Some two weeks ago Sergio Marchionne, one of the industry’s most polarizing figures, presented to investors the five-year plan for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. A lot of ink has already been spilled analyzing the announcements, as well as models and whole brands missing from the presentation, so we won’t aim to add to that at this [Read more…]
When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed this week that they were contemplating building a full-sized SUV on the platform of the next RAM pickup truck to compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and Ford Expedition, I noticed a lot of “finally, what took them so long?” reactions, but also online replies that went along the lines of “they keep promising new vehicles and then delaying them”. Those commenters are probably right on both counts, but that’s not what this article is about.
My opinion on this vehicle is two-sided: on one hand I believe it fills a huge (no pun intended) hole in FCA’s North American line-up, one that has high profit margins for a limited budget, but on the other hand I don’t think this is the way of the future and they might have better ways to spend their limited R&D resources. And thirdly I’m not sure launching it under the RAM truck brand would be the best option.
Let’s start with the pros
A full-sized SUV based on the body-on-frame platform of their full-sized pick-up truck is not that expensive to develop than an all-new model on an all-new platform and it would spread the development costs of the pick-up truck platform over a greater number of potential sales. Besides that, these kinds of SUV’s typically sell for more than $ 50,000 and have profit margins north of $ 10,000 per vehicle. [Read more…]
When Fiat took control of Chrysler in 2009, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne drew an ambitious five-year turnaround plan for the bankrupt American automaker, promising better product, improved quality, higher sales and profitability and independence of government ownership by 2014. On May 6th, a new five-year plan will be announced, which means it is time to look back at the previous plan and see how the company has fared in the past half decade.
Marchionne promised to more than double Chrysler Group sales from 1,3 million units in 2009 to 2,8 million sales in 2014. These numbers may be a bit misleading, as 2009 was a disastrous year for Chrysler, and a two month production shut down during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedure didn’t help either. But still, when comparing the 2014 goal with the 2008 score of 2 million sales, it would still mean a 40% increase in 6 years.
In 2013, Chrysler Group worldwide sales increased 9% to 2,4 million. In order for the 2014 target to be met, sales would have to grow another 16,7% this year. This target was reiterated in the 2013 financial report, so Chrysler itself is still confident the goal will be reached. In the first quarter of 2014, Chrysler Group US sales, which represent three quarters of the company’s worldwide sales, where up 11,1% on 2013, so the company probably needs to increase its momentum in order to reach the 2,8 million sales. [Read more…]
The Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 is an automotive extravagance, absurdity on 6 wheels. Or, as Mercedes call it themselves: the automotive declaration of independence. Other people would call it an unnecessary waste of (natural) resources, but as Top Gear have shown in their review, there are some very important things you can do with the 6×6. For example: jumping sand dunes, climbing rocks and driving through a swimming pool full of people, which are of course very sensible things to do.
More is always better when it comes to power, and the G63 AMG 6×6 proves that for certain on-road, but mostly off-road activities, the same goes for the number of wheels. But what if you come up short on the € 380.000,- / US$ 525,000 / £ 315,000 excluding taxes Mercedes is asking for this six-wheeled monster?
Well, there are some alternatives for you, which you may be able to pick up for less money than that. [Read more…]
Auto recalls seem to be in the news more often these days. And they seem to become bigger and bigger, affecting millions of vehicles at the same time. This is a result of modular platforms and large-scale manufacturing. Automakers are developing more common parts to fit into multiple models, across multiple brands, which reduces costs of development and manufacturing of parts. But there is a risk involved with this trend: when a part proves to be faulty, a larger number of cars, sometimes across continents, need to be recalled to the dealer to fix the part.
In the United States, the manufacturer can be forced to recall a certain number of cars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when this government agency thinks the issues cause the cars to no longer comply with the safety standards. But besides the safety issues, some recalls are just plain weird.