DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler will loosen restrictions on about half of its U.S. dealerships so specialists in their service departments, such as diesel mechanics, can work more efficiently.
The rules will allow dealers to assign higher-level warranty work to technicians with lower certifications if the higher work is monitored by a tech with the proper training.
For instance, the change would allow a lower-certified mechanic to perform some labor-intensive work on a diesel engine while the diesel mechanic supervises.
Eligible will be FCA US dealerships that have high levels of repairs that are fixed properly the first time. The changes are due later this month, the company told dealers last week.
"It gives the ability to speed up the process inside the dealership because I [as a dealer] can be more flexible in how I assign my work," said Pietro Gorlier, head of the Mopar parts and service brand.
FCA has been working with its dealers to expand service capacity since 2009. The company has cajoled dealers to add Saturday service hours and changed warranty rules to help dealers train new technicians and retain those they already had.
"It's pretty clear that if we keep putting more and more new cars on the road, we'll need to increase the capacity in our service departments," Gorlier said. The company projects that its dealers will collectively need 5,000 additional technicians by 2020. Last year, its dealer network added a net of 1,250 technicians, Gorlier said.
"Not only does this give more flexibility, but it also allows our master technicians to do a little bit different work," said John Fox, FCA's head of dealer training. "It allows them to mentor some of the younger technicians."
The new rules mirror changes FCA enacted earlier this year that allow technicians to work on higher-level work under supervision while they seek their next-level certifications.