Fiat Chrysler Seals Off European Sites Amid Italian Coronavirus Outbreak

Since you’re probably sick of reading about how the new coronavirus is gradually making its way to your doorstep, we’ll keep this one brief. An outbreak in Italy has thrown the government into action, closing public spaces for one week as 220 more people came down with the illness since Friday.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is similarly hoping to mitigate the spread of the virus by restricting access to its European facilities. A letter issued to suppliers and prospective visitors explains that FCA will refuse anyone who has been in any of the 13 Italian municipalities affected by the virus outbreak — and the same goes if they’ve visited any Asian countries within the last 15 days.

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This Stings: Coronavirus Comes for the Fiat 500L

Of all the production upsets born of coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the idling of Fiat Chrysler’s Kragujevac, Serbia assembly plant is certainly not near the top. Not for American consumers, anyway.

The automaker announced Friday that the plant, home to the unloved Fiat 500L, will be offline until sometime late in the month. If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice?

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Desperately Seeking Dakota: Fiat Chrysler Dealer Council Hot for a Midsize

File this tidbit under the “no shit” banner. Fiat Chrysler has been without a mainstream midsize pickup since the beginning of the previous decade, and the automaker’s dealer council is sick of waiting.

A our own Tim Cain told you recently, 2019 brought the public’s growing desire for midsize pickups into stark clarity. The segment’s hot and, with the addition of the Ford Ranger, growing. FCA dealers want a slice of that action.

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Big Discounts Could Mean Big Trouble for Midsize Jeep Gladiator

Jeep dealers are now discounting Gladiator models by as much as $9,000, indicating demand for the Wangler-based pickup has seriously cooled off. Considering the insane markups we saw at launch, that’s not much of an insult.

Now that Fiat Chrysler only reports sales on a quarterly basis — an obnoxious trend sweeping through the industry like a plague — we don’t know how many Gladiators leave dealer lots month-to-month. It looks like the pickup averaged a hair above 5,000 U.S. deliveries every thirty days in 2019. That’s a far cry from the midsize pickup segment leaders, but it was also the first year of Gladiator production.

With oodles of character, legitimate off-road capabilities and higher-than-average pricing, it’s also a bit of an odd duck. While interesting designs can occasionally be too much for a (sometimes large) subset of shoppers, pricing can make or break a car’s sales prowess. Some are of the mind that Jeep expected too much from consumers and that these lofty discounts are proof.

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Jeep Will Soon Sell E-Bikes

Spending any amount of time in front of a television or computer screen on Groundhog Day likely resulted in you seeing the new Jeep Gladiator spot starring Bill Murray. As with most of the advertising done in the name of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it was memorable and effective. Both Murray and the truck came across well, encouraging many to re-watch the fantastical 1993 comedy the ad is reliant upon while possibly browsing the Jeep website beforehand. Loaded with easter eggs from the film, it was probably the best automotive ad featured during Super Bowl LIV in a year loaded with healthy competition.

However, your author noticed something odd while watching. At one point, Bill taps Punxsutawney Phil atop his adorable little helmet as they prepare to journey through the snow on what appeared to be a Jeep-branded bicycle. The scene is so brief that it required a repeat viewing to be sure. Is Jeep seriously trying to get into the bicycle game?

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Dastardly Diesels: Suzuki and Jeep Busted Breaking EU Emissions Rules

While Volkswagen remains the industrial face of diesel-related scandals, it’s just one of many automakers fingered for emissions cheating. VW was simply the first to be dragged through the coals, and its great shame encouraged governments around the world to launch investigations into whether or not other manufacturers are guilty of similarly uncouth behavior.

Dutch road authority RDW has a problem with diesel models produced by Jeep and Suzuki. While Europe has fallen out of love with the diesel of late, the accusations are a little worse than simply falling to adhere to EU emission standards. RDW says the two automakers used “prohibited emissions strategies” that allowed vehicles to emit higher levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) on the road than during testing conditions.

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ITC to Review Jeep Complaint Against Mahindra; 2020 Roxor Gets New Grille

On Wednesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said it will review an administrative law judge’s initial determination, made in November, that Mahindra’s Roxor looks suspiciously like a Jeep product.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed a trade complaint with the ITC in 2018, claiming the Roxor infringes on Jeep’s “trade dress” — a term used to identify trademarked images or general appearance of a product. Not quite a patent, it exists on the fringes of intellectual property laws, frequently making trade dress issues difficult to navigate.

The judge’s recommendation was that regulators issue a cease-and-desist order and prohibit any Mahindra vehicles or parts that infringe from entering the country. Meanwhile, the commission is still in the midst of its own investigation — which opened in September of 2018 — and now estimates finishing its inquiry by March 20th.

From there, the U.S. Trade Representative would have two months to make a final determination. Of course, now that Mahindra has updated the look of the 2020 Roxor (below the break), the whole issue could be moot.

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FCA: Merger With PSA to Be Finalized Early Next Year

The FCA-PSA merger is progressing nicely. According to Fiat Chrysler CEO Michael Manley, the joint timeline established last month is totally feasible. Both companies hoped to get this settled before 2022; Manley now believes everything could be settled within the next 12 to 14 months.

The manufacturers have inked a binding agreement — worth an estimated $50 billion — to collaboratively prepare themselves to fend against slowing global demand and the unpleasantly high cost of developing greener vehicles to appease regional emission laws. They’re also attempting to establish an effective comprehensive strategy for the numerous auto brands involved in the deal. While we speculated about Chrysler’s future yesterday, over a dozen other marques that cater to fairly specific customer groups also need to be considered.

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What's to Become of Chrysler?

Chrysler has certainly changed since emerging from the ashes of the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, spending the better part of the 20th century purveying all manner of car to the American public. The current century has seen the company merge with Daimler, followed by Fiat. Now it’s cozying up to PSA Group, leaving many to wonder what purpose Chrysler serves beyond being the corporate namesake.

Officially, the merger isn’t supposed to impact any FCA or PSA brands. But the Chrysler brand isn’t exactly a model of industrial health. Its current lineup consists of four vehicles, one of which (Voyager) is just the lower-trim version of the non-hybrid Pacifica. The minivan sales are enviable, comprising over half of all vehicles sold within the segment for the United States last year — if you incorporate the Dodge Caravan — but Chrysler’s overall trajectory leaves much to be desired.

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Jeep Remains Only 'American Brand' Japan Seems Willing to Tolerate

While I don’t particularly agree with all the criticisms Lee Iacocca has thrown at Japan, his most polarizing claim (published in Playboy, no less) — that its citizens certainly know Jeep because “they saw enough of them in World War II” — has bizarrely continued to ring true. As far as American automotive brands go, Jeep has been Japan’s favorite for a while. And it only needed to tamp down its relationship to “The Big One” slightly to get there.

However, the sales game is always relative.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing brands on the market, Jeep only netted itself 13,360 deliveries in Japan for 2019. But consistent growth since 2013 has to account for something, especially when the overall market is performing so poorly. At the very least, it shows American brands can make some amount of headway on a nut Iacocca believed uncrackable.

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Incredibly Shrinking Production Footprint Is Unifor's Cross to Bear

Detroit Three automobile production will rise 5 percent in the U.S. over the life of the recent four-year UAW contract, with Mexican assembly plants cranking out 11-percent fewer vehicles over the agreement’s lifespan, but there’s little good news for the snowy land north of the U.S. border.

By 2023, Detroit Three production is expected to decline by a whopping 27 percent in Canada, continuing a decades-long trend. Labor contracts expire this year, so what’s a union to do?

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Fiat Chrysler Looking to Muscle Into Chinese EV Market

Ram Rebels and Power Wagons are a tough fit for China’s cramped, heavily taxed new vehicle market, but “new energy” vehicles (electric cars) are not. With this in mind, Fiat Chrysler is aiming to put EVs in the hands of Chinese consumers through a potential joint venture.

Clearly seeing an avenue for growth — and a way to compensate for falling Jeep sales while challenging industry heavyweights like Volkswagen, GM, and Ford — FCA has entered talks with Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn, the automaker announced Friday.

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Fade to Pink: Dodge Changes Splitter Guard Color

The yellow front splitter guards on Dodge’s Charger and Challenger have become a major point of conflict among automotive enthusiasts. In one corner, we have traditionalists who believe protective coverings used for shipping have no business appearing on a road-going car. In the other? A bunch of maniacs who think keeping the guards on adds something to the aesthetics, sort of like how you see people maintaining the stickers and tags on a new baseball cap.

Your author has seen a Challenger where the protectors had been on so long, they became sun-bleached and had started to lose their color. Dodge/SRT design boss Mark Trostle expressed his distaste for the trend in October, saying the guards were never part of the concept drawings and basically just ruin the paint.

Despite the issue causing a ruckus online, including some top-shelf trolling, some people still refuse to take them off. Dodge appears to have a plan, however. It’s swapping the protective coverings’ coloring from yellow to hot pink, presumably in an effort to discourage the trend.

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The Price of Peace: Fiat Chrysler Sees Biggest Jump in Labor Costs

Concessions made to the United Auto Workers by the Detroit Three during last fall’s bargaining talks will weigh on the automakers’ bottom lines, but none more so than Fiat Chrysler’s.

Labor costs stand to jump significantly at FCA, partially erasing the cost advantage it enjoyed over Ford and General Motors.

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Full-size Truck War Update: Ram Fills Ford's Rear-view in 2019

With full-year sales stats now available from each of the Detroit Three, we can see how the leaders in the critically important full-size pickup segment faired in the eventful year of 2019.

And it was an eventful year, what with new full-sizers on offer from Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC, and revamped Heavy Dutys from both Ram and GM entering the fray. (GM’s big guys landed for the 2020 model year, with Ford’s redesigned 2020 Super Duty series arriving shortly after the launch of its Detroit rival.)

It’s no secret that Ram did well last year, but how did it stack up next to the perennial front-runner?

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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