Thu, 08 May 2014 17:43:00 EST
Following this week's Fiat Chrysler extravaganza, where the Italian-American manufacturer announced its plans for the next five years, the Autoblog staff was cautiously optimistic of the company's future. Investors? Not so much.
Wed, 07 May 2014 11:32:00 EST
Fiat saw its shares tumble 12 percent in Wednesday's trading, falling from 8.67 euros ($12.06 at today's rates) to 7.44 euros ($10.35) as of this writing, with blame partly going to the Italian half of the FCA marriage, which recorded a pretty significant drop in profits during the first quarter of this year.
The plan, which will cost around $77 billion over the next several years, is facing criticism from investors thanks in part to a 1.4-percent drop in Fiat's first-quarter profits, to 622 million euros ($862 million). That figure is also short of Bloomberg analysts' projections, which predicted $1.18 billion in profits before taxes, interest and one-time items.
During the Fiat-Chrysler briefings on Tuesday, Reid Bigland, head of Ram Trucks, outlined the new product plans for his brand, including confirmation that an all-new light-duty Ram 1500 will launch in 2017. From there, discussions spun off in two directions, with the main questions being: will Ram build a midsize pickup? And, following Ford's move to extensively use aluminum in its new 2015 F-150, will Chrysler be using this weight-saving material for the next round of its fullsize truck, as well?
Tue, 06 May 2014 19:15:00 EST
"I think there is room for a Ram 1000," Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (pictured above) told members of the media, saying this is a conversation the automaker has been having internally for several years now. "We've tried this ... we've actually taken it to clinics," Marchionne stated, adding that the "response has been lukewarm."
"I have better use of aluminum in this house than a pickup truck." - Sergio Marchionne
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, you've no doubt read about all of the big future product news coming out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today. We had individual brand reports from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati and even Ferrari, but in the interest of simplifying and summarizing, we're going to list out the hard facts once more. Of course, with all of this still off in the future, there's still the possibility that a few changes will be made. But as of what we know right now, here's what's coming, and what's going away.
Tue, 06 May 2014 13:31:00 EST
2014: Refreshed 300/300C, debuting at Los Angeles Auto Show
Tue, 06 May 2014 10:20:00 EST
Alfa Romeo will go back to being the brand people admire, according to CEO Harald Wester.
After a few streams of news on the various brands in the Fiat Chrysler family, here's the deluge we've been waiting for - Alfa Romeo. The legendary Italian brand is being pointed towards a renaissance, as shown by the brand's five-year plan.
The news just keeps on rolling from Auburn Hills today, as Fiat Chrysler continues to detail its five-year growth plan. This time round, we're talking about Chrysler. The troubled American brand has been limited in the past few years to the lamentable Sebring/200, the Town & Country and the 300, although that's likely to change in the coming years.
Mon, 05 May 2014 15:45:00 EST
"The Chrysler brand is not luxury - it's not premium. Chrysler is the mainstream American brand," brand CEO Al Gardner said during today's presentation.
Gardner set a sales target of 800,000 units by 2018, which marks an increase of 350,000 units compared to its 2013 sales results. That's a pretty big ask for a brand that's struggled to define itself over the past decade.
Trademark filings can be a first alert in the auto industry that something is coming. For example, Lamborghini trademarked Aventador before we saw its supercar, and Chevrolet did the same thing with Z28. Other times, an automaker files to protect a name and never does anything with it. Chrysler is dredging up a brand from the past by filing a US request for "Rebel." The name is specifically for "motor vehicles, namely automobiles, trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles and structural parts therefor," according to Ignitionist quoting the filing.
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:58:00 EST
In the US, Rebel was previously used on some American Motors Corporation models. It even spawned a muscle car version called the Machine (pictured above). Chrysler eventually bought AMC when it bowed out of the auto industry in 1987.
Chrysler's plans for the name are a complete mystery at the moment. Although, it probably won't be a midsize sedan like the original. That just seems too unlikely given the brand's current, established lineup. Rebel seems like a fantastic name for the performance trim of a vehicle, though. The Jeep Renegade Rebel has a nice ring to it, and a Ram 1500 Rebel pickup could also work. We're going to have to wait and see what's in store for the moniker. Let us know in Comments what model you think would fit the Rebel name.
The Chrysler Crossfire was, suffice it to say, a matter of taste. Based on old Mercedes-Benz mechanicals, it included retro styling accents and an armadillo roofline. Some loved it, but there was clearly room for improvement - not to mention more sales - and that's just what Italian coachbuilder FB Tuning had to showcase at the Top Marques show in Monaco this year.
Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:28:00 EST
Called the FB-ONE, it's based on the Crossfire, which itself was based on the same R170 chassis as the first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK. It packs the same 3.2-liter V6 as well, which FB claims to have tuned farther than anything Daimler-Chrysler ever managed with the same engine. Whereas the SLK32 AMG packed 354 horsepower and the Crossfire SRT-6 offered 330, the FB-One packs a nice, round 400 hp, which ought to be good for a 0-60 time of little over four seconds.
As you can see, that's not all they've done with FB-One. It's also been rebodied in carbon fiber, with gold accents, deep-dish alloys that look like they came out of a casino and the headlights from an Audi A8. Whether the result is your cup of tea likely depends, as it did with the Crossfire in the first place, on your own personal tastes, so check it out for yourself in the video below.
It's fascinating the way that one change to a complex system can have all sorts of unintended consequences. For instance, there are hundreds of new Chrysler Town and County and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, sitting in lots on the Detroit waterfront because of the energy boom in the Bakken oil field in the northern US and parts of Canada.
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST
The huge amount of crude oil coming from these sites mostly use freight trains for transport, and that supply boom has resulted in a shortage of railcars to carry other goods. According to The Windsor Star, North American crude oil transport by train has gone from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 434,032 carloads in 2013. Making matters worse, some North American rail infrastructure is still damaged because of this year's harsh winter, and that's slowing things down even further.
Chrysler admits to The Star that it has had some delivery delays due to the freight train shortage. In the meantime, it's using more trucks to deliver its vehicles. Trucking is a far less economical solution, partially because a train can carry so many more units at one time, but alternatives are slim. The Windsor plant alone has a deal for 33 trucks to distribute the minivans around Canada and the Midwestern US.
Part of the deal for the federal bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors was that both organizations were required to trim their vast array of dealerships. This move did not sit well with the people that would be losing out on franchises, though, and in Chrysler's case, 148 of the shuttered dealers have fought for money they feel they are entitled to.
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:30:00 EST
These dealers believe that they should be compensated by the federal government, as Chrysler wouldn't have trimmed its sales centers had it not been ordered to by Uncle Sam. Now, thanks to the ruling of three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the dealers will get a chance to argue their point.
According to Automotive News, the dealers argue that the mandatory shuttering of dealers was unconstitutional, because the federal government was taking property without compensation. If the dealers are victorious, not only would the government be out millions of dollars, but a precedent could be set that would allow similarly closed GM dealerships to cash in.
Dodge is just days away from unveiling refreshed versions of the Charger and Challenger at the 2014 New York Auto Show, models promising updated styling and new powertrain options. Depending on how you look at it, the company is either so confident in its forthcoming 2015 models that it's offering an interesting Double-Up lease deal on the current vehicles, or it's so eager to clear out existing stock that it's resorting to novel lease deals. In any case, what they present is an interesting scenario, one which allows buyers to get the existing model right now, and then trade up to the facelifted 2015 models in one year.
Starting April 17, when the refreshed cars debut through the end of August, buyers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for one year and exchange it for a three-year lease on a 2015 model next year, with no additional money down and the same monthly payment. Customers can even switch vehicles when the new lease starts. If drivers want to buy the '15, they get $1,000 off the purchase price. To be eligible, both leases must use the same dealership and be financed through Chrysler Capital. The Double-Up deal excludes the SRT versions of both cars and Charger SE models.
To offset the flood of one-year-old models coming back to dealerships, Dodge has struck a deal with rental car agency Enterprise, which has agreed to buy them all. "One-year leases are highly unusual in the industry," said company spokesperson Ralph Kisiel, and the fleet sale deal is what makes it possible.