Analyst-Forecast-Web
Halloween is the last day for October sales but since it’s on a Friday, sales reports won’t come out until Monday, November 3. In spite of that, some analysts are already forecasting who is going to get a treat when the results are posted and who is going to feel like Charlie Brown.

According to both TrueCar.com and KBB.com, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will get the most candy with the Jeep surge pushing them to a 55th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains and the most growth of any of the major automakers.

“Fiat Chrysler’s growth, fueled by Jeep and Ram, has set up a dogfight this month, with FCA, Ford and Toyota battling for second place behind GM in total volume,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. “Industry-wide, we’re looking at the strongest October since 2004, with incentive spending at healthy levels, and on-track to finish the year at 16.4 million units.”

FCA should pick up more than a point of market share compared to October of 2013.

October is typically one of the slowest months for light vehicle sales and both TrueCar.com and KBB.com predictions are below FCA’s January-September average of 172,895 sales per month. However, KKB.com believes the two hottest segments in October will be compact SUV/Crossovers and pickups, both of which play to FCA’s strength.

Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, notes that the pace of the market is slowing and sales volumes are being propped up with profit-eating incentives, leasing and creative financing.

“One cause for concern is the rising levels of incentive spend in the industry, which in recent months has drifted close to an average of $3,000 per vehicle,” said Gutierrez. “The ratio of incentive spend to average transaction prices is at its highest since 2010, but remains below pre-recession levels. Since inventory levels have remained consistent, this isn’t a red flag quite yet, but it does underline that the natural industry growth we’ve had in recent years is slowing.”

TrueCar’s Krafcik estimates FCA will spend an average of $3,150 per vehicle on incentives, up 3.3% from last year but down 10.8% from September. It’s also less than the estimated spending by Ford and General Motors. GM will spend an estimated $3,302 per vehicle for a total estimated payout of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.

SALES VOLUME FORECASTS
Manufacturer TrueCar Change KBB.com Change
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 170,600 +21.8% 167,000 +19.2%
Ford Motor Company 180,000 -5.9% 185,000 -3.3%
General Motors 230,100 +1.6% 236,000 +4.2%
American Honda 124,400 +8.6% 120,000 +4.8%
Hyundai-Kia 99,100 +6.2% 99,000 +6.1%
Nissan North America 102,100 +12.2% 102,000 +12.1%
Toyota Motor Sales 178,500 +5.6% 179,000 +5.9%
Volkswagen Group 48,200 6.9% 46,000 2.9%
Industry 1,278,800 5.9% 1,270,000 5.4%
MARKET SHARE FORECASTS
Manufacturer TrueCar Change KBB.com Change
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 13.3% +1.7% 13.1% +1.5%
Ford Motor Company 14.1% -1.7% 14.6% -1.3%
General Motors 18.0% -0.8% 18.6% -0.2%
American Honda 9.7% +0.2% 9.4% -0.1%
Hyundai-Kia 7.7% +0.0% 7.8% +0.1%
Nissan North America 8.0% +0.5% 8.0% +0.5%
Toyota Motor Sales 14.0% +0.0% 14.1% +0.1%
Volkswagen Group 3.8% +0.1% 3.6% -0.1%

Lancia Grand Voyager

Longtime source Karl wrote that ordering of the Lancia Voyager — Europe’s Chrysler Town & Country, available in gasoline and diesel forms for many years — will end on November 17, at least in Austria. As he wrote, this raises many questions, including whether the end of ordering signifies the end of the Lancia Voyager, and if so, whether this is true through all of Europe (except perhaps Italy).

It also brings up the question of whether the Voyager will be dropped, or just refreshed as a Fiat, as Dodge Journey became the Fiat Freemont.

Jeep-Toledo-Web
Automotive News writer Larry Vellequette reports that the next-generation Jeep Wrangler will most likely remain a body-on-frame design and remain in Toledo.

At the Paris Auto Show, which ended last Sunday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said FCA was considering switching the Wrangler to an aluminum body and unibody construction. He also said converting the Toledo plant to produce an aluminum body would be prohibitively expensive and that there was capacity available in two FCA plants to handle unibody assembly.

FCA has just two body-on-frame plants, Toledo and the Warren Truck Plant, both of which are already maxed out.

Marchionne’s remarks directly contradicted the promise he made at the Detroit Auto Show last January that Wrangler production would remain in Toledo. At that time, Marchionne said “…one of the commitments we’ve made is never to produce a Wrangler outside of Toledo….”

The news was a bombshell: Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins and representatives of Ohio Governor John Kasich immediately set up discussions aimed at keeping the iconic Wrangler in the Northeastern Ohio city. They met in Auburn Hills on October 9.

Jeep loyalists were also upset: a steel body is superior to aluminum for severe use, such as demanding off-road trails, and the strength of body-on-frame construction is integral to the Wrangler’s capabilities.

However, FCA is faced with the same challenges as every other automaker: the need to reduce weight to improve fuel economy. Ford’s switch to an aluminum body for its F-150 pickup shaved hundreds of pounds off the trucks weight.

Vellequette writes that knowledgeable sources inside and outside of the company are saying the Wrangler will remain a body-on-frame design though it’s likely there will be a switch to an aluminum body.

On Tuesday of this week, the Toledo city council approved the purchase of 32 acres of land near the plant. While it is assumed the purchase is intended to help keep the Wrangler in Toledo, city officials and Chrysler declined to comment.

Ram and Jeep have shown off their SEMA concept cars ahead of time, including a Ram ProMaster done up as the Hospitality Van or Man Cave; the Outdoorsman pickup; and a pair of Jeep Renegades to go with Moab Wrangler and Cherokee concepts.

See the full story (and photos).

Dodge is showing four concept cars at SEMA: a Dart, Charger, Challenger, and Viper ACR. You can now see them all at Allpar, courtesy of Patrick Rall — now with the story behind them. Coming soon: Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, and Fiat concepts.

See all the Dodge concepts

Long before the Challenger Hellcat was officially launched, Allpar noted that the engine — which we estimated at “620-680 horsepower” (depending on when the stories were written) — was being tested in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Then we wrote that it had probably been ruled out, for various reasons.

Today, one source wrote that the trademarked Trackhawk name, which we had thought was a Jeep replacement for SRT (since SRT is increasingly associated with Dodge and only Dodge), may be a special Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 707 horsepower Hellcat engine.

It might not reach quite that power rating in the Jeep, given available space and the effect it has on other systems, but would certainly provide more power than the already hefty 6.4 liter Hemi.

Chrysler issues SEMA “teasers”

Keeping a years-long tradition, Chrysler today released a number of “teaser images” for concepts to be revealed at the SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each brand is covered, though Chrysler has but one car — the 200S. That can be explained by the status of the brand’s three cars: the 2015 300 has yet to be launched, and the [...]

Wrangler may leave frame, factory, steel behind

The 2017 Jeep Wrangler may leave its historic steel body-on-frame construction and Toledo plant behind, according to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, as quoted by Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette. The current Wrangler has good mileage for rugged four wheel drive vehicles, but poor economy overall, at around 17/21 mpg (depending on model and transmission). Mr. Marchionne said the Wrangler will need to lose weight [...]

Charger Hellcat, SRT, other pricing

Dodge has released pricing for the full Charger lineup, starting with the V6/eight-speed Dodge Charger SE at $28,990 (all prices include $995 destination for the “49 states”). Charger was thoroughly renovated for the 2015 model year, with a new look, suspension and electronics revisions, a standard eight-speed automatic for ever engine, and other upgrades. The top Charger, the SRT Hellcat, has [...]

Is this the Viper ACR?

Allpar’s informal sources have agreed that there are plans for a new Dodge Viper ACR, debuting for the 2016 model year, possibly replacing the current TA (Time Attack) model. Artist suzq044 provided the following rendering, which uses SRT’s trademark black wheels and a Dodge concept-car semi-rendering. The Viper ACR may have a mild power boost, but will be mainly a suspension and/or airflow upgrade, to increase track [...]

Ferrari engines: “Imported from Detroit”

Months after unconfirmed reports made it to Allpar’s pages, the power of Automotive News, in the person of reporter Larry Vellequette, pried a key fact from Chrysler executives — that they cast and build “Ferrari” engines for Maserati. As our sister site pentastars.com reported, the engines are actually cast in Kokomo, and machined in the Trenton Engine plant, using a mixture of [...]

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