By on March 21, 2016

2014 Jeep Wrangler

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!

Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

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.

Mark Fields. Picture courtesy

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 Phaeton

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.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

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]

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37 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Wrangler Pipeline Glut, Mark “Ka-Ching!” Fields, and GM’s Need for More Speeds...”

  • avatar

    The problem with FCA’s “success” is that they (1) were only gaining back what they lost prior to bankruptcy (that means no growth), and (2) they are making all of their money on the most susceptible products to high gas prices. This is a very foolish and short-sighted plan that is also going to run up against CAFE issues imposed by this leftist regime that thinks you can fiat technology (no pun intended).

  • avatar

    Ten speed transmission? That’s only about four more than necessary, IMO. Unless the subject is ridiculous bragging rights, then that’s another matter…

    • 0 avatar

      Speed limit on most highways = 70. So to me anything more then about 6 speeds is overkill because the car will be shifting every 10 mph. If you need 7 speeds why not just go CVT instead? I assume these are normal gas engines, not diesels with a narrow power band.

      • 0 avatar

        ” why not just go CVT instead?” CVTs have made great strides since the original in the DAF cars of the last century. But CVTs still have issues, fewer than before, but they still have issues.

        The whole idea behind the CVT is to keep engine rpm in the most ideal power band while varying load application to match in order to achieve the ultimate fuel economy.

        If someone is concerned with such parameters they would do well with a CVT and a squirrel-engine.

        In that case, the best thing is to only keep the CVT vehicle for the duration of the factory warranty before the on-set of CVT and other problems.

        And more and more people are doing just that by buying, in essence, disposable vehicles, either by leasing them, or by trading them for something new before the factory warranty expires.

        Let the problems and repair costs be someone else’s worry.

      • 0 avatar

        If I need more than 7 speeds, I’m probably driving something with a GVWR over 14 tons.

  • avatar

    Looks like the Ford pickup experiment is working after all.

  • avatar

    Half of the F150s body is made from plastic/composite, that’s the bigger news than the aluminum, people aren’t paying for aluminum they’re paying for a plastic cab.

    • 0 avatar

      How do you feel this bodes for long term durability? Just makes me think of how ratty Saturns got after a while.

      • 0 avatar

        The composite bed on the Tacoma is a big draw for me. Everyone remembers the haggard looking beds on the older Hilux/Pickup trucks in the 90s. No issues with durability that I’ve heard of, even with guys that offroad the hell out of them. I have not heard anything about the F150 using extensive amounts of composite in their bodies.

      • 0 avatar

        You know, I almost never saw a “ratty Saturn” unless the owner simply did not take ordinary care of it. I owned a Saturn Vue for 12 years before selling it to my in-laws who drove it another two. During all that time it looked almost as good as new, other than the flat-black bumpers going grey. Those ‘plastic’ panels held up to almost all weather conditions and ordinary parking lot bumps and scrapes without ever showing any damage or mars. Even one time when somebody scraped the rear quarter and shattered my taillight, I just replaced the light assembly, buffed out the scrapes and you couldn’t even tell it had been damaged.

        And that’s one reason why they died; the dealership body shop almost never got any business out of body repairs.

      • 0 avatar

        I wouldn’t mind so much for the bed, but I think it’s incredibly cheap and against the trend of building trucks to last. Damage repair is also more expensive as your not going to fix a small dent, instead you’ll replace an entire cab segment and the labor associated will be exponentially higher.

        • 0 avatar

          I think you’re making some assumptions, Hummer. In some ways aluminum is quite easy to fix… easier than steel except that you can’t weld it the same way you do steel. There are other ways that could work much better and reduce the risk of dielectric corrosion.

          • 0 avatar

            My apologies, I wasn’t clear, aluminum is no problem to fix, I’m talking about the cab which is made of a plastic/composite, you can’t repair a hole in the rocker, you have to replace the entire cab section, a major undertaking.
            So basically, get that rocker bent in a fender bender could equal the amount of damage to fix as bending a frame.

  • avatar

    On a RWD why not drop in a two-speed transaxle. Hell, even my old Schwinn knew that was the way to go…so did Rambler…

  • avatar

    “making the model almost mythical.”

    Not that mythical, you could easily find them at VW service bays.

    • 0 avatar


      Off topic, but gave you seen the Terrain Nightfall Edition? Hahahaha. Oh man.

      Another way to get people to spend $35K for a Terrain.

  • avatar

    That is a LOT of Wranglers. What are the odds that FCA winds up destroying Jeep’s reputation by overproducing and being forced to put $7,000 on the hood ov every Wrangler.

    Another American icon destroyed?

  • avatar

    I know just enough about automatic transitions not to quit my day job. If the exec at ZF says 9 is enough then I will believe him. Dont know why so many here are opposed to 6 speeds max. Maybe he doesnt know what he is talking about. All I know that the few 8 speeds I have driven in several Lexus Models have been smooth as silk and I dont even like Lexes brand by any stretch of the imagination.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m good at 4, I love the pulling power of a good 4 speed.

      • 0 avatar

        4 is great if you never need to go faster than 65.

      • 0 avatar

        Mmmm, four speed. Nothing like asking for just a bit more power and getting a dramatic-way-more-than-necessary-make-your-grandma-think-you’re-a-power-crazed-manchild downshift from 3000rpm to 5000rpm. Yup, good ol’ 4-speed.

        • 0 avatar

          Ehh, when I want power I want it now, the 6 speeds are annoying because it doesn’t give me what I want the first time, so then you have to push it further, and it seems like it’s never going to shift down. And I’m used to V8s, the few 4 cylinders I’ve dealt with are awful, might as well floor it everywhere you go, else it’s just super slow.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I now have 23,000 miles on the GMC truck in the photo, which has an 8-speed tranny behind a 6.2 liter gas engine rated at 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque.As it is, when not in tow/haul mode, the first shift occurs before you get across an intersection if you’re accelerating moderately; and tow/haul mode appears to lock out 8th gear. So, I’m not seeing the use of two more gears. I would be concerned about the software that manages such a beast. As it is, my 8-speed,which very aggressively locks up the torque converter under light load can be a little jerky. It does however, result in phenomenal fuel economy: 23.8 mpg over 400 miles running at 65-80 with 3 passengers and several hundred pounds of stuff in the box. 13.8 mpg towing my 7600 GVWR trailer at 55-60 over the same overall distance. I remember when my Dad drove the family’s 63 Chevy sedan(powered by a wheezy “blue flame” 6) taking us from Washington DC to Denver at 70 and was thrilled to get 20 mpg (with a 3-speed manual).

  • avatar

    My local Jeep dealer has a whole lot full of *$40k+ Wranglers. Some are edging close to $50k. For a Wrangler. It’s insane.


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