4 FCA brands win quality awards

  • Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited named best-in-class Entry SUV for third year in a row
  • Fiat 500 leads Micro Car segment in total quality for second consecutive year
  • Dodge Challenger captures back-to-back wins for total quality in Specialty Coupe segment
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee takes home first place in total quality among Mid-Size SUVs
  • FIAT ties for title of industry’s best brand for total quality under $26,000

June 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Four FCA US LLC vehicles led their respective segments in total quality and the FIAT brand tied for first among automakers for the best brand with vehicles under $26,000 in Strategic Vision’s 22nd annual Total Quality Impact™ (TQI).

Four 2016 FCA US vehicles won their respective segments for total quality:

  • Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited – Entry SUV
  • Fiat 500 – Micro Car
  • Dodge Challenger – Specialty Coupe
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee – Mid-Size SUV

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited won its segment for the third consecutive year while the Fiat 500 and Dodge Challenger both led their segments for the second year in a row.

TQI is based on responses from more than 39,000 owners of new 2016 model year vehicles. The quality study includes more than 155 specific aspects of the customer experience to form a unique and complete measure of the total ownership experience.

“We see time and again that for consumers, innovation does more to communicate quality than an absence of problems does,” said Christopher Chaney, Senior Vice President – Strategic Vision. “Whether it comes in the form of breakthrough technology, re-engineering a vehicle or creating a new model, consumers feel the positive impact of bold new directions taken by manufacturers.”

According to San Diego-based research firm Strategic Vision, the TQI score is a holistic measure that encompasses positive and negative product experiences. This includes reliability, actual problems, driving excitement and other measures that collectively are energized by the emotional response associated with the aggregate of all those experiences – hence Total Quality.

“The future of quality that is meaningful to buyers will reach beyond ‘no squeaks and rattles’ and reside in the successful deployment of engineering innovation and technology that is relevant, intuitive and impactful,” Chaney said.

Chrysler reports 2Q net income up 16% to $507M

Modified Operating Profit for the Quarter was $808 million, from $755 Million a Year Ago

• Chrysler Group LLC net income for the second quarter of 2013 was $507 million, an increase of 16 percent from $436 million a year ago 
• Net revenue for the quarter was $18.0 billion, up 7 percent from a year ago
• Modified Operating Profit(b) increased 7 percent to $808 million in the second quarter, from $755 million a year earlier
• Free Cash Flow(e) for the second quarter totaled $91 million; Cash(d) as of June 30, 2013, was $11.9 billion, comparable with March 31, 2013, and slightly lower than $12.1 billion a year ago 
• Net Industrial Debt(f) was $656 million at June 30, 2013, up slightly from $619 million at March 31, 2013, and $432 million a year ago
• Worldwide vehicle shipments were 660,000 for the quarter, up 5 percent from 630,000 a year ago
• Strong worldwide vehicle sales for the second quarter of 643,000, up 10 percent from a year ago, were driven primarily by a 17 percent increase in U.S. retail sales
• U.S. market share was 11.4 percent for the second quarter, compared with 11.2 percent a year ago; Chrysler Group market share was 15.1 percent in Canada, up from 14.5 percent a year ago
• Full-year 2013 Modified Operating Profit and net income guidance revised
July 30, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Chrysler Group LLC today reported its preliminary second-quarter 2013 results, including net income of $507 million, an increase of 16 percent from $436 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The second quarter marks the Company’s eighth consecutive quarter of positive net income.

Net revenue was $18.0 billion for the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 7 percent from $16.8 billion for the same period last year, primarily driven by an increase in vehicle shipments, including the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickup trucks. Net revenue totaled $33.4 billion for the first half of 2013.

“Chrysler Group is poised for a very strong performance in the second half of the year, with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 pickup earning best-in-class recognition, and the all-new Jeep Cherokee now rolling off the line,” Chrysler Group LLC Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne said. “The timing of product launches and capacity increases causes this year’s performance to be biased to the second half, and a continued aggressive drive for excellence and flawless execution will be essential to attain the targets we’ve set for ourselves.”

Modified Operating Profit was $808 million, or 4.5 percent of revenue, in the second quarter, versus $755 million reported in the prior year. The 7 percent increase was primarily due to higher shipment volumes and positive pricing, partially offset by higher industrial and launch-related costs, as well as a $151 million charge related to the voluntary safety recall for the 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty, and the customer satisfaction action for the 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Modified Operating Profit was $1.2 billion for the first half of the year.

’14 Chevy Impala takes top sedan spot in Consumer Reports, a first for domestics and GM in 20 years

2014 Chevy Impala                                           Gerry Miles photo

2014 Chevy Impala                                                                                                        Gerry Miles photo

Outscores luxury competitors costing as much as $20,000 more

BY GERRY MILES

In a short time, the Chevy Impala has literally gone from worst to first.

After one time when the car didn’t yield enough points to even be listed as a ‘recommended buy’ by Consumer Reports, it just took the top sedan spot for all sedans, pushing aside popular Japanese and European models, for the first time in 20 years.

In CR’s testing, Impala – one derided for its real taillights that glowed red like hot plate burners on old stoves – scored a 95 or excellent that put it atop the ‘large sedan’ category. Only the Tesla Model S hatchback and BMW 135i coupe scored higher.

“The Impala’s performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance,” said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing. “We’ve seen a number of redesigned American models—including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion, and Jeep Grand Cherokee— deliver world-class performance in our tests.”

Consumer Reports engineers found the Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking. The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean. Steering is nicely weighted; it’s light enough for parking maneuvers and provides decent feedback. When pushed to its handling limits, the Impala proved secure, responsive, balanced, and easy to control.

Inside, the spacious cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. The backseat is roomy and comfortable, the trunk is huge, and controls are refreshingly intuitive and easy to use. The 22 mpg overall Consumer Reports measured with the Impala’s 3.6-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is competitive, but it’s not the best in its class.

However, since Impala is so new, it’s too soon for CR to collect enough data to see if it’s reliable enough to be a “recommend” or not.

C found the Impala is competitive with cars that cost $20,000 more, including the Audi A6 and Lexus LS460L, and the Acura RLX and Jaguar XF.

Complete tests results for the Impala, Acura RLX and Jaguar XF, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorrento, appears on www.ConsumerReports.org and the September issue of Consumer Reports, August 1.

CR Testers find Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Forte impressive redesigns

The redesigned, 7-passenger Santa Fe is one of the most pleasant and well-rounded three-row SUVs on the market. It’s stylish, functional, and easy to live with. It now tops its class in Consumer Reports’ midsized SUV ratings, edging out the Toyota Highlander by two points.

Spacious and accommodating, the Santa Fe has a limo-like rear seat and a generous cargo area. Yet it doesn’t feel too bulky to drive or park. The comfortable ride and quiet interior make it a welcome partner on family trips. Easy access and simple controls add to its user-friendliness. Its smooth, refined 290-hp V-6 engine delivers a best-in-class 20 mpg overall with little compromise in performance.

Consumer Reports testers also found the 2014 Kia Forte has made a quantum leap from the previous model. It even improves, albeit incrementally, on the highly rated Hyundai Elantra upon which it is based. Overall, it’s a solid, mature compact sedan that will satisfy many buyers. Consumer Reports testers found the Forte is one of the more comfortable riding cars in this class; it has a smooth powertrain, and the cabin is relatively quiet.

The Forte’s fuel economy of 28 mpg is merely par for this class, but the sedan compensates with a relatively roomy driving position and rear seat, and controls that are very easy to use. The interior is spacious and nicely finished, the seats are firm and well-shaped, and the in-car entertainment system is brimming with the latest connectivity features. Handling agility is not the car’s strong suit; it just doesn’t have the high fun-to-drive factor of a Ford Focus or a Mazda3.

Chrysler: June Sales Up 8 Percent; Best June in 6 years

  • Best June sales since 2007
  • 39th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains
  • Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each post sales increases in June compared with same month a year ago
  • Seven Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in June
  • Ram Truck brand sales up 23 percent; largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in June and best June sales since 2007
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee sales up 33 percent in June; all Jeep brand vehicles in production record double-digit percentage sales gains
  • Dodge Durango sales up 39 percent; largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group vehicle in June
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Challenger win AutoPacific 2013 Best-In-Class Vehicle Satisfaction Award
July 2, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Chrysler Group LLC today reported U.S. sales of 156,686 units, an 8 percent increase compared with sales in June 2012 (144,811 units), and the group’s best June sales since 2007.The Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in June compared with the same month a year ago. The Ram Truck brand’s 23 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in June. Chrysler Group extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 39-consecutive months in June.“Last month Chrysler Group set seven individual vehicle line sales records and achieved our 39th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. The fundamentals for continued industry gains in new vehicle sales remain intact,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales.

Sales of the flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee were up 33 percent in June, the largest percentage sales gain of any Jeep brand vehicle in the month. It was the Grand Cherokee’s best June sales in eight years. All Jeep brand vehicles in production recorded year-over-year sales gains in June.

Seven Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in the month of June. The Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot SUVs each recorded their best June sales ever. The Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Dart compact sedan also registered their best sales for the month of June. The Ram Cargo Van had its best sales month since launch. Sales of the Dodge Durango full-size SUV were up 39 percent, the largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group vehicle in the month.

Chrysler Group finished the month with a 68-days supply of inventory (408,336 units). U.S. industry sales figures for June are projected at an estimated 16.0 million units Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR).

June 2013 U.S. Sales Highlights by Brand

Ram Truck Brand

Ram Truck brand sales were up 23 percent, the brand’s best June sales since 2007. The Ram pickup truck, with its 24 percent sales gain, logged its best June sales since 2007. It was the Ram pickup truck’s 38th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Sales of the Light Duty Ram pickup were up 36 percent, driven by the Quad and Crew Cab pickups, while Heavy Duty Ram sales were up 5 percent. The Ram Cargo Van had its best sales month since launched in 2011.

When the 2014 Ram 1500 full-size pickup arrives in dealerships in the fourth quarter this year, it will offer a new, 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine, mated with the TorqueFlite® eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers an outstanding combination of best-in-class fuel efficiency, unsurpassed torque and impressive capability. The 2014 Ram Heavy Duty, with the all-new 6.4-liter HEMI® V-8, will deliver best-in-class horsepower and best-in-class torque among pickups with gasoline engines.

Dodge Brand

Dodge brand sales were up 12 percent in June, the brand’s best June sales since 2007 and its 25th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Sales of the Dodge Durango full-size SUV were up 39 percent, the largest percentage year-over-year sales gain of any Chrysler Group vehicle in June. Sales of the Dodge Charger were up 15 percent, its best June sales since 2007.

The Dodge Challenger and Dodge Dart compact sedan each recorded their best June sales ever, and earned two respected awards during the month. Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com picked the Dart as one of its “10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000,” while the Challenger tied for Best-In-Class Sporty Car in AutoPacific’s 17th-annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. The Challenger has set seven-consecutive monthly sales records.

Chrysler Brand

Chrysler brand sales were up 1 percent compared with the same month a year ago, the brand’s best June sales since 2007. Sales of the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan were up 14 percent, a sales record for the month of June. The Chrysler 200 Convertible was recognized as the “Best Full-Size Convertible” in June by the Southern Automotive Media Association during its third annual “Topless in Miami” Convertible Awards.

Chrysler Town & Country minivan sales were up 18 percent, the minivan’s best June sales since 2006. Already the most-awarded minivan, the Town & Country in June earned another honor as the highest-ranking minivan in the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Initial Quality Study. In addition, for the second time in the last three years, automotive research group AutoPacific named the Town & Country as its Best-In-Class Minivan.

FIAT Brand

FIAT brand sales were up 1 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago. It was the brand’s best June sales since the Fiat 500 was launched in 2011 and its 16th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The FIAT brand’s product lineup expanded in June as the all-new 2014 Fiat 500L began arriving in FIAT studios across the country with a starting price of $19,100 and four value-loaded models. The 500L expands the appeal of the iconic 500, with two more doors, accommodations for five passengers, best-in-class interior volume (120.1 cu. ft.) and advanced European technology.

The brand picked up several new awards in June. Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com chose the 2013 Fiat 500 as one of its picks for this year’s “10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000.” Also, the Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio was recognized as the “Best Small Convertible” by the Southern Automotive Media Association during its “Topless in Miami” Convertible Awards in June. It is the third time that the FIAT brand has been awarded this honor. The Fiat 500c by Gucci Edition won in 2012, as did the Fiat 500 Cabrio during the inaugural event in 2011.

Jeep® Brand

Jeep brand sales were up slightly in June, the brand’s best June sales since 2005. All Jeep brand models in production recorded sales gains in June compared with the same month a year ago. The Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot each recorded their best June sales ever. Sales of the flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee were up 33 percent, its best June sales since 2005. The Grand Cherokee’s 33 percent sales gain was the largest percentage increase of any Jeep brand model during the month. For the third year in a row, AutoPacific named the Grand Cherokee Best-In-Class Mid-Size SUV in its Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Sales of the Compass compact SUV were up 24 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, while Patriot sales were up 20 percent.

Available to consumers in the third quarter of this year, the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be offered at a U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $22,995 (plus $995 destination). The Cherokee’s starting price is hundreds of dollars less than the outgoing Liberty model, while offering more fuel economy, more advanced safety and technology features, even more class-leading 4×4 capability, a modern and progressive new design, and significantly improved everyday on-road ride and handling.

Edmunds.com’s Krebs: Voluntary Jeep recall decision is right

BY GERRY MILES
If there’s an organization, and a person that I respect as much as anyone in the auto industry with the appropriate connections it’s Edmunds.com’s Krebs. She knows what’s going on behind the scenes and what background noise should and should not be filtered out.
With that caveat, I offer up her take on the position by Chrysler to take on voluntary recalls of the affected Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models. Some interesting demographics, mostly to my Northeast region are included. Her statement follows:
Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Michelle Krebs offers the following analysis:

“We haven’t seen all of the details of the voluntary recall so we don’t know what precisely Chrysler and NHTSA have agreed to. But Chrysler obviously calculated the risks and benefits and concluded that the cost to repair these vehicles isn’t as expensive as the potential long-term damage that could come from bad PR. This was probably the right decision by Chrysler. Last year there were 659 recalls issued by NHTSA, and none of them appear to have had a lasting negative impact on any brand. Once the smoke settles, I expect that this will be just a minor blip in Jeep’s history.”

Edmunds.com has pulled some basic stats on the vehicles affected by the recall:

In total, there are 2.771 million affected Jeeps on the road:

Liberty: 850K
Cherokee:1.9M
Geographic Breakdown:
The most heavily concentrated areas are large cities where the most cars are sold New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. New York has the most of both vehicles.
Grand Cherokee:
New York: 6% of all Jeep Grand Cherokees are there
Los Angeles: 4%
Chicago: 3%
Jeep Liberty:
New York: 6% of all Jeep Liberties are there
Chicago: 3%
Philadelphia: 3%
Boston is #4 on both vehicles’ list
Age Breakdown:
There isn’t a unusual difference between the age breakdown of registered owners and the industry at large:
Liberty: 11% under 34
Grand Cherokee: 13% under 34
If you have a question about the recall process, Edmunds.com offers a quick primer on the process at http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/how-nhtsa-gets-cars-recalled.html.

Chrysler, NHTSA to work out Jeep recall situation

BY GERRY MILES

After initially rebutting the request for a recall on alleged safety issues from NHTA, and drawing a large spotlight upon itself in the name of consumer safety, Chrysler issued the following statement yesterday on the situation, saying that it was sure a voluntary, visible recall effort would be effective. Below is the full statement from Chrysler.
Chrysler Group LLC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have resolved their differences with respect to NHTSA’s request to recall 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty vehicles.

As a result of the agreement, Chrysler Group will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts.

Chrysler Group’s analysis of the data confirms that these vehicles are not defective and are among the safest in the peer group. Nonetheless, Chrysler Group recognizes that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and wants to take further steps, in coordination with NHTSA, to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles.

Chrysler Group regards safety as a paramount concern and does not compromise on the safety of our customers and their families.

Jeep’s Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Acura Capture Edmunds.com’s 2013 Best Retained Value Awards

BY GERRY MILES

There’s few people, or companies, that don’t like receiving awards. Especially if the award notes your product has staying power, is desired and retains its value long after the sale.

The folks at Jeep and Acura are probably tired from smiling all week after Edmunds.com cited the brands for having the best retained value, in a  projected residual value estimation after five years of ownership after being sold new. Edmunds.com qualifies the new price as being based upon its own True Market Value (TMV).

Jeep won in the non-luxury division, while Acura won in luxury division. That Jeep is placed in a non-luxury grouping is curious, given the addition of specific model and the up-level packages that can be ordered to run the stickers right up into what many would consider a luxury price and ride…but, I digress. Jeep’s Wrangler and Grand Cherokee were noted for their value while Acura’s

“Jeep’s small lineup is led by two popular models – Wrangler and Grand Cherokee – that deliver big residual value for their owners. The Wrangler is especially vital to the brand because its retained value sits at an elite level matched by few other vehicles in any segment,” says Edmunds.com Director of Auto Remarketing Joe Spina. “Meanwhile, this is the second year in a row that Acura has won, and the brand clearly has done a great job distinguishing its value in a hypercompetitive luxury market.”

In addition to these brand-level awards, Edmunds.com issued model-level awards in 22 separate categories. Ford and Toyota tied for the most model winners with four apiece. A full list of all 22 model winners can be found in Appendix 1 below and on Edmunds.com’s Best Retained Value® Awards page at http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/best-retained-value-cars.html.

All vehicle makes with more than 100,000 unit sales in the U.S. in 2012 were eligible for this year’s brand-level Best Retained Value® Awards. All model-year 2013 vehicles that were launched by the end of 2012 and had unit sales in March 2013 that were at least 20 percent of the average unit sales for the models in its segment were eligible for this year’s model-level Best Retained Value® Awards. Edmunds determined each model’s competitive segment based on its body type and the sales-weighted average MSRP of all available styles (excluding destination charges) of that model’s body type.

More details on Edmunds.com’s Best Retained Value® Awards can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/best-retained-value-cars.html.

APPENDIX I

2013 Edmunds.com Best Retained Value® Awards
Model-Level Winners

Category

Make

Model

Retained Value^

Compact Truck

Toyota

Tacoma

60.2%

Convertible Under $35,000

Ford

Mustang

48.3%

Convertible $35K-$45K

Chevrolet

Camaro

46.6%

Convertible Over $45K

Ford

Shelby GT500

48.4%

Coupe Under $25,000

Honda

Civic

49.9%

Coupe $25K-$35K

Dodge

Challenger

54.5%

Coupe $35K-$45K

BMW

3 Series

45.2%

Coupe Over $45,000

Chevrolet

Corvette

49.6%

Hybrid

Toyota

Prius

47.4%

Large Light Duty Truck

Chevrolet

Silverado 1500

54.5%

Large Heavy Duty Truck

GMC

Sierra 3500HD

52.7%

Sedan Under $20,000

Ford

Focus

54.4%

Sedan $20K-$30K

Honda

Civic

50.9%

Sedan $30K-$40K

Dodge

Charger

47.8%

Sedan Over $40K

Porsche

Panamera

43.6%

SUV Under $25,000

Nissan

Rogue

48.2%

SUV $25K-$35K

Jeep

Wrangler

56.5%

SUV $35K-$45K

Toyota

4Runner

51.1%

SUV Over $45,000

Lexus

LX 570

50.5%

Vans

Honda

Odyssey

44.3%

Wagon Under $35,000

Toyota

Venza

48.9%

Wagon Over $35,000

Ford

Flex

43.4%

 

 

 

 

^ – Retained Value is the projected private party resale value after five years in the market and assuming 15,000 miles driven per year, expressed as a percentage of the True Market Value® (TMV®) price when sold new.