By on April 24, 2016

sergio-marchionne

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, could shed light on the company’s uncertain future this Tuesday when the company reports earnings. However, as the Detroit Free Press reports, Marchionne may not take the opportunity to clear the air, which would leave employees at FCA plants wondering about their futures for months to come.

The sweatered one has already stated in no uncertain terms that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart will get the axe. Just when that will happen, and what product will fill freed-up plant capacity and dealer lots, remains a guessing game.

(Read More…)

By on March 7, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200S and 2016 Chrysler 200C, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America

The midsize sedan that can’t catch a break is continuing to darken a plant where workers can’t catch a shift.

The Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant that produces the Chrysler 200 will remain closed for another three weeks, Automotive News reports, extending the temporary closure to a total of nine weeks.

Slow sales and a steep inventory glut are to blame for the shutdown, which was needed for supply and demand to regain equilibrium. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200S AWD, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America

The plan was straightforward. With demand for conventional midsize cars gradually decreasing and buyers in Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. showrooms increasingly turning to flexible Jeep SUVs, Chrysler 200 production would be temporarily shut down. Inventory was piling up. Inventory needed to be cleared out.

Rather than build more sedans, which would simply be piled up on top of existing unsold 200s, a six-week production hiatus would allow time for 200 supply and demand to realign at more realistic levels.

But the clear-out of those existing, unsold 200s — Automotive News says Chrysler had a 217-day supply of 47,000 200s at the beginning of February — isn’t having any measurable impact on 200 sales. In fact, while FCA wants to see 200s leaving showrooms in order for space to be created for new 200s once production is reignited, demand for the 200 is drying up. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200S

News that 200 production would instantly end, albeit temporarily, was overshadowed by news that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would, sooner than later, farm out the design and production of their small and intermediate cars to a rival automaker.

The Chrysler 200’s plant in Sterling, Michigan will undergo a six-week shutdown due to an inventory glut at dealers nationwide. Over the last three months, U.S. sales of the 200, FCA’s best-selling car in the United States in 2015, tumbled 46 percent to only 24,111 units, or about the number of Camrys Toyota sells every 18 days. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2016

car-brands

FCA’s sweater-in-chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn around the debt-laden and ailing automaker: stop building cars that lose money. That sounds like common sense, so long as oil prices stay low and the demand for trucks, SUVs and crossovers remains high.

But that plan introduces a new set of problems, chief among them the fact that ditching the car market leaves FCA exceptionally exposed to future volatility in oil prices. Crude prices affect prices at the pump, which affects the demand for certain types of vehicles. Sergio is betting oil prices will stay low by focusing on vehicles with ever-increasing price tags and ever-growing gas tanks.

Still, there will always be some demand for small cars. It was true in 1950 and it is true today. So what will Mr. Sweater do to meet that demand? Simple: he’ll buy those vehicles from another automaker and badge engineer them the old-fashioned way.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2014

20141221_122332

Two Chryslers, both alike in dignity
(In fair Miami, where we lay our scene)

(Read More…)

By on November 11, 2014

2015 chrysler 200Canada’s best-selling midsize car? The Chrysler 200.

At least, that was the case in October 2014, a month in which sales of the 200 jumped 120% to 1800 units. Even with the near-disappearance of the Dodge Avenger, the fraternal twin of the new 200’s predecessor, Chrysler Canada midsize car sales grew 64% last month.

Odd as this may sound for U.S. observers, it’s not completely out of the blue in Canada. Nor did we arrive at this point without an explanation. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2014

2015 Chrysler 200 S AWD rear angleI just spent a week with the all-new, all-wheel-drive 2015 Chrysler 200 S. It was one of Chrysler Canada’s press cars, priced at $38,815. Equipped as it was with big wheels and a dual pane sunroof and blind spot monitoring and navigation, it would have been priced at $35,560 in the United States.

Yes, $35,560. And that’s not the top of the range. I know this because there are three conspicuous, dare I say ostentatious, blanked-out switches placed on the steering wheel, an owner’s most frequent touch point. (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2014

003-2015-chrysler-200-leak-1Through the first nine months of 2014, sales of the Chrysler 200 are down 27%. That’s to be expected, as the 200 was transitioning from Sebring-based (but Pentastar-powered!) fleet favourite to sleeker 2015 200 form. Granted, Toyota is transitioning from Camry to refreshed Camry and sales are up 5% this year, but that’s a somewhat invalid comparison for another day. Dodge Avenger volume is down 37% to 49,363 units in 2014, but again, this was an anticipated decline, as Chrysler Group has actually killed off the Avenger.

Jointly, the duo is down 31% to 124,505 units. For the third time, this is not a shocker. We expected a period of decreasing 200 volume, and we knew the Avenger’s drops were going to be severe.

(Read More…)

By on March 19, 2014

photo (9)

Calling the 2015 Chrysler 200 an “improvement” would be damning it with faint praise. Rather than condemn it as one of the worst cars to grace our roads, I think it’s safe to say that the outgoing version was rather dated and uncompetitive, even if the 200, and its former Dodge Avenger platform-mate, had a small but vocal following among a subset of TTAC readers.

When the wraps came off the all-new 200 at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, it didn’t look as if Chrysler had gotten their act together. Under the bright lights of Cobo Hall, the 200S that was displayed looked like the gawky,uninspired pastiche that resulted from a Chevrolet Impala had mating with a Dart. The faux-mag wheels and edgy blue color felt like Chrysler was trying a little too hard, and both myself and Juan Barnett were left unimpressed.. If Chrysler botched this, it would be the third consecutive launch gone awry, and strike three for the much touted, Alfa Romeo derived CUSW platform that is set to underpin much of their car and crossover lineup in the future.

(Read More…)

By on February 28, 2014

granville

Note: I’ve used the title “Avoidable Contact” for years now to denote my editorials in which I’m discussing general automotive issues. With the publication of the new issue of R&T, that title is now in use there. For the foreseeable future, I will be writing two types of editorials here at TTAC. The good-cars-and-bad-women content that has traditionally gone under “Trackday Diaries” will continue to do so, while the stuff that used to be “Avoidable Contact” will now be under “No Fixed Abode”, with a nod of the head to the departed Iain M Banks — JB

The year was 1986 and I, a six-foot-three fourteen-year-old rendered insubstantial by vertical growth and sleepless nights, was chasing my eight-year-old brother through the moonlit woods behind the house of my father’s friends. He, in turn, was pursuing a child somewhere between our ages, who was running after a firefly, or a frog, or perhaps nothing. The noise of a party was fading behind us as we sprinted, hot and sweating in the summer evening, screaming wordlessly ahead, until we burst from the trees into a clearing and fell silent as a group. There was a woman seated in a chromed Everest&Jennings wheelchair, thin, sad-eyed, facing a detached garage and the long, battleship-grey Pontiac parked in front of it.
(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2014

550x366x2012-Chrysler-200S-Convertible-001-550x366.jpg.pagespeed.ic.YhAR2AJFqV

Along with the Dodge Avenger, the Chrysler 200 convertible won’t be returning to showrooms alongside the upgraded 2015 model.

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2014

ZF 9HP Transmission, Picture Courtesy of Land RoverIn a week we will post our first full review of the all-new and all-controversial 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The new Jeep isn’t just raising eyebrows for the love-it or hate-it styling. Or the resurrection of the Cherokee badge. Or the constant delays in production. Or the transverse mounted engine. Or the lack of solid axles. None of that laundry list seems to cause as much discussion around the automotive water cooler than ZF’s 9HP 9-speed transmission. Click past the jump for a deep dive into the tranny with more speeds than my bicycle. If you don’t want to explore transmissions in detail, don’t click. You have been warned.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2014

200-5

I was shivering, I think, because I was low on blood. Ten days of internal bleeding, of cauterization, of six vials a day donated to the unworthy cause of redundant testing, of the dark brown surge through the catheter, of the bright red bloom in the water of the toilet bowl. Your blood keeps you warm. You don’t realize it, but it does. Low on blood, low on heat, shivering in my shearling and cashmere Gimo’s coat, backing my walker towards the open door of my rental.

There was an ugly whirr from the starter. A prehistoric noise, one that reminded me of the M-body Gran Fury my boss owned when I worked at a two-screen theater in 1989. The kind of scrape-and-moan that has long since been banished from modern cars. And it didn’t catch. A new car, in the Year Of Our Lord 2014, that doesn’t start. But when it did catch, on the second crank, the temperature display showed a nice round zero. Zero degrees. I can forgive that. I can forgive being a bit hesitant to start after days on the rental lot, at a temperature not so far above that at which Ketel One freezes.

“You and me, little guy,” I said, patting the soft-touch dash, “we have some work to do, so let’s get going.” And we did.
(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2014

Chrysler marketeer Olivier Francois has been a master at getting enormous buzz from Chrysler’s Super Bowl commercials. Two years ago, they launched the memorable Imported From Detroit ad for the Chrysler 200, using music by Detroit area rapper Eminem. That ad was said by many to be more memorable than the 2011 200, a warmed over Sebring, every car writer’s favorite whipping boy. Chrysler has an all-new 200 that it just revealed at the Detroit auto show less than a month ago and to get the buzz going on the new car, Francois has tweeked the 200’s tagline to “American Import” and instead of hiring someone contemporary like Mr. Mathers, Chrysler’s Global Hue ad agency went old school and engaged Bob Dylan to appear in, provide music and perform the voiceover for the Chrysler 200’s new Super Bowl spot. I’m also wondering if Bob didn’t also write some of the ad copy. (Read More…)

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