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2015 Chrysler 300 looks to recapture its mojo in LA

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:01:00 EST

Chrysler's 300 sedan has never been a shrinking violet, but it arguably lost a bit of swagger when its second-generation model bowed. There was no way that an evolutionary design could ever upend the automotive establishment the way the original 2005 model did, but even so, something was clearly left on the table when the 2011 model bowed.
You don't have take our word for it - Chrysler knows it, too. Reflecting back upon the second-generation model's styling today, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's senior vice president of design is refreshingly candid, telling Autoblog, "Our previous generation of leaders didn't understand the car very well, and kind of forced this front end on us." For 2015, Gilles and Co. have worked to recapture some of the 2005 design's lightning in a bottle. In Gilles' words, the brief for the refreshed 2015 model was to "give the car the attitude it deserves... up the attitude, up the presence."
Visually, the new 300 initially appears very similar to the current car, but closer inspection and side-by-side comparisons reveal countless changes, the most noticeable being a much larger front grille (by about 30 percent), redone light fixtures and a 'Mobius-strip' lower fascia that picks up where the new 200 left off. The cabin has been upgraded, too, with a standard seven-inch display in the gauge cluster, the latest UConnect infotainment system and improved material choices.

Auto industry insider previews tell-all book, What Did Jesus Drive?

Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:59:00 EST



"It's about some of the biggest crises in history. It's about who did it right and who did it wrong." - Jason Vines
Jason Vines, the former head of public relations at Chrysler, Ford and Nissan, has seen a lot during his more than 30-year career, and now he's offering a behind-the-scenes look at the auto industry in his tell-all book What Did Jesus Drive? that went on sale this month.

Chrysler Q3 profits surge to $611M but per-unit profits trouble

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:17:00 EST

Chrysler Group has announced its third-quarter financial results a little later than its crosstown rivals at General Motors and Ford, but the company has reason to celebrate thanks to strong numbers across the board.
The biggest attention-grabber from the automaker is that its net income was up 32 percent in the third quarter to $611 million, compared to $464 million over the same period last year. Modified operating profit was also strong at $946 million - a 10 percent gain. Furthermore, net revenue grew as well to $20.7 billion - 18 percent higher Q3 2013.
Growing sales pushed the strong financials. Chrysler Group sold about 711,000 vehicles worldwide for the quarter, up 18 percent from a year ago. Things looked especially good in the US, where its market share grew to 12.3 percent, versus 11.2 percent in Q3 2013.

Mopar maneuvers into SEMA with a multitude of modified models

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 20:00:00 EST

As the aftermarket and performance arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mopar has a duty to extract everything from the company's models that it can, and there's no better place to show all of its work off than the annual SEMA Show.
Dodge really gets in on the act this year with several customs to show off different parts of the brand's performance heritage. Perhaps the most interesting among them is the track-prepped Viper ACR Concept (pictured above). It wears a custom body kit to produce even more downforce, thanks in no small part to a monstrous wing at the back. To shed weight, most of the interior is stripped out, as well. Next up, the Challenger T/A Concept takes inspiration from '70s Trans-Am racing in a livery of Sublime Green and matte black paint. The center scoop in the hood keeps the 6.4-liter V8 fed with cool air, and the special's 20-by-9.5-inch matte black wheels keep it planted in the corners.
Also getting the once-over from Mopar is the Charger R/T. It wears the division's body kit, and under the hood, a cold-air intake keeps the 5.7-liter V8 breathing. The suspension is retooled to hold the road better with a coil-over kit, upgraded sway bars and strut tower braces for the front and rear. The company is also showing off a snazzy blue Charger with a mean look. The final Dodge getting work from Mopar is the Dart R/T Concept with bright, O-So-Orange paint and a matte black hood with a scoop hooked directly to the air intake. The performance-oriented design is finished off with a coil-over suspension and big brake kit, as well.

Fiat Chrysler quietly sends Pentastar logo out to pasture

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:00:00 EST

Logos come and go, and in the case of the famed Chrysler Pentastar, it's on its way back out. The well-known five-sided emblem, which sits prominently atop the massive Chrysler Technical Center complex in Auburn Hills, MI, is officially going to be phased out now that the company has united with Fiat and formed the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
As a nearly 50-year-old icon, though, the fate of the Pentastar has been deeply intertwined with Chrysler's history. Hemmings has an excellent recap of that history, from its development in 1962 by a Chrysler ad agency through to its temporary discontinuation during the disastrous marriage between the American company and Daimler-Benz, and then on to its revival during the time the automaker regained its independence.
If you've been a fan of Chrysler and its brands over the years, you're going to want to give this piece a read. Head over and take a look.

Is Chrysler's 'America's Import' campaign outdated or offensive? [w/poll]

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:30:00 EST

Chrysler launched its America's Import campaign with a splashy ad during the Super Bowl starring Bob Dylan and featuring a whole bunch of patriotic imagery that included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, factory employees and, of course, the city of Detroit. Since then, the brand has followed the original spot with even more ads using the same tagline. Not everyone is pleased, it seems, including The Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan, who's fed up with the marketing. In an editorial for the newspaper, Phelan claims that it's insulting to the US auto industry and its workers.
"The phrase 'America's import,' with its suggestion that 'import' equals 'better,' feels terribly dated, a relic of the 1980s. It's the rhetorical equivalent of hanging a pastel-hued 'Miami Vice' poster on your office wall," writes Phelan in the piece. Also, since some of the brand's cars are made in Canada, the line isn't even entirely true, he claims. Phelan goes on to praise the company's earlier Imported from Detroit commercials for getting the right message across and showing pride in the city.
While "America's Import" might be the tagline for Chrysler's ads, it's not the whole message. Subsequent ads keep the hard-working, patriotic imagery from the original Super Bowl spot but put a bigger emphasis on the Chrysler 200 that the commercials are meant to sell.

FCA recalling 33k vans and SUVs for TPMS problems in two campaigns

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:30:00 EST

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is issuing two, separate recalls covering a total of 33,443 examples in the US of the 2014 Ram ProMaster, 2014 Jeep Wrangler, 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan and 2014 Chrysler Town & Country because of potential problems with the tire pressure monitoring system in the vehicles.
The first campaign is for 23,053 units of the 2014 Ram ProMaster. It's possible for the TPMS to not recognize the location of the data coming from the sensors in the wheels. If this happens, then the low tire pressure warning light comes on and potentially gives the driver a false positive. If the warning isn't cleared, and drivers keep going, they might not be aware of another tire that actually has low pressure. This fix for this is a software update.
The second recall covers 10,390 examples of the 2014 Wrangler, Grand Caravan and Town & Country. According to FCA, it's possible that a test mode for the TPMS is still on since being shipped from the supplier. On affected vehicles, it could cause inaccurate pressure readings. The repair involves disabling that mode on the TPMS module.

Ferrari to be spun off from Fiat Chrysler

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:02:00 EST

The recently merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire has ambitious plans for growth, and it's going to need some big bucks in its coffers in order to enact them. Part of that cash injection is coming from the floating of its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, but now FCA has announced a further capital campaign to be based on the enormous asset that is Ferrari.
FCA's board of directors has just approved the separation of Ferrari from the rest of the group as a separate entity. Once that separation is complete, Ferrari will put 10 percent of its shares on the stock market "in the United States and possibly a European exchange" as well.
This isn't the first time that the idea of a Ferrari IPO has been raised. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Chrysler, Fiat and Ferrari (pictured above), first raised the idea four years ago. Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo nixed the idea, but now that he's been discharged, it appears there's nothing to get in the way of Marchionne's desires.

Chrysler recalling 382k Ram HD diesel pickups, 184k SUVs

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:17:00 EST

Between GM's ignition switches and Takata's airbags, it's been a big year for recalls, but they keep rolling in. The latest comes from Chrysler, which has announced a pair of recalls for certain heavy-duty pickups and SUVs.
The first issue revolves around the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine available in the 2010-2014 Ram HD trucks, including 2500 and 3500 series pickups as well as 4500 and 5500 series chassis cabs. In the affected units, "a terminal connector near the fuel heater may be subject to friction-induced corrosion," according to the first of the two announcements from Chrysler below.
The problem could result in overheating and fuel leakage. Chrysler launched its investigation following cases of overheating, none of which actually started a fire, much less an injury or accident. As a precautionary measure, however, Chrysler is instructing service technicians to replace the terminals on an estimated 381,876 Ram units around the world - the vast majority of those (314,704) registered in the US, another 59,432 in Canada, 1,803 in Mexico and 5,937 abroad.

Chrysler-Fiat quality chief out after another poor Consumer Reports showing

Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:30:00 EST

Fiat Chrysler has announced a management change following the company's woeful performance in the latest Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey. Of the 28 brands surveyed, FCA's marques occupied the five the seven lowest scores, while Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat were the four lowest scorers.
Doug Betts, FCA's 51-year-old head of quality "left the company to pursue other interests," which, considering the aforementioned paragraph, means he was sacked. According to Automotive News, Betts joined Chrysler in 2007, defecting from Nissan, and, insiders report, had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with new boss Sergio Marchionne.
His replacement is the newly promoted Matthew Lidane (shown at inset), who was formerly VP of systems and components. Lidane has been at Chrysler since 1987 and was previously chief engineer of the Jeep product team as well as the vehicle line boss for the compact US wide platform which (ironically) underpins two of FCA's lowest scoring vehicles, the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee.