BLOG: Larry P. Vellequette

Why March 30-31 might be the greatest two days of deals at FCA dealerships

Posted 3:52 pm U.S. ET, March 20
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
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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A million Jeeps in 2014 means Marchionne has some hard choices to make

Posted 11:26 am U.S. ET, Jan. 6
TOLEDO, Ohio -- One million. That big, round, Dr. Evil-loving, base-ten global sales number has blasted any remaining doubt that 2014 was the Jeep brand’s year of the century. Hitting the one million mark -- which you have to pronounce one meeeill-yon -- blasted Jeep’s previous record of 731,565 set the previous year. And it’s early. There’s a ne ...
     Continue reading "A million Jeeps in 2014 means Marchionne has some hard choices to make" » Jan 6, 2015 11:26 am U.S. ET
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Why Chrysler's November sales ought to make your jaw drop

Posted 3:53 pm U.S. ET, Dec. 3
Stunning. I don’t know how else to describe it, and it’s an adjective I don’t use lightly. How else could you describe the breadth and depth of the remarkable sales wave that Chrysler Group’s U.S. dealerships experienced in November? Especially in a month where gains from other automakers were so much smaller? Dismiss for a moment the top line de ...
     Continue reading "Why Chrysler's November sales ought to make your jaw drop" » Dec 3, 2014 3:53 pm U.S. ET
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Looking for a new F&I product? Mull this

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 5
Consider this a free idea -- the kind that hopefully somebody out there takes and develops and uses to make a lot of money. Dealers need to offer new-vehicle customers a kind of “CarFax” protection plan that spares them from the inevitable dings to vehicle equity that are now commonplace in an age of nearly unlimited information. Here’s how it should wo ...
     Continue reading "Looking for a new F&I product? Mull this" » Nov 5, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Why Wrangler’s Toledo decision may depend on keeping the money spigot flowing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 18
It’s been just over two weeks since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne casually revealed that he might have to move Jeep Wrangler production out of its historic home in Toledo, Ohio. In his comments, Marchionne said that it would be prohibitively expensive to build an aluminum Wrangler in Toledo, if that’s what Jeep decides to do with the 2017 red ...
     Continue reading "Why Wrangler’s Toledo decision may depend on keeping the money spigot flowing" » Oct 18, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Wrangler is so engrained in its DNA, the city should be spelled Toledo, OIIIIIIIO

Posted 12:12 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 3
PARIS -- My hometown completely freaked out Thursday. Lost its mind, flipped its lid, blew a gasket -- pick any phrase you like, because they all apply. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed here in Paris that the next-generation Jeep Wrangler might have to be manufactured somewhere else other than in its historic home in Toledo, Ohio. Nobody would lo ...
     Continue reading "Wrangler is so engrained in its DNA, the city should be spelled Toledo, OIIIIIIIO" » Oct 3, 2014 12:12 pm U.S. ET
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Ford puts refreshed C-Max in the Phantom's spotlight

Posted 6:00 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
PARIS -- Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday lifted the mask on its next-generation C-Max at a special event at the Opera National de Paris, the setting for the fictional The Phantom of the Opera. The irony may have been lost on the Ford execs on hand, who also showed off the next-generation European S-Max and Grande C-Max before their scheduled press conference Thursday at the P ...
     Continue reading "Ford puts refreshed C-Max in the Phantom's spotlight" » Oct 1, 2014 6:00 pm U.S. ET
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Why the UAW will strike in 2015 -- no matter what's offered

Posted 10:22 am U.S. ET, Sept. 19
Here is something that will happen in 2015 upon which you can bet serious money: The UAW will strike one -- and likely all three -- Detroit automakers before reaching a deal on a new labor agreement. And here’s the thing: There is nothing that any of the automakers could offer that would avoid that inevitability. The 2015 strike(s) will not be long. They will not b ...
     Continue reading "Why the UAW will strike in 2015 -- no matter what's offered" » Sep 19, 2014 10:22 am U.S. ET
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Fiat's cute cartoon characters suggest buying a 500 -- or else

Posted 3:38 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 27
Since Fiat was reintroduced to the United States in 2011, the Italian brand has stretched the advertising envelope. But a new animated spot set to debut on Gas Station TV this month touting the fuel and ecological advantages of a Fiat 500 minicar may be the brand’s most wry offering yet. The one-minute commercial features animated woodland creatures -- a rabbit, a ...
     Continue reading "Fiat's cute cartoon characters suggest buying a 500 -- or else" » Aug 27, 2014 3:38 pm U.S. ET
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Will Marchionne's profits grab come up empty?

Posted 5:16 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 6
Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne today seemed like a grizzly bear standing amid a stream of happily swimming salmon. In comments to analysts, the enigmatic Chrysler boss said he was "envious" of the profit margins of his suppliers, and vowed to seek a share of their newfound wealth. Have no doubt: Profitable suppliers are the salmon in this scenario, and Marchionne i ...
     Continue reading "Will Marchionne's profits grab come up empty?" » Aug 6, 2014 5:16 pm U.S. ET
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Why a squeeze is coming to auto dealers

Posted 10:28 am U.S. ET, Aug. 5
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Take note: there is a squeeze coming to an auto dealer near you. Two important factors to new automotive sales -- low interest rates and relatively high values for used automobiles – are forecast to move in unwelcome directions that soon will make it more expensive to buy a new car, SUV or pickup. The forecasts, delivered at the 2014 Managem ...
     Continue reading "Why a squeeze is coming to auto dealers" » Aug 5, 2014 10:28 am U.S. ET
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Why the supplier price-fixing investigation looms large

Posted 9:40 am U.S. ET, Aug. 4
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- There's three dozen people in the auto supply chain who should be on the mind of everyone attending the Management Briefing Seminars here this year.  For more than three years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and its counterparts in Europe and Japan have been working over automotive suppliers like a boxer on a heavy b ...
     Continue reading "Why the supplier price-fixing investigation looms large" » Aug 4, 2014 9:40 am U.S. ET
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Let's hope for a litter of Hellcat kitties

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 19
Spend a few minutes with Chrysler Group’s new monster power plant -- the 707-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 -- and you will be left, as I was, with one overriding question: What else can you put it in? Not to say that it’s out of place in the 2015 SRT Challenger. It’s not. It absolutely belongs there and fits like a glove. But very few automakers t ...
     Continue reading "Let's hope for a litter of Hellcat kitties" » Jul 19, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Why fuel economy faces law of diminishing returns

Posted 3:02 pm U.S. ET, July 11
In economics, it’s known as the law of diminishing returns, the shrinking benefit you get when you pour ever-increasing resources toward achieving a singular goal. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency showed a good mathematical example of the principle today with a graphic it released about the consumer benefits of fuel economy. For consu ...
     Continue reading "Why fuel economy faces law of diminishing returns" » Jul 11, 2014 3:02 pm U.S. ET
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Minivans are too practical to have the reputation they have

Posted 3:13 pm U.S. ET, July 9
Here’s an automotive exercise: Think of the most practical product you own, something you use every day. Maybe it’s a pen you keep in your pocket, or a garment, a briefcase, a handbag -- whatever. Do you like it? Probably, or you’d switch to an alternative. Is it stylish? Maybe, but it doesn’t really have to be in order to be practical. Yet, becau ...
     Continue reading "Minivans are too practical to have the reputation they have" » Jul 9, 2014 3:13 pm U.S. ET
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Why the bankruptcy legacy seems different at Chrysler and GM

Posted 3:02 pm U.S. ET, May 22
Maybe it’s the five-year bankruptcy anniversary, or the juxtaposition of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles laying out its five-year business plan as General Motors struggles to contain a ballooning recall crisis. Either way, time and careful observation have now clarified for me a theory that I’ve noodled over since that dark spring in 2009. You see, there is a funda ...
     Continue reading "Why the bankruptcy legacy seems different at Chrysler and GM" » May 22, 2014 3:02 pm U.S. ET
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Can I request a Jeep Gladiator in the plan?

Posted 2:06 pm U.S. ET, May 2
To borrow a line from The Blues Brothers movie a few decades ago, Chrysler Group is “getting the band back together” on Tuesday to reveal its next five-year business plan. So I wonder: Is it too late to put in a request? If it’s not, if there’s still time, then what I’d really like to hear next week is that CEO Sergio Marchionne and company ...
     Continue reading "Can I request a Jeep Gladiator in the plan? " » May 2, 2014 2:06 pm U.S. ET
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Ohio man's collection of '36 Fords going to auction

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 19
As a young man, Emery Ward Jr. fell in love in 1936 -- with a Ford. He never got over the attraction. In fact, the older he got, the more it intensified. After Ward died in 2007, the objects of his affection -- a collection of nearly two dozen 1936 Fords of every shape and stripe -- remained locked away in a barn in Sandusky, Ohio, near the shores of Lake Erie. Until now ...
     Continue reading "Ohio man's collection of '36 Fords going to auction" » Apr 19, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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