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Honda may recall up to 1M vehicles for airbag issue, following Toyota's lead

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:30:00 EST

It seems Toyota won't be the only one recalling the faulty Takata airbag inflators for long. Honda insiders in Japan claim that the company is getting close to announcing its own worldwide campaign that would begin before the end of June.
Unnamed sources close to Honda in Japan tell Automotive News that the company is pursuing an internal investigation into possibly affected models and is working with Takata to gather more information. They claim that it could involve even more than the 1.14 million cars worldwide that the automaker covered under the first recall for the problem in April 2013, including 561,000 vehicles in the US.
Toyota jumpstarted this process last week when it recalled over 2 million cars worldwide, including 844,277 in the US. Soon after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began a preliminary evaluation into the issue following six reported incidents, and started assembling data about potentially affected models from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Chrysler. NHTSA also began investigating Takata itself.

Chrysler names six new board directors

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:30:00 EST

Executives may call the shots day-to-day at the world's leading automakers - much as they do at any other corporation - but the ultimate decision-making body remains the board of directors. And Chrysler has just named six new members to its board.
The appointments include Hermann Waldemer, the former CFO of Philip Morris International - the tobacco giant whose Marlboro brand has funneled untold billions into Ferrari as the Scuderia's title sponsor for decades, and on whose board Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sits. Waldemer replaces Doug Steenland, who came to the Chrysler board after Northwest Airlines (at which he served as CEO) merged with Delta, and whose term on the board expired just days ago.
In addition to the Waldemer appointment, Chrysler has expanded its board with five more seats, all filled by existing group executives. Among them are Reid Bigland (head of US and Canadian sales and of the Ram truck brand), Fiat general counsel Giorgio Fossati, human resources director Michael J. Keegan, Jeep CEO Michael Manley, and group CFO Richard Palmer.

Fiat board makes Chrysler merger official, approves $5.4B bond sale

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:02:00 EST

Fiat's board of directors has officially approved the merger plan that will see the conglomerate's automotive operations merged with Chrysler into the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The plan essentially provides a road map for the structure of the new company. It includes provisions for Fiat shareholders - one Fiat share will translate to one share of FCA common stock. The new company will also include a loyalty voting structure, which will provide for shareholders of Fiat stock or those that have held FCA stock for at least three years. According to the plan, these shareholders would see their voting power double, with two votes for every share of FCA's common stock. The overall merger plan still needs to be approved by the company's shareholders.
In other Fiat-related news, the company's board has announced a bond issuance of four billion euro ($5.4 billion). The new bonds should provide the company with a degree of flexibility in refinancing debts associated with the merger plan.

Five automakers now being investigated by NHTSA for airbag woes

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:00 EST

It appears that Toyota's renotification to owners of recalled vehicles from last year is just the tip of the iceberg for what could potentially be a much larger industry-wide recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary evaluation investigation into roughly 1.1 million vehicles from Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and parts supplier Takata regarding faulty airbag inflators in several models.
NHTSA has received six reports - three directly, two from Takata and one from Toyota - of vehicles with ruptured airbag inflators from 2002-2006, which resulted in three injuries. So far, all six incidents have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico. According to Toyota's latest recall announcement, the inflators may have an improper propellant that could cause it to rupture in a crash and the bag to deploy abnormally.
This new investigation follows a previous recall from April 2013 of about 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for the airbag inflators from Takata. As Autoblog reported, Toyota jumpstarted the new situation when it found that the original list of serial numbers for the faulty part was incomplete and discovered more cars in need of replacement. Honda and Nissan told us that they were investigating whether further models would need called in again as well. Mazda told Autoblog: "Regarding the current Takata situation, we're working closely with NHTSA and investigating the situation, but nothing else to report at this time." Chrysler Group responded to us with the statement: "Chrysler Group engineers are conducting the appropriate analysis. The Company will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Administration."

New UAW boss Williams talks tough, vows 'no more concessions'

Sun, 08 Jun 2014 13:33:00 EST

Dennis Williams, the newly elected president of the UAW, had some tough words for American automakers in his inauguration speech at the 2014 UAW Convention, striking down the possibility of any additional concessions from the 400,000-strong union.
"No more concessions. We are tired of it. Enough is enough," Williams said during his speech. UAW employees have not received a raise in nearly 10 years, according to Reuters.
Considering the recent strong results for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, the union's demands are likely to carry a bit more weight in next year's negotiations. And considering Williams' tough stance, we could be in for some fireworks once negotiations commence.

Chrysler recalling 31k SUVs and vans

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:45:00 EST

Chrysler is issuing recalls covering roughly 31,700 vehicles worldwide due to two separate problems. In both cases the company believes that most of the affected vehicles are either still on, or in transit to, dealer lots.
One recall covers roughly 10,700 Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SRT models from the 2014 model year built between January 16 and April 17, 2014. The SUVs need a software update for the cruise control. It's possible that when the cruise is on and the driver presses on the throttle, the acceleration could last a second after the pedal is released or two seconds for the SRT. Afterward, they return to the speed originally set by the driver.
Chrysler says it isn't aware of any accidents, injuries or even reported incidents of this happening in the real world. Also, in all cases, if the driver presses on the brake, the cruise shuts off. The automaker believes that there are about 6,100 affected SUVs in the US, 950 in Canada, 425 in Mexico and 3,200 outside of North America. The software upgrade will be ready shortly, the company says.

Chrysler releases Born Maker ad campaign for 2015 200 [w/video]

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:00:00 EST



"The 200 sets the benchmark, for us, on how we plan to develop cars going forward." - Marissa Hunter
Is the 2015 Chrysler 200 the most important new product for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? While it is certainly debatable, we'd be strongly inclined to say "yes." As the first competent midsize sedan that Chrysler has released in the better part of two decades, the new 200 is absolutely crucial to achieving the brand's goal of becoming FCA's "mainstream" manufacturer.

Minivan market not what it used to be, but margins make up for it

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 08:34:00 EST



Residual values for last year's minivans are higher than they were in 2000.
Much like the station wagon was the shuttle of Baby Boomer generation, the minivan has been the primary means of transport for Generations X and Y. Just as the boomers abandoned the Country Squire, though, those kids that were toted around in Grand Caravans and Windstars are adults, and they certainly don't want to be seen in the cars their parents drove.

2015 Chrysler 200S AWD

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:57:00 EST

I love road trips. Honestly, one of the best parts about this job is the freedom we're given to experience the open road, whether at new car launches or while bombing around with whatever we're testing on our home turf. But the longer-form road trip is equally special to me, and it's something I'm always eager to do. Air travel stinks - that's not news. So if I can drive, I will. And without our dear TSA to fight with, I can pack all the chainsaws and gallon jugs of chocolate milk that I want.
So when it came time to attend the 2014 New York Auto Show this past April, I thought, "Why not drive?" Typically, the route from downtown Detroit to Manhattan is something like 10 hours, but I decided to bake some extra time into the journey and planned for the vast majority of my travels to be off the beaten path. Doing the "avoid expressways" route allows you to see parts of America you've never encountered before, and to meet people with stories and opinions that you've never heard. It's a great way to travel if you have the time. There's something uniquely serene about seeing the country in a great car on a great road.
Let's talk about that "great car" line for a moment. Ideally, long stretches of backroads are best done in something fast, comfortable and involving - a Porsche 911 comes to mind. Or, another school of thought says to pick some fun little spitfire like the always-lovely Mazda MX-5 Miata, for top-down, sun-drenched fun. But for this trip, I chose the 2015 Chrysler 200, in fully loaded S guise with all-wheel drive. Now, settle down; I'm not about to compare it to either the Porsche or Mazda. The point I'm making is this: after 1,500 test miles under my butt, I can emphatically state that the new 200 is indeed a great car in its own right.

180,000 new vehicles are sitting, derailed by lack of transport trains

Wed, 21 May 2014 11:00:00 EST

If you're planning on buying a new car in the next month or so, you might want to pick from what's on the lot, because there could be a long wait for new vehicles from the factory. Locomotives continue to be in short supply in North America, and that's causing major delays for automakers trying to move assembled cars.
According to The Detroit News, there are about 180,000 new vehicles waiting to be transported by rail in North America at the moment. In a normal year, it would be about 69,000. The complications have been industry-wide. Toyota, General Motors, Honda and Ford all reported experiencing some delays, and Chrysler recently had hundreds of minivans sitting on the Detroit waterfront waiting to be shipped out.
The problem is twofold for automakers. First, the fracking boom in the Bakken oil field in the Plains and Canada is monopolizing many locomotives. Second, the long, harsh winter is still causing major delays in freight train travel. The bad weather forced trains to slow down and carry less weight, which caused a backup of goods to transport. The auto companies resorted to moving some vehicles by truck, which was a less efficient but necessary option.