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Automakers Deliver Some Neat Tricks and Plenty of Treats for SEMA Show

Here's our round-up of the coolest, hottest and wackiest concepts to roll into the Las Vegas Convention Center.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.31, 2018

The Honda Rugged Open Air concept.

Trick or Treat? Make that trick and treat, as the annual SEMA Show gets underway in Las Vegas.

Perfectly timed for Halloween, the annual aftermarket event regularly sees the debut of some intriguing concept vehicles from U.S., Asian and European automakers, and this year is no exception.

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In fact, there’s a Demon-chaser from Mopar which reveals a 1,000-horsepower crate motor that takes last year’s version of the Hellcat line to new levels. (more…)

Mopar Caps SEMA Surprises with 1,000 HP Hellephant

Mopar puts a distinctive spin on a pair of FCA icons.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.30, 2018

Looking to blow away a Dodge Demon? Good news! Mopar has you covered with the Hellephant-powered Super Charger.

You can never be too rich, nor have too much horsepower. And for those who thought the Dodge Demon was pushing the limits, Fiat Chrysler’s Mopar division will deliver a high-performance surprise at this year’s SEMA Show.

Taking things into four digits for the first time, Mopar gave a handful of journalists a sneak peek at three customized models it will bring to the annual accessories show in Las Vegas next week – as well as the most powerful, factory-supplied “crate” engine ever to be offered to serious performance fans.

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And you can be sure that anything using the 1,000 horsepower V-8 will be hitting 60 by the time you pronounce its full name, the Fiat Chrysler 426 Crate Mopar Hellephant. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler’s Q3 Profits Dinged Due to Diesel Emission Charges

Record earnings before diesel issue may mean dividend payment.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.30, 2018

Fiat Chrysler's third quarter earnings were hurt by charges tied to possible diesel emissions violations.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles net income dropped 38% during the third quarter despite record adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2 billion euros, or $2.27 billion, opening the door for the company to pay its first dividend since it was re-organized in 2014.

However, net profit decline 38% to 600 million euros, or $681.16 million, including a 700 million charge related to U.S. diesel emissions matters. FCA is now under investigation by U.S. Department of Justice for the company’s failure to disclose software on about 104,000 diesel-powered pickups and SUVs that regulators said could be similar to the “defeat devices” Volkswagen AG used to cheat emissions-testing on millions of its diesel-powered vehicles.

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FCA’s worldwide shipments increased by 3% and net revenue grew by 9% to 28.8 billion euros during the quarter. Despite cost of the diesel penalties, FCA’s adjusted EBIT in the North America region grew by 51% with margin at 10.2%, according to the financial information released by the company. (more…)

FCA May Reassess Plan to Move Ram Pickup out of Mexico

Company may need to continue production South of the Border to meet strong demand.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.29, 2018

Fiat Chrysler outsold rival Ford Motor Co. in September, led by strong sales of its Ram pickup truck.

While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday it is moving ahead with plans to shift production of its Ram pickup from Mexico to Michigan, a statement appeared to open up the opportunity that it will continue to build the newly redesigned truck at its Saltillo, Mexico plant.

Such a decision would be a critical one by new FCA CEO Michael Manley and likely reflect the fact that demand for the 2019 Ram truck is so strong the company’s current U.S. operations simply can’t keep up, resulting in potential customers having to shift to products like the Ford F-Series and the two newly redesigned trucks launched this year by General Motors.

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“Moving the Ram Heavy Duty to Warren from Mexico is our plan of record. Of course, we always assess latest market and economic conditions when making significant industrial moves,” FCA said in a statement on Monday. (more…)

FCA, Mopar Offer Sneak Peek at SEMA Offerings

Ram trucks get massive makeovers.

by Michael Strong on Oct.26, 2018

Mopar's Low Down Ram gets lower and meaner for SEMA. It's one of two Rams heading to the show in Las Vegas.

With SEMA right around the corner, Fiat Chrysler officials are providing an early look at two entries it’s bringing to the Las Vegas show: The Low Down Ram and Ram Rebel.

The pickup trucks, customized with a combination of Mopar production and prototype parts and accessories, are two of 14 personalized rides, as well as hundreds of Mopar products, that will be on display in the brand’s 15,345-square-foot exhibit in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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“The SEMA Show is truly the greatest stage for our brand to demonstrate what owners and enthusiasts can create with a little imagination and a selection of Mopar parts and accessories,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Parts & Service (Mopar) and Passenger Car Brands, FCA – North America.  (more…)

Consumer Reports: Domestic Vehicle Reliability Slipping

Domestic brands struggled in this year's survey.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.25, 2018

Toyota and its luxury sibling topped this year's Consumer Reports reliability survey of 29 brands.

Toyota and Lexus came out on top in Consumer Reports annual reliability survey thanks in large part to a cautious approach to adapting to new technology.

However, the Toyota Tundra, the automaker’s entry into the full-size truck segment, slipped off Consumer Reports list of recommended vehicles, Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing, disclosed during a meeting of Detroit’s Automotive Press Association.

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Fisher said overall it was a difficult year for domestic brands as Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Chrysler were among the brands that dropped in the Consumer Report’s new car reliability survey. Honda, which performed well in earlier years, also has slipped, he said.  (more…)

New Chevy Silverado Turbo-Four Nabs Top Mileage Rating

For many truck buyers, mileage matters as much as payload, towing.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.10, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will get up to 20 mpg in the city with the new turbo-four engine.

Who says pickup buyers only focus on power, payload and towing capacity? Operating costs are, for many customers – and especially those operating truck fleets – one of the most important factors they consider when choosing what model to buy.

That includes service and repairs, of course, but fuel costs are one of the biggest concerns, which is a key reason why automakers have been offering buyers a growing range of alternatives to the classic, big displacement V-8s that long dominated the full-size pickup segment.

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Chevrolet is hoping it will score a hit with potential buyers with the new, 2.7-liter turbocharged engine it is adding to its powertrain option list for the all-new 2019 Silverado. While not quite up to the numbers delivered by some of the diesel engines now available in the full-size segment, Chevy’s turbo-four nabs a tie as the most fuel-efficient gas engine available for U.S. buyers.

(more…)

Fiat Chrysler Outsells Ford in September

Makers struggle to overcome Hurricane Harvey-led sales from last year.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.02, 2018

Fiat Chrysler outsold rival Ford Motor Co. in September, led by strong sales of its Ram pickup truck.

In a dramatic reversal of fortune, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outsold Ford Motor Co. during the month of September and moved with striking distance of Toyota, the leading Japanese automaker.

FCA US reported U.S. sales of 199,819 vehicles, a 15% increase compared with sales in September 2017 of 174,266 vehicles.

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Meanwhile, Ford Motor’s September U.S. sales declined 11.2% on total sales of 197,404 units. Sales by Toyota Motor North America declined by more 10% with on sales of 203,095 Toyota and Lexus units. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Chief Manley Shuffles Executive Team

Gorlier takes over supervision of European operations.

by Michael Strong on Oct.01, 2018

FCA CEO Mike Manley handed out new assignments to his executive team including naming Pietro Gorlier to COO with oversight of European operations.

After just about six weeks as CEO, Fiat Chrysler’s Mike Manley has shuffled the company’s top managers to his liking, with one appointment in particular drawing attention.

He announced the changes in an email sent to employees.

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“The next five years will continue to be extremely challenging for our industry, with tougher regulations, intense competition and probably slower industry growth around the world,” he wrote.  (more…)

Marchionne Memorialized in Turin

“Life doesn’t stop.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Sep.14, 2018

FCA Chairman John Elkann, (c), is shown entering the Turin Cathedral for the Marchionne memorial.

An overflow crowd filled the Turin Cathedral on Friday morning marking the first of two planned memorials for Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles who died unexpectedly at the age of 66 nearly two months ago.

The ceremony brought out a mix of political and industrial elites, including FCA Chairman John Elkann and two former Italian prime ministers, as well as company workers and many local residents, according to Italian news reports.

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“Never take a break or a deep breath because life doesn’t stop,” said Elkann, the heir to the founders of the Fiat side of FCA, recalling Marchionne’s always-on-the-go work ethic.

(more…)