Editor-In-Chief's Note: Sergio Marchionne, the ol' carpetbagging mercenary, has really stepped in it this time. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of using cheater software that allowed its diesel vehicles to pass emissions tests, in a story first reported by Reuters. Just over 100,000 U.S. trucks and SUVs sold since 2014 are said to be equipped with the rogue software. The EPA has officially notified the automaker that it believes its use of the undeclared emissions control software has allowed its vehicles to generate excess pollution, which is in clear violation of the law. Fiat Chrysler declined to comment, but the stock market has already weighed-in, with FCA's U.S.-listed shares plunging over 13 percent upon release of the news. The EPA, which is led by Administrator Gina McCarthy, has refused to certify Fiat Chrysler's 2017 diesel vehicles for sale in the U.S. for months. Now we know why. Then, Sergio being Sergio, he went off on the accusations saying it was nothing like the VW situation and that it was a giant misunderstanding, or it was a set-up of some kind, or some such nonsense. But, better be careful, Sergio, when people and corporate entities find you ferociously unpalatable, utterly loathsome and flat-out untrustworthy, you describing the whole thing as "hogwash" doesn't exactly resonate. I'm sure you can get allowances to have your handmade Italian sweaters made with a striped pattern, however. -PMD
Editor's Note: As if the paltry automotive offerings weren't enough of a downer, the food and beverage presentations at the Detroit show were their own category of pathetic. Once upon a time, the manufacturers - the Germans in particular - could be counted on to present lavish spreads throughout the day (complete with printed menus, fine china, crystal and cloth napkins). It may sound superficial, but it definitely added a bit of civility and refinement to the proceedings, and helped make the slog of the show slightly more tolerable. Well, those days are gone, baby, gone. The fruit "thimbles" at Mercedes and Lilliputian muffins at Audi were really quite sad. I couldn't help but feel that the downsizing of the refreshments corresponded to the decidedly downsized spirit of the show. And I left hungry for more - of everything. -WG
Mercedes-Benz is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of AMG and as the company says, "these three letters stand worldwide for supreme automotive performance, exclusivity, efficiency and highly dynamic driving pleasure." In case you didn't know, the company was founded by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher and it made its reputation by building higher performance versions of Mercedes-Benz models. Today, the Affalterbach-based company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, and the company has around 1500 employees. The focus will continue to be "on the brand promise of 'Driving Performance' which unites the core strengths of AMG: cutting-edge technology and a passion for dynamic, emotively appealing products," according to the company. The original company from Affalterbach was famous for its "one man, one engine" philosophy, which means that each engine is, so to speak, hand-crafted by one engine builder. Now, spurred on by the crack (as if) Mercedes marketing troops operating at full overkill cadence, almost 100,000 units were delivered in 2016 - over 40 percent growth - and AMG is the biggest strategic model initiative in the company's history. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Translation? It also means Mercedes is doing absolutely everything in its power to destroy the exclusivity of the AMG brand by slapping AMG letters on just about everything that moves. -PMD (See Peter's Rant -WG.)
Editor's Note: Occasionally we print letters that we deem worthy of wider attention. This is one of them (below). -WG
No Sergio comments?
I am surprised that I did not see any remarks or responses to Sergio Marchionne's presentation at the Detroit Auto Show. First, what do you think of his remarks about the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 being terrible investments for FCA? I know the cars weren't great (you even said so about the 200), but what does his browbeating of these cars do to the owners and dealers who believed in them and bought them? What does it say about his investment judgement since he ok'd the cars for production? Second, what do you think of his cocky attitude that FCA will be cash positive next year and be able to compete with anybody? Last I saw, FCA was 6.9 billion in debt? How will he be able to wipe that out within a year's time? Third, the press and the fan boys overjoyed when FCA announce a $1billion investment in the U.S.to upgrade the Warren and Toledo plants, but nobody noticed that the upgrade is planned to be done by 2020. If I am reading that right, the “awesome” Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer won't be out until after 2020. That is three years from now. Things could change between now and then!
Editor-In-Chief's Note: I didn't write about Sergio Marchionne because nothing has changed. 1. He's still a carpetbagging mercenary looking to get the best deal for his Fiat heir overlords. 2. He has zero credibility in just about anything he says, as he changes his positions according to which way the wind is blowing. And if one of his grand prognostications happens to not work out (which is often), he comes up with some bullshit explanation that usually places the blame on someone or something else, or the always convenient "factors outside of my control." 3. The fact that the automotive media still gathers around this guy's feet like they're gathered around a campfire somewhere, so he can regale them with his view of the automotive world, is embarrassing and simply pathetic. Marchionne is a calculated charlatan and a complete phony. He's going to ride the Jeep frenzy until he can't ride it anymore - spewing out piss-poor quality vehicles in his wake - and then he will find a buyer (or buyers) for the company so that he and his handlers can retire to cafe society in Italy and bore anyone who would listen about how they fleeced those stupid Americans, but good. -PMD
Editor's Note: Ford has released information on the instrumentation for the Ford GT. You can watch a video here. -WG