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Chrysler and Fiat will be known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV as they move forward as a single company, the AP is reporting.

Fiat's board of directors agreed on the new name Wednesday, with headquarters for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. But the board sidestepped the thorny political issue of whether the true headquarters would be in the United States or Italy.

Fiat and Chrysler also announced fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. Chrysler's strong profits once again propped up its parent company, which otherwise would have lost money.

Shares of the combined company will trade jointly on the New York Stock Exchange and in Milan, Italy, by Oct. 1. The shares will trade under the symbol FCA, which also appears on the new company logo. FCA now includes the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands as well as Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia and Alfa Romeo.

The new company will maintain significant research, engineering and financial operations in Fiat's hometown of Turin, Italy, and at Chrysler's sprawling office complex in Auburn Hills, Mich. This avoids political controversies in Italy, where Fiat is the largest private employer, and in the U.S., where the government saved Chrysler by funding its 2009 bankruptcy.

Corporate executives, including Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both companies, say the real headquarters is on an airplane. Currently, the 22-member leadership team spends hours on jets flying to meetings and to visit factories and other operations. For at least three years — the amount of time Marchionne has committed to leading the company — "the brains are going to be flying back and forth between Auburn (Hills) and Italy," said Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert.

Fiat owned 58.5 percent of Chrysler last year. It has since bought the rest from a trust fund that pays health care bills for union retirees in order to combine the companies.

Marchionne said the new logo links the two companies "as opposed to retention of one organization over another." Chrysler and Fiat have already teamed up to design three vehicles, the Dodge Dart compact, Jeep Cherokee SUV and the upcoming Chrysler 200 midsize car.

The recent surge in U.S. auto production is hurting vehicle quality because automotive parts suppliers have less time to fix problems that emerge on the line, Ford Motor Co.’s new global purchasing chief told reporters for Automotive News.

Hau Thai-Tang, who led the overhaul of Ford’s Mustang sports car in 2005, also said the No. 2 U.S. automaker is exploring a cost-cutting strategy that requires Ford to tweak the design of its global models for specific regions.

Auto parts suppliers, which closed scores of factories during the financial crisis, are operating around-the-clock to meet consumer demand for cars and trucks that is marching toward pre-recession levels.

“Everyone is running flat out and it’s contributing to some of the quality challenges that we’ve seen,” said Thai-Tang, who oversees Ford’s $100 billion global budget for everything from raw materials to marketing to paper towels.

U.S. auto sales are on pace to reach 15.6 million units this year, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Many analysts expect auto sales to exceed 16 million vehicles in 2014, possibly topping the 16.1 million vehicles sold in 2007.

J.D. Power and LMC forecast that U.S. auto production will rise 3 percent to 16.5 million next year.

To meet increased demand, suppliers have less time to do preventative maintenance on their equipment because the are working to meet rising U.S. vehicle demand, Thai-Tang said.

One of Ford’s vehicle programs has a “yellow” rating, meaning that too many suppliers are operating at full tilt, Thai-Tang said, without naming the vehicle. In the past, Ford executives have said supply problems hampered the launch of the Lincoln MKZ sedan.

GM Customer Care & Aftersales (GM CCA) is pleased to announce a valuable new loyalty rewards program for Independent Body Shops (IBSs) purchasing select GM collision parts. With the expansion of the Genuine GM Rewards program to collision parts, GM CCA is giving collision repair shops yet another reason to take good care of their customers by purchasing superior Genuine GM Parts," says Amy Buzan, wholesale dealer channel manager with GM CCA.

"IBSs enrolled in the Genuine GM Rewards program can earn points when they purchase GM OE doors, wheels, mirrors and lighting assemblies from GM dealers. Qualifying purchases must be made through the OEConnection CollisionLink® parts online purchasing network. Points are awarded for parts purchased on insurance estimates only for GM vehicles two model years and older. Accumulated points can be used to purchase a wide selection of merchandise, travel, entertainment and even new GM vehicles. Points are awarded at the rate of one for each $1.00 spent. (One dollar is equivalent to one point).

Enrolling in the new rewards program is simple. If you are a CollisionLink user, look for an enrollment email from CollisionLink. Non-CollisionLink users can 1) sign up for CollisionLink at www.OEConnection.com/collisionlink and 2) look for your email from CollisionLink to enroll in the Genuine GM Rewards program. With each purchase, points are automatically credited to a shop's personal account. The account is established upon enrollment and can be viewed and managed online "24-7."

Reward point amounts vary. The amount is up to three and one-half percent of the part's list price for conquested parts, unless other GM program discounts apply. The points amount is two percent if the accompanying estimate is for a conquested non-OE part eligible for a "Bump The Competition" conquest discount; and one percent if the estimate is written for an OE part. Shops enrolled in the Genuine GM Rewards program for GM powertrain assemblies and components can use their existing Rewards account to sign up for the collision parts program; simply use the link in the email from CollisionLink and opt into the program.

GM OE collision parts are made to the same specifications and standards using the same tools and dies used to build the original vehicle. GM OE parts help assure fit, performance and ease of installation. For additional information contact your GM dealer or go to www.genuinegmparts.com

GM Customer Care & Aftersales (GM CCA)
6200 Grand Pointe Drive
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
www.genuinegmparts.com

Daimler plans to start selling a self-driving car by 2020 to help its Mercedes-Benz brand regain the top spot among premium carmakers, development chief Thomas Weber said.

“We want to be the first to launch autonomous functions in production vehicles. You can be sure we will accomplish that in this decade,” Weber said.

Carmakers and suppliers are working on ways to make driving safer and more comfortable through automation and the race is on to bring the technology to the mass market. Daimler is focusing on so-called highly automated driving, in which cars master situations such as cruising the highway or maneuvering through traffic jams while the driver relaxes.

The car would recognize difficult situations such as dealing with traffic lights or urban driving among pedestrians and cyclists, and hand control back to the human behind the wheel. Daimler is not alone in its ambitions.

Nissan Also Says it Will Have Fully Computerized Car by 2020

Nissan has also announced plans to launch a car completely guided by computers this decade. The technology was shown at the Frankfurt auto show, with production estimate to take 10 to 15 years.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that the company will be ready with multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020. Nissan said that the company’s engineers have been carrying out intensive research on the technology for years, alongside teams from the world’s top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo.

Work is already underway in Japan to build a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground, to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2014. Featuring real townscapes--masonry not mock-ups - it will be used to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads to ensure the technology is safe. Nissan’s autonomous driving will be achieved at realistic prices for consumers. The goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations.

Said CEO Carlos Ghosn, “ I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it.”

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has announced that the company will be ready with multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020. Nissan announced that the company's engineers have been carrying out intensive research on the technology for years, alongside teams from the world's top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo.

Work is already underway in Japan to build a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground, to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2014. Featuring real townscapes - masonry not mock-ups - it will be used to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads to ensure the technology is safe.

Ford Motor Company has begun rolling out new-and-improved workshop manuals, including more sections for collision repair procedures, new 3D graphics and the addition of a feature that allows repairers to view two procedures at the same time.

The enhanced treatment of collision repair procedures means the old body repair section (501-35) has been expanded to seven sections covering the following specific areas: body repairs (general and vehicle-specific information); front-end sheet metal repairs; roof sheet metal repairs; side-panel sheet metal repairs; rear-end sheet metal repairs; and paint (general information).

Along with the new collision sections, the standard graphic line-art has been replaced with advanced 3D renderings, giving repairers a far superior look at important vehicle details. A new "window-within-a-window" feature has been added as well, letting repairers view two separate but related procedures simultaneously. This also allows for direct links to the applicable wiring diagram cell or connector location when performing pinpoint tests.

Gerry Bonanni, Ford's senior damageability engineer, has long advocated the need to research the repair procedure before any work is done, and believes the revamped manuals can help that process.

"As more and more advanced materials and metals are used in vehicle construction, researching the repair will only grow in importance, and we think these improvements will allow repairers to do a more thorough job," says Bonanni.

Additional enhancements include a new service information section with safety warnings, a symbols glossary, diagnostic methods and explanations of the various colors used in the graphics and illustrations throughout the manuals, and better indexing than previous versions.

The redesigned format is being used on manuals worldwide as part of an effort to globalize Fordís official repair procedures and information. So far, the new manuals have been released for the following vehicles:

• 2013 Fiesta
• 2013 C-MAX / C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid
• 2013 Fusion / Fusion Hybrid
• 2013 Focus / Focus Electric
• 2013 Lincoln MKZ / MKZ Hybrid

Manuals for the upcoming 2014 Escape, Transit and Transit Connect will also employ the new format and features, while those for all other vehicles will be updated as the vehicles undergo significant revisions.
More information:

Direct questions on any Ford Motor Company body-repair procedure to Gerry Bonanni at (313) 317-9000 or gbonanni@ford.com) or the Ford Collision Parts Hotline at cphelp@ford.com.

Ford said it sold more than 1.02 million compact Focus cars worldwide in 2012, outpacing Toyota’s Corolla, of which close to 873,000 were sold, according to data compiled by Polk.

China accounts for one-quarter of all sales, and the Focus was the best-selling passenger car in China in 2012 for the first time ever.

Ford’s F-Series pickup truck, which has been the top-ranked U.S. pickup for close to four decades, rounded out the top three with 785,630 sales. The Fiesta, with more than 723,000 sold, came in sixth on the list, making it the world’s best-selling subcompact car.

Honda's Civic and CR-V rounded out the top 10 with 651,000 and 625,000, respectively.

Ford attributed the improvement to strong demand in China and the U.S., with sales of what it dubs its “super segment,” which includes passenger cars ranging from sub-compacts to sedans, driving growth along the coasts of California, Texas and Florida. The segment makes up about two-thirds of Ford’s
total sales.

During the Collision Industry Conference meeting in November 2011, I-CAR®, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, received a joint request signed by representatives from SCRS, ASA, AASP and Assured Performance Network, requesting I-CAR to support various OEM repair procedure initiatives in connection with the requesting organization’s associated position statement that OEM repair procedures are the recognized industry repair standard.

Over the past seventeen months, I-CAR has worked towards defining processes, capabilities and resources to enable the organization to support the request in a manner that aligns with the organization’s vision, mission and duty to represent the interests of the Inter-Industry with neutrality, and for the collective unbiased benefit of the Inter-Industry.

Last month Autobody News reported on an undisclosed automaker developing carbon fiber body panels at a Western Michigan factory owned by Plasan Sasa Carbon Composites to be used on a mid-volume production vehicle in 2013.

The aftermarket is not an after-thought at the Chrysler Group and sketches of select Moparized vehicles that are headed for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas have been released. The show takes place Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center

“At Mopar, we always look forward to the SEMA season,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The show is an opportunity for us to inspire owners to customize their vehicles, and it’s the perfect place to showcase our vast portfolio of quality-tested performance parts and accessories.”

The company will display more than 20 Moparized Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat and SRT vehicles at the show.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Mopar brand.

Mopar-First Features
Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:

  • Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
  • Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format and first to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish
  • Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
  • Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices
  • Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
  • 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car
  • Brand-specific customer care telephone lines: first to offer Sunday service hours for customers
  • WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network
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