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kscarbel2, May 13, 2017 in Trucking News
FCA to recall 862,520 vehicles that don't meet U.S. emissions standards
David Shepardson, Reuters / March 13, 2019
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will recall 862,520 gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States that do not meet emissions standards, the EPA said on Wednesday.
The recall was prompted by in-use emissions investigations conducted by the EPA and testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations, the agency said. The EPA said it will continue to investigate other Fiat Chrysler vehicles that are potentially non-compliant and may become the subject of future recalls.
“EPA welcomes the action by Fiat Chrysler to voluntarily recall its vehicles that do not meet U.S. emissions standards,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “We will provide assistance to consumers navigating the recall and continue to ensure that auto manufacturers abide by our nation’s laws designed to protect human health and the environment.”
The recall includes the 2011-2016 Dodge Journeys, 2011-2014 Chrysler 200s and Dodge Avengers and 2011-2012 Dodge Calibers.
FCA said another 103,221 vehicles are being recalled in Canada for the same reason.
Not a safety issue
Fiat Chrysler said in a statement the EPA announcement "has no safety implications. Nor are there any associated fines."
"The issue was discovered by FCA during routine in-use emissions testing and reported to the agency," the company said. "We began contacting affected customers last month to advise them of the needed repairs, which will be provided at no charge."
The EPA said vehicle owners "will receive notification from FCA when parts are available for them to bring their vehicle in to be repaired. In the meantime, owners can continue to drive their vehicles."
"Due to the large number of vehicles involved and the need to supply replacement components -- specifically to the vehicle’s catalytic converter -- this recall will be implemented in phases during the 2019 calendar year beginning with the oldest vehicles first," the EPA said in its statement.
In January, Fiat Chrysler agreed to a settlement worth about $800 million to resolve claims by the U.S. Justice Department and state of California that it used illegal software to produce false results on diesel-emissions tests. It is awaiting the outcome of a criminal probe.
The hefty penalty was the latest fallout from the U.S. government's stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen Group admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules.
Noose hanging at Ram plant adds to industry tensions
Gabrielle Coppola, Bloomberg / March 19, 2019
Fiat Chrysler workers discovered a noose hanging in a Ram truck plant in Michigan late last month, prompting a second investigation into racism at a factory already simmering with tension.
The company brought outside investigators into its Sterling Heights assembly plant to look into who hung the noose, commonly understood to be a threat of violence against African Americans, but hasn’t found the culprit.
“If and when that person is identified, their relationship with the company will be terminated,” the automaker said. “This type of behavior will simply not be tolerated.”
It’s the second internal investigation into racist harassment at the assembly plant north of Detroit since late 2017, according to people with knowledge of the events, and the latest in a series of racist incidents alleged at U.S. auto plants. At a UAW convention in Detroit last week, union members passed a set of resolutions that acknowledged “much more work to do” to secure protections against discrimination in the workplace.
“A rise in recent years of incidents targeting people based on their race, gender, immigration status, or religious beliefs is impossible to ignore and requires an aggressive response,” the resolution stated. General Motors faces allegations of racial harassment at a plant in Toledo, Ohio, while Ford has settled claims at a Chicago factory.
Fiat Chrysler workers at the Sterling Heights facility first reported ropes that looked like nooses hanging in the factory in late 2017, as the automaker started preparations for its new pickup, according to people familiar with the events, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak.
The company investigated and determined there was no malicious or racist intent, but together with the UAW agreed that workers wouldn’t leave knotted ropes hanging to avoid any further offense or misunderstanding.
Workers reported finding another noose between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. local time on Feb. 22 in the paint shop at the Sterling Heights assembly plant, commonly called SHAP. The next day, on a Facebook page for UAW Local 1700, which represents workers at the factory, an anonymous post was shared alluding to “several disturbing incidents” at the plant in the last few months, including one as recently as that week.
“We must speak up and speak out when we are aware of heinous discriminatory acts being committed by co-workers,” the post reads. “Fear-mongering through race based attacks and antics should not and will NOT BE TOLERATED AT SHAP.”
The people with knowledge of the noose incidents said tensions have risen at the Sterling Heights plant since headcount ballooned to more than 7,000 hourly workers, from about 3,000, after the company overhauled the factory to make pickups instead of Chrysler and Dodge sedans.
A large portion of the new workers were transfers from a nearby Fiat Chrysler facility in Warren, Mich.. This influx has triggered conflicts over job placements and seniority, the people said.
A separate noose incident took place at another Fiat Chrysler factory last year. A subcontractor fired one of its employees at the automaker’s Toledo Jeep plant in June for hanging one, a Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman said, confirming an earlier report by The Toledo Blade newspaper.
Fiat Chrysler said it will continue to conduct training to “underscore the value of diversity and inclusion.”
Ram engine supplier Cummins will probe emissions certifications
Bloomberg / April 30, 2019
Cummins Inc., a key supplier of engines for Fiat Chrysler's Ram pickups, has started a review of how it certifies the emissions of engines it supplies to the carmaker.
Cummins will check certification and compliance processes for engines in the 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks after conversations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the company said in a statement posted Monday.
“We are reviewing our certification process and it’s too early to tell what, if any actions, would or might be needed,” Jon Mills, a Cummins spokesman, said in an email.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it welcomed the review and said it would cooperate as necessary, adding the discussions are taking place between Cummins and other stakeholders.
The carmaker in January agreed to pay about $800 million in fines and costs to settle lawsuits brought by states, car owners and the U.S. Justice Department, which said earlier versions of the company’s diesel-powered pickups and SUVs violated clean-air rules. Last week, the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into Ford Motor Co.’s emissions certification process, intensifying an issue the automaker disclosed two months ago.
Ford is at least the third major automaker to face a U.S. federal investigation over emissions in the span of a few years. Volkswagen Group paid a $4.3 billion penalty in 2017 after installing so-called defeat devices in its diesel engines to bypass emissions tests.
FCA debuted revamped versions of its heavy-duty Ram pickups at the Detroit auto show in January and started sales in the second quarter.
“We do not comment on ongoing investigations,” the EPA said, without specifying if the agency had started a formal probe of Cummins.
FCA seeks $160 million in tax incentives for Detroit plants
Automotive News / April 30, 2019
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is seeking up to $160 million in taxpayer incentives to partially subsidize a planned $2.5 billion investment in two Detroit assembly plants.
The package of taxpayer incentives, grants and breaks would come from an Industrial Property Tax Abatement, the Good Jobs for Michigan program, a State Essential Services Assessment Exemption and a Michigan Business Development Program grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, according to documents submitted this week to the Detroit City Council.
FCA's plans to spend $1.6 billion converting its Mack Avenue engine plants into a Jeep assembly plant and $900 million retooling and modernizing the company's nearby Jefferson North Assembly Plant will add 4,950 jobs and is expected to result in a "gross fiscal benefit" of $300 million, according to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.
"FCA confirms that it has applied for up to $160 million from existing state incentive programs as related to its proposed development at the Mack Avenue Engine Complex and Jefferson North Assembly Plant," an FCA spokeswoman said Tuesday. "As these incentives have yet to be approved and negotiations are still pending, we cannot comment further."
If approved by state economic development officials, the tax incentives would amount to 6.4 percent of the automaker's total investment at the two east side Detroit plants.
By comparison, Ford Motor Co. received $239 million in tax incentives over 30 years for a planned $740 million autonomous vehicle campus in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, anchored by the long-vacant Michigan Central Station train depot. If that ambitious project comes to fruition, Ford's incentives will amount to 32.3 percent of its investment.
The disclosure of FCA's potential tax incentives comes three days after the city's self-imposed deadline to assemble 200 acres for FCA's plant expansion, which could add millions of dollars to the value of the subsidies for the automaker to expand its manufacturing footprint in the Motor City.
The potential tax incentives for Fiat Chrysler would need approval by the Michigan Strategic Fund's board.
A spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. would not confirm the $160 million figure.
"At this time, FCA and the MEDC are still finalizing the incentive package that will go before the MSF board," MEDC spokesman Otie McKinley said in an email. " As is always our process the MEDC does not share project details until time of MSF board approval."
No date has been set for the MSF board to consider tax incentives for the automaker, McKinley said.
John Roach, spokesman for Duggan, said the mayor's office was "making significant progress" on the land deals and there will be "an announcement when everything is done."
Detroit's efforts to assemble public and private land around the two FCA plants is said to be a complicated matter involving a series of land swaps to lower the city's out-of-pocket costs. DTE Energy Co., the Great Lakes Water Authority and Hantz Farms have already publicly agreed to land deals with the city. City Council approved those land swaps Tuesday on a 7-2 vote, The Detroit News reported.
One of the biggest landowners with which Duggan's team has been negotiating is Crown Enterprises, the real estate development arm of billionaire trucking mogul Manuel "Matty" Moroun's family business. The Morouns own an 80-acre paved parking lot that they lease to FCA for finished vehicle storage. It's the site of the former Budd Wheel plant, which Crown Enterprises demolished in 2017 to build a logistics and vehicle shipping center for FCA.
On Friday, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's Air Quality Division approved FCA's air pollution-control permit for expansion of the Mack Avenue plant.
The end of FCA may be near.
Fiat Chrysler puts merger offer to Renault board
Reuters-Bloomberg / May 27, 2019
PARIS -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has made a "transformative merger" proposal to French peer Renault, FCA said on Monday.
The deal would create an automaker with a strong presence across key regions, automotive markets and technologies, generating 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in annual savings, FCA said in a statement.
The "broad and complementary brand portfolio would provide full market coverage, from luxury to mainstream," FCA said.
Renault said in a statement Monday that its board had reviewed FCA's "friendly proposal" and had decided to "study with interest" the opportunity of such a business combination.
The merger would bring FCA's brands such as Jeep, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo and Fiat under a common umbrella with Renault Group's Renault, Dacia and Lada brands.
"The case for combination is also strengthened by the need to take bold decisions to capture at scale the opportunities created by the transformation of the auto industry," FCA said.
The deal could take more than a year to finalize, FCA CEO Mike Manley told employees on Monday in a letter.
The transaction will be structured as a 50-50 ownership through a Dutch holding company, FCA said, adding that it would give Renault investors an implied premium of about 10 percent. After payment of a 2.5 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) special dividend to FCA shareholders, each group would receive 50 percent of the combined entity in new stock.
Exor, Fiat's founding Agnelli family holding, is set to become the single largest shareholder in the combined entity. The new company would be chaired by John Elkann, head of the Agnelli family that controls 29 percent of FCA, sources familiar with the deal talks told Reuters. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard would likely become CEO, one said.
Renault and FCA had a combined market value of 32.6 billion euros ($36.5 billion) as of Friday. Milan-listed Fiat Chrysler shares jumped 19 percent in early trading, while Renault stock gained 17 percent.
Renault and FCA built about 8.7 million cars last year, which would vault the pair past Hyundai Motor Group and General Motors. That’s still behind the world’s two biggest automakers, Volkswagen Group and Toyota Motor Corp., which both topped 10 million vehicles last year. Renault’s existing alliance, including numbers from partners Nissan and Mitsubishi, also reached this milestone.
The merger would give Renault access to the North American market, while FCA would gain clout in Russia, the French carmaker’s second-biggest market with its AvtoVaz unit, which builds Ladas.
The merger plan faces political and workforce hurdles in Italy, and potentially also in France. Most of FCA's European plants are running below 50 percent capacity. FCA said the planned cost savings would not depend on factory closures.
Pressure for consolidation among automakers has grown with the challenges posed by electrification, tightening emissions regulations and expensive new technologies being developed for connected and autonomous vehicles.
“Fiat and Renault are looking for surer footing by gaining scale, and that’s not a bad idea for mass-market carmakers,” Bankhaus Metzler analyst Juergen Pieper said. “The execution of the deal is a significant hurdle. But on paper, this proposal looks good.”
If successful, the tie-up could also have profound repercussions for Renault's 20-year-old alliance with Nissan, already weakened by the crisis surrounding the arrest and ouster of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn late last year.
FCA and Renault have moved ahead without Nissan, the French automaker’s 20-year partner, which has resisted proposals by Renault to merge in a holding-company structure.
Both FCA and Renault went through dramatic changes at the top last year after former FCA chief, Sergio Marchionne, died and Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo on charges of financial crimes.
FCA-Renault, like almost every possible automotive pairing, had been studied intermittently for years by dealmakers. But the fractious relations between Ghosn and Marchionne made constructive merger talks impossible until after Marchionne's sudden death last July, banking sources said.
The French government, Renault's biggest shareholder with a 15 percent stake, supports the merger in principle but will need to see more details, its main spokeswoman said on Monday.
France will be "particularly vigilant regarding employment and industrial footprint," another Paris official said, adding that any deal must safeguard Renault's alliance with Nissan.
Nissan, which is 43.4 percent-owned by Renault, would be invited to nominate a director to the 11-member board of the new combined company, under the plan presented on Monday.
As alliance partners, Nissan and its affiliate Mitsubishi would benefit from an estimated 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in annual savings from the merger, FCA said.
The Italian government may also seek a stake in the combined group to balance France's holding, a lawmaker from the ruling League party said on Monday.
Anticipating such sensitivities, FCA stressed "new opportunities for employees of both companies" under the merger.
Sales chief Bigland files whistleblower suit against FCA
Vince Bond Jr. & Michael Wayland, Automotive News / June 5, 2019
Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the automaker Wednesday, claiming he has been a scapegoat for the company's sales practices being probed by federal officials.
In the suit, Bigland claims FCA has retaliated against him for cooperating with an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation and slashed his pay by about 90 percent, starting in March. FCA executives plan to use his withheld compensation to pay any penalties or settlements reached with the SEC, according to the lawsuit filed in Michigan's Oakland County Circuit Court.
The automaker's actions will cost Bigland about $1.8 million, the lawsuit said.
Bigland, according to the suit, says he has cooperated with the SEC investigation, testifying "at length" about Fiat Chrysler's U.S. sales reporting practices, which he said long predated his appointment as U.S. sales chief in 2011, according to the lawsuit.
"In late 2018, presumably as a way to wrap up their investigation with some result, the SEC suggested to plaintiff that he admit to some wrongdoing as to defendants' monthly sales reporting," Deborah Gordon, Bigland's lawyer, wrote in the lawsuit. "The SEC also suggested a resolution involving some penalty to FCA. Because (Bigland) had not engaged in any wrongdoing, and there was no wrongdoing, he declined to do so."
In July 2016, FCA voluntarily changed the way it reports U.S. monthly sales and restated results for the previous five years to reflect the new methodology. The lawsuit says Bigland was excluded from the process of devising a new monthly sales reporting methodology, and was only advised that FCA was considering different methods to adopt.
The SEC has been investigating the company's sales reporting practices before the company changed them.
Fiat Chrysler said long-term incentive payouts are made at the discretion of a board committee.
Bigland's "eligibility for incentive compensation — like that of all corporate officers — is subject to a determination by the board of directors' compensation committee that he has satisfied the applicable company and personal performance conditions," FCA said in a statement. "Mr. Bigland's eligibility for his award remains subject to that determination and completion of a board-level evaluation of issues that are the subject to governmental investigations (as previously disclosed by FCA) in which FCA continues to cooperate."
The company said further it would be "inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation or internal compensation processes."
According to Gordon, Bigland remains employed by the company.
Bigland’s participation in the SEC investigation, including a “white paper” he wrote detailing his knowledge of the automaker’s sales reporting methodology, has sparked retaliation from the company, Gordon said.
She described FCA’s decision to withhold a portion of his compensation as an “unusual situation” because of Bigland’s “excellent” performance that the lawsuit aims to reconcile.
“We’re hoping my client will receive the compensation he has earned and then some,” Gordon said Wednesday. “It appears my client is being retaliated against.”
Bigland's a good guy.
And remember it was Bigland who wanted to bring back Dodge heavy trucks.
Fiat Chrysler withdraws Renault merger offer
Bloomberg & Reuters / June 5, 2019
PARIS -- Fiat Chrysler withdrew a $35 billion merger offer for France's Renault, abruptly calling off what would have been a landmark deal to create the world's third-biggest automaker.
Renault directors failed to reach a verdict on FCA's May 27 merger proposal at a board meeting that ran late Wednesday, the company said. The board was "unable to take a decision due to the request expressed by the representatives of the French state to postpone the vote to a later meeting," Renault said in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler pulled the merger offer for Renault after the French automaker’s Japanese partner, Nissan Motor Co., declined to support the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Nissan’s two representatives on Renault’s board were withholding support as other board members prepared to vote in favor of the $35 billion merger, the paper said. The opposition from Nissan representatives raised doubts about the Japanese automaker's commitment to preserving the alliance if the merger were to proceed, the paper said.
"FCA remains firmly convinced of the compelling, transformational rationale of a proposal that has been widely appreciated since it was submitted, the structure and terms of which were carefully balanced to deliver substantial benefits to all parties," the company said in a statement. "However it has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully."
The French government, a major Renault shareholder, said Wednesday it wouldn’t approve Fiat Chrysler’s merger proposal without Nissan’s guarantee that Renault’s alliance with Nissan would survive. The French government asked to delay a vote on the merger, prompting Fiat Chrysler to withdraw its merger proposal, The Wall Street Journal said, citing people close to the matter.
France was making progress toward a deal that would meet its demands, most of which were granted by Fiat, according to a French official who asked not to be named.
However, French officials wanted more time to secure other requests, including that Nissan come on board before a combination move forward. More time was needed to reassure the Japanese side and explain the deal, a source told Bloomberg, adding the French government was surprised that Fiat suddenly withdrew its offer.
On Monday, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said that the proposed merger, if realized, would significantly alter the structure of Renault.
“This would require a fundamental review of the existing relationship between Nissan and Renault,” Saikawa said.
FCA had earlier reached a tentative agreement with France on the terms of the proposed merger with Renault, two sources told Reuters.
The French state, which owns 15 percent of Renault, had been seeking more influence over the merged company, firmer job guarantees and improved terms for Renault shareholders in return for blessing the $35 billion tie-up.
Renault, FCA and the French government all declined to comment earlier on the ongoing board discussions.
Analysts had warned of complications with the deal, including Renault's existing alliance with Nissan, the French state's role as Renault's largest shareholder and potential opposition from politicians and workers to any cutbacks.
FCA has been locked in talks with Renault and the French state over its bid to create the world's third-biggest carmaker. France had broadly welcomed the deal, on condition it guarantees Renault's domestic blue-collar jobs and plants.
The collapse of his proposal to create the world’s third-largest automaker marks a significant retreat for FCA Chairman John Elkann, who leads the company’s founding Agnelli family. After discussions with Renault’s cross-town rival Groupe PSA, Elkann opted for the riskier path, proceeding with an offer for Renault despite the complications of the government’s role and its strained relationship with alliance partner Nissan.
The breakdown of talks on a night when a deal appeared to be in hand also leaves Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard in a difficult position -- having sought and failed to bring the French carmaker’s various constituencies into agreement. In addition to the demands from the French state, unions were worried about jobs and Nissan felt burned by the previous regime under deposed alliance Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Renault’s board was poised to approve the deal, with Nissan representatives abstaining, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. But France’s representatives asked for more time after officials made clear they wanted to discuss with Japanese authorities before making a decision, they said. Finance minister Bruno Le Maire plans a trip to Japan soon, one of the people told Bloomberg.
More time was needed to reassure the Japanese side and explain the deal, a French government official said, asking not to be identified to comply with ground rules. The person added that the government found surprising Fiat’s rushed move to withdraw its offer.
A spokesman for the minister didn’t return requests for comment.
Criticism of Fiat’s May 27 proposal has gathered steam in recent days. France asked for assurances on jobs, board representation and the role of Senard, 66, who would be CEO of the combined company.
Some investors have also voiced doubts. Paris-based activist investment manager CIAM, in a letter to Renault’s board, said the merger with Fiat significantly undervalues Renault and that a 2.5 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) dividend set to go to Fiat Chrysler shareholders should instead be paid to the French company.
Damn... FCA and Renault deserved each other.
As for puffing up "sales" figures, FCA is still at it- I just read that last quarter they "sold" several hundred pickups into dealer lease fleets to prop up their sales numbers and beat Chevy.
Renault undervalued? Really? Hard to believe. Anyway, deal looked bad to me without Nissan. Maybe Nissan and FCA ought to talk.
8 hours ago, RoadwayR said:
Renault undervalued? Really? Hard to believe. Anyway, deal looked bad to me without Nissan. Maybe Nissan and FCA ought to talk.
Renault undervalued? Really? Hard to believe. Anyway, deal looked bad to me without Nissan. Maybe Nissan and FCA ought to talk.
I would steer clear of Nissan. Japan Inc has a nationalistic agenda. Saikawa would have made a fine Imperial Army officer.
2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Dethrones Chevrolet's Duramax Diesel with 480 LB-FT of Torque
Andrew Wendler, Car & Driver / June 10, 2019
Ram fires back in the half-ton diesel truck wars with a revised 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6.
Well that didn't take long. Less than three weeks after Chevrolet announced that its 420-lb-ft, 3.0-liter turbodiesel Duramax inline-six would finally see the light of day under the hood of the 2020 Silverado half-ton pickup, Ram has staged a torque coup d'état and retakes the throne with an updated version of its turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 rated at 480 lb-ft. Not only 14 percent more powerful, it now reaches full torque output at 1600 rpm, 400 rpm lower than the previous version. That means a max tow rating of 12,560 pounds when properly equipped. The Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel is rated to tug 11,400 pounds, while the Silverado half-ton diesel is slated to earn a 9700-pound tow rating. Ram says the 2020 EcoDiesel will be in showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Ram is referring to the latest EcoDiesel engine as the third-generation model due to its myriad upgrades. Redesigned cylinder head and intake ports are said to improve both swirl and flow of the incoming air, the aluminum pistons have been redesigned and use thinner rings and a low-friction coating on the wrist pin and side skirts, the compression ratio has been increased slightly from 16.0:1 to 16.5:1, and the high-pressure injectors have been redesigned for optimal operation with the new combustion chamber.
To further reduce noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), the wrist pins are now slightly offset by about 0.1 inch.
Externally, an updated exhaust-gas recirculation system features a new dual-loop design (high and low-pressure circuits), the added low-pressure loop drawing exhaust gasses downstream of the particulate filter to maximize efficiency, in turn increasing fuel economy.
A new water-cooled turbocharger with variable geometry aims to improve efficiency and responsiveness, the lower portion of the two-piece oil sump uses a lightweight sandwiched polymer/metal material that further reduces NVH and the dual vacuum pump system now uses electric and a new mechanical low-friction pump with new blades said to increase overall efficiency.
The compacted-graphite iron block and forged-steel connecting rods and crankshaft provide the strength and durability required by diesel engines.
Built by the FCA-owned VM Motori in Ferrara, Italy, Ram's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel has always been a bit of wild card in the segment (you can find a storyline of the EcoDiesel's history here), and in addition to bragging rights, we're thinking the updates are long overdue.
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