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By William Maley
FCA US Reports 2018 April Sales
Jeep® brand reports record April sales, up 20 percent Jeep Wrangler reports highest month of sales ever, up 58 percent Ram brand notches highest April retail sales ever, up 3 percent May 1, 2018 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported sales of 184,149 vehicles, a 5 percent increase compared with sales in April 2017 of 176,176 vehicles.
Overall sales were pushed by the Jeep® brand which reported record sales for April. Retail sales came in at 143,995 vehicles, down only 1 percent despite April having two fewer selling days and one less weekend compared with April 2017. Fleet accounted for 22 percent of total sales.
The Jeep brand total sales rose in April to 82,641 vehicles, eclipsing the record of 82,537 vehicles in April 2016. The Jeep Wrangler once again led the portfolio as the nameplate posted a new monthly sales record of 29,776 vehicles. April was also the second consecutive month of record sales for the Wrangler. Jeep Compass sales more than tripled to 11,521 vehicles.
Ram Truck Brand
Ram Truck brand sales declined 9 percent to 43,074 vehicles compared with the previous year. However, the brand reported its best April of retail sales ever with 36,560 vehicles sold, outpacing the last record of 35,558 set in April 2017.
Chrysler brand total sales fell 18 percent in April to 14,189 vehicles compared with the same month a year ago. The Chrysler Pacifica minivan posted a 5 percent retail sales increase to 7,864 vehicles.
Dodge brand total sales rose 4 percent to 40,994 with the Dodge Journey setting a new April record as sales climbed 39 percent to 11,638 vehicles.
Sales of Fiat vehicles declined 45 percent to 1,404 vehicles.
Alfa Romeo Brand
Alfa Romeo brand sales of 1,847 vehicles were up significantly compared with the same month a year ago. Giulia led the brand with 1,123 vehicle sales followed by Stelvio at 702 vehicles.
By William Maley
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced today that it would be recalling a million Ram Trucks for a computer glitch that could prevent the airbags and seat-belt tensioners from engaging in the event of a crash.
The issue comes from the software used in a module that controls the deployment of restraint systems in rollover situations. Underbody impacts could cause the module to think a sensor has failed and will disable the side airbags and seat-belt tensioners for that ignition cycle. This means in the event of a rollover, the key safety systems will not go into action. The good news is that if you turn the truck off and then on, the system should revert back to normal. You can tell this if the airbag warning light goes off when you restart the truck.
FCA says it is aware of a fatality, two injuries, and two accidents possibly related to this problem.
The models involved in this recall include,
2013-2016 Ram 1500 2013-2016 Ram 2500 2014-2016 Ram 3500 FCA says they will begin notifying owners about this issue next month along with they schedule to bring their truck to get repaired. Dealers will reprogram the occupant restraint control modules used throughout the truck.
Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Press Release is on Page 2
Statement: Software update
May 12, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC is voluntarily recalling an estimated 1 million trucks in the U.S. to reprogram computer modules that help control restraint-system deployment in rollover situations.
An FCA US investigation identified a population of vehicles equipped with modules featuring certain types of sensors. If such a vehicle were subjected to a significant underbody impact, its module may erroneously conclude the sensor has failed and then activate an instrument-cluster warning light.
The error code associated with the warning may temporarily disable side air bag and seat belt pretensioner** deployment for that ignition cycle, which would then be unavailable in the event of a vehicle rollover. (Deployment suppression is a feature of restraint systems. It serves as a potential safeguard against inadvertent system activation, should a sensor failure actually occur.)
If the warning light is illuminated, normal restraint-system function may be restored by turning the vehicle’s ignition to “off,” and then to “on/run.” Function restoration may be verified by the absence of a warning light.
However, FCA US urges affected customers to follow the instructions on their recall notices. The Company is aware of one fatality, two injuries and two accidents that may be related.
Affected vehicles are certain 2013-16 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups, and 2014-2016 Ram 3500 pickups. Their occupant restraint control modules will be reprogramed with software that affords more robust sensor performance.
The recall also affects an estimated 216,007 vehicles in Canada; 21,668 in Mexico; and 21,530 outside the NAFTA region.
Affected customers will be advised when they may schedule service. As always, the Company urges all customers to use seat belts when operating or riding in any motor vehicle.
Customers with questions may call the FCA US Customer Care Center at (800) 853-1403.
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By William Maley
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' CEO Sergio Marchionne has a track record of saying things that make jaws drop everywhere. Case in point comes to us from The Detroit Free Press. During the company's first-quarter earnings call, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas asked Marchionne if there was a possibility of spinning off Jeep and/or Ram Trucks into a separate, standalone company.
"Yes," said Marchionne.
The Free Press notes that Jonas dropped this subject and moved on to another question. It needs to be noted that this isn't the first time that Jonas has brought this idea up. Back in January, Jonas estimated Jeep's value on a standalone basis would be $22 billion. Ram Trucks isn't far behind with an estimated value of $11.2 billion.
There is also precedent for this idea. Marchionne has a history of spinning off brands while keeping them under the FCA corporate umbrella. Last year, Ferrari was spun off to its own standalone company and now trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It currently generates more than $3.4 billion in annual revenue and close to $435 million in net income. Marchionne serves as the chairman and CEO of the company.
But if such a move was to happen, it would take a fair amount of time for this changeover to take place.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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By William Maley
Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed. You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well. Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp. Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.
Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
Make: Ram Trucks
Model: 1500 Crew Cab
Trim: Laramie Longhorn
Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
Base Price: $52,365
As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
Convenience Group - $495.00
Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
Cold Weather Group - $235.00
3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00
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By William Maley
2018 was going to be the year that Ram Trucks would introduce redesigned versions of their light and heavy-duty trucks using a new platform known as DT. But it seems the light-duty truck will be the only one riding on this new platform as the redesign for heavy-duty model has been pushed back.
Sources tell Automotive News that Ram will be refreshing the current heavy-duty truck for 2018. It is unknown when Ram will actually introduce the redesigned version using the new platform.
Why is Ram switching to a refresh of the current heavy-duty truck? It comes down to money. At the moment, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has nearly $7 billion in net debt at the end of third quarter. CEO Sergio Marchionne is trying to reduce this massive debt before he retires in 2018. This means a number of projects FCA is working on have been delayed in an effort to conserve cash.
This is the case for Ram and their heavy-duty trucks. Currently, FCA only has one plant building heavy-duty trucks in Saltillo, Mexico. By taking the plant offline for a few months for retooling to build the redesigned truck, this could cause a shortage of the current-generation trucks for dealers. Going with a refresh allows Ram to continue an uninterrupted supply of trucks.
But there comes a problem for Ram going with a refresh. Both Ford and General Motors have introduced revised versions of their heavy-duty trucks that boast better towing numbers and fuel economy.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
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