BLOG: Larry P. Vellequette

Chock this out: We may have jumped the shark on Recall-o-rama

Posted 12:58 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 3
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
In a sign of Fiat Chrysler’s new hypersensitivity to safety -- its efforts to keep on the right side of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- the automaker said today it would voluntarily supply owners of 441,578 Dodge Chargers from the 2011-16 model years in the U.S. with free wheel chocks. Wheel chocks. Let that sink in a minute. For the uninitiat ...
     Continue reading "Chock this out: We may have jumped the shark on Recall-o-rama" » Feb 3, 2016 12:58 pm U.S. ET
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Papa Uno hits the block

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 20
A Fiat 500L made famous by a high-profile user -- I know, it’s a big club, but I want to leave you guessing -- is going on the auction block for charity this month in Philadelphia. A black Fiat 500L used in September in Philadelphia by Pope Francis during his first visit to the United States will be auctioned off Jan. 29 during the black-tie gala prior to the start ...
     Continue reading "Papa Uno hits the block " » Jan 20, 2016 2:00 pm U.S. ET
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Did the UAW pull the old 'Higher Power' gambit on FCA?

Posted 3:27 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 9
In Negotiating 101, it’s known as the “Higher Power” gambit -- that move toward the end of the negotiation that says “Well, it’s OK with me, but I gotta check with the boss.” In the traditional car dealership, it’s the role of the sales manager to close the deal, to serve as the boss and get the best deal in the negotiation. But ...
     Continue reading "Did the UAW pull the old 'Higher Power' gambit on FCA?" » Oct 9, 2015 3:27 pm U.S. ET
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Why the UAW can no longer afford close ratification votes

Posted 1:30 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 29
Just over a year ago, I wrote a controversial prognostication about this very week. The headline summed up the argument: “Why the UAW will strike in 2015 -- no matter what’s offered.” My opinion hasn’t changed in the subsequent 12 months, but the details have gotten clearer now that it looks as though the union’s tentative agreement with Fiat ...
     Continue reading "Why the UAW can no longer afford close ratification votes" » Sep 29, 2015 1:30 pm U.S. ET
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Greenpeace's 2011 anti-VW video looks so much different now

Posted 5:00 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 24
Sometimes it takes a few years for reality to catch up to marketing. Case in point: this video from Greenpeace, circa 2011, using Volkswagen’s ultrapopular Darth Vader Super Bowl commercial from that year as the basis of a spot to chide the German automaker for opposing more stringent emissions standards. In the video, a child Darth Vader -- facing a raft of child ...
     Continue reading "Greenpeace's 2011 anti-VW video looks so much different now" » Sep 24, 2015 5:00 pm U.S. ET
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My confession: The pope isn't the only one riding in a Fiat 500L

Posted 10:51 am U.S. ET, Sept. 23
The images of Pope Francis climbing in and out of a Fiat 500L as he visits the United States this week are providing a much-needed jolt of life to the largely unloved five-door hatchback. But since we are talking about the pope, and I am a practicing Catholic, I have a confession to make: I own a Fiat 500L. I bought it at the end of December for my adorable wife of 21 ye ...
     Continue reading "My confession: The pope isn't the only one riding in a Fiat 500L" » Sep 23, 2015 10:51 am U.S. ET
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Why did the UAW pick Fiat Chrysler?

Posted 4:10 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 13
DETROIT -- The UAW decided Sunday that it would target Fiat Chrysler US as the lead automaker to bargain economic issues and set the pattern for tens of thousands of workers at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. Though the union hasn’t revealed its thinking behind its choice of FCA as the target, its reasoning likely flows from just one fact: only FCA’s leader ...
     Continue reading "Why did the UAW pick Fiat Chrysler? " » Sep 13, 2015 4:10 pm U.S. ET
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Will another Fiat Chrysler star, or two, bow in Vegas?

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, Aug. 25
If you’re a Fiat Chrysler dealer, chances are you were sitting -- or soon will be sitting, depending on when you’re reading this -- in a Las Vegas ballroom today checking out some models. Except these models gliding across the stage of the Mandalay Bay hotel -- and, FCA executives hope, attracting eyeballs -- have first names like Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. To ...
     Continue reading "Will another Fiat Chrysler star, or two, bow in Vegas?" » Aug 25, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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No, Bob Nardelli. Just no.

Posted 12:23 pm U.S. ET, July 7
In a column released this week on LinkedIn.com, former CEO Bob Nardelli takes credit for turning around Chrysler Corp. and guiding it back to where it is today. Nardelli’s column, “What I learned leading a Company like Chrysler through Bankruptcy -- and Revitalization,” is the type of revisionist history that would do the former Soviet Union’s Prav ...
     Continue reading "No, Bob Nardelli. Just no." » Jul 7, 2015 12:23 pm U.S. ET
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Why FCA's merger quest will test loyalties

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 17
Nearly a decade ago, I had a memorable, life-altering conversation about loyalty with a guy whose entire career was spent in human resources -- mostly in the auto industry -- negotiating labor contracts on behalf of companies. The man, now deceased, seemed to live his life on a combination of cigarettes and coffee, yet he possessed an uncommon wisdom about his craft that ...
     Continue reading "Why FCA's merger quest will test loyalties" » Jun 17, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Marchionne's merger mania: Why now?

Posted 5:34 am U.S. ET, June 16
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and related companies, has a number of honorifics and titles on his resume. But there is one important task that doesn't get talked about that much: Sherpa. I refer to Marchionne's desperate quest to find a merger partner for FCA. He is shouldering the load for the billionaire Agnelli family that employs him. Actually, ...
     Continue reading "Marchionne's merger mania: Why now?" » Jun 16, 2015 5:34 am U.S. ET
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The secrets behind all that camouflage

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, May 12
This is a story about what you see and what you can’t see; what you’d like to see and what they don’t want you to see. And mostly, it’s a story about the lengths people go to make sure you can’t see what they don’t want you to see. Yet. See? The Detroit 3 all operate test tracks in southeast Michigan. All have high-speed ovals, paveme ...
     Continue reading "The secrets behind all that camouflage" » May 12, 2015 11:45 am U.S. ET
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Why Dodge should make the next Dart look like a baby Charger

Posted 4:12 pm U.S. ET, May 8
The Dodge Dart set an all-time sales record in April, and so far this year, the compact sedan is moving off dealer lots 52 percent faster than it was the year before. So, if you’re Dodge, do you need to fix a car that’s doing those things three years after its launch? Why, yes. Yes, you do. According to Dodge’s five-year product plan that it presented ...
     Continue reading "Why Dodge should make the next Dart look like a baby Charger" » May 8, 2015 4:12 pm U.S. ET
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How auto dealers can get behind safer driving, 1 teen at a time

Posted 1:46 pm U.S. ET, May 4
In every city of any size in North America are auto dealers who compete with each other like crazy for new-car sales. Yet these same women and men are quick to set aside any differences and work together for the good of their communities -- when the need arises. This weekend, I experienced a program, born out of tragedy, that is tailor-made for local dealer cooperation. ...
     Continue reading "How auto dealers can get behind safer driving, 1 teen at a time" » May 4, 2015 1:46 pm U.S. ET
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Maybe NHTSA could use excessive force to fix old Jeeps -- or leg traps

Posted 2:25 pm U.S. ET, April 24
Editors note: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect model years of recalled Jeep Libertys. So the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering its options on how to speed up the repair rate on a couple older recalls, including one involving hundreds of thousands of old Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys. May I suggest leg traps? You know, tho ...
     Continue reading "Maybe NHTSA could use excessive force to fix old Jeeps -- or leg traps" » Apr 24, 2015 2:25 pm U.S. ET
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Fiat Chrysler may find perfect partner is from Asia

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 23
Sergio Marchionne wants a dance partner for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The financial media keep trying to fix him up with Volkswagen Group, despite his refusal to be courted by this particular German fraulein and his repeated attempts to douse the rumors. As a casual observer, with my back to the dance hall wall, I think Marchionne has his eye on a potential mate in Asia. ...
     Continue reading "Fiat Chrysler may find perfect partner is from Asia" » Mar 23, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Why March 30-31 might be the greatest two days of deals at FCA dealerships

Posted 3:52 pm U.S. ET, March 20
Monday and Tuesday, March 30-31, probably will be the most advantageous days of the foreseeable future for U.S. consumers to buy a new Fiat Chrysler vehicle. You see, those two days are likely to determine whether FCA US’s self-described “Iron Man” streak of year-over-year sales gains will reach five consecutive years -- or will stop at an impressive but ...
     Continue reading "Why March 30-31 might be the greatest two days of deals at FCA dealerships" » Mar 20, 2015 3:52 pm U.S. ET
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There is a ton of dealer profit riding on FCA's Wrangler decision

Posted 1:58 pm U.S. ET, March 18
Deep in the bowels of Fiat Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills -- or Turin, or London (it’s hard to tell these days) -- the automaker’s brain trust is making its final call about what to do with the Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio. On its face, the decision will be of intense interest in and around the plant, for obvious economic reasons. There are hundreds, ...
     Continue reading "There is a ton of dealer profit riding on FCA's Wrangler decision" » Mar 18, 2015 1:58 pm U.S. ET
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Why it's hard to tally Sergio's pay

Posted 10:27 am U.S. ET, March 10
Late last week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, setting off a flurry of stories about the compensation of its sweater-clad CEO, Sergio Marchionne. The numbers, from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg and others, varied widely: from as little as $8 million to $72 million and more. Yeah, really. Admitt ...
     Continue reading "Why it's hard to tally Sergio's pay" » Mar 10, 2015 10:27 am U.S. ET
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Is an identity crisis the reason behind the Ram pickup's new styling?

Posted 12:14 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 20
It’s been nearly two months since I got my first up-close looks at the Ram Rebel and Ram Laramie Limited — the two trims Fiat Chrysler’s truck brand rolled out at this year’s auto shows in Detroit and Chicago. Like a lot of armchair critics online, I’m not a fan of the styling of the two pickups’ front fascias and tailgates, but I&rsquo ...
     Continue reading "Is an identity crisis the reason behind the Ram pickup's new styling?" » Feb 20, 2015 12:14 pm U.S. ET
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Thanks, but no thanks, to an Apple car

Posted 12:18 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 17
I know some of you will accuse me of heresy against a Higher Power for saying it, but I don’t like Apple. Never have. That’s why talk that Apple might jump into the car business leaves me not only nonplused but giggling at the thought of how the world’s richest company would translate its current business practices from phones to automobiles. Let’ ...
     Continue reading "Thanks, but no thanks, to an Apple car" » Feb 17, 2015 12:18 pm U.S. ET
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This is no way to run a railroad

Posted 10:12 am U.S. ET, Feb. 12
SOMEWHERE EAST of SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- I had originally intended to write this piece about the Chicago Auto Show’s great untapped natural resource, it’s location near the travel hub of North America. I had grand designs to write of how the Chicago auto show -- which already benefits from being housed in the massive and beautiful lakefront McCormick Center -- co ...
     Continue reading "This is no way to run a railroad" » Feb 12, 2015 10:12 am U.S. ET
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Does FCA have a new small turbodiesel coming to the states? Why, it's a mystery

Posted 1:19 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 4
Break out the Scooby Snacks, because I’ve got a mystery that might even stump Velma: Is Fiat Chrysler secretly developing a new 16-valve, 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine for its passenger cars? Jinkies. A member of the FCA-centric website Allpar.com recently snooped around on the automaker’s secure dealer site, DealerConnect, and stumbled across an odd new power ...
     Continue reading "Does FCA have a new small turbodiesel coming to the states? Why, it's a mystery" » Feb 4, 2015 1:19 pm U.S. ET
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Why Marchionne's Wrangler conundrum will require creativity

Posted 12:22 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 19
I truly believe that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne would prefer to write a big check and keep the next generation Jeep Wrangler in its historic home in Toledo, Ohio. The problem? There’s not much wiggle room right now in the corporate checking account. One brand -- Alfa Romeo -- is in the early stages of a $6 billion makeover to get back in the ga ...
     Continue reading "Why Marchionne's Wrangler conundrum will require creativity" » Jan 19, 2015 12:22 pm U.S. ET
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