Weekly Recap: Chrysler forges ahead with new name, same mission
Plus: Transparent Cabin Pillars, Acura NSX And Red Bull Trophy Recovery
Here's what it means: The sign outside Chrysler's Auburn Hills, MI, headquarters says FCA (which it already did) and obviously, all official documents use the new name, rather than Chrysler. That's about it. The executives, brands and location of the headquarters aren't changing. You'll still be able to buy a Chrysler 200. It's just made by FCA US LLC. This reinforces that FCA is one company going forward – the seventh largest automaker in the world – not a Fiat-Chrysler dual kingdom.
While the move is symbolic, it is a conflicting moment for Detroiters, though nothing is really changing. Chrysler has been owned by someone else (Daimler, Cerberus) for the better part of two decades, but it still seemed like it was Chrysler in the traditional sense: A Big 3 automaker in Detroit.
Now, it's clearly the US division of a multinational industrial empire; that's good thing for its future stability, but bittersweet nonetheless.
Undoubtedly, it's an emotion that's also being felt at Fiat's Turin, Italy, headquarters as the company will no longer officially be called Fiat there. Digest that for a moment. What began in 1899 as the Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino – or FIAT – is now FCA Italy SpA.
In a statement, FCA said the move "is intended to emphasize the fact that all group companies worldwide are part of a single organization."
The new names are the latest changes orchestrated by CEO Sergio Marchionne, who continues to makeover FCA as an international automaker that has ties to its heritage – but isn't tied down by it. Everything from the planned spinoff of Ferrari, a new FCA headquarters in London and the pending demise of the Dodge Grand Caravan in 2016 has shown that the company is willing to move quickly, even if it's controversial.
While renaming the United States and Italian divisions were the moves most likely to spur controversy, FCA said other regions across the globe will undergo similar name changes this year. Despite the mixed emotions, it's worth noting: The name of the merged company that oversees all of these far-flung units is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Obviously the Chrysler corporate name isn't completely history.
Other News and Views
Jaguar Land Rover develops transparent cabin pillars
Jaguar and Land Rover are developing a suite of safety technologies, called the Virtual Urban Windscreen, that includes transparent cabin pillars. The goal is to eliminate blind spots. The pillars aren't actually see-through. Rather, they have screens that display a camera feed of what's happening on the street, giving the driver a 360-degree view of his or her surroundings.
This feature would work with other safety technologies Jaguar is researching, including an advanced heads-up display that highlights objects – like people – that come into view. The setup also has a "ghost-car" navigational tool, which projects the image of a car onto the road ahead for the driver to follow, instead of traditional navigation setups. Jaguar didn't specify when these technologies could be available in its cars, but said it's seriously pursuing the research with the aim of reducing collisions in urban areas. Ultimately, Jaguar's futuristic windscreen would connect to the cloud, allowing information about fuel and parking to be sent to the driver on the road.
Honda preps production NSX for Detroit Auto Show debut
Honda is finally showing the production version of the 2016 Acura NSX at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. While the wait has seemed like a drawn-out process, it's actually on schedule. The first NXS concept premiered at the 2012 Detroit show. It was followed by more prototypes showing Acura's progress, and it goes into production next year in Ohio. After three years of anticipation, we know a good deal about the new NSX, and it will run a mid-mounted, twin-turbo Sport Hybrid powertrain, use an innovative zirconium e-coat paint and run with all-wheel drive. Honda has an aggressive product cadence scheduled for 2015. It will also launch new versions of the Pilot crossover and Ridgeline pickup, while Acura will get an updated ILX.
Red Bull gets some of its trophies back
Red Bull has recovered some of its trophies that were stolen Dec. 6 during an almost unbelievable caper. Thieves used an SUV to smash through the front of the team facility in Milton Keynes, England, and then six men in dark clothing made off with more than 60 trophies. About 20 trophies were found in a lake Dec. 16 more than 60 miles away from the Red Bull site, though some were damaged. That leaves about 40 trophies still missing. While the trophies have tremendous sentimental value to the Red Bull team and its fans, they aren't worth a lot of money based on their materials, the team said.
Theoretically, it would be hard to sell them, as scrupulous buyers would surely question why a recent Formula One trophy is being sold by someone other than its famous owner. Team principal Christian Horner expressed his frustration in a statement, saying: "The fact that some of the trophies were discarded in a lake and damaged shows how senseless this crime was."
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