BLOG: Larry P. Vellequette

No, Bob Nardelli. Just no.

Posted 12:23 pm U.S. ET, July 7
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Former Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli wrote a column on LinkedIn titled “What I learned leading a Company like Chrysler through Bankruptcy -- and Revitalization.”
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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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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