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Auto blogWed, 30 Jan 2013 10:59:00 EST
Hot on the heels of Ford's earnings announcement for the year that was, Chrysler today reported a 2012 net income of $1.7 billion, up substantially from the comparatively minuscule $183 million profit earned in 2011 when it repaid its US government loans.
Chrysler's good year ended with an excellent fourth quarter that saw net income rise 68 percent from $225 million in 2011 to $378 million. Where are all those extra earnings coming from? Market share, which Chrysler saw increase to 11.4% last year on sales of 1.65 million vehicles. In fact, the Auburn Hills, MI-based automaker out-paced the industry's market growth of 13 percent last year with sales up 21 percent for the year.
The company also revealed an updated product plan for its Chrysler Group and Fiat brands that looks all the way out to 2016. It's an updated version of the plan introduced in 2009 shortly after Fiat took control of the American automaker, and includes such new additions as an Alfa Romeo model, likely the 4C, to be introduced in the US this year, as well five more Alfa models by 2016. Likewise, Fiat will be growing by an additional seven models in the coming few years.
Production delays aside, Jeep is steaming towards its September on-sale date for the 2014 Cherokee. The reborn midsizer's configurator has just gone live, meaning you can fiddle with different options, colors and trim levels to your heart's content.
The cheapest model available is the 4X2 Sport, which starts at a reasonable $22,995. On the high end, the Cherokee's builder allowed us to indulge our passion for ludicrously priced vehicles by outfitting the top-end Trailhawk, which already starts at $29,495, with $8,610 in options. The resulting car, which you can see above, would retail for $39,100 after the $995 destination is factored in.
Head on over to Jeep's build-it-yourself website and have a look around.
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.