Tag Archive | "Jeep"

Fiat Chrysler Sees May Industry Sales Flat to Up 0.7 Percent

The U.S. auto industry will remain on track for the best sales year in a decade despite industry growth being flat to up 0.7 percent in May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

FCA’s forecast is slightly more optimistic than those of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Reuters, who expected a 1 percent fall-off in May U.S. auto sales.

FCA’s U.S. sales rose 4 percent to 202,227 vehicles in May, its 62nd consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, as it continued a turnaround after enduring a federally sponsored bankruptcy in 2009. Prior to the winning streak, the company had more than two years of monthly year-over-year sales declines.

It was the first time the company topped 200,000 in monthly sales since March 2007.

FCA’s Jeep sports utilities and Ram truck brands continued to pace the company. U.S. Jeep sales jumped 13 percent and Ram trucks rose 8 percent. But the Fiat brand continued to flounder, with sales down 19 percent.

Auto sales are viewed each month as an early snapshot of U.S. consumer spending.

There was one fewer selling day in May compared with a year ago.

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Fiat Chrysler CEO Defends Jeep Safety

WASHINGTON — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of millions of Jeep SUVs recalled for possible gas tank fires, as a Georgia jury hears the case of a 4-year-old boy killed in a Jeep fire, reported The Detroit News.

In a 171-page January deposition obtained by The Detroit News, Marchionne said the automaker firmly believes the older Jeep SUVs with gas tanks located behind the rear axle are no more susceptible to fires than other SUVs.

“Our analysis of that data suggested these were defect-free vehicles, and that they performed exactly as the rest of the comparative class performed in the marketplace at the time. Our analysis suggests very clearly that this is not a defect,” Marchionne said in a three-hour session in downtown Atlanta on Jan. 9, as part of a suit brought by the family of Remington Walden, 4.

Under government pressure, Fiat Chrysler recalled an estimated 1.56 million 2002-07 Jeep Liberty and 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs for the problem in June 2013, and agreed to install trailer hitches to protect the gas tanks. In an abundance of caution, it sent letters to 2.27 million owners, though it is not clear how many are still on the road.

Fiat Chrysler notes the vehicles met safety requirements at the time they were built, and insists they are not defective. The company also agreed to conduct a customer service campaign for another 1.2 million 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees.

The recall came after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million 1992-98 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Jeep Libertys, saying they were suspectible to gasoline fires resulting from ruptured gas tanks after severe rear-end crashes. The government initially blamed such collisions for the deaths of at least 51 people driving Jeep SUVs; they are now they are linked to at least 70 deaths.

The Detroit News first reported private talks between Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Marchionne and then-NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in 2013. The meeting in Chicago led to the trailer hitch remedy. Emails between Chrysler and NHTSA officials obtained by The Detroit News show the meeting was sought by Marchionne, who had offered to fly to various locations.

“The meeting would only be with the secretary and no other staff, as Sergio wanted,” Strickland said in an email to Chrysler’s senior vice president for external affairs.

In the deposition, Marchionne said he didn’t care who NHTSA brought to the meeting, “If they wanted to bring an army of people, they were welcome, but I was going to show up on my own,” he said. “I would never tell NHTSA who to bring to a meeting and who not to bring to a meeting.” He said he asked for the meeting to try to find a resolution.

Marchionne defended the “incredibly thorough review of the underlying data” and said the company had shared that data with NHTSA, saying it is “fundamentally not different than it would have been for any other competitor car in that class.”

He denied Chrysler wanted to settle the investigation because he was worried about the impact on sales. He acknowledged that there have been deadly fires in Jeep SUVs. “I think that there are unfortunate events surrounding the use of cars, and I find these deplorable,” Marchionne said. “I think it’s unfortunate, and people will suffer injury as a result of driving or riding in vehicles. But I don’t think there is the slightest evidence that Grand Cherokee or the class that we’re talking about here are defective.”

The trial is opening this week in Bainbridge, Georgia, in Decatur County Superior Court in the death of Remington, who died after the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by his aunt Emily Newsome was hit in the rear by a 1997 Dodge Dakota. Newsome, who was driving the boy to tennis lessons, was waiting to turn left, when the driver of the Dakota struck the SUV at high speed, causing the fuel tank to burst.

Marchionne’s videotaped deposition is expected to be played in court.

Lawyers for Fiat Chrysler said in a court filing that the parents “allowed their child to ride in the vehicle after news and media coverage about the NHTSA investigation into the subject vehicle.” They argue that no warning “would have prevented Remi’s injuries in this incident.”

NHTSA has criticized Chrysler for the slow pace of fixes; the company didn’t start fixing them until August 2014, more than a year after they agreed to the recall.

However, NHTSA has acknowledged the hitches will not offer much protection in high-speed crashes. Its investigation did find they provide incremental safety benefits in certain low- and moderate-speed crashes. Chrysler has said since 2013 that the fix would not address high-speed crashes in which most of reported deaths have occurred.

NHTSA issued a consumer advisory in November that urged owners of the recalled Jeeps to get them fixed immediately. The letter came days after a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Ferndale was killed in a fiery crash on the Lodge Freeway in a recalled 2003 Jeep Liberty. Kayla White was killed when her Jeep was struck from behind at high speed, causing it to overturn and catch fire. She died of burns and smoke inhalation, an autopsy found.

NHTSA noted that the Jeeps were among the few vehicles on the roads with gas tanks in the rear of the vehicles. Prior to the 1970s, fuel tanks in most cars were located behind the rear axle, the safety agency said. After the investigaton into gas tank fires in Ford Pintos, most fuel tanks were moved in front of the rear axle.

Chrysler said that as of January, the company’s dealers had 58,600 repair kits on their shelves, and more than 313,000 kits in regional warehouses. To date, about 10 percent of the vehicles have had the recalls completed.

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U.S. Safety Regulators Open Probe Into New Jeep Cherokees After Fire

U.S. safety regulators said on Friday they have opened an investigation into an estimated 50,415 newer Jeep Cherokee SUVs, a key model for the profitability of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, after receiving complaints of engine compartment fires, reported Reuters.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it opened the preliminary evaluation into the 2015-model SUVs after a consumer from the San Diego area filed a complaint that their Jeep was “engulfed in flames approximately 20 feet high within seconds of parking the vehicle.” There were no injuries reported.

The vehicle was purchased on Jan. 2 and the fire occurred two days later after the SUV had been driven less than 100 miles, according to the complaint filed by the consumer.

In another complaint filed on Jan. 5, the owner of a 2015 Cherokee noticed smoke under the hood while driving the newly purchased vehicle at 60 miles per hour.

In addition, NHTSA said it has identified field report data as part of the Early Warning Reporting program related to the alleged defect, so it opened the investigation to assess cause, scope and frequency of the alleged defect.

“We are aware of this incident and our investigators are cooperating fully with NHTSA’s preliminary evaluation,” Fiat Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said.

A preliminary investigation is the first step in a process that can lead to a recall if regulators determine that a manufacturer needs to address a safety issue.

The Cherokee, a new version of which was launched in 2013, is a critical part of Fiat Chrysler’s plan to boost profits globally by leveraging its Jeep brand.

NHTSA and Fiat Chrysler have disagreed before about fire risks in older Jeep SUVs. In November, the safety agency urged the automaker to speed up efforts to fix 1.56 million Jeep SUVs at risk of gas tank fires in a rear-end collision.

Fiat Chrysler, which had initially resisted the recall, stepped up its efforts, but has long maintained the SUVs were no more susceptible to fires after crashes than vehicles made by other automakers.

Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said this week at the Detroit auto show that the auto industry has become more sensitive about recalls and if the trend continued the higher cost of recalls would be passed on to consumers.

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Jeep Meets Goal of 1 Million in 2014 Sales

Jeep, the SUV brand that is key to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ global expansion plans, narrowly met its goal of selling one million vehicles in 2014, the Jeep brand chief said on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

Jeep’s worldwide sales were 1,017,019 last year, up 39 percent from 2013 and a record for the brand.

Sales rose 41 percent in Jeep’s biggest market, the United States, to 692,348.

Mike Manley, chief executive of the Jeep brand, in a phone interview with Reuters did not venture a specific sales forecast for 2015 sales. He said, Jeep plans to “continue the growth.”

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA, said last May that global production of Jeep will rise to 1.9 million vehicles by 2018. Of that, one million is to be produced in North America, 500,000 in Asia, 200,000 in South America and 200,000 in Europe.

Marchionne and Manley made selling one million Jeep vehicles in 2014 a stretch target last January.

Manley said 2015 Jeep sales will helped by the start of production of the Cherokee in China in the third quarter of the year and in Brazil in the second quarter.

Jeep sales in China, the world’s biggest automobile market, rose 49 percent in 2014 from a relatively low base, to 88,000. Manley said 132,000 Jeeps were sold in Asia.

South American sales represented only about 2 percent of the global sales total last year. The region’s biggest markets, Brazil and Argentina, continue to suffer from economic woes, but South American Jeep sales should rise in 2015 thanks to local production, Manley said.

Jeep sales gained 40 percent in Europe, where the small SUV Renegade began sales in November in 28 countries. Manley said the start of sales was “very encouraging” for the vehicle he said is a better fit for European consumers than the larger Grand Cherokee and Cherokee.

Renegade sales launch in the U.S. market in the first quarter.

Aaron Bragman, analyst with Cars.com, said the Renegade will sell well in the United States, particularly to young drivers.

“You will see one of these in every high school parking lot in the country,” said Bragman of the Renegade.

Top-selling models globally for the brand were the Grand Cherokee at 279,567, followed by Cherokee at 236,289, Wrangler at 234,579, Compass at 134,629 and Patriot at 122,387.

Manley said FCA’s plans are to “start the replacement of” Compass and Patriot in 2016.

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U.S. Regulator to Chrysler’s Marchionne: Get Act In Gear on Jeep Recall

U.S. government safety regulators on Thursday told Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne that the company “have to get their act in gear” to speed up repairs of recalled Jeep SUVs that face a heightened fire risk, reported Reuters.

David Friedman, deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was asked by reporters if he was satisfied with Chrysler’s performance in adding trailer hitches to affected Jeep SUVs to protect them in lower speed rear-end crashes.

“No. In fact, this morning I sent a letter to the chairman and CEO of Chrysler telling them they have to get their act in gear. They have to make sure they’re getting those parts in the hands of consumers,” Friedman said.

Chrysler is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Marchionne is chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group as well as CEO of Fiat Chrysler.

Earlier this month, Chrysler said it was intensifying its effort to reach owners of the 1.56 million older model recalled Jeep SUVs because so few were bringing them in to dealerships to have the trailer hitch assemblies installed.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne on Thursday said the company has again stepped up its efforts to reach owners. Only about 137,000 of the 1.56 million owners have shown up at dealers to have trailer hitch assemblies installed, Mayne said.

As of Thursday, the Chrysler spokesman said, the company has 488,000 trailer hitch assemblies in stock.

Still, on Thursday, Friedman of NHTSA said, “They’ve told us they have nearly 400,000 parts and yet we’re getting complaints from consumers saying the dealers are telling them there aren’t any parts. Something is wrong there.”

Chrysler is committed to the safety of drivers and passengers in its products, the spokesman said.

“Chrysler Group leads the industry with a recall-repair completion rate of nearly 80 percent. The industrywide average is approximately 70 percent,” Mayne said.

After initially resisting NHTSA’s requests for a recall, Chrysler in June 2013 announced the recall of 1.56 million Jeep SUVs. They were the model years 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee, with rear fuel tanks.

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Chrysler’s Profits Up 32% to $611 Million in Q3

DETROIT – Chrysler Group LLC’s net profits rose 32 percent to $611 million in the third quarter, the Auburn Hills company announced Wednesday, reported MLive.

That comes on top line growth of 18 percent to $20.7 billion for net revenues. The revenue growth was driven by higher vehicle shipments, in particular the all-new Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200 models, the company said.

The company’s worldwide vehicle shipments in the quarter totaled 711,000 vehicles, a rise of 18 percent.

For the first nine months of 2014, Chrysler Group LLC reported adjusted net income of $1.7 billion, up from $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2013. Its net revenue in the period grew to $60.1 billion, compared with $50.9 billion in the first nine months of 2013.

Last week, Chrysler Group’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reported operating profit growth of 7 percent to $1.15 billion in the third quarter. FCA’s net revenue was up 14 percent to $29.5 billion in the period.

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