What’s New @ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the event

FCA holds an annual event at their Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan for journalists to give them a taste of what the brand has coming to dealer showrooms as well as a taste of future products with upcoming launch dates.

 

What’s New

Most of the FCA line is well established, and new often means tweaks to horsepower, Jeep Gladiator Rubiconwhich often translates into dollars, as horsepower sells well.  Ram Trucks have been refreshed over the last two model years, and their products are doing well, challenging their competitors in the market. Jeep continues to power sales and profits for FCA. And with the recent Gladiator launch, Jeep’s mid-sized pickup truck benefits from having Ram in the family.

FCA Vehicles line upFiat, Alfa, Chrysler have been lagging in new products, with Voyager, a lower cost 2020 Charger Scat Packnameplate variant of Pacifica, a being the most recent. Maserati was not on the field for this event, but the muscle power leader, Dodge, and SRT put out for display a meaty wide-bodied Charger with some muscle-bound Hellcat power and ScatPac V-8 Hemi.

The Dodge Boys from the NYIAS Demon Launch 2016

Leave it to the Dodge Boys to show that the love for American Motor Muscle is still alive at FCA with both Challenger and Charger, vehicles that you can raise a family in and be the fastest down the drag strip at the same time. Even if the sheet metal is basically the same for most of the recent decade, both of these machines continue to pump iron.Charger SRT HellCat

 

 

 

Off-Roading

20190627_093346We gladly reconnected to the Jeep Brand, one that has a long history with this writer. Taking to the off-road trails with Brandon Girmus in a stock Gladiator.  Having the pickup’s marketing manager show off his baby from the navigator’s seat was a lot of fun, as he knows which buttons and switches to apply, and when to use them. Plus, we got to talk about the completion of his recent history project an early Military Jeep, and his desire for a Forward Control. No doubt we will see him working on one of those soon.

 

Work and Play, It Is What You Haul

Ram Truck Towing Case EquipmentOne of the benefits of having muscle power and the might of the FCA brand is that Dodge Durango towing a Challenger ScatPacktowing thing becomes easy. Be it with a Ram Heavy Duty Truck pulling a massive piece of construction equipment, a Dodge Durango pulling a swift race-ready Challenger, or a Jeep Gladiator pulling a really nice boat. Was also a highlight.  One might think the experience is pretty much the same no matter the tow vehicle, Not so at all, each provided very different experience to the driver. And yes, pulling with a Cummins Diesel, Rocks.

 

Flashing Lights and Sirens, It’s the Cops

Dodge Durango PursuitTaking to the test track, we got the behind the wheel of two of Dodge’s police pursuit vehicles. The Charger and the Durango. And we see why so many departments put these into their fleets. Fast and furious and dedicated to the job, FCA Dodge Charger Pursuitmakes sure they offer what Officers of the Law need when it comes to their rolling office and detention facility. Police vehicles are very focused on the job at hand, without any fluff.

 

Road Course

Abarth Steering WheelAbarth, taking to the track in a six-speed 124 Spider with the top down made you want to spend more time, topless in Pure Michigan style.  Throaty and growly, agile and comfortable, this little 2-seater was more fun around the test track that should be allowed by law. Fiat 124 Spider with Jeep

 

While our opinion is that FCA has an aging fleet of vehicles, they still produce ones that have a lot of value and merit in the marketplace. FCA’s has some very dedicated employees who love what they do, and it shows when they talk about the products. Kudos to FCA that they instill that kind of pride in their employees, as it is not easy to earn, especially in today’s world.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

William West Hopper shown with a Jeep

Mr. Hopper currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association and has been reporting and working in the automotive industry throughout his career, starting in heavy trucking, then managing a Telco Fleet, and now reporting on the latest news from the automotive industry.

FCA invited Mr. Hopper to attend 2019 What’s New event providing transportation, food, and lodging.  This is not compensation for reporting about the brand or the event. His opinions expressed here are his own.

 

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What is Ford Up to in SUV’s

Craig PattersonHybrids, RWD and new architecture, all of this is a big part of Ford Motor Company’s SUV plan, and what we heard from Ford’s Craig Patterson, SUV Marketing Manager at a recent breakfast meeting held at Ford’s Washington DC office overlooking Pennsylvania Ave.

While we knew much of this information, we got some more tidbits about what else the Blue Oval has in store for the coming years.  And it is not just the Ranger T-6 platform-based Bronco; Ford has several things in the pipeline for the USA, as well as the rest of the world.

Ford has let us know that they will not be selling sedans here in the USA, focusing on SUVs and pickup trucks. And while that may be true for the US Market, Ford is truly an international operation supplying products globally.   And they will continue to actively build and sell sedans elsewhere in the world.

What’s Coming Now?

All New Ford ExplorerFord is enjoying record sales of their SUV’s over the last few years and is bringing out the All-New Explorer and Escape for the 2020 model year.  We have driven both of these volume leaders and can easily understand their appeal to consumers.

What the consumers are going to appreciate, though they may not realize the new technology built into all of Ford’s products. Hybrids with their smaller and lighter batteries are big news, as they are not going to affect the passenger or cargo space, and with a lighter weight, this is a significant impact any hybrid vehicle.

20190109_204941Explorer, the original Family Adventure Vehicle, is and has been built at the 95-year-old Chicago assembly plant the one that was completely retooled in 31 days this year to build the new Explorer. The construction process used barges on the Chicago River to deliver building materials and store what was going to be reused as the road network through the city to the plant could not support enough truck traffic to manage the construction

Questions about the reasoning behind the All-New Explorer going back to rear wheel drive were answered with some simple facts.  Second generation (2011 to 2019) model Explorer was built on a front wheel drive platform to help with fuel economy. In direct response to the high 2008/2009 fuel prices. This new 2020 my rear wheel drive platform allows for an easy bolt-on of the hybrid system, as well as to be able to use the 10-speed transmission with SelectShift® capability to attain better fuel economy numbers.

6 explorer hybridThe all-new 2020 Escape along with it’s hybrid and plugin hybrid (PHEV) versions, will come to dealers this Fall. Trim levels come with S- the base, SE SEL, and Titanium, if you want a Hybrid powertrain, it is only available in SE Sport and Titanium trim level.

Edge ST a performance-based crossover SUV is being released now. While Edge is not that new, being refreshed in 2019, the performance ST package is what is new to that model.

While EcoSport, the lowest priced and smallest in Ford’s SUV line up, appears to be just a placeholder for a low-cost entry-level SUV.  Not very highly regarded by the automotive press, and a vehicle we plan on driving very soon.

What we heard that impressed us

Every vehicle Ford builds now has a built-in modem to let it communicate. Like your smartphone, AI Speaker like Alexa and Google, Ford vehicles will soon be communicating with you, the infrastructure, and the other cars around it.  And this is one of the reasons that there is now a big push across the board for the next generation of cellular data communication.

What is right around the corner?

Bronco at Classic Car Club NYC

 

Bronco, yes, Bronco, it is coming sooner rather than later here in the USA, and what is being hinted at is that there will be a smaller, sportier, more car-like, having the sportiness of a Mustang and the usability of an SUV version following closely on the Bronco’s heels is in the offing. We at breakfast, named it the Buckaroo, following closely on the Bronco’s heels.

 

Rivian and Founder NYCWe will see if this is the battery electric SUV that has been hinted about, though when we bring it up with Ford team members, they seem to discount it — saying that when it comes to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), they are still in the early stages. When asked about the partnership with Rivian, that relationship has not been flushed out yet, while the investment has been made, not much has been done since that announcement.

Another topic they acknowledged, but with little information is about lower-priced vehicles; it seems the below $25K market is being missed by Ford.

No Compromise – Smart vehicles in a smart world – we expect that Ford will be leaders in whatever they do, though not outwardly well calculated. New Tech and new models will come to market when Dearborn decides to do it and not before.

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Words and images by William West Hopper.

Mr. Hopper is a long-time automotive enthusiast and current President of the Washington Automotive Press Association. He is based in Washington DC and thrives with the help of good friends and colleagues.

What Oil Does Your Engine Crave So It Does Not Cave

When talking about engine oil, consumers think little about it, figuring that pretty much a range of viscosity and weight will work interchangeably in their vehicle. And maybe the more expensive oil is better than the rest. Few know that there is a rating and standardization body that rates motor oil. Oil, like many things, has markings on its packaging, letting you know that it meets or exceeds these standards.

 

Havoline Shell and Mobil 1 motor oil with API Seals
Three different Oils displaying the API Standards Seal

Engineers have specifically sited oil that is created for specific engines and works with this body to continually ensure that engine oil is up to the standards of modern fossil fuel burning engines. Ask your quick oil change shop what oil standards they use when changing your fluid.

 

You may have seen the Donut, Starburst, and now Shield that is the mark of the API certification. But where do you find out what your engine requires?   Two resources: The vehicle’s owner’s manual – Under Engine Oil. It gives the correct information about the engine oil that is designed to work properly in that specific vehicle.  While it may not be citing a specific brand, or it might be, it will give you the API Standards and Specs for the oil to be used.

Kevin Ferrick speaks to Washington Area Automotive Press Association Members about Engine Oil.
Kevin Ferrick speaks to Washington Area Automotive Press Association Members about Engine Oil.

And the API website   –  The American Petroleum Institute, an independent group of petroleum producing members, has its own American National Standards Institute accreditation process, ensuring that the API standards are recognized not only for their technical specifications but also their third-party accreditation which facilitates acceptance by state, federal, and increasingly international regulators. API is used as the guide for durability and level of quality for motor oil since 1919.

API has set new standards, that are backward compatible with previous oils.  This new, more stringent performance specification is due to the new engines coming online that are smaller and more fuel efficient.  GF-6A and GF-6B, are the latest in a line put forward by the International Lubricant Standardization Advisory Committee (ILSAC), and a third standard, AP SP, is API’s latest engine oil performance standard. API SP includes all of the ILSAC requirements while at the same time provides performance requirements for oils that do not fall under ILSAC-member recommendations.  The new standards specify more stringent engine oil performance requirements for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. All three of these standards can be licensed under API’s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System beginning May 1, 2020.

Mobil 1 Motor Oil API Starburst rear label
Mobil 1 Motor Oil API Starburst rear label

The development of GF-6A, GF-6B, and API SP was done over the course of seven years. In that time, seven new tests were developed, evaluated, and measured for precision, and engine oil producing companies ran tests to demonstrate that their oils can meet the more stringent requirements. Now, oil marketing companies are working to bring the oils that meet these standards to market to ensure current and future engines perform as designed.

Licensed oils that meet the ILSAC GF-6A standard will be allowed to display the API Certification Mark “Starburst” and may be used where oils meeting GF-5 or earlier gasoline engine oil standards had been recommended. Oils that meet ILSAC GF-6B will be allowed to display a new mark, the API Certification Mark “Shield,” and may be used where SAE 0W-16 oils meeting API SN had been recommended.  API is introducing this new “Shield” at the request of automakers to prevent confusion and ensure that 0W-16 oils are used only in applications where they are recommended.

 

While API does not make or specify the recipe for modern oil, it does testing to make sure that it meets established standards that are used by various organizations that grade oil for use in modern engines, be they gasoline or diesel powered.   Society of American Engineers SAE and National Institute for Standards and Technology NIST use the API guidelines as part of the work they do in the field

API Program Marks
API Program Marks

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the natural gas and oil industry, which supports 10.3 million U.S. jobs and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 600 members include large integrated companies, as well as pipeline, exploration and production, refining, marketing, marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 47 million Americans. API was formed in 1919 as a standards-setting organization. In its first 100 years, API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational and environmental safety, efficiency, and sustainability.