CES, fca

FCA hints at all-digital dash with Airflow Vision concept

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a busy schedule planned for the upcoming 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In addition to rolling out plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Wrangler, Compass and Renegade, the automaker will also roll out a concept that hints at future cabin technologies coming to its various brands’ cars.

Called the Airflow Vision, the concept features a spacious cabin with seating for four. The real highlight is the dash which features multiple digital screens, including for the instrument cluster, the infotainment hub, and the climate settings. Yes, FCA could start replacing more physical buttons and knobs with touchscreen interfaces in the future. It’s a trend that other automakers including the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and Audi are also investigating.

Teaser for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Airflow Vision concept debuting at 2020 CES

In the Airflow Vision, additional screens will feature in the rear compartment. The concept has been designed so that information can be easily shared with all passengers by swiping, for example a restaurant suggestion or the location of a drop-off point.

Interestingly, FCA said in an announcement on Thursday that the exterior also hints at the automaker’s future design. The automaker also said the concept’s wheel design was inspired by the internal workings of an electric motor, suggesting that the concept might feature an battery-electric powertrain.

CES runs from January 7-10. For our complete coverage on the event, head to our dedicated hub.

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fca, product development

Fiat Chrysler the latest automaker to take aim at faster product development

Fiat Chrysler is streamlining its global product development process in a bid to bring new or updated models to showrooms more quickly, reflecting heightened consumer expectations but also massive technological upheavals brought by things like electric vehicles, self-driving cars and ever more strident safety regulations.

FCA recently announced plans to flatten its corporate product development structure across its global properties to reduce complexity, speed decision making and get products to the market faster than the years it can take today. It’s similar to what Jim Hackett has been trying to do across town at Ford. FCA Chief Technology Officer Harald Wester, who is also executive chairman of Maserati, will oversee the reorganized product development unit.

The company says it has already committed €9 billion — nearly $10 billion at current exchange rates — toward its five-year plan to launch 30 new electrified nameplates globally, with plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Compass, Renegade and Wrangler due up first along with a full-electric Fiat car and commercial van. Maserati has also received a €1.6 billion investment to bring about hybrid and battery-electric powertrains, plus Level 3 autonomous capabilities.

“The industry has never experienced technological change at the pace we are now seeing,” CEO Mike Manley said in a statement. “So, we’re unleashing the creative energy of our engineers and technical experts for the benefit of our customers and stakeholders worldwide.”

One of the biggest changes is integrating powertrain and vehicle engineering, previously separate units, in a global process involving more collaboration and better deployment of resources. Engineering will also be supported by five centers of technical competence, including groups that will develop electronic architectures and another focused on advanced technologies. FCA says product development has previously been served by several different organizations that operated as regional sub-groups or standalone units.

Left unmentioned is whether the merger with PSA Group, which will reportedly result in nearly 70 percent of all models produced by the two brands moving to just two PSA platforms, is helping to push the timeline on these changes. FCA is also making greater use of the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform, planning it for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, told the Detroit Free Press that Fiat and Chrysler still separately develop cars for Europe and trucks for North America, respectively, with little cooperation on product development.

“These new architectures provide a basis for greater parts sharing across models and better connectivity within the vehicle and between the vehicle and its surroundings,” he said.

Even if the initiative is successful at FCA, it remains to be seen whether a combined FCA-PSA can similarly flatten and simplify entire business units. Fusing the cultures of two companies is famously complicated, especially companies of this size.

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Car parts, classic car, fca, lancia delta hf integrale

Mopar announces Lancia Delta Integrale heritage parts

Back in April, 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the Heritage HUB, a facility built specifically for classics from FCA’s Italian brands. As part of the mission to preserve, restore, and showcase the best vehicles from past decades, FCA and Mopar are now launching Heritage Parts, a service that will make available reproduced spare parts for old, rare cars. The line’s first model is the Lancia Delta Integrale.

FCA is starting with front and rear bumpers, seen in the photos above, for the Delta HF Integrale and the Integrale Evoluzione. The parts are recreated using the original molds and the same original materials, not fiberglass. They will be delivered to the customers unsanded, unprimed, and unpainted. The old equipment was apparently found left for dead at the San Benigno plant outside of Turin, Italy. 

To create the parts, plastic granulate made of a polymer thermoplastic called POCAN S1506 is injected into the die cavity at a high temperature. FCA says it has a high heat resistance and staves off stress cracking and moisture absorption. The Evo variant uses Xenoy CL101, a different type of polymer thermoplastic that is solvent-resistant and quite flexible at all temps.

The new parts can be purchased directly from the online Mopar store. The front bumpers for both models are listed for £1,404.00 ($1,843) before taxes, while the rear bumpers are listed for £1,242.00 ($1,631) before taxes. More models are sure to be added to the list soon.

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Fiat Chrysler and the UAW reach tentative labor deal

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union on Saturday announced a tentative agreement for a four-year labor contract, a boost for the automaker as it works to merge with France’s Groupe PSA.

Italian-American Fiat Chrysler and PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen, last month announced a planned $50 billion merger to create the world’s fourth-largest automaker.

The tentative agreement with Fiat Chrysler, which is subject to ratification by the union members, follows contracts that the UAW already concluded with Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co.

The deal with GM followed a 40-day strike in the United States that virtually shuttered GM’s North American operations and cost the automaker $3 billion.

The UAW on Saturday said the contract with Fiat Chrysler included a commitment from FCA to invest $9 billion, creating 7,900 new jobs over the course of the four-year contract. Of the $9 billion, $4.5 billion was announced earlier this year, to be invested in five plants and creating 6,500 jobs.

Detailed terms of the tentative agreement were not released, but they are expected to echo those under the new contracts with GM and Ford, as the UAW typically uses the first deal as a pattern for the others.

“FCA has been a great American success story thanks to the hard work of our members,” UAW acting President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “We have achieved substantial gains and job security provisions for the fastest growing auto company in the United States.”

Ratification is not a sure thing. Rank-and-file UAW members at FCA in 2015 rejected the first version of a contract. In addition, a lawsuit related to a federal corruption probe could also raise doubts among union members about the terms agreed.

The federal corruption led GM to file a racketeering lawsuit against FCA, alleging that its rival bribed union officials over many years to corrupt the bargaining process and gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars. FCA has brushed off the lawsuit as groundless.

Under the UAW’s deal with GM, the automaker agreed to invest $9 billion in the United States, including $7.7 billion directly in its plants, and to create or retain 9,000 UAW jobs.

Ford’s contract included commitments to invest more than $6 billion in its U.S. plants and to create or retain more than 8,500 UAW jobs.

The deals with GM and Ford also created a pathway to full-time employment for temporary workers and left healthcare insurance coverage unchanged.

Both automakers also agreed to signing bonuses, with $9,000 for full-time Ford workers and $11,000 for workers at GM.

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