One of the strongest pieces of advice my dad ever gave me is to never, ever, buy a Chrysler. I was just a child when he told me, but the advice has stuck. His dissatisfaction with Chrysler began with the new Le Baron he bought in the 1980s, which was bad enough to skew his opinion of the automaker to this day. That’s roughly 30 years of disdain from a bad experience with one car.
I say this to illustrate the importance of vehicle satisfaction to automakers. A happy customer can mean a lifetime of car purchases while an unhappy one can negatively impact generations of car buyers.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at some results from Consumer Reports‘ annual vehicle satisfaction survey.
The news is full of gloomy stories these days when it comes to automobiles. It might even be enough to make make you think driving an automobile is becoming more dangerous.
There is, for instance, the recent fatal collision between a Tesla Model S and a semi trailer. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said last year was the deadliest on the nation’s highways since 2008.
It’s enough to make you want to swathe yourself in plastic bubble wrap and never leave the house.
But new cars are getting safer, thanks to a host of new technologies. The best part is you’ll probably never have to consciously use most of them, but you’ll nevertheless be glad they’re there.
Of course not. Those are core models for the brands and it would be complete insanity to cancel them without an improved replacement ready to go.
Chrysler, now FCA, spent years fine-tuning its core sedans. The Chrysler 200 began life as the Sebring and has since become a respectable entry in the compact sedan market. The Dodge Dart resurrected a cherished name from the past and is the FIAT-based sedan that Americans hoped would arrive when the Italians bought out Chrysler.
The cars aren’t record-setting sales superstars, but they do fill an important hole in the company’s lineup. Not having an entry in the compact sedan segment is akin to suicide in the mainstream auto industry.
Yet FCA is doing the unthinkable: Canceling the 200 and the Dart, without any concrete plans to replace them.
Why is this happening?
You’d think, at some point, we’d grow immune to recall news and just start ignoring the mass of notices that fill the headlines of news outlets everywhere.
For now, though, the recalls that dominate headlines seem to feed our hunger for negative news and cultivate a fear of our own vehicles.
Don’t get me wrong—recalls are serious, and some of them must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid danger. Others are, in my humble opinion, the result of over-anxious government agencies trying to justify their existence.
The latest recall from FCA could potentially be a must-fix, so let’s address that and then look at something seriously cool that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing to constantly improve its vehicles.
First, the recall:
I checked my phone after the familiar buzz in my pocket. With the swipe of my thumb, the sexy rear end of an SRT Viper popped up in my text messages.
My lovely girlfriend, on her way home from work, sent the text along with a brief message asking about the car. That quick text led to a lengthy conversation about the Viper, why it’s no longer called a Dodge, and the history of the devastatingly powerful car.
Being a Porsche purist, she was only mildly impressed, but left our talk with a healthy dose of respect for the brute. Enough respect, anyway, to shed a tiny tear when we read last night that Chrysler has ordered the destruction of up to 93 vintage Vipers.
I’ve been a card-carrying member of the diesel fan club for many years. The benefits of longevity and fuel economy speak for themselves, but the advancement of gasoline engines has significantly narrowed the gap in recent years.
The average cost of diesel fuel remains well above that of regular unleaded, and diesel cars typically cost much more than the same model powered by a gasoline engine. So have oil burners lost their edge? Chrysler doesn’t think so, as its turbodiesel V6 could start showing up in more models.
The Internet is a crazy place.
Where else can someone go with the intent of researching auto-industry news and end up instead looking at 7 bad pictures of Beyonce?
Thanks to the Internet, we can all see a 1945 Bugatti Veyron or attend an auto show from the comfort of bed. The Internet can do almost anything we want, and now, it might even be able to provide the cash needed to buy a brand-new car.
“What Chrysler would you buy today? What does the future hold for coming cars, and when will FIAT’s influence be noticed?”
These questions surfaced while out for a couple of pints with the guys this week. You might think we’d talk about girls and football and other exciting, enticing topics. But no, we talk about Chrysler instead.
FIAT’s ownership of Chrysler is already being felt. In fact, it might be the best thing to ever happen to the Auburn Hills company. Net income for 2012 approached $2 billion. Market share grew to over 11%. The new Dodge Dart is based on FIAT architecture. Good things are happening at Chrysler, with even more good coming. New vehicles of all kinds are on the way for all brands that now sit under FIAT’s U.S. umbrella.
Thanks to some arguing and name-calling in Europe, used Volkswagens just went up in value by a thousand bucks in the U.S.
How can a European tiff turn into a financial incentive in the United States? Because the auto market is truly international, and when an Italian automaker wants to prove a point against a German competitor, it looks to assets in the U.S. to drive that point home.
The throwdown in question is between Chrysler/FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne and the entire Volkswagen empire.