Archive for the ‘detroit news’ Tag

Marchionne: Next Wrangler won’t be all-aluminum

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler won’t be all aluminum, according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne spoke to reporters at the SAE Foundation’s Annual Celebration last night. He was the guest of honor at the event where he received the group’s 2015 Industry Leadership award.

According to a report in today’s Detroit News, Marchionne said that company tests showed the costs of an all-aluminum body outweighed the weight-saving benefits.

“Because of the difference in cost, not just the new material but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum,” Marchionne was quoted as saying.

The decision could have been fueled by the difficulties Ford Motor Company faced in producing the latest-generation F-150 pickup. The problems, including the tearing of aluminum body panels in the stamping process, caused delays and constrained early deliveries of Ford’s moneymaker.

The announcement could boost the prospects for Toledo, Ohio, which is spending millions of dollars trying to keep Wrangler production in the city.

Marchionne didn’t give any hints, but said Toledo is one of just two sites being considered for the next-generation of the Wrangler.

During his comments, Marchionne also spoke about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest actions.

“We need to work with the agency in a very cooperative and open way to make sure that we can meet their requirements for their new stance,” Marchionne said. “We have no option but to comply with their requirements and we will. I have nothing to hide in this process. I just want clear rules.”

He said the agency’s increasingly aggressive stance will increase automakers’ costs as they try to meet new demands; and that he will not be testifying at the NHTSA’s public hearings scheduled for July 2.

Speaking about the new Jeep Renegade, Marchionne confirmed that several issues, including some software problems, were limiting availability of the Italian-built small Jeep.

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2013 Nissan Leaf: Better Heater, Leather Option, 6.6-kW Charger

Nissan’s all-electric Leaf hatchback has only been on sale in the U.S. for the past 15 months, but Nissan has already confirmed it will get some much-needed upgrades for the 2013 model.

Speaking to The Detroit News yesterday, Mark Perry, director of product and advanced planning for Nissan Americas confirmed that the 2013 Leaf will get an improved heating system and an upgraded interior fitted as standard.

Although the electric-powered air heater found in the 2011/12 Leaf is adequate enough to keep the interior warm in all but the coldest of temperatures, its use comes with a caveat: a drop in range of as much as 30 miles.

As we’ve found in the past, sacrificing heat for range is hardly pleasurable.

Neither Nissan nor Perry has detailed how the heating system in the 2013 Leaf will be different, but we do know it will improve winter performance.

“You may not see much change on the EPA rating, but in cold-weather conditions you may see 20 to 25 miles of improvements,” Perry promised, although it is important to note Nissan hasn’t mentioned a change in either battery pack capacity or chemistry.

The other major improvements — aside from the 6.6 kilowatt charger that Perry promised last year — are focused on the car’s interior.

When the Leaf launched, its white seats made from recycled plastic bottles may have been environmentally responsible, but not everyone liked them, Perry admitted.

“We were like, ‘Ah, let’s do the clean, green recycled materials.’” Perry said. But as Nissan soon found out, customers wanted other options, especially those with children or pets.

As a consequence, the 2013 Leaf will be offered with optional Leather seats, as well as a choice of light or dark interior trim.

At the moment, little else is known about the 2013 Leaf, except that it will be manufactured in the U.S. at Nissan’s Smyrna plant in Tennessee.

Some analysts have suggested that the domestic manufacture of the Leaf will also help Nissan keep its price down, but Nissan has yet to confirm official pricing.

If you’re considering a Nissan Leaf, we’re keen to know if the latest announcement will delay your purchase decision.

Or perhaps you’ve been looking at other electric cars and now think the 2013 Leaf may meet your needs?

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