Beckman makes it official at Sonoma

August 1, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Jack Beckman certified his national record 3.921-second ET in his final qualifying run with a 3.958-second ET at 318.84. His best time today was 0.002 seconds inside the margin required to confirm a national title.

As long as no one beats his time in Sunday’s eliminations, “Fast Jack” will not only have the quickest pass in Funny Car history, he’ll have the top two times. The previous record, set by John Force in 2014, is now the third-quickest ET.

“I think it’s bitchin to be the quickest Funny Car driver in the world, but I want the trophy at the end of the day,” Beckman said. “The national record is for the crew chiefs. If we can win tomorrow I think that’s one that over time would be looked upon as domination. (...) →

Two drivers; two Dodges; two records

August 1, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Two new records were set Friday as “Fast Jack” Beckman made the quickest pass in Funny Car history Friday and Matt Hagan set a new all-time benchmark for speed.

Cool evening track temperatures at the Sonoma Raceway made for some hot passes. The top seven qualifiers all posted ETs of less than four seconds and speeds above 320 miles per hour. Adding Beckman’s first round ET the total comes to eight, a new record for a single day of qualifying.

With two sub-four-second ETs, Beckman was the top qualifier in both Friday rounds. In the opening session, Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger R/T tripped the lights in 3.982 seconds at 320.05 mph. It was the only was the only car with a pass under four seconds in Round One. (...) →

Ford F-150 flunks IIHS retest

July 31, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Ford has published a lot about the new Ford F-150 being the only pickup to earn the Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But if you read the fine print, there’s a catch.

The rating applies only to trucks with the SuperCrew cab. Trucks with the SuperCab didn’t make the grade, and trucks with regular cabs weren’t tested. Based on the evidence, it appears that Ford tried to game the system.

The IIHS normally tests only the best-selling configuration of a particular vehicle. For the F-150, the SuperCrew was chosen, because it accounts for around 70% of sales. Its qualified as a Top Safety Pick, the only full-size pickup to do so — partly because it’s unique in having undergone the full battery of tests. (...) →

Colorado challenges Ram mpg, shows Dakota challenges

Chevrolet Colorado
July 31, 2015 - by David Zatz

The Chevrolet Colorado is a “what if” study for the long awaited, but eventually cancelled, Dodge Dakota replacement.

The pickup ends up costing around as much as a full size, just as the old Dakota did. The gasoline version hits 27 mpg (highway) with a four cylinder, while the best Ram 1500 reaches 25 mpg — except for the diesel, which pushes it to 28 mpg.

The new diesel version is likely to steal Ram’s fuel-mileage crown, albeit in a smaller segment, but with nearly the same towing capacity. GM’s new 2.8 liter diesel generates 369 pound-feet of torque and 181 horsepower, and allows up to 7,700 pounds of towing with rear wheel drive. One wonders what a Dakota would do with a VM diesel and eight-speed. (...) →

GM OwnStar: Another auto hack

July 30, 2015 - by David Zatz

Even as Audi announced the use of connected Android tablets for rear-seat occupants, Reuters wrote about another security breach into automotive systems.

Security researcher Samy Kamkar was able to break into OnStar’s system that finds, unlocks, and remote-starts cars. While less dangerous than being able to apply the parking brakes or alter other systems, the hack is a telling sign of vulnerability.

GM said that they had already implemented a fix, but Mr. Kamkar said they have not.

In related news, Chrysler told dealers that they had 0.6 hours to accomplish each UConnect security update, plus another 0.2 hours to create each of four USB drives to upgrade the systems. The upgrade seems to work the same way for customers as for dealers. (...) →

Jeep star of FCA Asia

July 30, 2015 - by David Zatz

Jeep was responsible for a stunning 55% of Asia-Pacifica Fiat Chrysler sales in the second quarter, according to the company’s financial results. While the group’s sales fell by 20% (by revenue) from the prior year, mostly due to hits in China (27%) and Australia (9%), it did have gains in India (12%) and Japan (2%) which outperformed the market.

Jeep sales are expected to increase in China once domestic production begins and a new dealer channel is set up in coordination with partner GAC. China penalizes imported cars heavily, favoring domestic production — which must be done as a joint venture, since foreign companies are not allowed to own more than half of any production facility in China.

By volume, Fiat sales plummeted in the Asia-Pacific region by a whopping 36%. (...) →

FCA cut its debt, raised liquid assets

July 30, 2015 - by David Zatz

Despite analysts’ and autowriters’ complaints about FCA debt and liquidity, the company actually has less debt than it did when the last quarter ended.

FCA reported €8 billion in net industrial debt, down from €8.6 billion at the end of March. Some of this may have been due to paying down debt through positive cash flow, even as the company made €2.2 billion in capital expenditures.

Liquidity is down somewhat, from €25.2 billion to €25.4 billion. Cash and marketable securities have fallen by €600 million, but undrawn credit lines have increased by €700 million, for a slight increase.

FCA will raise more cash by selling off 10% of Ferrari, to help make a new line of Alfa Romeos. Dodge is expected to make cars based on a similar platform and architecture shortly afterwards.   (...) →

North America drove FCA profits

July 30, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

North America remained the primary profit engine for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the second quarter of 2015, according to results reported this morning.

In North America, sales were up 8%; earnings more than doubled, rising from $650 million to $1,450 million ($1.5 billion) in the second quarter of 2014.

FCA US sold 677,000 vehicles in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico between April 1 and June 30. North American profit margins increased from 4.9% to 7.7%.

The Chrysler 200 and Jeep Renegade were major factors in that growth; positive net pricing, with a reduction in dealer discounts, helped increase profit margins. FIAT CHRYSLER Q2 RESULTS WORLDWIDE & NORTH AMERICA Worldwide Deliveries 1,193,000 1,181,000 +1% Revenues (millions) $31,905 $25,489 +25% EBIT (millions) $1,666 $1,057 +58% Net Profit (millions) $361 $223 +62% North America (U.S., Canada, Mexico) Deliveries 682,000 647,000 +5% Revenue (millions) $18,774 $13,393 +40% EBIT (millions) $1,058 $650 +63% North American Contribution to Worldwide Results Deliveries 57% 55% +2% Revenue 59% 53% +6% EBIT 64% 61% +2% Margins 7.7% 4.9% +3%

The Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region was the second-largest profit center, with sales of 322,000 vehicles, a gain of 13%. (...) →

Dodge Bros. movie restored

July 30, 2015 - by David Zatz

Greg Kwiatkowski, known to many for his restoration of the 200 mph Dodge Charger Daytona, pointed us to the National Film Preservation Foundation’s screening of a Dodge Brothers film from 1917. From a 35mm original film, this video shows how the legendary Dodge Brothers cars were made.

The video was copied at 16 fps from a print preserved by the Academy Film Archive, based on material from the New Zealand Film Archive. It’s an incomplete, silent, 28-minute film. The Foundation wrote that it might be two reels of a three-reel movie distributed to dealerships in 1917, along with projectors. View the film now.

  (...) →

FCA whipped Ford in Q2 sales growth

July 29, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Ford reported its second quarter financials yesterday, and Fiat Chrysler reports them tomorrow. While Ford impressed Wall Street with record profits and its best financial statement since the turn of the century, its performance on US dealer lots was lackluster, especially compared to Fiat Chrysler.

FCA’s sales volume grew by 5.9% in the second quarter of 2015. Chrysler brands rose by 6.6%, twice the rate of the total market.

Ford, on the other hand, grew at just over half the industry rate and even that took a double-digit improvement in Lincoln sales. While the industry grew by 3.3%, the Ford brand only grew by 1.3%.

In short, FCA US gained market share; Ford lost it.

Sales Volume Market Share Q2/2014 Q2/2015 Change Q2/2014 Q2/2015 Change FCA US 544,159 576,289 5.9% 12.31% 12.62% 0.31% Chrysler Brands 530,612 565,426 6.6% 12.00% 12.38% 0.38% Chrysler 68,585 88,315 28.8% 1.55% 1.93% 0.38% Dodge 161,700 133,631 -17.4% 3.66% 2.93% -0.73% Jeep 186,963 222,940 19.2% 4.23% 4.88% 0.65% Ram 113,364 120,540 6.3% 2.56% 2.64% 0.08% Fiat/Alfa 13,547 10,863 -19.8% 0.31% 0.24% -0.07% Ford 685,097 696,419 1.7% 15.50% 15.25% -0.25% Ford 662,178 670,785 1.3% 14.98% 14.69% -0.29% Lincoln 22,919 25,634 11.8% 0.52% 0.56% 0.04% Industry 4,420,710 4,566,666 3.3% N/A N/A N/A

The difference between key vehicles for the two companies is even more pronounced. (...) →

Georgia judge slashes Jeep award

July 29, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Reuters reported that judge J. Kevin Chason reduced the jury award in the wrongful death suit brought against Fiat Chrysler (FCA) involving a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The judge ruled that the family of 4-year-old Remington Walden, who died in the crash, should receive $30 million for wrongful death and $10 million for pain and suffering, rather than the jury’s award of $120 million for the death and $30 million for pain and suffering.

Chason also denied a motion from FCA for a new trial, calling the evidence presented during the two-week trial “overwhelming.”  FCA spokesman Michael Palese said said the judge’s latest ruling did not address errors in the trial. (...) →

Chasing down rumors: FauxPar begins

July 29, 2015 - by David Zatz

For years, Mopar followers have seen rumors that seem to be without any basis in reality — or are based in misunderstandings or old plans that have been dropped long ago.

Patrick Rall has been following these rumors for some time, and he has a new series called “FauxPar” in which he will go into them, one car at a time. The first one is the return of the ’Cuda in Dodge form, which may have a true origin but… perhaps you should read the first FauxPars segment for the rest. (...) →

FCA badging on new Dodges?

July 28, 2015 - by David Zatz

Brian Williams caught this car with an FCA badge, possibly the first FCA badge ever to be used on a Fiat Chrysler vehicle.

This Dodge Challenger Hellcat has a distinctive new color scheme, using navy stripes over the car and matching navy wheels and red mirror caps and trim around the grille.  Other than that, it is apparently a standard Hellcat underneath. The Hellcat badges were painted matte white to match the car, but instead of having the SRT logo on the grille, it had the FCA logo in the same spot. It’s unclear whether this is a one-off; the FCA badge is highly unusual.
(...) →

Scat Pack back at the track for faster runs

bg scat pack track still 1
July 28, 2015 - by Patrick Rall

Recently, we brought you a video of a 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack blasting down the quarter mile in the mid-12-second range. That Challenger is owned by Allpar reader Brent Gravel, and he was back at the track this past weekend to see if he could improve on his previous best time – which he did in a big way.

The weather was hot in Oklahoma, but that didn’t stop Gravel from turning out a stunning new best time for his Challenger. He stopped the clock at 12.183 with a trap speed of 110.18 miles per hour and to pull off this awesome run, his Nitto drag radials hooked hard enough to pull off a show-stopping 1.315 60 foot time. (...) →

More Jeep growth in July?

July 28, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Kelley Blue Book’s July sales forecast says Jeep will drive Fiat Chrysler to another month of year-over-year growth, which would make 64 consecutive months of growth.  Alec Gutierrez of “KBB” wrote, “Jeep has set monthly records for the past 20 months, and Jeep has grown nearly 40 percent of Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. sales numbers. With the Cherokee more popular than ever, and the increasing availability of the new Renegade, July should be another month of double-digit growth for Jeep.”

FCA’s predicted 4.4% growth would be the strongest of the Detroit automakers and second only to Nissan among the major car companies.

The market continues to play to Jeep’s strong suits: compact and mid-size SUVs and crossovers. Total compact and mid-size SUV sales growth is forecast at about 10.5%: compact SUVs and crossovers are predicted to see growth in the range of 13.4%. (...) →

Update: truck buyback and more

July 27, 2015 - by David Zatz

Earlier, FCA released a statement saying they would buy back trucks due to suspension defects. Not all vehicles in these lists are being bought back — in same cases it affects only certain runs or option groups.

  • 2009 Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango (made 1/3/08 to 12/18/08)
  • 2009-12 Dodge Ram 1500 (made 2/27/08 to 6/30/09)
  • 2009-11 Dodge Dakota (made 2/27/07 to 6/30/09)

This group of 278,229 trucks is covered under recall 13V-038; their axle may lock due to the use of an undersized pinion flange, resulting in the loss of steering power.

  • 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 MegaCab 4×4
  • 2008-12 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 4×4
  • 2008-12 Dodge Ram 3500 RWD chassis cab

This group of 265,057 trucks is covered under recall 13V-529, to replace tie rods that can cause loss of control. (...) →

2016 Hellcats, 2015 orders

July 27, 2015 - by David Zatz

Dodge has good news and bad news for people who ordered a 2015 Hellcat Charger or Challenger that wasn’t built. The bad news is that their order may have been cancelled. The good news is that they will get a discount on a 2016, but they should order it as soon as they can.

Ordering is not yet open for the 2016 Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats, but when it does open, the process will be “streamlined” and, according to Dodge’s Tim Kuniskis, production will be “more than” doubled.

Remaining 2015 orders will be built out; then all unscheduled orders will be cancelled. Dealers will get a 2016 model-year allocation in August, based on past Dodge sales, adjusted based on “dealers’ average historical Dodge SRT Challenger and Charger Hellcat “days on lot” performance.”

Ordering starts in the second week of August with production starting in September. (...) →

Record recall penalty for FCA

July 27, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

FCA US has agreed to a $105 million civil penalty, the largest ever levied by the government, after the company admitted to violating  the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The fines dwarf those issued to GM and Toyota, partly because of the number of recalls involved. The company was cited in three areas: effective and timely recall remedies, notifications to owners and dealers, and notifications to the NHTSA.

FCA will also have to buy back an estimated 500,000 vehicles and submit to federal oversight for three years. GM escaped the latter, though an estimated 125 people have now died in incidents involving defective ignition-key switches.

Owners who could lose control of their vehicle due to defective suspension components will be able to sell the vehicle back. (...) →

Vettel wins wild race; Beckman, Ranger win with Dodge

July 27, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Sebastian Vettel cruised to an easy win in the Hungarian Grand Prix, crossing the finish line nearly 16 seconds ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

“It has been a week with a lot of ups and downs and as I said after the race I dedicate this win to Jules (Bianchi) and his family,” Vettel said in a post-race interview. “The race was difficult especially at the end with all the thoughts coming through my mind but for sure I’m very happy with the result. Our race was very strong from the beginning, we had a great start and after that we had great pace and were able to control the race.”

“We dedicate this victory to the memory of Jules Bianchi, a fantastic guy whom we all miss terribly,” said Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, speaking of the young Ferrari Academy driver who died last week from injuries suffered in an October racing accident in Japan. (...) →

Record fines coming?

July 26, 2015 - by Bill Cawthon

Detroit News reported that Fiat Chrysler will get hit with a record-making $105 million fine, and will have to repurchase some vehicles, due to sloppy treatment of recalls.

Citing an unnamed source, the News and Wall Street Journal wrote that the settlement between the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and FCA US LLC could be announced as soon as tomorrow.

The agency could have levied fines of up to $700 million over the 23 recalls it claims were not handled properly. FCA’s Scott Kunselman admitted that FCA’s behavior was “sloppy.”

As is typical in such settlements, Fiat Chrysler will likely have to pay only a portion of the fine. The remainder may be forgiven if the company fulfills its end of the deal. (...) →

FauxPar: Return of the Barracuda

1987-1996 Dodge Dakota pickup trucks

Pinner: Chrysler-based ambulances

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