By on July 27, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Exterior Front 3/4. Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

As recently as March 1, 2016 — on behalf of February 2016’s sales results — Fiat Chrysler US LLC touted a 71-month streak of year-over-year U.S. new vehicle sales improvements. Although FCA US stopped communicating the length of that streak by the beginning of the second-quarter, the company’s sales reports suggested that the streak through the end of June 2016 measured 75 months.

Figures released by FCA yesterday reveal that the streak of year-over-year improvements actually ended at 40 months in September 2013, when an originally reported 1-percent increase, it turns out, was actually a 3-percent decrease. On two other occasions during this 75-month span, FCA claimed sales had improved, year-over-year. August 2015’s 2-percent increase was actually a 1-percent decrease. Then, only two months ago, while FCA originally claimed a 1-percent increase, sales actually fell 7 percent.

The abbreviated streak, however, is only one side of the equation. (And it increasingly appears to be the least of FCA’s worries, as a grand jury has now been empaneled.) FCA’s sales reporting methods, highly questionable on both the retail and fleet side, frequently resulted in significant overstatements and, FCA claims, understatements, as well. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

2016 Dodge Charger R/T, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

In response to media reports, a lawsuit, and federal investigations into potential sales figure tampering, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is changing the way it records sales.

This means that the automaker’s much-touted 75-month sales streak is dead. FCA admits that under the new method, its year-over-year monthly sales gains ended in September 2013. Ad copy is likely being rewritten as you read this. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2016

east-brunswick-nj-jeep-dodge-chrysler-dealership-1024x768

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stopped inflating monthly sales figures after uncovering the practice last year, according to sources within the automaker.

The two insiders told Automotive News that the practice, which involved artificially boosting sales numbers before rolling them back the following month, was discovered by an internal review in mid-2015. FCA sales chief Reid Bigland reportedly put a stop to the practice.

FCA is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2016

Mazda3-Based Dodge Dart Replacement Render, Front, Image: © 2016 Chris Doane Automotive/Theophilus Chin for The Truth About Cars

Last week, our own Tim Cain broke down exactly why the Dart was destined for the dustbin. Steph asked in April if the Dart would outlast the Obama administration, a question answered last week with a resounding “no” from Auburn Hills. And before that, I asked you what company could build a replacement for the Dart, while offering up my own guesses. One car kept rising to the top of the suggestion list: the Mazda3.

But, what would a Mazda3-based Dodge Dart replacement look like? We wanted to know. And since none of us at TTAC are particularly gifted when it comes to pixel manipulation, we commissioned a pair of renders from the talented Theophilus Chin of Chris Doane Automotive to find out.

(Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

2013 Dodge Dart GT

“If you’re a serious carmaker and you can’t make it in this segment, you’re doomed.”
— Sergio Marchionne, September 2012

“There’s nothing wrong with the car.”
— Sergio Marchionne, January 2013

“We have decided to de-focus, from the manufacturing standpoint, to de-focus on the passenger car market.”
— Sergio Marchionne, January 2016

The launch was flubbed by an emphasis on manual transmissions. The brand lacked the reputation of a competitive builder of small cars after 15 years of Neons and Calibers. Trim and engine variants were, sometimes, poorly aligned. The market for passenger cars began to shrink even as the overall auto industry expanded. Demand for the Dart, limited even at its peak, dried up as most Dart competitors posted modest declines.

The reasons for the Dodge Dart’s demise are many. At the end of its run, however, the Dodge Dart’s production end in September 2016 represents a premature euthanization. After Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ boss said less than seven months ago that the Dart, along with the larger Chrysler 200, would be withdrawn from the marketplace “over a prolonged period of time,”

FCA has now clarified that “prolonged” equals only three-quarters of a year.

What’s the hurry? Jeep. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2016

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

“Your word is your bond,” Melania Trump famously said. Or was it Michelle Obama?

We are pretty sure the current and potentially future First Ladies were not speaking about the words found in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ monthly U.S. sales reports. Yet questions have arisen — once again — regarding FCA’s sales practices and reporting methodologies. This time, rather than lawsuits from a Maserati dealer that operates stores in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, or an Illinois dealer of core FCA brands, the questions are being asked by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In March, Napleton Automotive’s lawsuit (filed by the same lawyer hired by Recovery Racing to sue FCA-owned Maserati last year) accused FCA of “‘strong arm’ tactics to get dealers to falsify sales reports that benefit the auto maker by creating ‘the appearance that [Fiat Chrysler’s] performance is better than, in reality, it actually is,’” according to The Wall Street Journal.

On July 11, reports Automotive News, “Investigators from the FBI and the SEC visited FCA field staff in their homes and offices on July 11 as part of the probe.” In FCA’s own statement, the automaker said yesterday that, “In its annual and quarterly financial statements, FCA records revenues based on shipments to dealers and customers and not on reported vehicle unit sales to end customers,” and confirmed cooperation with both the SEC and the Justice Department.

But what are the actual claims? As automakers report model-specific U.S. auto sales figures at the beginning of every month, FCA typically delves into great detail regarding the prior month’s performance and the year-to-date results. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2016

FCA - Auburn Hills

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is in hot water with federal authorities over the way it reports its sales.

Late yesterday, it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission both launched investigations into the automaker, following months of accusations of inflated sales figures. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2016

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will give you up to $1,500 to find weaknesses in its vehicles’ security, but cybersecurity experts want the automaker to pony up more dough.

After the company announced its industry-first “bug bounty” program on July 13, many professional hackers say FCA’s reward isn’t enough to attract real talent in the search for software breaches, Forbes reports. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2016

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Image: FCA

In a few weeks, after Pokémon Go jumps the shark and we all head back to our homes for nights of solitude, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offer another opportunity for high-tech geekery. And a lucrative one, too.

Announced today, the automaker will hand tech-savvy individuals cold, hard cash in return for information on weaknesses in its vehicles’ cybersecurity. Exposing a hidden backdoor that hackers could sneak through will net you up to $1,500. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Jeep and Ram vehicles are being snatched out of driveways in Houston, but the thieves aren’t hacking their way to a free ride, according to the automaker’s U.S. head of security architecture.

A rash of thefts over the past few months in the Houston area had owners of Jeep and Ram vehicles scratching their heads until a garage surveillance video posted by police showed two men making off with a Wrangler. One of the men appears to use a laptop to start up the vehicle, raising fears that tech-minded thieves have developed a program to override security features and commandeer certain vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is working with the Houston Police Department on the case, but claims the video is misleading. (Read More…)

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