Americans might finally start to see a few of these so-called “Jeeps” roaming around their hometown.
That, Mark Fields can pick up everyone’s tab, eight (speeds) isn’t enough at General Motors, the Phaeton ends its long farewell, and GM Korea wants out of its slump … after the break!
Get ready for a Wrangler tsunami
You should be able to find one on your local Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram lot.
Production of the Jeepiest Jeep will reach record levels next year as both new and old models roll simultaneously off of two production lines, Automotive News reports:
The new assembly plant for the Wrangler — the Toledo factory that currently builds the Jeep Cherokee — will be outfitted to produce about 350,000 Wranglers annually. That is roughly 50 percent more Wranglers than can now be produced.
And the company plans to continue making the current Wrangler into the first quarter of 2018, about six months after production of the new one is set to begin.
Old Wranglers produced during the time of overlap will likely be sold as the Wrangler Classic. To accommodate production of the next-generation Wrangler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is moving production of its unibody Cherokee from Toledo to its Belvidere, Illinois facility.
He’s so money, he doesn’t even know it!
Ford Motor Company president and CEO Mark Fields didn’t spend the run-up to March Break comparing rates from JetBlue and Southwest.
Earning $17.3 million in 2015, Fields’ compensation rose 17 percent compared to his (partial) first calendar year on the job, and it helps that he got some key things right, says Forbes:
A major accomplishment last year was Ford’s successful launch of its aluminum-body pickup truck. Plenty of skeptics wondered if Ford’s investment was worth the switch from steel, especially because it entailed hundreds of millions in lost revenue while factories changed production tools.
Profit from Ford pickups drove Ford’s record profit for the year. Executive bonuses are tied, in part, to the automaker’s financial performance.
Recent sales successes prompted two ratings agencies to boost Ford’s credit rating last week, adding more wind to the automaker’s sails.
More speeds coming to a transmission near you
General Motors’ global product chief Mark Reuss says his company plans to have a 10-speed automatic transmission installed in eight models by 2018, reports Automotive News:
Reuss, speaking at a media event here, would not identify the other models slated to get the 10-speed. But the rear-wheel-drive gearbox is designed for high-horsepower vehicles, and so it likely will be used in the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Tahoe and some versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The new transmission, along with a new nine-speed automatic for front-wheel-drive vehicles, was developed in a joint venture with Ford. The first Ford vehicle to use the 10-speed transmission will be the next-generation Ford Raptor off-road performance truck due out this fall.
The impressively cog-endowed transmission makes its debut this fall in the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Volkswagen’s luxo-barge laid to rest
The last Volkswagen Phaeton shuffled off the production line (and its mortal coil) at the automaker’s swanky Dresden facility on Friday, Deutsche Welle reports:
Volkswagen’s Phaeton never crashed and burned, but sales never really gained traction either. After entering the market in 2002, it remained one of VW’s least successful models, costing more than three times as much as some of VW’s other, more prudent models.
But amid company-wide cutbacks in investments to save money in the wake of the automaker’s emissions-cheating scandal, Volkswagen announced last December that it would be striking the current version of the Phaeton from its portfolio. An all-electric upgrade could follow, but the company has not yet said when.
The Phaeton sold in very small numbers in the U.S. before retreating from these shores in 2006, making the model almost mythical.
GM aims for the 10 (percent) ring
Slumping General Motors vehicles sales in South Korea has the automaker scrambling to figure out how to claw back its market share, Reuters reports:
South Korea had for years been a low-cost export hub for GM, producing close to a fifth of its global output. But labor costs have risen by nearly half in just five years, hurting manufacturing competitiveness, GM executives have said.
Combined domestic and export sales for the unit fell 30 percent over two years to 1.4 million vehicles in 2015.
The unit aims to boost domestic sales to 191,000 vehicles this year, by introducing seven models including the Captiva sport utility vehicle and the Malibu sedan, Dale Sullivan, vice president of GM Korea, said at an event to launch the Captiva.
A plan to produce the Impala sedan in South Korea — a move favored by the local labor union — is still being mulled by execs.
[Image: Mark Fields, Bloomberg]