Fiat Chrysler Worried Government Shutdown Could Delay New Products

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
fiat chrysler worried government shutdown could delay new products

Unless you’re employed by Uncle Sam, you may not have noticed the current government shutdown impacting your life by any meaningful margin. That, of course, has not kept the media from spending the entire month scaremongering and trying to place blame (Spoiler: It’s everyone’s fault, as these shutdowns happen anytime Congress has to agree on a new budget, and partisan politics keeps them from working toward any cooperative solutions).

While this is the longest partial shutdown of the U.S. government in modern history (take that, 1996), it hasn’t been quite as terrifying as the internet or television would lead you to believe. However, we’re starting to get a little uneasy at this point — because it looks like the situation could delay the launch of the Ram Heavy Duty we’ve prattled on about for the past two days.

The pickups still need emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in order to be approved for sale. Unfortunately, that process is now delayed by the shutdown. Due to the current federal encumbrance, EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality is currently inactive and cannot test emissions or issue any approvals to automakers.

According to Bloomberg, this has Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley very worried. “I am concerned, very concerned, because if it continues, it will have an impact on on the launch,” Manley told reporters at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. “The earlier that it can be resolved, clearly the better, and obviously I’m not the only person saying that.”

Ram debuted the new 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty trucks on Monday, with us praising the new Cummins Turbo Diesel’s 1,000 lb-ft of torque to a disgusting degree. In fact, most of the news surrounding the HD pickups involved their updated powertrain options — which you can’t purchase without the automaker getting the necessary approvals from the EPA.

That’s bad for consumers, but it’s worse for Fiat Chrysler. Its Ram brand is currently living it up following news that its full-size pickup finally overtook the Chevy Silverado in sales, and is eager to ride that momentum, hoping to spend the rest of 2019 as the second-biggest truck brand after Ford. However, it will be operating at a distinct disadvantage if it has to postpone the launch of Ram’s high-margin HD trucks.

Manley said he believed truck sales will remain strong this year but did not believe overall sales would outshine last year’s volume. “I think there’s little opportunity for it to grow,” he said.

While we feel for the only Detroit Three automaker to avoid widespread layoffs in pursuit of new investments in “electro mobility,” the government shutdown does not affect FCA exclusively. Every automaker interested in selling new product within the United States will have to contend with an idled EPA. Depending on how long the government shutdown continues, other manufacturers could wind up in the same position as Ram — alone, afraid, and without approval.

[Image: FCA]

Join the conversation
2 of 27 comments
  • Kwik_Shift Once 15 Minute Cities start to be rolled out, you won't be far enough away from home to worry about range anxiety.
  • Bobbysirhan I'd like to look at all of the numbers. The eager sheep don't seem too upset about the $1,800 delta over home charging, suggesting that the total cost is truly obscene. Even spending Biden bucks, I don't need $1,800 of them to buy enough gasoline to cover 15,000 miles a year. Aren't expensive EVs supposed to make up for their initial expense, planet raping resource requirements, and the child slaves in the cobalt mines by saving money on energy? Stupid is as stupid does.
  • Slavuta Civic EX - very competent car. I hate the fact of CVT and small turbo+DI. But it is a good car. Good rear seat. Fix the steering and keep goingBut WRX is just a different planet.
  • SPPPP This rings oh so very hollow. To me, it sounds like the powers that be at Ford don't know which end is up, and therefore had to invent a new corporate position to serve as "bad guy" for layoffs and eventual scapegoat if (when) the quality problems continue.
  • Art Vandelay Tasos eats $#!t and puffs peters