Auto blogWed, 05 Feb 2014 09:45:00 EST
We've known for some time that the new, Fiat-based baby Jeep (which may or may not be called the Jeepster) is set to arrive at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. What we weren't sure of was whether its platform mate, the so-called Fiat 500X, would be doing so alongside or at a later date. Well, according to Reuters, we'll get to see the first all-wheel-drive 500 later this year in the City of Lights.
Yes, we can expect the 500X to arrive at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, according to an official with an Italian trade union. The unnamed source cited retooling at Fiat's Melfi factory, in southern Italy, which currently produces the Grande Punto. It's expected that the newest member of the growing 500 family will replace the Suzuki SX4-based Fiat Sedici, although when the X will go on sale remains an open question.
According to Reuters, both the Jeepster and 500X will be built alongside each other in Italy. Whether the 500X will cross the pond with it's slat-grilled cousin, though, remains to be seen (we're leaning towards yes).
The second of three spots produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for this year's Super Bowl featured the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Aired during the game's half time show, the minute-long ad didn't strike as anything new or innovative from an automaker with a reputation for above average Super Bowl spots, but it did show the controversially styled Cherokee in the best light possible.
Called Restless, the commercial shows young, adventurous types doing the sorts of things that young, adventurous types do: surfing, skateboarding, cliff jumping, staring off into the sky with a pensive expression, etc. Scroll down to watch Restless for yourself and let us know in Comments if Jeep managed to hold your attention during half time.
Chrysler announced its 2013 financial results today and unveiled its new name and decidedly bank-like logo. Amid the announcement, Chrysler posted big gains in income, while Fiat didn't perform to analysts' expectations.
For 2013, Chrysler had revenue of $72.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2012. Net income reached $2.8 billion, a 65-percent increase. It was the company's third straight year of annual profits.
In terms of unit sales, Chrysler sold 2.4 million cars worldwide in 2013, up 9 percent. According to Automotive News, 1.8 million of those vehicles were sold in the US, a 14-percent increase. The sales growth boosted Chrysler's US market share to 11.4 percent, up 0.2 percent.
The long-awaited baby Jeep is getting closer to production, as evidenced by these spy photos. Previously, the only images of the so-called Jeepster saw it wearing a Fiat 500L body (see below), while this new batch of photos show hefty amounts of camouflage. How is that better? Well, it's very likely there's a production body hiding under all that cladding.
While picking out styling details is virtually impossible thanks to all the camo, as our spies point out, this gives us a very sound idea of the Jeepster's final size. It's small, although we'd argue that it's only slightly smaller than the current Jeep Patriot, based on the images of the newest Jeep sitting in front of an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
As we reported previously, this little bambino will be built on a Fiat platform, but the styling should be uniquely Jeep - likely to include a somewhat vertical seven-slat grille and round headlights. We can expect to see a production Jeepster, if that ends up being the actual name (Latitude has been rumored, although as that's traditionally a trim level, we imagine there'd be some confusion), when it debuts at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
Jeep fans spoke up last year by naming the Altitude trim level, and the automaker rewarded them with an assortment of cool Jeeps sporting a sinister, blacked-out appearance. Joining the ranks of Jeep models offering an Altitude trim level is the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, and this might be the best looking of the new Cherokees - including the Trailhawk.
Like the previous versions of this model, the 2014 Cherokee Altitude adds black wheels and exterior trim and molding, and it's only offered in four colors: black, silver, white and granite (shown above). You definitely have to love the look of the black accents since the Altitude raises the Cherokee's price by $2,000 to a starting MSRP of $24,995 (not including destination). Jeep says that the 2014 Cherokee Altitude is a limited-edition model, but there is no mention of any specific production figures.
Joining the new Cherokee Altitude are the updated versions of the Grand Cherokee Altitude and Wrangler Altitude with similar limited color combinations and pricier MSRPs starting at $35,290 and $31,595, respectively. These three new Altitude models will go on sale this spring joining the Compass Altitude and Patriot Altitude, which are on sale now. Scroll down for more info on the updated 2014 Jeep Altitude lineup.
After much debating and hand-wringing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now says it has "no reservations" with Chrysler's plan to recall certain Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee models over concerns that their fuel tanks, which are located behind the rear axle, could rupture or leak in the event of a rear impact. The longstanding argument between the two entities saw Chrysler openly defy the Feds after a request to recall 2.7 million units back in June.
Chrysler's "voluntary campaign" will instead see it recall 1.56-million 1993-2004 model year Grand Cherokee SUVs, along with 2002-2007 Liberty models. Affected vehicles will get a trailer hitch installed free of charge, which Chrysler says will provide an additional degree of protection for the fuel tanks in the event of a crash. Jeeps with Mopar-branded hitches or hitches that were installed at the factory aren't affected by this recall.
Chrysler's argument throughout this battle has been that the Jeeps in question are no more susceptible to fires than comparable vehicles from the same time period, a position that NHTSA has seemingly arrived at as well. "Those vehicles performed at a rate similar to their peers. That is the keystone analysis as to whether something poses an unreasonable risk to safety," said outgoing NHTSA boss David Strickland during an interview with the The Associated Press.
Vilner turned its customary and intensely luxurious attentions to a two-door Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited back in 2012, following that up this year with its take on the four-door version. A coat of lustrous black paint outside is brightened up LED headlights, foglights and taillights and layers of chrome laid on the grille, mirrors, door handles and fuel filler cap.
Stance gets an injection of brawn from the 20-inch wheels, and they'll roll faster thanks to the power upgrade from 197 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque in the 2.8-liter diesel to 257 hp and 412 lb-ft.
Inside is furious red, with cross-stitched crimson leather and Alcantara demanding your focus. When you can look away from that, you'll find the raw metal parts painted black and again ornamented in minor applications of chrome. Feel free to feast on it in the high-res gallery above.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley would rather soft-pedal the seven-figure prognostication for now, but Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne won't have it, proclaiming in an interview that Jeep will sell one million units worldwide this year. Manley has called that come-hither number "a stretch," the history of recent gains perhaps reason for his caution: in 2011 the brand sold 568,317 units, followed by the record-breaking tally of 701,626, then another record in 2013 with 731,565 units moved.
That kind of gap means everything will need to go magically for Jeep to record a 37-percent increase this year - amazing Cherokee sales, a brilliant launch for the little Jeep arriving in Europe later this year and a heavy wave to raise sales in US, European and Chinese markets. Manley is confident about the prospects in 2015, though, with the Cherokee in full stride, the Fiat-based Jeep on its way to the US and expanded global production. It's not as though Marchionne's prediction for Jeep's 2014 sales is unexpected, since he first made it last year. But even if the number ends up a little short for 2014, there's no doubt it will be impressive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into headliner fires experienced by a small number of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango owners has been upgraded to an engineering analysis, the step before the initiation of a recall. In August last year the investigation began with 146,000 Grand Cherokees from 2012 after three complaints were received, but a report on Edmunds says it has been expanded to include 593,299 vehicles covering the 2011-2013 model years for the Jeep and the Dodge Durango, which uses the same headliner assembly, because of possibly 52 incidents of fire.
In some of those incidents drivers have reported a burning odor, smoke or open flames that were contained to the headliner or migrated to another area of the passenger compartment. The culprit has apparently been found: NHTSA blaming an electrical short in the sun visor vanity light wiring, which is routed under the headliner and held in place by three screws. Chrysler began its own probe into the issue when it was first reported and is still looking into the situation while, "fully supporting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation."
For the past few years, Chrysler and its CEO, Sergio Marchionne, have gone head-to-head with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its boss, David Strickland, over the government safety agency's request for Chrysler to recall almost three-million Jeep vehicles due to what NHTSA says is a safety issue that has caused at least 51 deaths. After a three-year investigation and Chrysler's initial refusal to issue a recall because it deemed the vehicles safe and built to the day's federal requirements, last summer, the two parties compromised on a "voluntary campaign" to inspect 1.56 million vehicles, those being the 1992 to 1998 Grand Cherokee and 2002 to 2007 Liberty.
Those vehicles were designed with their gas tanks between the rear axle and the bumper, and NHTSA says that in rear-end collisions, damage to the fuel tank has caused fires responsible for those 51 deaths. The compromise reached last summer was that Chrysler would inspect 1.56 million vehicles and, "if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle." Practically speaking, that meant Chrysler would replace aftermarket trailer hitches, but would take no action if a vehicle had a factory-installed hitch or an aftermarket hitch from Mopar.
A report in The Detroit News says the "voluntary campaign" is just now getting under way, with Chrysler saying last week that the design of the replacement part had been finalized and it was tooling up "to deliver the required volume." Seven months later, still in question is whether NHTSA will crash-test the fix engineered by Chrysler, noteworthy because not only did the vehicles in question pass every safety standard necessary to be cleared for sale at the time, there are still questions (to those of us on the outside) as to how the Jeeps at issue fare among their peers in such incidents. Either way, Chrysler and NHTSA apparently still disagree on the efficacy of the remedy itself: the carmaker says it might help in low-speed crashes but not high-speed collisions, a position the NHTSA is at odds with. All of this means the campaign doesn't yet have an end in sight.