$7.2 Billion - That’s the Check FCA Gets to Cash for Offloading Magneti Marelli
This was in the to-do list for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ever since the company’s new CEO, Mike Manley, filled the shoes of the late Sergio Marchionne. Now, the company has sold its component unit, Magneti Marelli, to Calsonic Kansei Corporation for €6.2 billion, which is approximately $7.2 Billion at current exchange rates.
Chrysler isn’t on the Chopping Block Yet; Fiat to Retreat, Become Euro-Only EV Brand
FCA’s investor meeting has taken place, and the official word is that Chrysler will carry on as a North-American.-only brand and Fiat will become a Euro-only EV brand. To take things even further, a company spokesperson has also said that Dodge won’t be killed off either. That’s a pretty bold move from FCA considering how unpopular Chrysler and Fiat have become here. What happens with these brands next, however, will determine whether or not they’ll continue to stick around long term.
Sergio Marchionne May Kill Off Chrysler, Remove Fiat from the U.S. Market
The Chrysler brand has had a good run with roots that trace all the way back to its formation in 1925. A rich and iconic history, however, isn’t enough to keep a brand going and it looks like the Chrysler nameplate may get killed off just a few years before it’s 100-year anniversary. That’s the word from an Automotive News report that Sergio Marchionne could kill off the brand at the June 1st investor’s meeting in Balocco, Italy.
FCA Could Be Bought by a Chinese Automaker
Formed in 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alliance has been doing very good these past three years, which is why Sergio Marchionne is on the lookout to either sell the company or make another merger with a big brand. FCA was refused by General Motors back in 2015 and Marchionne’s attempts to find a new collaboration have been unsuccessful so far. However, it seems that FCA is actually on the brink of finding a new owner. According to new reports, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has received at least one offer in August from a "well-known Chinese automaker."
That’s the word from Automotive News, which claims that the over was slightly higher than FCA’s current market value, but the Italian-American alliance rejected it for not being enough. There’s no detailed information as to what Chinese automaker made the offer, but speculation has it that FCA is negotiating with more than one company. Also, a source close to FCA said that company executives have traveled to China to meet with Great Wall Motor Co., while different sources claim talks with Dongfeng Motor Corp., Zhejiang Geely, and Guangzhou Automobile Group.
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FCA Design Boss Says Fiat Toro Not Coming to U.S.
The Fiat Toro, a mid-size lifestyle pickup sold in Latin America, looks like a promising competitor to the Honda Ridgeline. Only it isn’t coming to the U.S. That news comes directly from FCA’s design boss, Ralph Gilles, and his Twitter feed. Gilles tweeted Wednesday that FCA has no plans on selling the unibody pickup in the U.S.
Gilles’ tweet said, “I must clear something up from this morning #MAMA I meant I love the new 2017 #Fiat Toro sold in Latin America, no plans to sell it in the U.S.”
As he stated, the tweet was meant to clear the air after his speech at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, which led many to believe the Fiat Toro would have a future in North America. “You’re going to be seeing more from fiat on the truck side, especially,” Gilles said at the auto show.
This is disappointing news for the mid-size truck segment. Currently the Honda Ridgeline is the only unibody offering. It competes with several body-on-frame trucks, including the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon also make up a large portion of market share.
What’s more, the mid-size truck segment isn’t slowing down. Ford recently made headlines with confirmation of the mid-size Ranger pickup’s return for the 2019 model year, along with the Bronco SUV, which will share the Ranger’s underpinnings. Then, of course, Jeep is set to debut its new 2018 Wrangler and its pickup variant.
For whatever reason, FCA doesn’t seem inclined to enter the market. Perhaps FCA bean counters are worried the Fiat Toro would compete too closely against the Jeep Wrangler pickup. Perhaps FCA simply couldn’t meet demand with the U.S. joining the customer base.
Then again, Gilles could have spoken too early about FCA’s plans to debut the Toro for U.S. consumption, having then to cover his tracks with pacifying statements regarding FCA’s lack of plans for a U.S.-sold Toro.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear many are passionate about the Fiat Toro and its potential launch in American dealerships.
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1,157-Piece 1968 Fiat 500 F Lego Kit Could Become Reality if You Vote for it
Lego’s lineup of auto themed creations has grown exponentially in recent years. It’s got a Ferrari F40, a Volkswagen T1 Camper, and a Mini Cooper. And those are a few of the “hard to find” types. Now, Lego is putting the onus on the people to decide if this Fiat 500 project is worth actually bringing into production.
The project is part of the Lego’s Ideas website where followers of the brick can support their favorite projects. Since the Fiat 500 is included here, it’s not going to be produced unless it gets a specific number of votes. As of today, there are only 333 supporters of the project, but the good news is that voting doesn’t end for another 358 days so yes, there’s still plenty of time to get the Fiat 500 put into Lego production.
That said, there are on assurances that the Fiat 500 will be put into production even if it garners enough support. That’s only one piece of the puzzle that Lego has to navigate through. There’s also that issue of licensing, which is always a tricky proposition in it of itself. Fortunately, Fiat and Lego have had collaborations before, most notably with all the Ferraris that have been immortalized in brick form in the past. So why should you vote for this Fiat 500? Notwithstanding the fact that it’s a great piece, it’s a tremendous addition to Lego’s growing collection of automotive products. At the very least, it’s going to look especially spiffy next to the aforementioned Cooper and the recently released Volkswagen Beetle.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Has FCA been Reporting Fraudulent Sales Performance Reports to Investors?
Back in January of 2016, a civil lawsuit was filed against FCA by dealers in Illinois and Florida that claimed FCA was using dirty reporting tactics to pad its sales numbers. The suit came after FCA posted record sales numbers for December of 2015, and has finally garnered a lot of attention. According to Bloomberg, FCA is now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the alleged sales padding scheme.
The suit filed back in January claims that FCA was paying dealers to create false delivery reports, which in turn, made it look like the brand was selling way more vehicles than it really was. There was also a similar lawsuit filed previously by a Maserati dealership, which also claimed FCA was paying its dealers to pad their sales numbers. According to Bloomberg, Fiat Chrysler announced that “an internal investigation concluded the padding allegations were baseless and the lawsuit was nothing more than the product of two disgruntled dealers” as early as January 14, 2015, but that wasn’t enough to keep investigators off their back.
In fact, multiple media outlets are reporting that the FBI and SEC hasn’t only raided FCA offices, but the homes of staff as well. According to Automotive News, Federal staff attorneys paid a visit to FCA headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan on July 11 and that employees were advised not to speak with investigators without counsel present. These allegations of performance padding, should they turn out to be true, could be a massive blow for FCA and could turn out to be the next big automotive scandal.
Keep reading to learn about what this means to FCA and why it is such a big deal.
The Chrysler Technology Center has 5.4 million square feet of floor space, which – outside of the Pentagon – makes it the largest headquarters in North America. This monster of a facility allows developers to work from the beginning of the design phase all the way to concept production and testing. The facility has 129 different dynamometers that are in constant operation, and a climate testing cell that can generate temperatures between -40 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That particular cell is also able to simulate a snow storm or intense rainstorm with wind speeds up to 100 mph — allowing developers to test vehicles in any condition without traveling to different parts of the world or keeping up with weather conditions.
That climate cell just got a major update to the tune of $2.5 million. The most important part of the update is a brand new, four-wheel-drive dynamometer that can handle vehicles with up to 350 horsepower at the front wheels and 650 in the rear. In addition to the new testing equipment, Chrysler also updated the ventilation system so that it can test vehicles with high-output and diesel engines. Consumers are snatching up four- and all-wheel-drive vehicles faster than ever, and Chrysler feels the most recent upgrade will help it better deliver the durability its customers expect. The CTC located in Auburn Hills, Michigan and has run 24 hours a day for the last 24 years.
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Anyone following the news around Fiat Chrysler recently would probably give the auto-giant a dim outlook for the future (I certainly did). But FCA has made a strong showing, with a 69 percent profit increase for the second quarter of 2015, posting a figure of $367.9 million (333 million euros) compared to last year’s $217.6 million.
Part of the increase is due to fluctuating exchange rates, with dollars from U.S. sales worth more now than they were in 2014. The solid results are also partly attributed to the strength of North American operations, where FCA’s operating margin improved to 7.7 percent.
Revenue for the quarter came in at $32.26 billion, a $6.5 billion increase over last year. For the first six months of 2015, revenues grew to $60.7 billion compared to $49.7 billion last year. FCA’s net profit for the first half of 2015 rose substantially, coming in at $464 million compared to last year’s $26 million. Adjusted earnings before income taxes were $1.685 billion, an increase of $615.2 million, or 58 percent.
FCA moved 1.193 million units in the last quarter, up 12,000 units over the same time period last year. A total of 2.288 million units shipped for the first half of 2015, down slightly from 2.294 million seen in the first half of last year.
Coinciding with the good news, FCA raised its full-year revenue forecast from 108 billion euros to 110 billion euros ($121.11 billion), with worldwide shipments expected to close out 2015 at 4.8 million units.
FCA’s European sales rose 12 percent. North American sales rose 8 percent thanks to models like the 2015 Jeep Renegade and the new 2015 Chrysler 200. With North America expected to continue its strong performance, net profits are forecast between 1 and 1.2 billion euros ($1.1 and $1.32 billion),
Investors responded in kind, with FCA’s shares rising 5.2 percent on Thursday.
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Security holes in its Uconnect software isn’t Fiat Chrysler’s only issue these days; the automaker has agreed to orders from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to repurchase nearly 500,000 Ram pickup trucks due to major safety concerns. The buyback could cost the automaker billions on top of the $90 million fine from the NHTSA for failing to address these and other safety concerns in a timely fashion.
The safety issues with the Ram pickup line reportedly stem from defective steering and suspension components that could fail, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The effected trucks include certain Ram 1500 models from 2009 to 2012, the 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4WD, and the Ram 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500 Heavy Duty with 4WD from 2008 through 2012. On a smaller scale, FCA is also including the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, along with the 2009 through 2011 Dodge Dakota in the buyback.
Vehicles will be repurchased at fair market value from customers who choose to participate in the buyback and the necessary repairs completed. FCA can then resell the vehicles. The NHTSA will be monitoring FCA’s progress with the buyback and has the option of issuing another $15 million fine if more violations happen. The oversight will continue for three years by an independent monitor.
Included in the NHTSA’s investigation is FCA’s installation of trailer hitches onto more than 1 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs that have their fuel tanks placed between the rear bumper and solid rear axle. At least 75 deaths have been reported due to fire-related rear-end crashes with the two vehicles. The hitches are said to protect the fuel tank from rupturing in such collisions. In total, the fine against FCA covers 23 separate recalls that the NHTSA says were not dealt with on schedule.
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Last year, FCA announced its intentions to separate itself from the Ferrari brand by selling off shares of the supercar company to the open market, and now it looks as though those plans are finally coming to fruition. FCA confirmed this week that Ferrari has filed a request with U.S. regulators for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
As it originally stated in 2014, FCA plans on offloading 10 percent of the automaker to investors. However, Piero Ferrari, son of founder Enzo Ferrari, will continue to hold another 10 percent (called Ferrari NV). The remaining 80 percent will go to existing FCA shareholders.
While some market analysts predict a valuation of 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion), Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said earlier this month that he expects Ferrari to be valued at over 10 billion euros ($11 billion). That kind of number would account for roughly 60 percent of FCA’s combined total value, which currently stands at 16 billion euros.
Given Marchionne’s optimistic estimate, shareholders would receive $8.8 billion in value, while the sale would raise over a billion dollars in cash for the auto behemoth. The infusion of capital would likely go to support Alfa Romeo, which promises a total of eight new models over the course of the next three years.
The float is expected late October with a complete separation early next year.
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Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says he doesn’t have any plans to push for a merger with General Motors. The FCA boss proposed the idea to G.M.’s CEO Mary Barra in an email several months ago, but was roundly rejected.
Speaking to the New York Times at a ceremony preceding labor contract talks with the United Automobile Workers union, Marchionne was quoted as saying, "I was rebuffed once, and I won’t go back to get my nose bloodied a second time.”
The statement contradicts previous comments made by FCA chairman John Elkann, who told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he was still interested in creating a partnership with G.M.
Marchionne has been particularly vocal in urging automakers to consolidate as a means towards greater efficiency and higher profits. And while joining up with G.M. appears to be off the table, FCA’s CEO is undeterred in pushing for future mergers, saying that there is a better way to do business. "I’ll wait, and we’ll get it done,” he added.
Marchionne was a driving force behind the Fiat-Chrysler merger that created the modern auto behemoth. FCA is currently the seventh-largest automaker in the world, and owns a number of big-name brands, including Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Ferrari, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks, Abarth, Mopar and SRT.
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne hasn’t been shy about his desire to see his company merge with General Motors, and has resorted to some unusually aggressive tactics to get what he wants.
First, came an email in March addressed directly to G.M. CEO Mary Barra, first reported by The New York Times, in which Marchionne outlined why it’s so essential for automakers to consolidate in the interest of cutting costs. Manufacturers spend billions independently developing duplicate technologies, and Marchionne reasons that loads of cash could be saved if companies merged or at least collaborated more — not an unreasonable line of thinking.
But G.M. wasn’t interested. Barra initially joked that she never got the email, saying that it may have gone to her spam folder, but later addressed Marchionne’s proposal. "There was an email that was very much vetted with management and our board," she told reporters before G.M.’s annual shareholder’s meeting. "And after we reviewed that, we are committed to our plan. We think that’s in the best interest of General Motors shareholders, and we have strong support."
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There have been rumors that the Fiat-badged version of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 will be named the 124 Spider. The brand even went so far as to trademark the name, but it was never officially announced. That all changed at the Geneva Auto Show, when Sergio Marchionne went off-script and confirmed that the new roadster will carry the legendary name that the brand used between 1966 and 1982.
During the show, Auto Express took a chance and asked Marchionne directly if the new roadster will be named the 124 Spider. The brand’s head honcho looked to a member of his executive team to see if the name had been revealed yet, then asked “do we do it now?” which was then followed by another executive chiming in to confirm the name.
So now we have a name, but there are still many uncertainties surrounding the upcoming 124 Spider. One pressing issue is whether it will be branded as a Fiat or as an Abarth. Rumor has it, however, that there will be both Fiat and Abarth versions.
There is also the issue of engines powering this model. According to sources that Auto Express is quoting, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will likely borrow the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which produces either 120 or 170 brake horsepower, while the Abarth 124 Spider will be tuned to about 200 brake horsepower.
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It’s been a couple of years since initial rumors about a brand-new Alfa Romeo Spider based on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata surfaced the Interwebz. But what seemed like an interesting idea has been dismissed by Alfa Romeo chief Harald Wester, who told Car that the upcoming Spider is an in-house project that includes a new rear-wheel-drive architecture and not the Miata’s platform. No need to be too disappointed though, as it appears the brand-new MX-5 will still share its underpinnings with an Italian car, albeit with a Fiat badge.
The good news is Fiat is looking to revive one of its most iconic monikers for the Japanese platform, as the automaker submitted two trademark applications to the U.S. Patent Trade Office for the "124" and the "124 Spider" names.
The 124 Spider is particularly important, as it will be the closest related to the 2016 MX-5 Miata roadster. There’s no word as to what design language Fiat will use for it, but if the original 124 Sport Spider is any indication, the result should be a stylish roadster with lots of Italian flair. A more powerful, Abarth-badged version is also likely.
The 124, on the other hand, is somewhat of a mystery. The most likely scenario is that the 124 will become a coupe version of the 124 Spider and the Mazda MX-5. Essentially a spiritual successor of the Fiat 124 Coupe produced between 1967 and 1975. However, with the "Coupe" name missing from the trademark, we can’t be 100-percent sure the 124 badge will adorn a two-door. The said moniker was actually used for a compact sedan from 1966 to 1974, when it was replaced by the 131 model. Considering Fiat’s current lineup doesn’t include a sedan, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the 124 four-door return. On the other hand, there’s no way Fiat could use the MX-5’s platform for a sedan.
Either way, make sure you stay tuned to TopSpeed for updates on this hot topic.
Click past the jump to read more about the upcoming Fiat 124 Spider.