- Fiat 500(2031)
Mitsubishi is often derided in the US for its relatively boring lineup, Lancer Evolution aside, but the company is on the upswing worldwide, recently posting record global operating profits. The Japanese automaker may get a further boost in the near future from a rumored pickup truck deal with Fiat.
According to insider sources speaking to Automotive News Europe, Mitsubishi would reportedly build a variant of its widely respected L200 pickup truck for the Fiat Professional brand in Europe and Latin America starting in 2016. The L200 is larger than the Fiat Strada front-wheel-drive pickup already available in those markets, and it's available in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The idea of adding a midsize truck to the commercial lineup was in the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles five-year plan, but it didn't include any mention of a partnership to build it.
At first blush, the Mitsubishi agreement seems like an odd move, given that Fiat already owns pickup truck specialists Ram. However, according to ANE, the company had at one time planned to use a version of a new Dodge Dakota pickup for duty in Europe and Latin America, but the model never came to fruition.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne made some interesting comments during a frank and entertaining talk at the Brookings Institution earlier today, saying he hoped that no one bought the Fiat 500e, the well-received EV based on the adorable Italian car.
"I hope you don't buy it," said Marchionne, during a talk and question-and-answer session that focused on the aftermath of the automotive bailouts, "because every time I sell one, it costs me $14,000."
"I'm honest enough to tell you that I'll make the car, I'll make it available, which is my requirement. I'll sell the limit of what I'm required to sell and not one more," Marchionne said. "If we build just those vehicles, we'll be back in Steve [Rattner's] successor's office in Washington asking for a second bailout, because we'll be bankrupt by Christmas"
Fiat Chrysler's decision to locate its new corporate headquarters in jolly old London won't herald a sprawling relocation effort. Instead, it's very likely that the FCA outfit will be a small one, primarily focused on finance.
The report comes from Automotive News Europe, which claims FCA's London office will employ about 50 people with backgrounds in finance. CEO Sergio Marchionne and Fiat Group Chairman John Elkann will both have offices at the corporate headquarters, as well.
ANE cites an anonymous source that claims the people employed at the London office will focus primarily on treasury operations. It's unlikely that FCA will take on any additional employees specifically for its UK offices. That said, FCA isn't likely to downsize either its Turin or Auburn Hills offices once London comes online.
The Fiat assembly plant in Melfi, Italy, may not be one that appears on our radar that often. It's been in operation since 1993, but until recently only built the Punto - a model that's been around in its current form with few modifications for the better part of a decade, but hasn't warranted the transatlantic voyage to American showrooms. Fiat recently added to the Punto assembly line in Melfi the production of the new Jeep Renegade, but that's not all.
Soon the Renegade (which you can see being built in the background of the image above) will spawn the 500X, a small crossover based on the same platform but with what you can see will be a more rounded shape. Replacing the Sedici (a.k.a. SX4) that was jointly developed with Suzuki, the 500X will join the Cinquecento family alongside the 500 hatch, 500C convertible and 500L minivan, the latter on whose design we hope the 500X will prove a marked improvement.
Expect the 500X (or so it's expected to be called) to be revealed on July 4, which will mark not only the 238th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence but also the 57th anniversary of the original 500's debut.
If there is one thing that should be remembered when looking at quarterly and annual earnings, it's that the headline numbers rarely tell the whole story when it comes to an automaker's health. Chrysler's first-quarter earnings are just such an example.
Yes, the Auburn Hills-based manufacturer lost $690 million, which is quite a large sum of money. The reasons for the loss, according to Chrysler, were "Unfavorable infrequent items," which includes a $504 million payment to rid itself of the debts it took on for prepaying the UAW's VEBA healthcare trust. Chrysler was also hit with a $672 million charge to the UAW, which was part of a deal that allowed Fiat to purchase the remaining shares of Chrysler owned by the VEBA.
Ignoring those one-time deals, the first quarter was quite a successful one for Chrysler. It would have made $486 million if you erased the merger costs, which would have been a year-over-year increase of $320 million. Even more promising is the fact that Chrysler snagged the largest increase in market share of any automaker during Q1 at 1.1 percent, bringing its overall share to 12.7 percent of the US market. Chrysler saw a 30-percent improvement in sales of trucks and SUVs, along with an 11-percent increase in year-over-year sales and a 23-percent increase in revenue, to $19 billion.
Behind the vanguard of numerous Jeep models, two Chryslers, a smattering of Fiats and Alfa Romeos and local production through a joint venture with Guangzhou Automotive Group (GAG), Fiat Chrysler wants to increase sales in China more than six-fold by 2018. The group sold 130,000 cars in China in 2013, the aim for 2018 being 850,000 cars.
Ultimately it's expected that the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Wrangler, Renegade, the coming Grand Wagoneer and a sub-Renegade-sized crossover will either be built in or exported to the People's Republic. The Chrysler Town & Country and 300 will join the export list in 2016 and 2018 respectively, according to a report in Automotive News.
With a number of those vehicles not in production or perhaps even envisaged yet, and others not due on the local market until 2018, it will be interesting to see how Fiat Chrysler plans to achieve the target in the specified timeframe. The joint venture with GAG builds two products now, the Dodge Dart-based Fiat Viaggio launched two years ago - supposedly designed just for China - and the just-launched Fiat Ottimo, a hatchback version of the Viaggio. Fiat projected 300,000 Viagio sales in its first two years, that number has been adjusted downward to 94,000 and there doesn't appear to be an analyst alive that sees a good future for Fiat in China's overrun mainstream market. Still, last year's 130,000 group sales in China is a huge jump from 2012 sales of 66,000 units, but less than half the 300,000 units it projected.
Chrysler is recalling 4,141 Fiat 500e models from the 2013 and 2014 model years because they could lose power. According to the automaker, the power inverter module could allow coolant to seep onto electrical components. This could cause a short circuit and power loss. The part in question is responsible for altering the electric current.
The company discovered the problem while reviewing warranty claims, and it found five cases where the fault actually occurred. It's not aware of any injuries or accidents tied to this issue. The recall affects cars built between September 24, 2012, and April 4, 2014, and all of them are in the US. Chrysler will contact owners directly to schedule the repair.
This is the second recall for the electric hatchback. Chrysler previously had to repair more than 270 of them last year to replace bolts that secure the vehicles' half shafts.
You won't be seeing Sergio Marchionne in his famous sweaters running day-to-day operations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from Michigan. Although, he won't be doing it from Italy, either. The FCA CEO recently announced that the company's corporate headquarters would be located in London.
"Headquarters will be in London. It's clear that group executive functions, the board, my office, some of my functions, need to operate out of London, but that doesn't mean that I'm giving up my operational responsibilities of the US," said Marchionne to Automotive News at a press conference.
When the creation of FCA was announced, the company said its tax domicile would be in the United Kingdom. But it gave no specific location at that time. The business is still keeping most of the details under wraps.
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.
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.
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.
2014: Refreshed 300/300C, debuting at Los Angeles Auto Show