Auto blogMon, 20 Oct 2014 11:01:00 EST
It looks like it might be time to bid farewell to the V8 rumble from the Chrysler 300 SRT - at least if you live in North America. The reported change comes as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reshuffles its ranks with the Dodge brand, re-absorbing SRT and building its muscular reputation with the Challenger and Charger Hellcat models. Meanwhile, Chrysler is taking a more mainstream approach, and that likely means the end of overt high-performance models from the division for now.
According to Automotive News, the 300 SRT will be discontinued in the US for 2015, but it won't be totally dead. Some right-hand drive markets will still get the brawny V8 sedan next year, a distinction that goes a long way toward explaining some spy shots we've seen recently.
The 300 SRT's North American demise probably shouldn't come as a total shock. In FCA's five-year plan, it says that the 300 is destined for a refresh to be unveiled later this year, presumably at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. There's no mention of the SRT model in the document, though, which seems to signal its end.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling a total of 747,817 vehicles in the US in two separate campaigns recently added to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database.
The first one covers about 434,581 units of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango, and Jeep Grand Cherokee from the 2011-2014 model years with electric hydraulic power steering, the 3.6-liter V6 engine and a 160 amp alternator, according to FCA. In the affected vehicles, it's possible for the alternator to fail without warning and possibly cause the car to stall. According to the documentation submitted to NHTSA, the automaker began investigating the problem in August 2014 and has found possible evidence of one crash caused by the failures but no known injuries.
Customers will begin receiving notification about the recall next month, and obviously the repairs will be done at no cost to them.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is hauling a multitude of modified models to the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas this November, and the company is releasing the first teasing sketches of many of them.
Unfortunately, FCA isn't giving many solid details on any of the concepts other than saying the vehicles from Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat all benefit from tuning from its Mopar performance brand. The teaser photos include a sinister-looking Chrysler 200S, Fiat 500 Abarth with two-tone paint and a scorpion on the hood, a red and black 500L, seemingly two different takes on the Jeep Renegade, a green Dodge Challenger wearing the T/A badge, an orange and black Dart, a very neon Charger, just the outline of a red and black Viper, a Ram ProMaster in Mopar livery and a Ram pickup called the Outdoorsman.
Take a look through the gallery to see what you think of the sketches for these concepts, and scroll down for the full announcement from FCA.
The 2015 Mazda2 is quite high up on our must-drive list. Yes, the teeny, tiny successor to the 100-horsepower five-door is worth getting excited over, largely because the previous generation was one of the absolute best smiles-per-dollar values on the market.
While we eagerly await for our opportunity to take to the 2's helm, our expectations of the new car have just been heightened thanks to its win in Japan's Car of the Year competition. Called "Demio" in the land of the rising sun, Japanese journalists handed out Mazda's second COTY award since the CX-5 took the title in 2012.
In more surprising news, the new Jeep Cherokee has made the list of 10 Best Cars in Japan. The Jeep's triumph marks the first time an American car has cracked the top ten, finishing eighth. It's not, however, the first Fiat Chrysler vehicle to snag the title, following in the footsteps of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat Panda. Still, the fact that an American brand can make such impressive inroads into the traditionally tough-to-crack Japanese market is a seriously big deal.
The Ford Motor Company has a lot of reasons to celebrate after winning eight categories in this year's Texas Auto Writers Association's annual Truck Rodeo. Most important among them, the Blue Oval's latest 2015 Ford F-150 earned the prestigious Truck of Texas award, ending the Ram 1500's two-year winning streak. The 2015 Lincoln MKC also grabbed the honor as the CUV of Texas, and Ford was named Truck Line of Texas.
FoMoCo even took trophies for best technology with its extensive use of aluminum on its latest F-Series and best commercial vehicle for the new Transit 250. It wasn't a total sweep, though, because the Jeep Grand Cherokee grabbed the title of the SUV of Texas for the fifth straight time.
This year's event put 60 auto writers in 75 pickups, SUVs and crossovers and challenged them to find the best in a plethora of categories. All of the winners are listed below, and scroll down to read the full announcements from the Texas Auto Writers Association and Ford.
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:31:00 EST
"Fiat Chrysler remains committed to producing vehicles in Toledo and anticipates employment to remain at current levels."
The future of the iconic Jeep Wrangler in Toledo, OH, remains uncertain after a meeting Thursday between Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ohio government leaders.
Let's make this very plain - the city of Toledo, OH loves its Jeeps. It loves them so fervently that the very rumor of the Jeep Wrangler moving out of its traditional home prompted the city's mayor, D. Michael Collins, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to hold a weekend conference call with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.
"The purpose of this call was for the mayor and governor to gain clarity on Mr. Marchionne's comments last week regarding the possibility of the next generation of Jeep Wrangler being built at a location other than the Toledo North Assembly Plant," a spokesman for the mayor's office told The Toledo Blade.
While no further commitments were made by any party, Collins and Kasich's statement was quite unequivocal about keeping Toledo's unwillingness to let the Wrangler go, saying "the city and its partners will again rise to the occasion to ensure that the new Wrangler is made in Toledo." According to the newspaper, the next step is for face-to-face meetings between officials from Ohio and FCA.
Just a year after it burst onto the scene, Jeep has already made a pretty substantial addition to its V6-powered Cherokee, which has proven to be an extremely popular seller so far for the brand, adding a new stop-start system for the midsize, off-road-ready CUV.
The addition of stop-start included a few aerodynamic tweaks to the Cherokee's polarizing body, resulting in a wallet-pleasing increase in fuel economy. According to the EPA, the front-drive, V6-powered Jeep will now return 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, up from 19 city and 28 highway. Four-wheel-drive, V6-powered Cherokees, meanwhile, will now return 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, up from 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg.
With 271 horsepower, 239 pound-feet of torque and these newly enhanced figures, it's refreshing to see a larger, naturally aspirated engine that is still able to take the fight to today's crop of small-displacement, turbocharged four-cylinders.
The Jeep Wrangler may be a timeless design, but sooner or later, time will run out and Chrysler will have to replace it with a newer model more friendly towards the earth it's designed to traverse. That will, it seems, mean a shift to aluminum construction (whether just for the body or for the entire structure) - but what will that mean for the Wrangler's long-time home of Toledo, OH?
According to the latest pronouncements from Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne, the shift to an aluminum Wrangler would likely mean moving production out of Toledo. "If the solution is aluminum," Marchionne told Automotive News, "then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive."
Marchionne also indicated that, were Wrangler production to move elsewhere, it would find another line to take its place in Ohio. "One of the thing that we are dealing with now is what else we do with Toledo that fulfills our commitment to the city and to Ohio. I don't have a doubt that there will be zero impact on head count and employment levels and anything else." Jeep has built the Wrangler in Toledo since World War II, with the exception of six years starting in 1986 when it was built in Brampton, Ontario. The complex dates back to 1910 and currently produces the Wrangler and Cherokee. Past products have included the Wagoneer and Commanche as well as the Dodge Dakota and Nitro.
There may not be many ways to forecast what an automaker is planning for the future, but there are some. Trademark applications are one of them, and Chrysler has just applied with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect the name "Trackhawk." The question is, what's it planning on using it for? We don't know for sure, but we can put together an educated guess or two. And one guess is that Jeep will use the name to replace the letters SRT on the performance version of the Grand Cherokee.
How do we figure, you ask? From a number of developments. For starters, the SRT division has been reintegrated into the Dodge brand. Those letters currently appear on only two vehicles from outside the Dodge lineup: one is the Grand Cherokee SRT, and the other is the Chrysler 300 SRT. We've heard ruminations (however unconfirmed) that the latter could be either discontinued or possibly relabeled, and if the same proves true of the GC, the Trackhawk name could serve as a on-road performance counterpart to the Trailhawk label applied to off-road versions of models like the Cherokee and Renegade.
Logical it may be, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion. The Trackhawk name could just as easily be used for a new concept (like the Trailhawk name was in 2007), for another kind of trim level or for something else entirely. In fact we don't even know for sure it'll be used by the Jeep brand specifically, or used at all for that matter. Automakers have been known, after all, to register names they don't end up using.