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Unread 2009-11-15, 08:00 PM   #51
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Even without Dodge Ram, Ghosn says Nissan Titan will survive

When Dodge announced that it wouldn't be sharing its Ram platform with Nissan, we just kind of assumed that the Titan was going to go the way of the Do Do. Why? Because Titan sales are the suck. Nissan has only sold 15,393 copies of its largest truck through the first 10 months of the year. For perspective, Ford sold more F-150s in the first two weeks of October than Nissan has sold in 43 weeks. Last year wasn't much better either, as only 30,000 customers walked out of a Nissan dealer with a new Titan.

But if a report from Inside Line is to be believed, the Titan will live on. Renault/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn reportedly told IL that "Titan will have a replacement, we are staying in the large pickup truck market." It makes a bit of sense that there will be another Titan given the fact that Nissan also uses the basic platform for the Infiniti QX56 and the Nissan Armada. But then again those portly SUVs aren't exactly flying off the shelf, either.

Speculation is that Nissan could be looking for an outside partner (or already have one) to collaborate on a new pickup. We're thinking one candidate could be Toyota. The only other Japanese automaker competing directly with the domestics in the U.S. half-ton pickup truck market, Toyota was expecting to produce 200,000 units per year of the Tundra when the it launched, but has sold only 66,000 through October. Teaming up with Nissan would help bring costs down, soak up extra production capacity and mitigate the risk inherent in competing against Ford, GM and Chrysler at what they do best.
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Unread 2009-11-16, 01:48 PM   #52
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REPORT: Senator John McCain doesn't believe Chrysler will make it

It looks like everyone is thinking about Chrysler these days. First it was former DaimlerChrysler CEO (and current Daimler CEO) Dieter Zetsche offering advice to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Now it looks like former presidential contender and current Arizona Senator John McCain not only thinks that bailing out the ailing automaker was a bad idea (even though he supported bailing out Detroit during his 2008 presidential campaign), he thinks that Chrysler has no future. Here's a quote that comes via The Detroit News:

Quote:
"It was all about the unions. The unions didn't want to have their very generous contracts renegotiated so we put $80 billion into both General Motors and Chrysler, and anybody believes that Chrysler is going to survive, I'd like to meet them."
While McCain's never been one for pulling punches, this may be one head butt over the top. Chrysler declined to comment on McCain's statements. Ironically, McCain made his comments while serving as grand marshal of a NASCAR event at the Phoenix International Raceway as Dodge announced its new Nationwide Series Challenger racer.
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Unread 2009-11-16, 08:16 PM   #53
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Fiat reveals new Doblo... will it come to America to challenge Ford's Transit Connect?



You're feasting your eyes on Fiat's new Doblo. First debuting in 2001, Fiat has manged to sell over one million Doblos, both as panel work vans (know as the Doblo Cargo) and as five or seven passenger "leisure activity vehicles." This is the first ground-up redesign in the Doblo's relatively short life, and we're thinking Fiat might have bigger plans for its tiny work truck.

If you look closely at Chrysler's five-year plan, you'll see the following bullet point, "Ram large and small commercial van (2012, supplied by Fiat)." So let's see... small commercial van, supplied by Fiat... we're thinking they mean the Doblo. And with the Ford Transit Connect doing well in the U.S., the Doblo might find some takers. But, whatever Fiat brings over as a new Ram is still a few years off. Until then, chew on the fact that a version of the Doblo is made and sold in North Korea as the Ppeokkugi. Full press release, after the jump.


Quote:
Press Release

World Premiere New Fiat DoblÚ: meet the 'family space'

Meet the new DoblÚ, the Fiat car that is all about space.
A space to be shared with family and friends: a liveable space for people who travel and love to be in company; for people who choose the DoblÚ as a partner for leisure or work.

A vehicle designed to meet a need for functionality and comfort that makes the most of interior space and can accommodate up to seven people. An authentic 'family space' that can rely on top-class safety, economy and respect for the environment.

Compared to the previous version that sold approximately one million units, the new model has been completely revamped in terms of style, engines and technical specifications. These aspects make the new Fiat DoblÚ the "best in class" both in terms of space and in terms of reduced emissions.

All this has been achieved through the use of a new platform, more passenger space (with a wheelbase of 2755 mm, the biggest in its segment), a roomy 790 litre luggage compartment, reduced CO2 emissions (129 g/km with the 1.3 Multijet 90 HP engine, the lowest in its category), standard safety features and highly modular interiors with seats that can be folded and tilted.


Style and comfort

The look is very cutting-edge. With a central shield and side bumpers that are perfectly integrated with the body, the front end blends protection and sophistication while the pronounced wheel arch and sloping shoulder contribute to the vehicle's strong and agile look. The tailgate's essential lines emphasise the accessibility and size of the generous load compartment; clear, sparkling light clusters and expanses of glass give the new DoblÚ a touch of elegance.

The interiors have also been designed to offer functionality and create attractive, welcoming environments through combination of colours, materials and trims.

Smart solutions for the best use of on-board space, such as a range of storage compartments and flexible interiors, offering up to 7 places, will satisfy the needs of those who make the DoblÚ a car to be enjoyed with family or friends.


Environment and economy

The Fiat DoblÚ will offer 4 power units at its launch: a 95 HP petrol engine and three diesel Multijet engines, 90, 105 and 135 HP, which will later be joined by a Natural Power engine with dual fuel system (petrol and methane) and an additional diesel engine with Dualogic robotized gearbox.

All units are lively and offer smooth torque delivery. They are remarkable for driving satisfaction, excellent performance, low noise levels, low operating costs (fuel consumption and maintenance) and also for their reliability and eco-friendliness.

The range is available with Euro 4 and Euro 5 versions and offers a Start&Stop device as standard, which cuts off the engine temporarily when the car is stopped to guarantee reduced fuel consumption and emissions.


Safety

To ensure optimum dynamic behaviour, comfort and active safety in all road surface and load conditions, the vehicle has been equipped with innovative mechanical features including a bi-link rear suspension system available with various component calibrations depending on vehicle application. The DoblÚ's consistent and predictable road-holding is also guaranteed by the use of state-of-the-art electronic devices for stability control, namely ABS with electronic brake force distribution EBD and, above all, ESP complemented by a hill-holder system that helps the driver during Hill starts and comes as standard on this model.

The vehicle has been designed and built to achieve the highest levels of passive safety, due to a body with crumple zones, front air bags and innovative front side bags. The latter offer protection for both head and chest.

The vehicle also offers technical solutions and equipment that create optimum comfort conditions and help keep attention on the road: these include an automatic climate control system with distribution to rear seats, cruise control, parking sensors, a built-in Blue&Me hands-free system and a "Blue&Me TomTom" navigator.


The DoblÚ Cargo, also new, is at the top of the professional vehicle category

The new Fiat DoblÚ is joined by the new DoblÚ Cargo which has been designed to take its place at the top of its category in terms of performance and functional characteristics. It offers a more roomy load compartment than the previous model: square, regular, fully exploitable and equipped with sliding side doors and generously-sized rear doors to make light work of loading and unloading operations. Record-breaking statistics (interior length up to 2.2 metres, width between wheel arches of 1.23 metres, volume from 3.4 to 4.2 cubic metres, payload from 750 to 1000 Kg, combined fuel consumption of 4.8 litres/100 km and range of 1250 Km with the 1.3 Multijet engine) ensure that the new vehicle can offer substantial benefits in terms of optimisation and reduction of running costs.

The range finds expression in 7 different body types: short and long wheelbase van, high top van, short and long wheelbase 5-seater combi; a particularly appealing and brand-new short and long drop-framed version can be easily and cheaply converted for specific trades (refrigeration chambers, fixed and tilting flatbed trucks).

The new models are due to be launched from mid-January 2010, but it will be possible to order the vehicles from the end of November in Italy and from December in other European markets.
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Unread 2009-11-17, 07:44 PM   #54
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Michigan approves tax credit for potential Chrysler engine plant




Chryslerís decision of where to build a Fiat-designed 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine just got a little more complicated: The Michigan Economic Growth Authority voted in favor of giving Chrysler 10 yearsí worth of employment tax credits if it decides to build the motors in Dundee, Michigan, rather than Saltillo, Mexico.

If Chrysler builds the engines in Michigan, it would reopen a plant that has been idle since 2007. The tax credits would be worth about $4.6 million and would cover 155 workers. Thatís a small chunk of change compared to the $179 million Chrysler says it will invest in a facility to build the engines, but it could be enough to sway the company, reports out of Detroit indicate.
Still, even the state of Michigan admits that there are numerous advantages to building the motor in Mexico, where it is closer to the assembly plant that will build the small vehicles
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Unread 2009-11-17, 07:48 PM   #55
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Unread 2009-11-19, 03:39 PM   #56
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REPORT: Chrysler pledges to be quality leader by 2012

A quick glance at recent Consumer Reports or JD Power data shows that the Pentastar has a big problem on its hands, but the new Chrysler says that will change in a big way by the end of 2012. Chrysler is planning to be a quality leader in only three years by dramatically increasing staffing levels in its quality team while working to dramatically clean up its engineering processes. Just one year ago, there were only 200 staff members on the quality team. Chrysler is now hiring 200 additional workers and shifting head count to beef up its quality team to over 1,700.

Quality boss Doug Betts, who was hired from Nissan during the Cerberus acquistion, tried to address quality before the automaker descended into bankruptcy, but Chrysler's woeful money situation led to the postponement of the Pentastar's long overdue quality renaissance. With bankruptcy in the rearview mirror and Fiat's full blessing to dig deep to fix Chrysler's competitive disadvantages, Betts now has the tools needed to make drastic changes. And some progress has already been made.

For starters, Chrysler has cut per-vehicle spending by $240 million, and warranty spending is down 30 percent to an all-time low. In 2008, 75 percent of all quality problems were design issues, and that number has reportedly dropped to 50 percent this year though better engineering. The factory floor is also receiving attention, as Chrysler is adopting Fiat's "world class" manufacturing system.

Chrysler has also made several departmental shifts to give workers more autonomy to make changes faster. In the past, problems were shifted from one department to another, resulting in an average delay of 71 days to fix a problem. Now cross-departmental teams are organized by 14 vehicle groups, like brakes or transmissions instead of by model alone. Many of the quality fixes will occur as Chrysler unveils new or heavily updated products between now and 2013. The Detroit News reports that 75 percent of all models will receive heavy duty attention within the next 14 months, and all vehicles will be updated by 2013.
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Unread 2009-11-19, 03:54 PM   #57
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Chrysler Group planning to produce 1.4-liter Fiat-based engines

Chrysler Group remains undecided on where to produce 1.4-liter Fiat-based engines. There are two viable options Ė its unused plant in Dundee, Mich., or in Saltillo, Mexico. With the Michigan state boardís act to sweeten the Dundee deal with tax credits, it may be that the tide is turning in their favor. Continued after the jump!


Chrysler spokesman Max Gates in an email said that the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board had voted to give employment tax credits for 10 years on new Chrysler workers tasked to make the engines. Chrysler says however that the state boardís decision is only one aspect that the carmaker is considering.

In a statement, Chrysler said that several steps remain in the process. Chrysler added that it looks forward to working with state and local officials for this project to be successful. Chrysler owns two plants in Dundee.

While one facility employs 207 people to make 1.8- to 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines, the other site has been idle since 2007. Technology from Fiat S.p.A., Chryslerís Italian automaker partner, is used for the engines.. Chrysler is determined to borrow Fiatís technology to reduce its fleetwide emissions by 25% by 2014.
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Unread 2009-11-19, 07:13 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by JDLM View Post
REPORT: Chrysler pledges to be quality leader by 2012

Chrysler is planning to be a quality leader in only three years. For starters, Chrysler has cut per-vehicle spending by $240 million. In 2008, 75 percent of all quality problems were design issues.
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Unread 2009-11-21, 01:23 PM   #59
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Fiat Exec To Revive De Tomaso Name For Three New Cars


De Tomaso Pantera

The legendary Italian marque De Tomaso may be revived if former Fiat exec Gian Mario Rossignolo is successful with his plans. In 2003, MG took over the label to secure a production facility for a new sports car but the plans went bust and Tomaso closed its doors just one year later.
Rossignolo recently purchased the Tomaso name to build three new aluminum cars, with numbers expected to top 8,000 units. The range will include a crossover, a luxury sedan and a new coupe.
The cars will use an advanced aluminum construction technique called Univis, which requires just about 30 dies to build a vehicle. Production will take place in part of Pininfarina's factory in Grugliasco, in the western outskirts of Turin.
The first model is expected to debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
Tomaso is mostly recognized for its Pantera supercar (pictured). The unique vehicle was a sports car that was built by Tomaso from 1971 to 1996 and featured a steel monocoque chassis and a 330 horsepower 5.7-liter Ford Cleveland V-8 engine mated to a ZF five-speed manual. The cars were sold in the U.S. by Ford through its Lincoln dealers and one was even sold to Elvis Presley.
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Unread 2009-11-25, 01:54 PM   #60
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REPORT: Ralph Gilles puts the brakes on Viper-Ferrari collaboration rumors


After setting a new lap record at Laguna Seca the other day, Dodge announced some minor revisions to the all-conquering Viper ACR for the 2010 model year. The snake that swallowed the famed 11-turn race track whole will be treated to some revised gearing and aerodynamics, a new short-throw shifter, the addition of a new color to the catalog and an updated interior to boot. There'll also be a special edition ACR to commemorate the record-breaking lap time. But in the process, a senior Chrysler executive clarified some rumors that have been circulating regarding the next generation Dodge supercar.

Back in August we reported that the next-gen Viper could get a heart transplant in the form of a Ferrari-developed modular engine. The program spearheaded by Chrysler's new corporate cousin in Maranello was tipped to form the basis for new engines that would find their way into the bays of upcoming Maseratis, Ferraris and Vipers. But in speaking with AutoWeek, Dodge brand chief Ralph Gilles reportedly put the brakes on the rampant speculation, saying that any collaboration between Dodge and Ferrari on the Viper's replacement wouldn't extend beyond some input from the Italian marque on the car's development. And while that doesn't necessarily mean the engine programs couldn't be merged, "Ferrari is Ferrari, according to Gilles, and "Viper is Viper".
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Unread 2009-11-29, 08:18 PM   #61
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REPORT: Alfa Romeo nixes "Milano" designation for 147 successor, ponders Giulietta



In truth, Alfa Romeo didn't simply rename the coming model formerly known as "Milano" to "Giulietta." It was Fiat's unhappy Milanese workers who made a stink awful enough to get the company to change course in nomenclature. Seems the new Milano was due to arrive as the last of the Milanese Alfisti were going to be made redundant or moved to Turin, where Fiat is headquartered. The Milan workers, dead set on not being remembered in name alone, protested to the parent company, and so the car has a new name.

That name might or might not be Giulietta, but that's supposedly where the smart money's headed. Alfa would only say that "organizational issues" prevented it from disclosing the name and pictures of the car, and gave no indication of when it would tell us what the car will be called. If Giulietta does win the name game, it would be the third time Alfa's put out a model wearing that moniker.
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Unread 2009-11-29, 10:05 PM   #62
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Fiat to improve Chrysler's quality? What a joke. Fiat's cars are ranked near the bottom. Chrysler is way better than them.
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Unread 2009-11-29, 10:14 PM   #63
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Fiat to improve Chrysler's quality? What a joke. Fiat's cars are ranked near the bottom. Chrysler is way better than them.
not in the UK JD Power ratings they are pretty much equals, granted the vehicles they go up against are different
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Unread 2009-12-02, 11:59 AM   #64
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Alfa Romeo previews stylish new Giulietta



It's been a long time in the making. It has changed names several times along the way. But it's finally here. Well, almost. It's the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and it's coming to the Geneva Motor Show this March to coincide with its phased market launch across Europe next year to coincide with the marque's centenary.

Positioned just above the MiTo in Alfa's lineup (and, tellingly, below the anticipated upcoming 159-succeeding Giulia), the Giulietta replaces the 147 as Italy's answer to the Volkswagen Golf. Since Alfa's parent company Fiat already targets the Golf with its own Bravo, though, some might consider this more of an aggressively-priced competitor to the Audi A3. The hatchback takes its styling cues from the sumptuous 8C Competizione, but carries it off in a decidedly more aggressive way than implemented on the MiTo. Plenty of glass also make the cabin more airy, with a body-colored panel running across the dashboard.

A range of transverse four-cylinder engines Ė both gasoline and diesel Ė will be on offer, producing between 120 and 170 horsepower until a 230 hp Quadrifoglio Verde model comes along. They've all got start-stop engine management and Alfa's DNA adjustable suspension system as standard equipment. Fiat's cutting-edge MultiAir valve-actuation system will eventually find its way into all of the engines, while the selection of five- and six-speed manual gearboxes is set to be joined by a new dual-clutch transmission as well.

The new Giulietta marks a pivotal product launch for Alfa Romeo, as the company is hoping to make this its volume offering the most prolific model in its history Ė with production targeted for an ambitious 100,000 units annually. Check out the trifecta of images in the gallery below and the press release after the jump for full details.






Quote:
PRESS RELEASE:

02/12/2009
Alfa Romeo Giulietta: world preview

The new Alfa Romeo Giulietta will be presented to the world at the forthcoming Geneva Car Show. Sales of the new model will start in spring and be gradually extended to all the major markets. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is expected to give new impetus to the brand in one of Europe's most important segments.

In the Centenary year, the name is a tribute to an automobile myth and Alfa Romeo. The Giulietta is a car that, in the fifties, caught the imagination of generations of car enthusiasts, making the dream of owning an Alfa Romeo and enjoying the high level of comfort and technical excellence accessible for the first time.

The Alfa Romeo Style Centre has produced a new Giulietta, a sports car capable of expressing both great agility on the most demanding routes and providing comfort on everyday roads.

A new architecture for enhancing road hold and agility in total comfort and safety

Meet the new Alfa Romeo, a compact created to appeal to customers who seek top dynamic performance and those who are looking for a distinctive style and a high level of comfort.

The Giulietta has brand-new architecture, designed to meet the expectations of the most demanding customers in terms of road holding, agility and safety. Its excellent dynamic performance and great comfort are the result of refined technical solutions implemented in the suspensions, a next-generation steering system, a rigid yet light structure made of aluminium and high-strength steel, and state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies.

Alfa DNA, a device which customises behaviour of the car according to different driving styles and road conditions, can adapt the new Alfa Romeo to the needs of each individual driver to enhance driving pleasure and comfort. The new architecture of the Alfa Giulietta was designed to integrate and enhance all onboard systems. Three set-ups (Dynamic, Normal and All Weather) are available and can be selected using the Alfa DNA. This device - standard across the entire range of the new model - modifies the operating parameters of the engine, of the steering system, and of the Q2 electronic differential, in addition to fine-tuning the stability control system (VDC) behavioural logics.

Italian style sportiness and comfort

Combining sportiness and elegance, the Alfa Giulietta is the result of Alfa Romeo's new direction in style and technology - an approach that started with the 8C Competizione supercar and which recalls the brand's glorious past while projecting its traditional values of technology and emotion into the future.

The front end is developed around a "trilobe shape" and features a brand-new interpretation of the classic Alfa grille, set into the front bumper and suspended between the two air intakes. The entire car develops from here to combine a lively personality with an elegant form. The front headlamps implement LED technology and a Daytime Running Lights (DRL) function for maximum active safety.

The profile of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is rich in personality and confers the appearance of an agile, solid model. This is above all the result of the coupť shaped side windows, which highlight dynamic and streamlined shape, and of the concealed rear handles. The side ribbing adds to the car's slender look, while the taut lines closing in on the rear end accentuate the "wedge" shape of the body.

The style of the rear end, like that of the front and the side, is strong and consolidates the impression of a muscular car, firmly gripped to the road. Like the headlamps, the rear light clusters implement LED technology, to the advantage of preventive safety, in addition to good looks.

The interior design is taut and light: a horizontally developed dashboard with aluminium element accents and rocker controls which explicitly recall the 8C Competizione. Painstaking attention to detail and the high quality of the materials used are the most advanced expression of Italian style.

Finally, the dimensions of the new car give a compact, dynamic shape combined with excellent roominess and a capacious boot (350 litres): the car is 4.35 metres long, 1.46 metre high and 1.80 metres wide with a wheelbase of 2.63 metres.

Innovative engines for exciting, environmentally friendly driving

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta guarantees top level performance and next-generation technology in terms of technical solutions, performance and environmental friendliness. Four Turbo engines will be available at launch, all Euro 5 compliant and fitted with a standard "Start&Stop" system for reducing consumption and emissions: two petrol engines (1.4TB - 120 HP and 1.4TB MultiAir - 170 HP) and two diesel engines (1.6 JTDM - 105 HP and 2.0 JTDM - 170 HP, both belonging to the second generation of JTDM engines). Finally, the range is completed with the lively 1750 TBi - 235 HP with an exclusive Quadrifoglio Verde configuration.

Safety and dynamic behaviour at the top of the segment

Alfa Romeo Giulietta was designed to obtain the maximum Euro NCAP rating in order to offer total protection to driver and passengers. Furthermore, suspension, steering and braking system are designed to be perfectly balanced even during extreme manoeuvres.

Finally, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is fitted with the most sophisticated electronic devices for dynamic control as standard: VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), DST (Dynamic Steering Torque), Q2 electronic differential and Alfa DNA selector. All these systems guarantee driving safety, dynamism and performance in the best Alfa Romeo tradition.
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Unread 2009-12-02, 01:16 PM   #65
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Unread 2009-12-02, 08:41 PM   #66
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Marchionne reportedly puts Alfa Romeo under review

Take a look at the Fiat auto group. What division (barring Ferrari and Maserati) would you think holds the highest value for the company? If you thought Alfa Romeo, you're on the same page as yours truly, but you'd be mistaken. Horribly mistaken, as it turns out: Alfa has lost Fiat hundreds of millions of euros every year. Its sales have declined sharply, and not just since the global economy collapsed: Alfa sold 203,000 units in the year 2000, but only 103,000 last year. That's a heck of a drop-off.

In response, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has ordered a full re-evaluation of the marque, with two courses of action to potentially result. The first would see Alfa more closely integrating its future products with Chrysler platforms. The second would be to stop investing in the brand altogether, leaving the still-new MiTo and the brand-new Giulietta to carry its aging stablemates (including the 159, Brera, Spider and GT) for the foreseeable future.

Speaking with Automotive News Europe from Fiat's headquarters in Turin, Marchionne reportedly said the new plan for Alfa will be revealed this coming February or March. Even if he chooses to keep Alfa alive with Auburn Hills synergy, though, Marchionne has nixed the notion of merging the brand with Dodge, noting that there's a limit to how many times a brand can be reborn.
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Unread 2009-12-04, 08:30 AM   #67
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Fiat may extend the Chrysler brand name to models currently sold as Lancias

2010 Chrysler 300CIn a move that has stunned the auto industry, Fiat S.p.A. plans for models currently sold as Lancias in Europe into having the Chrysler brand name starting as early as 2011. It came as a surprise since it had been speculated that the 103-year-old Lancia would have a greater role in Europe following Fiatís decision earlier this year to take control of Chrysler.

Fiat has a 20% stake in Chrysler. Last month, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told Automotive News Europe that he has no doubts that it would be Chrysler that would be the global brand, outside a limited number of markets in Europe. Since Chrysler is more recognized internationally than Lancia, Marchionne thinks that a name switch makes a lot of sense. He didnít say though that the Lancia brand would disappear altogether. Rather, Marchionne said that he believes in finding the best way to preserve the identity of Lancia through an agreement that ďcommonizes as much of the portfolio as possible (with Chrysler).Ē
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Unread 2009-12-07, 05:56 PM   #68
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REPORT: Chrysler still considering unibody Dakota replacement

The Dodge Dakota -- as we know it today -- will go away in 2011, but looking at current sales of the mid-size pickup, it may as well be dead already. Chrysler has only sold 10,000 Dakotas this year, with an anemic 663 units cleared in November. But while the Dakota is selling poorly (it's not helped by being too close in price to the much more capable Ram), it doesn't necessarily mean that the enigmatic pickup won't live on in another form.

Coinciding with earlier reports, the Detroit News says Chrysler is contemplating a unibody Dakota to replace the current model. A more fuel efficient car-based platform could yield better efficiency, especially when paired with a turbocharged four cylinder with direct injection. The car-based truck probably wouldn't be a hauler but it would still have a functional bed similar to the Honda Ridgeline, and AWD would likely be an available option. Fred Diaz, the new head of the Ram brand, told the DN that the Pentastar is looking both at Fiat and from within its own stable of vehicles for any platforms that could help make the unibody Dakota a possibility, adding, "The emphasis is going to be on getting a vehicle that is still true to the Ram brand image and also gets excellent miles per gallon rating and at an attractive price point." Chrysler was reportedly already working on a unibody Dakota when money troubles forced the idea to the back burner.

While we like the idea of a fuel efficient pickup that can do most of the things that a body on frame truck can do, we're wondering if the truck-buying public will embrace the idea. The best example of a unibody pickup, the Honda Ridgeline, has been anything but a massive commercial hit and midsize trucks are already a dying breed, with only five percent of the overall vehicle market. But if Chrysler wants to make Ram its own brand, we're guessing that the Pentastar's truck company is going to need more than one vehicle.
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Unread 2009-12-07, 06:51 PM   #69
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Chryslerís Ram brand will expand into commercial vehicles

In order to make its Ram truck band big and profitable, Chrysler Group LLC will introduce commercial vans and potentially big rigs alongside its full-size pickups, reports The Detroit News. As a part of his five year business plan, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionneís first move was splitting the Dodge brand into two separate brands Ė one for passenger cars
and one for trucks.

Ramís goal now is to boost global truck sales from 280,000 today to 415,000 in 2014, with most of them coming from the North American market.

Fred Diaz, Ram brand chief, recently said that the growth will come from product improvements, more advertising and by adding new commercial vans to the Ram lineup.

Ram plans on introducing two new commercial vans in the U.S. by 2012. The Fiat SpA partnership will play a huge role in the move since the Italian automaker has commercial vans that can be imported quickly.
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Unread 2009-12-08, 08:46 PM   #70
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Chrysler confirms plans to build Fiat 500 engine in Michigan

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced yesterday that the automaker will use a currently idled Michigan plant to build a small 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine for the forthcoming Mexican-built, North American-specification Fiat 500.

The engine will not be built alongside the Fiat in Saltillo, Mexico, but rather in Dundee, Michigan. Itís expected that other future Chrysler-badged, American-assembled products will also utilize the powertrain.

A few weeks ago, Michigan offered about $5 million in tax credits to Chrysler to encourage the automaker to build the engine at the idle Dundee plant.
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Unread 2009-12-08, 08:47 PM   #71
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Marchionne to depart Fiat or Chrysler within 24 months

Leading both Chrysler and Fiat has to be a lot of responsibility, so it comes as little surprise that the CEO of both automakers, Sergio Marchionne, plans to abdicate one of the two positions within the next 24 months. Marchionne did strongly hint which company would soldier on without his leadership.

“This cannot go on forever,” said Marchionne. “Certainly within the next 24 months, we’ll find a more permanent solution, either there [in Italy] or here. I’m not threatening the Italian side with a departure from Italy, but we need to find a solution.”

Marchionne made the announcement yesterday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., where he said that his primary focus is on turning Chrysler around in order to pay back American taxpayers. Chrysler received significant low-interest loans from the U.S. Treasury earlier this year.

“We are not planning miracles at Chrysler,” he said. “We deliver what we promise.”
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Unread 2009-12-10, 08:30 PM   #72
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2011 Dodge Charger - Spied

As Chrysler continues to struggle in the absence of new product, it’s refreshing to finally get a glimpse of the next-generation Dodge Charger, which can’t get here soon enough. Although it’s covered in camouflage, we’re able to see some new cues that appear to have been influenced by its retro-sibling, the Challenger.

A More Aggressive Stance

For starters, up front we can see the trademark cross-hair grille grows larger and is restyled. Rather than being a canted overbite tucked under the nose, the new grille bubbles out from the center of the cross hairs, while the hood retains its domed shape.

A smoother greenhouse incorporating a more steeply raked windshield nicely accents a new shoulder line. Sweeping along the doors, the line flows into a slightly extended rear deck. With camo hiding the aft section of the rear-door glass, we can only speculate that changes are below, which we think could mean more glass at the C-pillar instead of the current car’s plastic triangle. Revised side mirrors are shorter in height and positioned lower at the base of a thinner A-pillar. We hope that will combine with the possible extra glass in the rear to resolve visibility woes.

At the rear, restyled taillights—which could be LED units—sit in what looks like a recessed rear valance, much like that on the Challenger. Overall, we are hoping for more of a vintage style to the updated Charger that will better complement its muscle.

Mo’ Power? Maybe

And speaking of that muscle, while it’s obvious we can’t see what is under the hood, Charger fans should expect to see the latest version of the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, currently rated at 368 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. We expect Dodge to eke out a little more power in this application; perhaps the 390 hp as in the Ram’s version of the engine. Additionally, the new Pentastar V-6 debuting in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will serve as the base powerplant with some 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. While the future of the performance SRT line has often been in question, we’d say it’s safe to expect a Charger SRT8 to remain in the cards with as much horsepower as—or maybe more than—the 425 offered by the current 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 (a more powerful 6.4-liter version has been rumored for some time).

The new Charger should appear in the buff sometime this auto-show season with production beginning late in 2010, but with so much uncertainty wrapped around Chrysler’s future, that estimate is most likely subject to change.




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Unread 2009-12-10, 09:18 PM   #73
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Alfa Romeo Kamal SUV Mystery Spy Photos?



Employees at Elasis (Pomigliano), one of Fiat's R&D firms, have been a little trigger-happy with their cameras recently. One of their workers leaked out photos of this concept, the Alfa Romeo Kamal (photos included), which we first saw at the Geneva Motor Show of 2003.

These photos, with Elasis headquarters in the background, were taken in September. What is unknown is if this vehicle is a mule being used for testing, or an abandoned Kamal design study just being moved elsewhere. The Alfa Romeo Kamal had been rumored for 2010 production on the Alfa Romeo 159 platform. But those plans changed after the Fiat/Chrysler mashup. Back in June, the speculation was that two SUVs would be built by Jeep, and get the A.R. shield.

However, with Fiat and Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne preparing to unveil the Fiat Group's short- and mid-term plans later this month, perhaps this SUV could be a sign of things to come. Alfa Romeo has toyed with the idea of releasing a SUV for years, and Chrysler certainly has a number of potential partner vehicles available for re-branding.


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Unread 2009-12-14, 04:30 PM   #74
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Reader Spy: SRT-fettled Dodge Journey R/T spotted



We've always been intrigued by the notion of a higher performance people carrier, from back before Car and Driver magazine's Ford Windstar-based SHOStar to various shadetree high-strung turbocharged Chrysler minivans and outright lunacy like Renault's Espace-bodied F1 car.

Of course, that isn't what you're looking at here: it's what appears to be an SRT-tweaked Dodge Journey R/T, a vehicle that we want to like for its useful size and packaging, but can't because of its indifferent drivetrains and tragic interior materials and ergonomics.

Now, normally we wouldn't get too excited about something like this, in part because private owners often add badges from other vehicles in order to make them seem more impressive (we just saw an i-VTEC Chevrolet Baretta the other day), but these spy shots sent in from reader Nick Leonard appear to be the real deal – not only does the Journey in question boast a well-integrated new front fascia, but also unique wheels, a lowered stance and a quad-outlet rear exhaust surrounded by a different valance. The clincher? Michigan manufacturer licence plates.

Nick says notes that he came upon the car in the parking lot of a Best Buy in Saginaw, Michigan, and he only noted a laptop bag and a jacket in the passenger seat – no sign of any further testing equipment or interesting things on the dashboard. He further instructs that there was an AWD badge on the car (not pictured).

Now, it isn't at all clear that this is a production-intent vehicle, especially considering that R/T and SRT are usually mutually-exclusive designations in the House of Pentastar. This vehicle might be something that bored engineers cooked up for their own entertainment, for a SEMA reveal, or perhaps for a customer clinic – but who knows? It could be something, right? If so, let's hope there's some genuine chutzpah under the sheetmetal, otherwise we're looking at the decline and dilution of the SRT-branded vehicles as we know it.
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Unread 2009-12-16, 05:54 PM   #75
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Well, today we have word of a secondhand account of the beast that would add fuel to the fire. Apparently, if a new LS1Tech thread is to be believed, this Journey is pretty darned quick. Forum member Outlaw55 tells the story:

Just got smoked by a white Dodge SUV thing! I was just out cruising back to work after grabbing a bite to eat and I got pumbled by some newer 4-door Dodge wagon/SUV looking thing. My 02 SS has been 12.90's with Drag Radials and now it has Blizzacs on the back but everything else was the same.

It was behind me and then beside at a stop light. I did not intend to race the guy but my lane ended about 10 yards ahead so I punched it when the light went green, his fender was at my door m so I banged second and went WOT and he friggin passed me. I merged in behind him and then my turn came up and I got off that road.

WTF. It wasn't a Cherokee SRT8 and it certainly wasn't V8 because it didn't sound like it. It had 5 star rims and quad exhausts..thing was white ?
Granted, this was on Michigan's cold winter streets and the Chevrolet Camaro in question was wearing Blizzaks, but either way, it would appear that this all-wheel drive Journey is packing some serious heat. Outlaw says he didn't think it was a V8, and it would be hard to believe a Hemi could be crammed into the Journey's engine bay, so if we had to guess, it might have a breathed-on SRT-4 powerplant in there. With the Caliber SRT-4 turbo mill underhood, it could be producing as much as 285 horsepower in stock configuration, possibly enough to humble the Camaro under very poor traction conditions. But who knows, perhaps it was secreting some extra boost? Thanks for the tip, Tracy!

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