These are good times for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, having just completed a record 74 months of growth. Couple that with the company’s recent investments in the Ontario auto manufacturing industry, and Reid Bigland had much to share with the media during the FCA press conference at the Canadian International Auto Show.
Bigland, who is President and CEO of FCA Canada, began with a state-of-the-nation type of address, outlining some key statistics as FCA is launching their sixth generation of minivan, the Pacifica. The first five generations spanned more than three decades of production to the tune of an incredible 14.3 million vehicles. FCA has invested $3.7 billion on the retooling of the Windsor, Ont., plant, which has resulted in the creation of 1,200 new jobs.
Originally shown to the public in Detroit last month, the Pacifica makes its Canadian debut at the Toronto show. Bigland explained how the company’s goal was to reinvent the minivan, erasing the family hauler’s somewhat stodgy image. To that end, gone is the Town & Country nameplate, replaced with the Pacifica moniker. Perhaps an odd choice, given that the last time that name was used was for a lacklustre crossover.
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Bigland touched on more than 40 new-to-the-segment features included in the Pacifica. Some of the standouts include hands-free operation of the tailgate and sliding doors, twin 10-inch display monitors with built-in games for the kiddies, and a 360-degree camera, which means, Bigland says, “that you will never again run over a tricycle or Cabbage Patch Kid,” in the driveway.
Much of FCA’s global success in recent years has been thanks to the strength of the Jeep brand, which is celebrating its platinum jubilee this year. To mark the occasion, Jeep is releasing a series of 75th Anniversary editions of the Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Patriot, Renegade, Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. In a nod to the original Jeep’s military heritage, each model will be painted green, along with bronze and orange exterior accents, and unique interior finishes, that include special badging.
Also new to the Canadian market is an upscale version of the Cherokee, called the Overland. This model appeases Canadian consumers who want the brand’s traditional rugged character, but with a more luxurious experience.
Known in the past for flashy press reveals, this year’s show stand was pretty basic. The CEO pointed out, however, that they couldn’t let the show go by without a bit of sizzle, so they brought along a stunning 2016 Viper ACR. The most potent Viper ever created, the ACR is a street-legal track weapon that makes even the most jaded auto journalist stop and stare. Boasting 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque, the ACR holds the official record at 13 tracks around the world and yet can be driven home.