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Fiat Chrysler

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Chrysler and its storied American brands live today because ol’ Sergio Marchionne – a poker player – gambled and won.

As Detroit’s number three automaker slumped toward bankruptcy, the CEO of Italy’s Fiat bet he could combine the weakest players in Europe and the United States to forge a global contender. One that could generate fatter profits and carry less debt.

The new Obama administration relented. So an Italian schooled in Canada got control of Chrysler for essentially nothing  arguably the shrewdest acquisition the global auto industry has seen in a generation.

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Tributes have poured in for Sergio Marchionne, the former CEO of Chrysler and Fiat who died Wednesday. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes wrote: "His impact on the global auto industry cannot be overstated.”

Howes joined Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to discuss the qualities that made Marchionne a great leader.  

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Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has died at age 66.

Marchionne had been CEO until being forced to retire Saturday because of his health. Marchionne had shoulder surgery last month, but his condition worsened in recent days.

Kelley Blue Book executive analyst Rebecca Lindland said despite his illness, Marchionne's death was a shock.

"I saw Sergio back in June in Italy, at the beginning of June, and it's just incredible to think that he's not with us anymore. It really is. It's very surreal," Lindland told Stateside.  

Media gather around the Volvo XC90 at the Detroit Auto Show.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The past few days have brought some big changes in the automotive world.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive at Fiat Chrysler, stepped down after complications during a shoulder surgery. He’s been replaced by Mike Manley, who has been in charge of the company’s Jeep and Ram brands.

Plus, it’s finally official. The Detroit Auto Dealers Association has announced that the the North American International Auto Show is leaving frigid January behind and shifting to a June schedule in 2020.

Auto Manufacturers
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat-Chrysler's  former human resources director has pleaded guilty to lying to a federal grand jury to cover up a conspiracy to pay off top UAW officials.

Michael Brown, 60, entered his guilty plea Friday.

Brown was Fiat-Chrysler’s senior negotiator during collective bargaining talks with UAW-Chrysler in 2011 and 2015.

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million vehicles

May 25, 2018
user fiatontheweb / creative commons

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled 4.8 million vehicles this morning due to issues with cruise control. In 15 models, there is a potential for drivers to be unable to cancel cruise control when an electrical short-circuit occurs at the same time cruise control is accelerated. 

If this occurs, there is a potential for the driver to lose control of the vehicle. However, the function can be overpowered if the driver continuously applies the brakes, or shifts the car into neutral and brings it to a halt. 

Chrysler logo
Garret Voight / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

Twenty years ago this week, Germany's Daimler-Benz AG acquired Chrysler.

 

The Germans described it as "a merger of equals." 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan equipped with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology.
FCA

Fiat Chrysler announced an agreement on Monday to supply thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo, Google’s self-driving subsidiary, to expand its fleet of autonomous vehicles.

Waymo currently has 600 Pacifica minivans in its fleet, some of which are used in its Early Rider Program in Phoenix. FCA delivered 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans during the second half of 2016 and an additional 500 in 2017. The minivans are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving software and hardware built-in.

 

Auto Manufacturers
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Three union workers at Fiat Chrysler are suing the automaker and the United Auto Workers over a bribery scheme.

They're seeking class-action status to represent all FCA hourly workers.

Federal prosecutors say Fiat Chrysler negotiators bribed UAW negotiators in order to get contract concessions and other benefits. So far, one former FCA official, Alphons Iacobelli, and one former UAW official, Virdell King, have pled guilty in the conspiracy. More indictments are expected.

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Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says he'll step down next year after leading the combined company since 2009.

Marchionne, 65, told media at the Detroit auto show that FCA will release a business plan through 2022 around June. The company will announce his successor sometime after that. Candidates include Mike Manley, who leads the company's Ram and Jeep brands, and Reid Bigland, who leads the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands and U.S. sales. 

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Fiat Chrysler has announced it will shift production of heavy-duty Ram trucks from Mexico to metro Detroit by 2020.

Fiat Chrysler says the move will bring Ram production to the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, along with a $1 billion investment and 2,500 new jobs. There will also be a $1.5 billion investment in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, creating an additional 700 new jobs.

The automaker also announced it will give one-time, $2,000 bonuses to its U.S. employees.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Rising profits and record sales are no protection from predators – or a boss trying to extract value before it’s too late.

Just ask the fine folks at Fiat Chrysler. Their company is in play for the fifth time in roughly 20 years.

From independence, it went to the Germans, then back to the Americans. They drove it into bankruptcy, and then to the Italians of Fiat and Ferrari fame. Then they tried to entice General Motors and Volkswagen into deals nobody wanted.

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Change is in the wind at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside today to explain what's behind Great Wall Motors' interest in buying Fiat Chrysler.

chrysler logo
Ricardo Giaviti / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A former Fiat Chrysler financial analyst, who federal prosecutors say helped illegally funnel worker training funds into the bank accounts of Fiat-Chrysler and UAW employees  over a number of years,  has pleaded guilty.

Jerome Durden entered pleas on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor to charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. as well as  failure to file a tax return. As part of a plea agreement, he faces up to 37 months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

Ralph Gilles on Failure:Lab
Screengrab of "Failure:Lab Detroit 2016 | Ralph Gilles" video (YouTube)

We all fail sometimes. No exceptions. 

It's often hard to admit, but failure is an essential part of the human experience. 

That's what Failure:Lab is all about. 

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The law firm that previously sued Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, and Fiat Chrysler for alleged cheating on diesel emissions says General Motors did the same thing.

Hagens Berman has sued GM on behalf of a potential class of approximately 700,000 owners of Chevy and GMC diesel trucks, claiming the automaker cheated to bypass federal standards for allowable emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx.)

The U.S. EPA says the pollutants are linked to asthma, heart disease, smog and global warming, among other ills.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Fiat Chrysler is headed to court.    

The federal government is suing the automaker for allegedly cheating on diesel emissions tests.

The complaint filed in federal court in Detroit alleges that nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees have software that makes them perform differently during normal driving than during lab tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

General Motors headquarters in Detroit.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio file photo

Recent reports show that auto sales have slipped more than expected. That’s the fourth month in a row of declining sales.

And Wall Street responded. Share prices of the big three took a hit.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Auto companies posted their second consecutive monthly sales decline in April.

Some analysts believe this is a sign the automakers’ seven-year winning streak is coming to an end.

Since 2010, Ford, General Motors and other automakers have seen their monthly sales grow and grow. Automakers sold a record 17.55 million vehicles in 2016.  

However, the car companies have been relying more and more on discounts and deals to bring buyers in.   But even that hasn’t been enough lately.

Case in point: April, which was not a good month for the auto companies.

Fiat ensignia on a vehicle
Martin Abegglen / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a double dose of good news for Fiat Chrysler.

First-quarter profits are coming in, and Fiat Chrysler net profits are up 34% over year-ago levels, including a strong showing in Europe.

A Tesla electronic car at a charging station
Austin Kirk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a tiny company packing a big punch with investors.

Electric car maker Tesla now has a higher market value than Ford. It's just behind General Motors at the top of the list. 

Ford Motor Co. headquarters
Ford Motor Company

U.S. automakers sold 1.56 million new cars and trucks in March. That's down 1.6% from this time last year.

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
flickr user fiatontheweb / creative commons

By now it should be obvious that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is for sale.

Not in a desperate do-a-deal-now kind of way. But in a persistent, strategically logical way.

Why? Because CEO Sergio Marchionne says as much, repeatedly. He understands better than most the capital demands of today’s global auto industry -- and FCA’s limited capacity to meet them.

American and Chinese flags
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

President Donald Trump wants U.S. automakers to build their vehicles in the United States. U.S. carmakers want him to ease up on upcoming emissions regulations.

That's the framework for the president's visit with auto leaders today in Ypsilanti. The visit comes right on the heels of Ford's announcement that its luxury Lincoln unit will start building SUVs in China with a local partner.

GM Building in Detroit
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The big story from General Motors is its decision to bail on the European market by selling off its Opel and Vauxhall units to the French PSA Group.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes thinks there will be more to come in this worldwide automotive "dating game."

President Barack Obama in Detroit on Labor Day in 2011.
screen grab from YouTube video

President Barack Obama leaves office tomorrow and he leaves behind a complicated legacy when it comes to the auto industry.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes reviews Obama’s relationship with automakers in his latest column.

The Honda Ridgeline won the 2017 North American Truck of the Year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Reporters from around the world have spent the week checking out the offerings at the North American International Auto Show.

Today, suppliers got their turn. The black-tie charity preview is tomorrow night and Saturday morning, the doors at the Cobo Center open to the public.

Paul Eisenstein is the publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com and he joined Stateside to talk about the buzz surrounding this year's auto show, a major shift in the industry and the latest news about Chrysler getting in trouble with the EPA. 

President Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There's been something besides the shiny new cars, SUVs and trucks grabbing attention this week at the North American International Auto Show.

That something is the uncertain future for the auto industry under incoming President Donald Trump.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about some of the anxiety that exists in the auto industry and what some experts are saying about a potential repeal of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing and failing to disclose software in some 104,000 cars and trucks that alters emissions.

The automaker was required by law to disclose the software to regulators during the certification process but did not do so, the EPA announced Thursday. While the agency is still investigating the nature of these devices, it said the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides.

The GM Bolt EV, The Chrysler Pacifica, and the Honda Ridgeline won the awards.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

GM’s Chevy Bolt beat out the Genesis G90 and the Volvo S90 for the 2017 North American Car of the Year award. 

Sharon Carty of Automotive News was one of the jurors for the award.  She says it's no surprise the Bolt got the award.  It's the first long-range mass-market electric car to make it to the market.

"And it's great inside, it's super modern," says Carty.  "It's gonna definitely be a Tesla fighter." Tesla has announced plans for a mass market long-range electric car, but the vehicle hasn't yet been launched.   

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