A Break From the Fam: As the Detroit Three White-collar Crowd Cools Its Heels At Home, Fiat Chrysler Has a Plan
You read yesterday how Ford Motor Company plans to keep its salaried workforce working from homes presumably overflowing with baking flour and yeast until September — a measure designed to combat spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ford’s Detroit rivals have shown themselves to be pretty much on the same page in terms of pandemic response, though one player has always seemed a little more eager to return to a normal existence than the others.
Replay the last couple of years and you’ll hear a chorus of automaker pledging their allegiance to sustainable business practices. Streamlined operations, pared-down lineups and build configurations, reduced incentives, and a newfound preference for retail sales over the volume-at-all-costs approach. No single company touted this more than Nissan, though it was hardly alone.
The coronavirus pandemic, in some cases, sped up the need to find firmer financial footing, even if incentivization became the name of the game in order to move any car or truck. One thing’s for sure: fleets, especially rental fleets, sure weren’t interested.
Dodge has been rumored to be working on a Challenger American Club Racer (ACR) for a while, encouraging your author to enact Google Alerts anytime the applicable terms crop up online. We hit pay dirt Thursday when Allpar issued insider information on the vehicle’s progress.
While you may have encountered previous ACR models from Dodge, most were likely within striking distance of a racetrack or beating your britches off in virtual racing experiences. The formula is basic, even if the execution is not. Dodge models with a preexisting racing pedigree are modified to be more track worthy; typical alterations include upgraded tires/wheels, adjustable suspensions, bigger brakes, closer gearing, slick aerodynamics, and aggressive weight reductions that throw NVH concerns to the wind. They’re track-day monsters, with all other responsibilities being secondary.
The European Union’s antitrust regulators could easily allow the proposed $50 billion merger between Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group to sail onward unopposed… or decide to throw a wrench into the works.
Both companies started funneling the necessary applications to the European Commission back in February, but Monday brought word of a decision date: on or before June 17th.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Protected the Driver in Dreaded IIHS Small Overlap Test… but Repeated Rollovers Didn't Help Its Case
One of the joys of watching a previous-generation JK Jeep Wrangler barrel into an obstacle at 40 mph in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s driver-side small overlap crash test was seeing the vehicle shed its front wheel and scoot away as if nothing had happened.
Well, in just-published tests of a randomly selected 2019 Wrangler Unlimited, the first half of the crash sequence occurs pretty must as it did before. The front driver’s side wheel shears off, with little to no intrusion into the driver’s footwell. Great for Jeep. It’s the second half of the test, however, that punts the model’s small overlap score from “good” to second-worse “marginal” — the Jeep careened onto its side.
Not once, but twice.
Fiat Chrysler is prepared to ramp up its U.S. manufacturing presence starting May 18th, but the situation on the south side of the Detroit River is another story. That’s according to Unifor President Jerry Dias, whose union represents Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada.
Dias’ U.S. counterpart, UAW President Rory Gamble, is now on board with FCA’s restart plan after initially opposing an early return to work, but the Canadian labor official is now having a change of heart.
The first quarter of 2020 spilled a tsunami of red ink over Fiat Chrysler’s balance sheet, with the automaker posting a $1.84 billion net loss.
FCA seemed to be the canary in the coal mine when it came to the coronavirus, as the automaker was forced to idle an assembly plant in Europe even when the pandemic was still a regional outbreak in China. Where did the virus then take hold? In Italy, of course — FCA’s European base of operations. You know what came after that.
Seemingly more so than its Detroit rivals, FCA has been eager to get factories back up and running, and the Q1 earnings report only adds to its desire for something approaching normalcy. The folks in Auburn Hills want to open things up starting May 18th.
After being understandably cagey about its plans to resume North American production, Fiat Chrysler appears to be ready to get back to work. Well, eventually.
After other automakers cautiously penned new return dates this week, FCA did the same, telling suppliers on Wednesday that its restart will be a multi-phase operation. Sadly for those awaiting the launch of Jeep’s two largest models, March’s industry shutdown has pushed their dream vehicles further into the future.
It won’t be a swift return to production for Fiat Chrysler and Honda. Truth be told, the same can likely be said for Ford, GM, and most other automakers with assembly operations in North America.
On Tuesday, we received the latest word on when FCA and Honda plan to restart vehicle assembly.
Before most of us were aware of the existence of coronavirus, Fiat Chrysler was idling its Jeep Cherokee plant to align production with falling sales. It certainly wasn’t the first time in recent memory. As the model grew in age, sales fell — to the tune of 20 percent in 2019.
Cherokee production, like that of all other vehicles assembled in the United States, is now offline, but there’ll be a proposition awaiting Jeep buyers when things return to normal (or whatever passes for normal in the months ahead).
Mirroring its southern neighbor, Canadian auto sales took a dive last month as measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 went into effect across the country. First-quarter volume, as a result, fell roughly 20 percent across the industry, with March’s decline pegged at 48 percent by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (via Bloomberg).
Still, amid all the gloom were statistical bright spots.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is deferring 20 percent of salaried workers’ pay until June while CEO Mike Manley endures a 50-percent cut to his annual earnings. With the pandemic still attempting to grip more of North America, this was to be expected. Other domestic nameplates have already issued notices of deferred payments to executives staffers, noting that additional measures would likely need to be taken if COVID-19 fails to recede in the coming months. Seeing the writing on the wall, FCA seems to have jumped straight into phase two.
Following reports from France that the merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be upended by the coronavirus, PSA announced that the media got this one all wrong. While the French automaker admitted that economic problems stemming from the outbreak are indeed concerning, it reiterated its commitment to safeguarding employment while adding that a merger makes even more sense now than before.
Still, there are valid reasons to question the current state of the merger agreement established in December via a memorandum of understanding. COVID-19 has sent global markets into a tailspin, with PSA and FCA seeing their share prices seesawing in the wrong direction over the last two weeks.
With Ford looking to get pickups rolling off the assembly line again by April 6th, where does its rivals stand?
The list is far from complete, and schedules for resuming production are fluid as a 1950s executive’s lunch, but there’s details to share on when certain U.S. autoworkers might be headed back to the factory.
Much talk has been made over the past week of turning the auto industry’s manufacturing might into a so-called Arsenal of Health. In the U.S. and Canada, federal governments have turned to automakers for production of much-needed ventilators to save lives of coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, breweries and distilleries have swapped to hand sanitizer production.
Turning on a dime to crank out ventilators and face masks isn’t an overnight proposition, but an emergency effort to expand the availability of life-saving supplies would go a long way to save lives. The Detroit Three are already on it. Tesla, too.
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- Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.
- Zipper69 The Bronco is a soft option and has the style that the Jeep lacks. The actual ability of the respective vehicles is irrelevant, they "compete" on image alone. The Bronco is new and trendy and production can't keep pace with demand