Weekly Recap: FCA hit with record fine as NHTSA crackdown continues
Plus: Notes On More Hellcats For 2016, Amazon's New Show For Clarkson And Co., And The Ferrari 488 Spider
The consent agreement, announced Sunday, calls for FCA to pay a $70-million cash fine and requires the company to spend at least $20 million over a three-year period on industry outreach programs and to beef up old recall campaigns. Failure to comply will result in another $15-million fine. FCA also agreed to federal oversight, which includes an independent monitor to oversee the company's recalls. The $70-million cash fine equals a penalty NHTSA levied on Honda in January.
"Fiat Chrysler's pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers and the driving public at risk," NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. "This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture."
FCA called the deal a "consensual resolution," but admitted that it "failed to timely provide an effective remedy" during certain recalls. "We are intent on rebuilding our relationship with NHTSA and we embrace the role of public safety advocate," the company said in a statement.
The announcement kicked off a busy week for the automaker. NHTSA agreed FCA did not need to recall 4.7 million vehicles after an investigation failed to find defects with a power module used in some Jeep, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. A Georgia judge also reduced a civil verdict involving a death in a Jeep Grand Cherokee crash. Amid all of that, the company reported net profit of about 333 million euros, or $364 million in the second quarter on Thursday.
OTHER NEWS & NOTES
FCA ramps up Hellcat production
Despite a decidedly legal and financial week for FCA, there was still time for the performance side of the business to briefly grab the spotlight. The automaker is more than doubling its production of the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats in response to strong demand. The order bank opens the second week of August and production begins in September. FCA will finish up its scheduled 2015 model-year Hellcat builds, and cancel any "unscheduled" versions, though customers will get discounted pricing for 2016. The 707-horsepower Hellcats receive minor updates for the new model year, including standard Laguna leather, upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreens, HD radio, and five years of SiriusXM's travel and traffic features.
Top Gear crew reunites on Amazon Prime
They're back. Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond will return to televisions and other screens in 2016 with a new automotive series on Amazon Prime. Andy Wilman, a longtime Top Gear executive producer, will oversee the new show, which wasn't named in the announcement. "I feel like I've climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship," Clarkson said in a trolling statement that appeared directed at the BBC. Clarkson was sacked earlier this year for punching a producer, and the other two left the show. Top Gear will reboot with new host Chris Evans, and possibly Jenson Button. Amazon's show will go into production shortly.
Ferrari 488 spider set for Frankfurt debut
Ferrari will reveal the 488 spider in September at the Frankfurt motor show featuring the company's patented retractable hardtop and its new twin-turbocharged V8 engine. Ferrari says the top is about 55 pounds lighter than a comparable cloth top and can close in 14 seconds. The two overlapping pieces lay flush over the engine compartment when the roof is down. The 488 has the same 3.9-liter engine as the 488 GTB, which makes 661 hp and 561 lb-ft. Ferrari says it allows the spider to hit 62 miles per hour in three seconds.
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