• Follow us

Automotive

FCA reeling after failed tie-up, suit by Bigland

DETROIT — FCA US sales chief Reid Bigland started last week by reviewing above-average May results on a routine monthly conference call with the national dealer council, as the company's employees and retailers awaited word that a merger with Renault would soon make them part of the world's third-largest automaker.

Two days later, Bigland and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had become embroiled in an unusually public dispute over his role in sales practices that are under federal investigation, and FCA abruptly pulled its $35 billion merger proposal off the table. Just when it seemed as though the path forward for FCA finally had become clear, clouds of considerable uncertainty returned in mere hours.

FCA blamed its merger reticence on the lack of support from the French government, and the French side of what many thought was essentially a done deal blamed a lack of endorsement by Renault's partner, Nissan Motor Co. Some questioned why FCA Chairman John Elkann was so quick to bail on the plan, proposed just a week earlier, in the face of obstacles that were largely predictable going in.

Meanwhile, Bigland is pointing fingers directly at other top FCA executives with a whistleblower lawsuit saying the automaker had made him a scapegoat and unfairly withheld 90 percent of his pay. Yet dealers said he has continued to conduct business as usual.

One member of the dealer council said Bigland's June 3 call reviewing FCA's 2.1 percent sales gain and laying out plans for the month ahead was "absolutely normal."Bigland also is featured on a webcast posted the same day in an online portal for FCA's full retail body.

Then on Wednesday, June 5, Bigland filed his lawsuit, which said FCA had chosen to indefinitely "defer" his 2018 annual bonus and payout of shares in March in retaliation for his cooperation with a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. The suit also says FCA was trying to get back at Bigland for selling his shares in the company last year.

It was unclear how long Bigland could stick around amid the controversy, but in the immediate aftermath of his lawsuit, he was still doing dealer outreach. FCA said he was expected to attend a dealer council gathering this week in Detroit.

"He's still running the show," said one dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

While the development creates juicy headlines, dealers have bigger worries. Whether FCA retaliated against Bigland isn't nearly as important to them as other issues they face, including the aborted Renault merger and hitting sales goals in a slowing market.

"There was a time before the bankruptcies where I'd be really worried about it," the anonymous dealer said.

"But it just seems like we live in a world that is very chaotic. And this stuff is like, 'Oh, well, OK. We have a lot of cars to sell.' This is a matter [between] one person and FCA that will get worked out."

Steven Wolf, dealer principal at Helfman Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Houston, said he attended a meeting with Bigland about three weeks ago at an awards event for top dealers.

He was caught off guard by the lawsuit but wasn't dwelling on it. He has cars and trucks to sell.

"What goes on in Detroit can be a distraction," Wolf said. "It's one of those things you read and go, 'Wow,' then you move on to the next issue."

Some dealers said Bigland, described as tough but fair, has been an effective leader and that they hoped the company wouldn't lose him.

Bigland, a member of FCA's 19-person Group Executive Council, has had full responsibility for the automaker's U.S. sales strategy, dealer relations and operations, order facilitation, incentives, and fleet and field operations since June 2011.

He also is head of the all-important Ram truck brand, as well as CEO of FCA Canada, a position he assumed in July 2006. He previously oversaw Alfa Romeo, Dodge and Maserati.

David Kelleher, who owns David Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Glen Mills, Pa., said Bigland has been known to challenge dealers and produce results.

Kelleher said Bigland isn't keen on small talk and socializing. He just wants to sell cars, Kelleher said. "Those guys are rare to find. That's a pretty good guy to have."

The lawsuit hasn't hurt Kelleher's confidence in the company.

"Whatever this is about, I hope it comes to a successful conclusion because losing Reid Bigland in any way, shape or form would be a loss for FCA," said Kelleher, a member of the dealer council who has worked with Bigland.

Wes Lutz, who owns Extreme Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Jackson, Mich., said the sales reporting practices at the heart of the lawsuit and investigation weren't worth the hassle. FCA originally posted 75 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains before changing its methodology and admitting in 2016 that the streak had actually ended three years earlier.

According to his lawsuit, Bigland told the SEC that FCA's monthly sales reporting was immaterial to investors and that the numbers were a tool to "motivate and build confidence amongst the salesforce and dealers in the wake of the company's bankruptcy."

But Lutz, who said he's only concerned with his store's performance, doesn't think the company gained anything by pushing the narrative of a six-year streak.

"Nobody cares! I'm a freakin' Chrysler dealer; I don't care," Lutz said. "What are they lying about? Why would you even keep track of that?"

Lutz called Bigland a straight shooter, saying, "He's going to tell you how it is," even if it's not good news for dealers. Although the lawsuit came as a shock, Lutz said, "It doesn't surprise me that if he doesn't like something, he'll say something."

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

WIRED

A Shitty Robot Tesla Truck, Facebook's New Cryptocurrency, 2019-06-18 18:02:35Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.

YouTube's 'Shitty Robot' Queen Made Her Own Tesla 2019-06-18 11:00:00Simone Giertz hacked her Model 3 into a ride she calls the "Truckla," and it does donuts.

Are E-Bikes and Scooters Doomed? 2019-06-18 09:00:00Opinion: China's e-biking masses offer a model for our struggling scoot-scape

Nuro’s Pizza Robot Will Bring You a Domino’s 2019-06-17 20:24:20It’s about half the size of a sedan, and for now it needs a chase car with a babysitter. For now.

Audi Recall, Shifting Alliances, and More Car News 2019-06-16 09:00:00Audi issued a voluntary recall of its E-Tron SUV; self-driving tech startup Aurora broke up with VW and joined up with Fiat Chrysler.

New York City Flexes Again, Extending Cap on 2019-06-15 07:00:00Officials want to extend the city's limit on the number of for-hire vehicles, and may consider a congestion charge.

Lamborghini Huracán EVO Sees the Future, Makes You 2019-06-15 07:00:00The super smart supercar predicts what you'll do next—and helps you make it happen.

The Strange Mating Rituals of Self-Driving Car Companies 2019-06-12 19:34:27Aurora hooked up with Chrysler on Monday, ditched VW on Tuesday, and doubled down with Hyundai on Wednesday.

Your Cadillac Can Now Drive Itself More Places 2019-06-11 09:00:00Cadillac's Super Cruise will shut itself off when the car reaches a tricky spot where a driver needs to pay attention.

Aurora's Latest Deal Will Be a Heavy-Duty Test 2019-06-10 18:20:53Startup Aurora is putting its self-driving technology into commercial vehicles from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, expanding its long list of partnerships

Audi Recalls Some E-Tron SUVs Over a Battery 2019-06-10 17:32:41The E-Tron competes against Tesla's Model X, as well as Jaguar's I-Pace and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Porsche's 911 Goes Hybrid With Vonnen's Shadow Drive 2019-06-10 07:00:00The aftermarket system adds an electric motor—and a whole lot of power—to the venerable sports car.

Automotive News Breaking

Trump says he'll have 'extended' meeting with China's 2019-06-18 10:31:09Confirmation of the meeting comes after President Trump repeatedly threatened to raise tariffs if Xi didn’t sit with him at the June 28-29 summi

Search suspended for missing auto journalist 2019-06-18 10:18:08The search Saturday focused on the Mokelumne River Canyon, logging more than 448 miles on foot, in addition to efforts via boat and helicopter.

VW steps up software push with 'vw.os' operating 2019-06-18 08:53:32VW said all its new models would use the "vw.os," platform and the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud by 2025.

Ford takes regulator for a spin in bid 2019-06-18 08:48:14Ford and other carmakers such as BMW and Toyota don’t want to lose the rights they gained in 1999 from the FCC for a system designed to lin

VW explores move from longtime suburban Detroit office 2019-06-18 08:23:23VW is exploring several options for its office north of Detroit. It could move elsewhere in the northern Detroit suburbs, it could develop a new offic

Nvidia partners with truckmaker AB Volvo for driverless 2019-06-18 07:27:25The deal to develop a self-driving system for commercial vehicles is a boost for Nvidia, which parted ways with Tesla last year. 

VW defends launch of high-priced 'mass-market' EV 2019-06-18 06:28:02VW said its ID3 will be an electric car "for the millions and not the millionaires." But the ID3 will not be immediately become a car for the masses

Freshened 2020 Lexus GX 460 gets new look, 2019-06-18 06:00:00The midcycle makeover for the Japanese brand's most rugged three-row SUV seeks to add to its appearance as well as its safety features for both on- a

How Ford dealerships in Canada helped bust a 2019-06-17 14:23:08Police say roughly 400 pounds of meth were prevented from circulating in Canada when staff at Ford dealerships across Ontario and Quebec began no

China, alarmed by recent fires, sets EV safety 2019-06-17 13:48:27Companies need to check for potential safety hazards with battery boxes, waterproof protection in vehicles, high-voltage wiring harnesses, as well as

U.S. traffic deaths fall 1% in 2018, preliminary 2019-06-17 13:00:09The overall traffic fatality rate was projected to drop to 1.14 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, the lowest rate since 2014, according to NHTSA.

FCA leans toward Trump as industry agonizes over 2019-06-17 11:53:51Fiat Chrysler, in written statements to regulators, said it agrees with one of the Trump administration’s central arguments: Stricter fuel-

Motor Trend

2019 Volkswagen Golf: Why I’d Buy It – 2019-06-15 04:00:56“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would online editor Kelly Pleskot drive? Keep

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Is More Truck for 2019-06-14 19:21:26Chevrolet has announced pricing for the 2020 Silverado HD, and despite offering greater capability and technology than the model it replaces, the heav

Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Kia Telluride vs. Toyota 2019-06-14 16:21:37Kia finally entered the three-row SUV market when it introduced the Telluride this spring. One of its most formidable competitors will be the upcoming

Best Father’s Day Gifts for Your Car-Loving Dad 2019-06-14 13:45:31My first memory behind the wheel is of steering my father’s 1998 Ford Taurus down our little dead end street and turning into our driveway. Noti

What Car Should I Buy? MotorTrend Editors Pick 2019-06-14 09:30:36In today’s SUV-saturated market, cars—that is, sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes—are increasingly rare. Even so, that doesn’t sto

Hot Wheels ID Is the Classic Toy Reimagined 2019-06-14 09:00:26I can’t remember how I got it, but I can vividly recall my very first Hot Wheels. It was a red double-headed dragon on four chrome wheels. I rem

Here’s Every Tesla We’ve Tested So Far 2019-06-14 04:00:32We can largely thank Tesla for making electric vehicles exciting. From the original Roadster to the more practical and mass-market Model 3, Tesla hasn

2020 Mercedes GLB-Class: 5 Things You Should Know 2019-06-14 04:00:25At Mercedes-Benz’s press drive of its new 2020 GLS-Class (stay tuned for the review), the German brand used the opportunity to show U.S. journal

Tested: Is the Genesis G70 Still a Driver’s 2019-06-14 04:00:22Here’s a story you’ve heard before: “[Upstart manufacturer] creates sports sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series.” It’s a ta

2019 Honda Accord Hybrid: Why I’d Buy It 2019-06-14 04:00:09“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would senior production editor Zach Gale drive

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Limited: Why I’d Buy It 2019-06-08 04:00:46“What SUV should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would associate online editor Collin Woodard d

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and GLC 63 Review: 2019-06-07 18:01:26Midcycle product updates are tricky. Capital is typically limited, so you can’t do much with the sheetmetal or engineering bits. But you need yo

Automotive news - from

Damler Plant 56 at Sindelfingen goes 5G 2019-06-17 12:00:00Telefonica Deutschland and network supplier Ericsson is putting in what is claimed to be the world's first 5G mobile network for automobile productio

Renault again gives Zoe longer legs 2019-06-17 08:48:00Renault has given its little Zoe EV a third update with 52 kWh battery and an additional 100kW R135 electric motor option and boosted range to 24

VW plans 10% partial IPO for Traton unit 2019-06-17 08:31:00Volkswagen Group is planning a 10% stake listing for its Traton commercial vehicle unit. The IPO could raise up to EUR1.9bn for VW. Traton is VW's co

Continental Romania spends EUR27m expanding Iasi office building 2019-06-17 08:28:00Continental Romania said it was spending EUR27m to expand its office building in Iasi.

Bridgestone introduces lightweight tyre technology 2019-06-17 08:16:00Bridgestone has announced the launch of Enliten, a new light weight tyre technology claimed to reduce material use and rolling resistance, contribute

Unions agree to revised Renault-Samsung pay deal 2019-06-17 07:39:00Renault Samsung Motors agreed a wage deal with its labour union last week, bringing to an end months of industrial action which has resulted in produc

SAIC China sales slump 2019-06-17 07:11:00Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor reported a sharp sales decline in the first five months of 2019, of close to 17% to 2.47 million units, according to a com

Kyocera and BYD Japan to collaborate on EV 2019-06-17 07:09:00Kyocera and BYD Japan have announced a joint project to develop an integrated renewable supply-demand energy system for EVs.

JAC acquires Kazakhstan's Allur Group 2019-06-17 06:57:00JAC has successfully participated in the acquisition of the shares of Kazakhstan's Allur Group, marking the entry of the JAC Kazakhstan project into

Veoneer acquires Nissin Kogyo's interests in US VNBS 2019-06-17 06:36:00ADAS specialist Veoneer says it has signed a binding agreement with Nissin Kogyo, its joint venture partner in Veoneer Nissin Brake Systems (VNBS), pr

Nissan reports strong sales of e-LCV in UK 2019-06-17 06:25:00Nissan in the UK reports sales of its Nissan e-NV200 fully electric light van up by 200% in 2019 as more firms switch their light commercial vehicle (

Geely's LEVC spins van off range extender London 2019-06-17 05:54:00Geely-owned London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) - the latest name for Britain's main 'London Taxi' maker - has spun off a PHEV light van ba


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.