The Future Of Dodge And Chrysler Sure Seems Bleak

Illustration for article titled The Future Of Dodge And Chrysler Sure Seems Bleak
Photo: Chrysler
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If I was a Chrysler 300 worker I’d be running for the hills, the Infiniti QX60 is going to get redone, and electric cars. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 11, 2021.

1st Gear: Dodge Used To Be A Real Concern

I promise you that Dodge used to be a real automaker! It made trucks and cars and SUVs and was a real player back in the day. I am sad to report that is not the case anymore.

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From the Detroit Free Press:

“We expect pickups and SUVs to be developed in the Auburn Hills,” [Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares] said following a visit to the former Fiat Chrysler’s Detroit manufacturing complex. The Oakland County tech center also will develop electrified versions of those vehicles, he said.

Beloved, but slower-selling models like the Chrysler 300 sedan, Chrysler Pacifica minivan, Dodge Charger sedan and Challenger coupe were not mentioned.

Auburn Hills engineers’ main job will be developing pickups and SUVs.

That’s the most important thing for the U.S. role in the newly created Stellantis. By engineering and building many of the company’s most profitable and best-selling vehicles, Auburn Hills, and thereby Detroit, is assured a significant voice in investment, management and corporate strategy for what just became the biggest car company in town.

Stellantis’s future will likely be just fine, though I just realized I will have to type the name “Stellantis” so many more times in the future.

2nd Gear: The European Union Needs To Get Serious About Its Charging Network

Sometimes I like to imagine getting an electric car in New York City but then I remember how much of a terrible joke NYC’s EV charging network is. I can’t tell you where the nearest charger is to my apartment in Queens because I do not know and the city has not made it apparent. I went to Holland a couple of years ago and they had parking spots on the street for EVs with chargers as well. Foreign land.

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From Reuters:

The European Union should set binding targets for one million public charging points for electric vehicles by 2024, and three million by 2029, to give consumers the confidence to switch to the new technology, the region’s car lobby said on Thursday.

In a joint letter with consumer and sustainable transport groups, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) told Brussels that firm targets would also help carmakers and power grid operators plan ahead.

“The EU Commission quickly needs to take action and set binding targets for the ramp-up of charging infrastructure in the member states,” said ACEA president Oliver Zipse, who is also chief executive of German carmaker BMW.

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This is the equivalent of Mary Barra advocating for the government mandating EV chargers everywhere, which, GM has been on a big electric kick and Barra has asked for infrastructure investment, but alas. Europe!

3rd Gear: Volkswagen And Microsoft

VW said today it will use Microsoft’s software and cloud computing tech, in a bid to perhaps make the most boring news of the day.

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From Reuters:

Volkswagen, which owns brands such as Audi and Porsche, is working on both self-driving cars for the future and driver-assistance features such as adaptive cruise control in current vehicles. But the company’s brand had been developing those features independently.

Last year, Volkswagen consolidated some of those development efforts into a subsidiary called Car.Software to better coordinate among the makers, with each company handling its own work around the look and feel of the software while collaborating on core safety functions such as detecting obstacles.

But the various companies inside the group were still using different systems to develop that software, and the deal announced Thursday will put them on a common cloud provider, Dirk Hilgenberg, chief executive of Car.Software, told Reuters in an interview.

The Microsoft deal will also make deploying software updates to add new features to cars - a practice that helped set Tesla Inc apart from many rivals early on - much easier.

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4th Gear: Sorry One More Boring Thing

Bloomberg has a story about what company might build the Apple Car, which is probably never ever going to happen — I will eat my shoe if it does — but Bloomberg ran through all the hypotheticals anyway.

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Here’s a taste:

If and when Apple commits to building a car, it is likely to seek multiple partners — including a major one to assemble the vehicle and many others to supply key components. The following companies — whose representatives declined to comment — are possible candidates:

Foxconn

Foxconn Technology Group already has a close relationship with Apple. For well over a decade, it has been the U.S. company’s largest production partner, assembling the majority of the world’s iPhones and a big chunk of its Macs and iPads from vast complexes employing upwards of a million people across China.

[...]

Stellantis

One factor in determining the suitability of a partner for Apple may be availability of production capacity. This could point to European automakers such as Stellantis NV, which has been hit by the region’s sales slump and has spare room in some plants.

Stellantis is under pressure to find synergies after forming last month through the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler.

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Wake me up when the Apple Car becomes a thing.

5th Gear: Infiniti QX60

The QX60 is Infiniti’s best-selling car, though it is not a car. It is a mid-size luxury crossover, which is a car. Anyway, Automotive News says it’s talking about “the brands” again.

The 2022 QX60 three-row crossover will be the first product launch since Nissan Motor Co. hatched greater collaboration between the mass-market Nissan and premium Infiniti brands.

Infiniti will share platforms, powertrains and assembly lines with Nissan to boost product development efficiencies. The second-generation QX60 will test whether the brands can share more components without sacrificing their distinct identities.

Updating the QX60 is a critical step in rejuvenating Infiniti, which has suffered multiyear sales declines in the U.S. In 2020, Infiniti deliveries slumped 32 percent — the largest annual drop in the brand’s history.

U.S. sales of the QX60 tallied 22,880 last year and accounted for 29 percent of Infiniti volume.

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The QX60 gives Infiniti a chance, though that marque seems otherwise in the dumps.

Reverse: This Doesn’t Have Anything To Do With Cars Or Transportation But It Does Have To Do With America

Whitney Houston’s Star-Spangled Banner performance at the Super Bowl in 1991 is probably the best ever but you knew that.

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Reverse: How Are You?

I’ve run out of things to self-medicate with, which means in no time I’ll be putting Everclear up my ass or whatever it is the kids do these days. Things are great, the pandemic has not been bad for my mental health at all, why do you ask.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

theres-beer-in-texarkana
Theres-Beer-in-Texarkana

The problem with Infiniti is that it just doesn’t do a single thing better than the other luxury brands. BMWs and Audis are engaging to drive, Mercedes has the cutting-edge tech and brand cache, Lexus is the ultra-reliable one. Infiniti (and Acura) are struggling because they have nothing to differentiate themselves.