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Fiat Chrysler

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all fail sometimes. No exceptions. 

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

That's what Failure:Lab is all about. 

wikimedia commons

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

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

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

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Fiat Chrysler is headed to court.    

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

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

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

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

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

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford Motor Co. headquarters
Ford Motor Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GM Building in Detroit
ANDREA_44 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Google self-driving spin-off Waymo will show its fully automated Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans at the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

"With the integration of Waymo's hardware and software," says Waymo CEO John Krafcik, "these Pacificas have become the most advanced cars on the road."

Krafcik says the lidar (an environment sensing system that uses lasers), radar, and other self-driving technology, along with the artificial intelligence software, were all developed in-house by Waymo engineers.

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

Fiat Chrysler says it's investing $1 billion in its U.S. factories to create 2,000 new jobs and add three new Jeep vehicles including a pickup truck, according to the Associated Press. The company says it will modernize a factory in Warren, Michigan to make two large SUVs. A plant in Toledo, Ohio, also will get new equipment to make a new Jeep pickup. The announcement is a continuation of efforts to increase production of SUVs and trucks as the company gets out of the small and midsize car businesses.

Jeremy Korzeniewski / Autoblog.com

The Consumer Electronics Show, an annual display of the world's most fantastical gadgets, starts tomorrow in Las Vegas.

Traditionally, the show has been devoted to gizmos that belong in your house or your hand: video game systems, televisions, home appliances, cell phones, and so on. Michigan’s largest manufacturing and engineering firms – the auto-makers and their suppliers – haven’t had much to contribute.

But with the growing role of technology in the automotive industry, particularly as it relates to mobility, Michigan companies are taking a bigger role at the CES.

car gear shift
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Federal auto safety regulators have launched an investigation into the safety of some of Fiat Chrysler's newer model trucks and SUVs.

The investigation involves about a million 2013 to 2016 model year Ram pickups and 2014 to 2016 Dodge Durango SUVs. 

Purple car at the Dream Cruise.
Kelly Kline / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Could the Woodward Dream Cruise become more than a week-long gaze into the rearview mirror? Let’s hope so.

There was an era — say, pre-2008 — when the cruise’s glorification of Detroit’s muscle cars represented the best and worst of this town’s defining industry. A decade ago, I wrote that it projected a “chronic inability to relegate the past to the past and to move on.”

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Judging by this year’s wild campaign, accountability is a foreign concept in presidential politics. But not in, say, the auto industry.

Ask Volkswagen AG. The $14 billion price tag for its diesel deception is creeping closer to $20 billion. And new lawsuits from three states say knowledge of the long-running global fraud runs all the way to the office of the new CEO. What a surprise.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s all about the money for some Ford and General Motors shareholders. 

Their money, to be exact.

Doesn’t matter that the Blue Oval booked all-time high North American profits last year, and probably will again this year. Or that GM is making roughly a billion dollars a month selling cars and trucks. Or that both are betting shareholder cash on an emerging mobility space said to be worth more than $5 trillion.

A shifter like the one shown here has confused consumers, resulting in the recall of more than 800,000 Fiat-Chrysler vehicles.
Mike Durand / creative commons

The accident that killed actor Anton Yelchin on Sunday might not have been a fluke, but rather, the result of a common mistake that has confused car owners and resulted in the recall of more that 800,000 vehicles manufactured by Fiat-Chrysler. 

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Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been reviewing the landscape of automobiles, high-tech, and next-generation mobility and finds Fiat Chrysler’s top guy Sergio Marchionne is lagging.

Bull-doser / wikimedia/public domain

Fiat Chrysler is making some tweaks to its current five-year plan.  And some of those tweaks are pretty big. 

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company will double down on increasing its ability to churn out Jeeps and trucks.  In the U.S., he says the trend is clear.  

"There's been in our view a permanent shift towards UVs (utility vehicles) and pickup trucks," Marchionne told analysts during an earnings conference call.

Chevrolet Corvette
Anthony Brown / Michigan Radio

During the press days of the North American International Auto Show, Detroit's Big Three unveiled their latest 2016 models and made announcements about what's to come. Here are the highlights of what GM, Ford, and Chrysler brought up on stage and displayed on their stands.

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