the mass-market. This is possibly seen as a possible plus if FCA was somehow able to partner/merge with another automaker.
Jeep is expected to be the focal point of the new five-year plan. Currently, the brand makes up 70 percent of FCA's profits according to estimates from analysts. Marchionne wants to double the sales of brand by 2022 from 1.4 million vehicles sold last year. To do this, Jeep will expand its presence in Asia, Brazil, and Europe. The lineup will also expand with hybrid models arriving next year. Ram Trucks will also be expanded to other markets around the world. There is also talk about possibly combining Alfa Romeo and Maserati as "a single division in FCA's financial reports." Investors could see as a possible first step to a spinoff.
Meanwhile, Fiat's lineup is expected to be cut down to just 500 and Panda, with sales limited to Europe, Brazil, and emerging markets. This could mean Fiat withdrawing from the U.S. and China due to poor sales. The former could be problem due to dealer contracts. There is also talk about shrinking Chrysler, though we don't know how much smaller it could get aside from just disappearing.
We'll find out more details later this week.
Source: Bloomberg via Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finds itself in a fair amount of hot water over the use of defeat devices in the 3.0L EcoDiesel used in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee with various lawsuits. But that water could become hotter as newly unsealed documents reveal FCA's suppliers discussed the use of illegal software back in 2010.
Sergio Pasini, the controls and calibration director at supplier VM Motori wrote in an email that FCA wanted to use software in their diesel engine that could detect when a vehicle was undergoing emission tests and activate emission controls.
The software known as 't_engine' "is, no matter what Fiat says, a cycle detection," Pasini wrote in the email.
The lawsuit also alleges that another supplier, Robert Bosch GmbH, warned VM Motori about 't_engine' and that they could face “serious penalties” if it was discovered by regulators. Bosch it should be noted is under investigation for its involvement in the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal.
The documents are part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against FCA in San Fransisco which alleges the company misled buyers of the EcoDiesel by "touting the fuel economy and performance of its EcoDiesel engines while cheating on emissions tests to win regulatory approval."
“We continue to cooperate with various governmental investigations related to diesel emissions, and emails such as those referenced have been previously provided to the agencies. It is inappropriate to draw conclusions from isolated communications and internal deliberations, without the more detailed context that is part of the reviews FCA is conducting as part of the investigation process,” FCA wrote in an email statement.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' CEO Sergio Marchionne will be making one final move before his retirement - ending production of mass-market vehicles in Italy.
Sources tell Bloomberg that on June 1st, Marchionne will unveil a plan that will see the end of production for the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Punto to make way for more upscale models. Fiat's historic plant in Turin will be retooled to build a new smaller Maserati SUV alongside the Levante. Another plant nearby Naples will be home to a small Jeep SUV after production of the Fiat Panda moves to Poland. It should be noted that the plan isn't finalized and details could change. FCA declined to comment when reached by Bloomberg.
Part of the reason for the change comes down to Marchionne's belief that there is no future in building affordable cars in high-wage European countries.
The report also mentions that FCA will be cutting Fiat's lineup to just the 500 and Panda in the future
Lawsuits are fun as they bring forth documents that reveal the internal workings of a company. Case in point is a securities case against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Earlier this week, lawyers filed excerpts of an email from CEO Sergio Marchionne to Gualberto Ranieri, the company’s U.S. spokesman sent in 2015. According to Reuters, the email reprimanded Ranieri for making comments about how the company doesn't use defeat devices in their vehicles.
“Are you out of your goddam mind?” wrote Marchionne in the email.
Marchionne also wrote that Renieri's actions were “utterly stupid and unconscionable” and that he should be fired.
In a statement provided to Reuters, FCA said it was “understandable that our CEO would have a forceful response to any employee who would opine on such a significant and complex matter, without the matter having been fully reviewed through its appropriate channels.”
The statement goes onto say the Ranieri's comments come only a few days after it was revealed Volkswagen used defeat devices in their diesel vehicles “and before a comprehensive internal review and discussions with component suppliers was possible.”
The lawsuit against FCA was filled back in 2015 over allegations of defrauding investors by overstating its ability to comply with vehicle safety laws. The company downplayed various safety problems that helped inflate their stock price from October 2014 to October 2015. However, FCA would be fined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over lapses in various vehicle recalls.
An amended version of the lawsuit that claims the company did not fully comply with emission laws was filed last year.
Might be revealed at FCA's latest four-year plan announcement
More and more automakers are beginning to turn away from diesel due to demand for the fuel dropping and the rising costs of making engines compliant. The latest automaker that could be leaving the diesel fraternity is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The Financial Times has learned from sources that FCA plans on eliminating diesel engines from their passenger vehicles by 2022. This will be announced during the reveal of FCA's new four-year plan expected to take place on June 1st. FCA will continue to utilize diesel engines in commercial vehicles (including Ram Trucks), though it is unclear for how long.
FCA declined to comment on this report when asked by Reuters.
Source: Financial Times (Subscription Required), Reuters via Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Maybe we shouldn't let automakers develop infotainment technologies
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pushed out over-the-air update for the UConnect system on Friday and it is causing numerous problems. Jalopnik reports that the update is causing the UConnect system in 2017 and 2018 FCA models to constantly reboot every 45 seconds or so. Owners took to Twitter to vent their frustrations to the UConnectCares account saying how they lost audio, navigation, climate controls, and even the backup camera.
Usually, a prompt would come up when an update is sent out with the ability to choose yes or not. But some owners tell Jalopnik they did not get a prompt, the update automatically installed.
UConnectCares has acknowledged the problem and said there is a fix coming, although when it will come out is up in the air.
It is unclear how many vehicles have this issue. Both Jalopnik and The Verge have reached out to FCA to get an official comment - we'll update you if and when they get it.
In the meantime, there is a temporary solution. The Hooniverse reports that if you input a location into the navigation and mute the audio, the rebooting will stop.
"As per Mister Mailman’s direction, this temporary fix does work well. It’s not perfect because when the system talks, even thought it is muted, it still mutes the driver’s speakers. It also constantly displays directions in the gauge cluster. But both of these are heck of a lot less annoying than constant system reboots," writes Kamil Kaluski on Hooniverse.
Source: Jalopnik, The Verge, Hooniverse
Might we be coming to the end of the EcoDiesel mess?
The U.S. Justice Department has offered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a possible settlement over its emissions-cheating EcoDiesel engine. But it will likely cost FCA a large chunk of cash.
Bloomberg obtained a copy of the settlement offer that was sent to FCA's lawyers. The key detail of the proposed settlement says the settlement “must include very substantial civil penalties” that discourage others future violations and that “adequately reflect the seriousness of the conduct that led to these violations.” The proposed settlement doesn't mention an end of the criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Spokespeople for FCA did not respond for comment.
Bloomberg also obtained a term sheet sent by FCA to Government lawyers back in December. In the sheet, FCA acknowledged that the final settlement would include "civil penalties, an emissions fix for the diesel vehicles and environmental mitigation efforts." The mitigation efforts could include "projects to promote low- or zero-emissions “mobility projects”."
The saga of FCA's EcoDiesel mess dates back to last January when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the automaker of having multiple defeat devices installed on the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - used in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Since then, FCA has been working with the EPA and Justice Department on trying to clear this mess up. The automaker has also brought their 2017 and 2018 models equipped with the EcoDiesel into compliance via new software and hopes to do the same for the older models.
There's progress on cleaning up the EcoDiesel mess
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is trying to put the past behind them with the 3.0L EcoDiesel emission mess. The company has restarted production of the engine for the 2017 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee, and is in the process of getting a fix out there for older models. Now, talks about a possible settlement for owners of the 3.0L EcoDiesel are making some significant progress.
At a hearing yesterday in San Fransisco, court settlement master Ken Feinberg said that proposed settlement documents have been passed between lawyers for FCA and owners of the 3.0 EcoDiesel. The proposal was also discussed at a meeting where the lawyers for both groups were joined by the Justice Department, California Air Resources Board, and supplier Bosch.
“We’re looking for different substantive ways to secure an early comprehensive settlement,” Feinberg said.
“Everybody in good faith is certainly trying to figure out how we might achieve a comprehensive settlement.”
An agreement on a settlement could happen before tests of the proposed fix are finished in March.
Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
Seven years ago, Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) entered into a joint venture Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Currently, the joint venture locally builds the Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade. The venture also imports the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler for Chinese buyers. It has proven to be successful as the venture saw its sales triple to nearly 150,000 vehicles in 2016. Because of this, GAC wants to strengthen their ties with FCA.
"GAC has a real interest in deepening relations with Fiat Chrysler to expand outside China, especially in the U.S. Fiat hasn’t been able so far to catch up with competitors in China, so there is much room to improve," said Vincenzo Longo, a strategist at IG Markets in Milan.
In an interview with Bloomberg, GAC President Feng Xingya said the two automakers are in discussions about deepening their partnership. The key items being focused in the discussions include models, production, and sales targets. Xingya also hinted that GAC wanted to work FCA in the U.S. when it plans to launch their unfortunately named Trumpchi brand by 2019.
“We are very satisfied with our cooperation with FCA. We have yet to reach a conclusion on how to cooperate with FCA when we begin manufacturing in the U.S., and we have also not begun discussions with other Chinese automakers on whether to make cars together in the U.S,” said Xingya.
Though Australia's FCA office says they'll continue to sell RHD versions of the 300
Fiat Chrysler Automobile has quietly ended production of right-hand drive models from Chrysler and Dodge. According to South Africa's Wheels24, the announcement comes as FCA drops Chrysler and Dodge from their South Africa lineup.
"FCA will say a fond farewell to two of the mainstay car brands, with the Chrysler and Dodge vehicle ranges no longer being available locally. 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.
According to Allpar, FCA built RHD variants of 300 and Charger in Brampton, Ontario, and Pacifica and Grand Caravan in Windsor, Ontario. It is unclear if this move will affect other markets where FCA sells RHD models such as Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia. When reached for comment by Australia's CarAdvice, FCA Australia's manager of public relations Alessia Terranova said,
“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.”
We'll keep you posted on this story.
Source: Wheels24, Allpar, CarAdvice
If there is one thing the Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been consistent on aside from changing his mind on a number of things is his dislike on electric vehicles.
Speaking to reporters this week at the New York Stock Exchange, Marchionne said there isn't a viable economic model for electric cars.
"We still don't have a viable economic model for delivering an electric car. As much as I like Elon Musk, and he's a good friend and actually he's done a phenomenal job of marketing Telsa, I remain unconvinced of a ... economic viability of the model that he's pitching," said Marchionne.
Marchionne believes the costs for batteries and the various technologies need to come down to make them viable. Otherwise, automakers should focus on developing hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.
"So how do we find a convergence of technology bringing prices of components down and allows us to price accordingly — or we need to navigate through this process in a combined way between combustion and electrification to yield at least a minimum of economic returns that allows for our continuity? The last thing you want is me to be successful selling cars for 24 months and then go bust. That's not a good story. Especially in a place like this which rewards economic success. Let's not sit here and design our own future in the tank. Let's try and do it properly. We will do all the right things. We are investing without making a lot of noise on electrification. We will combine it with combustion to yield the right level of CO2. But we're not betting the bank on going fully electric in the next decade. It won't happen," said Marchionne.
Source: The Street
Only a month ago, the automotive world was abuzz when a rumor came out that a Chinese automaker had a put in a bid for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. We also learned about four possible Chinese automakers that were supposedly interested. But after this rumor came out, most of the Chinese automakers stepped back and said they were not interested. The only one that expressed some interest was Great Wall, but only for Jeep. Since then, they have taken a few steps back.
It seems no one is interested in FCA, a fact that was confirmed by CEO Sergio Marchionne.
According to Reuters, Marchionne said no when asked about if FCA was approached by someone or there was an offer on the table. Lord knows that Marchionne has tried to get someone interested in picking up FCA with such attempts as trying to sell GM's CEO Mary Barra on the idea or Volkswagen. Still, Marchionne isn't giving up. He said the company is working on a plan to “purify” (or streamline) its portfolio.
“There are activities within the group that do not belong to a car manufacturer, for example, the components businesses. The group needs to be cleared of those things,” Marchionne said.
What will not be leaving FCA's portfolio is Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Last month, a rumor came out that FCA was considering spinning off Alfa Romeo and Maserati into their own separate company.
“The way we see it now, it’s almost impossible, if not impossible, to see a spin-off of Alfa Romeo/Maserati, these are two entities that are immature and in a development phase,” said Marchionne.
“It’s the wrong moment, we are not in a condition to do it.”
That last line might be the understatement of the decade.