Posted on April 20th, 2014 • by Bill Cawthon
Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., Chrysler Group International LLC and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC Group) have reached an agreement to expand the joint venture partnership.
By the terms of the agreement announced Saturday in Beijing, GAC Fiat, the group’s joint venture in China, will produce three new Jeep vehicles for the Chinese market. The Chinese government has already approved the expansion and the related projects.
GAC Fiat will finalize its localized production plans, including consideration of a Jeep model uniquely designed for China, and begin production by late 2015. Jeep vehicles will be built at a GAC Fiat manufacturing branch to be established in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province. In earlier comments, Jeep CEO Mike Manley had indicated the production site would be the GAC Fiat plant in Changsha in Hunan Province, located to the north of Guangdong.
Guangdong Province is where many of the manufacturing jobs outsourced from the United States went, making it one of the most prosperous of the Chinese provinces.
“Today’s announcement represents the next chapter in the proper utilization and expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat S.p.A and Chrysler Group LLC. “Equally important is our continued development in the Chinese market with an established and respected partner such as Guangzhou Automobile Group.”
GAC Group Chairman Zhang Fangyou said: “The world-noted SUV brand Jeep being introduced into GAC Fiat will bring the cooperation between GAC and Fiat-Chrysler to a new phase. It will enhance the sustainable development of the JV, and will surely bring premium experiences of driving and services to the Chinese customers.”
Posted on April 18th, 2014 • by Bill Cawthon
Jeep brand CEO Mike Manley says Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will most likely have completed a deal for production of certain Jeep models in China by the end of the month.
According to comments made during a phone interview with Reuters, Manley said he hopes the announcement can be made at the Beijing International Auto show that opens Monday, April 21.
“It will be ideal if I can get the timing right for the Beijing show, but I’m not at the stage to say that definitely,” Manley told Reuters’ Bernie Woodall.
The Jeeps would be built in Hunan Province at the Changsa plant FCA operates in a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. The plant currently produces the Fiat Viaggio, a clone of the Dodge Dart.
Company officials have not committed to a specific model that would be the first to be produced under the new deal, but there have been indications it would be the the new Cherokee, which shares the CUSW platform with the Dart/Viaggio. The new Renegade would likely be the next model to be added to the line.
About the only Jeep model not on the table for China production is the Wrangler, which FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has promised will be produced only in Toledo.
If all goes well, China production would begin early in the third quarter of 2015.
Posted on April 17th, 2014 • by David Zatz
Brian Kapral reported from the New York Auto Show:
After the presentation of the Jeep Renegade, I was able to talk to Philip M. Jansen, the Vehicle Line Executive, A/B Segment, Minivan, and current C/D Segment.
I asked him if the Renegade had crossed the famed Rubicon Trail, and he said that it had not, but had been on one of Jeep’s testing grounds. He elaborated that for the “Trail Rating” of the Jeeps, they assign a ranking of 1-10 with 10 being the best. The rating equate to what kind of trail it should be able to handle.
Mr. Jansen gave the Renegade a rating of a 4 out of 10, which would mean they would not recommend it for a trail such as the Rubicon. Part of the reason, according to Mr. Jansen, is the Renegade’s focus on power over torque; the latter would be needed to climb boulders and such for the likes of the Rubicon trail. He then said that the Wrangler is rated at a 8 – 9 out of 10, and would be able to go over the Rubicon trail with no problems.
When I had asked him if the Renegade had any styling or influence from the Fiat 500L, he said that were some shared modules such as the seating, steering column, and other small things. The differences were the wheel openings (which have the typical Jeep trapezoid opening), a unique front suspension, different transmission, and some other things. Mr. Jansen also said that while both the 500L and the Renegade both use the small wide design, the design is different due to 500L using the front wheel drive version while the Renegade uses the AWD version.
Chrysler has several off-road trails for testing purposes, including one which faithfully replicates difficult portions of the Rubicon trail, as they stood in the 1990s. This both allows Chrysler to test off-road vehicles in secret, and provides a stable benchmark, since the actual Rubicon trail is in a constant state of change.
Posted on April 17th, 2014 • by David Zatz
Yesterday, at the New York Auto Show, SRT debuted a combination of its Viper Anodized Carbon Special Edition Package with the Time Attack Group road-racing package.
Fifty SRT Viper Anodized Carbon Special Edition vehicles will be produced, with only the last ten carrying the new Time Attack Group. Each includes a numbered dash plaque.
The Time Attack Group takes all of the functional chassis and aero parts from the Viper TA Special Edition and adds them to the GTS price class, including a carbon fiber rear deck lid spoiler and two-piece front corner splitters that provide a total of 339 pounds of downforce at 150 mph, and two-mode Bilstein dampers. The suspension has firmer damping than the Viper GTS, and Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires and solid sway bars provide more capable handling. The brakes have more resistance to fade.
Posted on April 17th, 2014 • by David Zatz
The 6.1 liter V8 was restricted to SRT cars; the 6.4 was used only by SRT as well, until Ram got a retuned version, with much less power but greater durability under towing and hauling conditions, this year. For 2015, Dodge will get a full-power, 470-horsepower 6.4 liter engine under the hood of the Dodge Challenger Scat Pack models.
The move is likely part of an effort to drop the price of the “392” Challenger for performance enthusiasts who do not necessarily want all the frills, while maintaining the exclusivity and margins of the SRT brand. Chrysler has been trying to position SRT as a competitor to BMW and other higher-cost brands, appealing to customers who would not consider a mass-market brand such as Dodge.
The Dodge Challenger Scat Pack comes with a beefed-up suspension to handle the power of the big Hemi, along with “Performance Pages” (performance timers, extra gauges, and options for Launch Control and such); four-piston Brembo calipers for all four wheels; 20-inch wheels with performance tires; and a half-inch lower ride height. For more, see the 2015 Dodge Challenger page.
Posted on April 17th, 2014 • by Bill Cawthon
European registrations of new Jeep vehicles took off in March, jumping 32.4%, the second-largest increase of any Fiat/Chrysler brand. A total of 2,915 Jeeps were delivered last month, bringing total first-quarter registrations to 7,372 a 20.2% improvement over the first three months of 2013.
According to figures released by the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) this morning, total Fiat Group sales were also ahead of March 2013 and Q1 2013. Group deliveries reached 84,377 for the month and 203,824 for the quarter, up 4.2% and 2.8%, respectively.
Fiat Group market share fell 0.3 points to 5.7% in March as the market outgrew Fiat’s gains. Year-to-date (YTD) share stands at 6.1% down from 6.4% in the first quarter of last year.
The largest growth came from the group’s ultra-premium Maserati and Ferrari brands with March registrations up 62.8% to 889. In the January-March period, 2,166 cars were delivered, a 110.7% jump compared to 2013.
Fiat brand deliveries came to 65,781, 3.8% ahead of last year, putting the brand in the black by 2.4% for the quarter with 157,883 registrations in the 28-nation European Union and the 3-nation European Free Trade Association.
Lancia/Chrysler registrations beat their year-ago numbers, up 1.7% to 7,811 cars. Lancia/Chrysler turnover is now up 4.7% in YTD deliveries with 20,295 vehicles finding new homes.
Alfa Romeo was the only group brand to miss its mark, coming up 2.9% short as deliveries fell to 6,981. Alfa’s now in the red by 8.4% in YTD results.
The Italian market continues to slowly improve. March registrations there grew 5.0% to 139,337 and first-quarter registrations were up 5.8% to 376,519.
All the major European markets were up as total EU sales grew 10.4% to 1,489,769. So far this year, there have been 3,353,180 new passenger vehicles registered, 8.1% ahead of Q1/2013.
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