allpar, the Chrysler - Dodge - Plymouth - Jeep site

Allpar News Archives, 1999

December 29

A 1971 Hemi Cuda seized by law enforcement officials was auctioned for $400,000 recently.

Joe tells us that Mopar will not use truck engines or its sprint engine for the Winston Cup.

December 17

Mike Sealey was kind enough to pass along a newspaper article which shows that:

A 1962 Plymouth Fury has set the world's record for the highest-mileage car

The taxi driver (Joseph Vaillancourt) had actually set the record before the accident - he had not realized it, but if he had multiplied the miles on the odometer (to get kilometers) with enough decimals, he would have topped the record...Guinness has not yet ruled but we suspect he's in!

December 14 (and 13)

Curtis Redgap (who notes that he is "no expert, just a good reader") wrote:

Several major auto magazines are reporting on the return of Dodge to the NASCAR circuit. Sifting through all of them, I found the following interesting bits. Dodge is looking to field 8 cars in 2001. We all know that Ray Evernham is going to have 2 of them, and those will be very heavily factory supported. As for the other 6? The announcement in New York was accompanied by two vehicles. Both were Petty Enterprises owned. Yes, one of Richard's cars, and the other a Petty Enterprises vehicle outfitted for Driver Jimmy Hensley. It would be a major surprise if we didn't see two Dodges fielded by the Level Cross crew, especially now that Kyle has joined his father's efforts... Long time Chrysler product racer Bob Keselowski has his NASCAR series HQ just about 20 miles away from the Chrysler Technical Center. That would be 5, possibly 6 cars. The last two? Up in the air.

Dominic Dobson of the late North American Touring Car show may be in the running. What Dobson accomplished with the Dodge Stratus is a legend.

Another tantalizing story making the sort of "urban legend" circuit is that long time Indianapolis Champion A.J. Foyt may be courted to field the last two NASCAR Intrepids. A.J. has a major sponsor in CONSECO, who has made a heavy duty commitment to Indy Style racing. The story goes that CONSECO itself pushed A. J. back to the NASCAR fold because they were seeking wider recognition for their Insurance, Mortgage and Financial Planning companies. Everyone knows that you couldn't make that wily Texan go were he didn't want to go. Foyt has reached an impasse as far as his efforts go in the Indy style racing. With CART, IRL, and other championship style sanctioning bodies at each other's throats, the meaning of the Indy 500 race, and that style of car has gone way down in favor.

A.J. will have two CONSECO green cars at Daytona Beach in February 2000. No, they won't be Intrepids, more likely it seems the 2000 year Foyt efforts will be Pontiacs. However, that doesn't mean that the Intrepids wouldn't be under development for Foyt by the Evernham efforts, which are directly Dodge supported. Reportedly, CONSECO itself has been approached.

There are only about 450 days left until Daytona 2001. It seems like a lot, but it isn't really. At this time, the principal characters involved in getting Dodge back to NASCAR haven't even decided what engine they are going to mount yet! They are looking at the truck series engine, and the new 6 litre program Chrysler is selling to the sprint car series. As well, the new Intrepid model series is due in 2001. The sheet metal models we have seen so far may not resemble the actual sheet metal they have to hang in 2001. Now, do we want to talk about drivers?

GM's Opel will join a fund for those who worked as slave laborers under the Nazis. Ford is still postponing a decision. DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen have agreed to pay $4.2 billion to victims and their families. Both GM and Ford have hired historians to clear their names - something to keep in mind when reports come out next year. (In short, these reports may not be totally objective).

Decades from now, customer service professionals will still be using Chrysler's 800 992 1997 customer "service" line as an example of how to annoy and drive away customers.

Glen Grant read that Chrysler will stop making full size vans as of 2003. We have no confirmation, but it makes sense, since no redesign seems to be scheduled, and Ford and GM have redesigned their vans. Indeed, the surprise is that Chrysler will continue them that long - presumably that's when the 318 and 360 are to be ended.

December 10

Remember the name Sequoia - destined for the Dodge version of the PT Cruiser? Too late! Toyota will be making Sequoia SUVs next September.

We have been told that DaimlerChrysler is going to invest in Mexico, $2 billion dollars between 1999 and 2004. They are exporting now 340,000 units annually.

GM has purchased a minority stake in Subaru's parent company, making it the largest single stakeholder. While Ford has purchased extensively in Europe (and also 34 percent of Mazda), now Fuji Heavy Industries. GM and Ford are now competing for Korean automaker Daewoo, as well. GM is not neglecting Europe - its Opel division will is starting a heavy investment in its own infrastructure.

Ralph Nader is attacking about $300 million in tax credits given to Chrysler for a new Jeep plant. Jeep is investing over one billion dollars in this plant and refurbishing an existing factory in the area.

Nissan will be closing five plants to stem losses. Renault now owns 38 percent of Nissan, and the pair will be sharing platforms by 2002.

Renault is expected to announce a comeback to Mexico, a market it left in 1986. Several models will be offered, possibly through Nissan dealers.

December 8

This was sent to us:

I am writing to draw your attention to an important web site dealing with a major issue arising out of the DaimlerChrysler merger. Chrysler executives did not take seriously the negative impact of a nasty skeleton in Daimler's closet; that is, the use by it of slave labor during the Holocaust, and its failure to address its legal and moral obligation to pay compensation. Now consumers are faced with the decision of honoring the boycott which was started against Daimler alone.

We note that Ford also used slave labor, by the way - though they claimed the factories had been seized from them, they did sue the U.S. government (successfully) for bombing them...!

162 people have voted so far in the first question of the Pentastars Plymouth poll. 59% said ending the Plymouth marque was a bad idea; 14% said it might be a bad idea. 12% said it might be a good idea, and 12% said it was necessary. 73% of the 151 people voting in the next question felt that Plymouth could have made a comeback with distinctive marketing and products; only 5% felt Plymouth's day had past. We will bring you the results of the other polls later.

December 1

DC's DASA aero unit will merge with Matra, French aero company and auto designer (e.g. of the Espace).

November 30

DaimlerChrysler said it would take it another ten years to produce cars powered by fuel cells with similar prices and performance as gas engined cars. They plan to produce a fuel cell powered vehicle by 2004. DC is focusing on methanol as a source of hydrogen - the car would separate the hydrogen from methanol, then use that hydrogen to create electricity.

November 29

Gary Ruggles got a personal phone call responding to his letter on selling the Plymouth name to employees and investors. He wrote: "It was non-committal, of course, however, they did respond with the statement that: 'we appreciate all our customer input at this time of transition with Plymouth and welcome all customer suggestions. Yours will be taken under advisement along with many others that we have received.' "

"Mr. Source" said that Vipers won the race in China, finishing 1-2-3-5 after over two hours of racing - and also won the FIA GT Championship again this year. More than forty cars entered. He said next year Chrysler would race a pair of prototypes against BMW, Panoz, Ferrari, Porsches, etc. No factory support but they will run again with the Chamberlain team, also winners this year. Next year Vipers will again start the championship with no extra weight, this year they had 100 Kg. of extra weigh almost since the start of the Championship, because of their constant wins.

DC is rumored to be eyeing Honda for a takeover. It would have to be hostile - Honda does not believe that the future holds only three car companies, though the rest of the industry seems to have that view (hence the sale of Chrysler to Mercedes, and just about every high-end automaker to Ford).

November 24

DC has reportedly been discussing having Fiat build the four-seat Smart motor, transmission, and axle. Fiat would not comment on the report and DC denied it - keep in mind DC also denied it had decided to end Plymouth after making the decision.

November 22

NHTSA is investigating steering problems on 1994 through 1996 Eagle Vision, Intrepid, New Yorker, Concorde and LHS cars due to 1,450 complaints of control problems including loose or wandering steering. While more than 55,000 warranty claims on the system have been made, no crashes or injuries have been reported. NHTSA is also investigating ten complaints of inappropriate air bag deployments on 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass cars, with four injuries reported. An investigation into 60 airbag complaints in some Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix cars from the 1995 and 1996 model years was upgraded, with 38 injuries reported when airbags opened due to road anomolies rather than accidents.

Other investigations were opened due to nine complaints of steering column fires in 1994-95 Grand Ams, resulting in six totalled vehicles and one house fire, a fuel leak in a Saturn L sedan during a crash test, and reported fuel leaks on 1992-95 Audis.

November 17

James P. HoldenA normally reasonable source tells us that the following were announced at the regional dealership town hall meetings (keep in mind that this is still in the rumor phase and has not been substantiated by other parties):

  • The national dealer advisory board was informed of the demise of Plymouth on the 18th of October [before Holden said it had not yet been decided].
  • The Voyager will be moved to Chrysler
  • After the new 2001 models come out in July 2000, the Grand Voyager will be no more [probably Town and Country will be long wheelbase, Voyager short].
  • The neon will not become a Chrysler model.
  • The new Sebring coupe and sedan [replacing Breeze] will be out around July
  • The new Sebring convertible will be out that fall.
  • All the sebrings will wear the Concorde front end.
  • The new minivans are supposed to be out in July with the Town and Country offering a power rear lift gate along with the dual power doors. Ultimate luxury on the interior. No word on rumored v-8 yet.
  • The wranglers are going to stay the same for the next couple years, and the cherokee is now due out in the spring of 2001.
  • 2002 is to bring cosmetic changes for the Grand Cherokee.
  • The CS is coming in the fall of 2000, and it looks very similar to pictures published in autoweek earlier this year.
  • The Sebring will have an optional v-6, with a 5-speed maunal transmission, and the Sebring sedan and convertible will receive the 2.7L to replace the 2.5L.

November 16

We are told that DaimlerChrysler Mexico is testing the SMART car, which would compete against the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Tsuru, Chevy Corsa, etc..The car is said to be sold through Chrysler dealers in Mexico. The Mercedes A class is sold just by Mercedes dealers, once they planned it to be sold by Chrysler dealers, but they changed their minds, so now they need in mexico a subcompact car to compete, so they are trying to find out if the Smart will fit in the Mexican market. A final decision will be taken early next year no word is said now if they will also sell that car in other Latinamerican countries.

We are also told that the PT Cruiser production will start on Febuary 14, 2000 and that the order cutoff for the Sebring/Avenger Coupes will be on November 24,1999.

GM will keep the Firebird/Camaro twins alive, not to mention the Olds name. Ford will keep Mercury alive, according to spokesmen, leaving Chrysler as the only company to be killing off its own marque in this decade (actually, two of its own marques, but only one with seventy years of history).

"To lose one marque is unfortunate, to lose two might be seen as careless."

Ford will be selling cars through priceline.com ...

November 10

Chrysler may soon offer a hybrid high performance Dodge Durango at an affordable cost, if the Congress provides a $3,000 tax incentive program to make the cost comparable with conventional SUVs. The Durango hybrid is powered by a modified Chrysler Citadel powertrain, using a 3.9 liter V6 with automatic transmission for the rear wheels, and a three-phase, AC induction electric motor for the front wheels. The electric motor assists the gasoline engine during acceleration, and recaptures energy through regenerative braking. Together, the two motors provide more acceleration than the 360 gas engine, with 20 percent more fuel economy (18.6 mpg rather than 15.5), though towing capacity is lower.

November 9

Dodge Vipers finished 1-2 in the GTS class at Las Vegas, finishing two laps ahead of the Corvette, and taking the 9th spot overall.

November 8

The cabbie whose 1963 Plymouth Fury was only a couple of hundred kilometers away from setting a new world's record (for highest-mileage car) when it was hit by a truck experienced a massive outpouring of support from Plymouth owners from all parts. Canadian movie actor Michele Marrett will restore Joseph Vaillancourt's cab, at an estimated cost of $20,000. Marrett purchased the cab and will loan it to Vaillancourt after it has been repaired, so that Vaillancourt can still set the world's record - in a Plymouth.

Chrysler President James Holden says, "Just get over it," regarding the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler merger. As an organizational consultant, all I can say is...I sure hope this is not an indication of his general management style. His odd attitude regarding the motivation of Chrysler employees (and customers), and denial of the death of Plymouth long after it had clearly been eliminated are not positive signs for Chrysler's future. On the other hand, Chrysler has traditionally been saved by its engineers while sabotaged by incompetent managers and executives. The tradition continues! [quote clarified]

News Flash - November 4

Chrysler has just announced that Plymouth will definitely be phased out at the end of the 2001 model year. This came just after president James Holden denied rumors that he would announce the phase-out of Plymouth.

Chrysler engineers will be listening to a chat session on the PT Cruiser on November 18, 9-10 pm EST. Visit www.chrysler.com for details.

November 3

Chrysler introduced three new concept cars:

  • The Howler, essentially a Prowler with a real manual five-speed transmission, a small V-8 engine (250 hp but 300 lb-ft of torque), and a pickup bed.
  • The GT Cruiser, with a 200 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This is a custom version of the PT Cruiser, with a Neon ACR five-speed transmission, lowered suspension, and widened track. We will add details to the PT Cruiser page later.
  • A two-tone Prowler "Woodward Edition" which will be produced in January 2000.

November 2

Please excuse the newsless time - we were away.

Yes, October 23 came and went, with no end to Plymouth. But now the Wall Street Journal claims that the really final decision will be made tomorrow, when the new president, James Holden, meets with dealer reps. In the meantime, Chrysler did announce it will be competing in NASCAR (see below).

DaimlerChrysler reorganized its North American operations to give executives more control over product development and to centralize product planning and development within the division once known as Chrysler.

NHTSA is looking at Ram pickups from model years 1994 through 1996. About 700,000 are on the road, and there have been 275 complaints of smoke near the ignition switch, including 22 fires (but no injuries). A variety of other automakers' cars are also being investigated - see NHTSA for details.

A test fleet of 50 Jeep Wranglers will be made by next year, using hardtops made out of a new low-cost, lightweight thermoplastic. If the tests are successful, the company could build up to 5,000 of these vehicles by 2001. The plastic roofs are said to be identical with steel roofs in safety and appearance. This is part of an effort to cut weight and increase efficiency (reducing weight by 10 percent can raise economy by over 5 percent). DC said its suppliers had come up with a new process which is low cost, high in strength, and equal to steel in appearance. The composite plastic material is polyethylene terephthalate, found in plastic soda bottles. The new hardtop weighs 47 pounds, rather than 70 pounds on the steel version. It can be produced faster and cheaper than steel roofs, and only has two pieces, compared to five pieces in metal hardtops. A plastic vehicle body could be made in about 12 pieces compared to over 75 in steel. DC's James Holden said an all-plastic car may be feasible within ten years.

October 18

DaimlerChrysler has officially announced Dodge's return to NASCAR's Winston Cup series. The first race will be the Daytona 500 in 2001. DC intends to work with dealers to form two teams with 5 cars each. Ray Evernham is slated to run one of the teams. Drivers will be announced sometime next year. The car of choice is the Intrepid. (Thanks, Torshon Ford).

October 6

According to PitNow, DC may re-enter NASCAR. Reportedly, efforts increased after financing was approved to get Chrysler into the Winston Cup. Chrysler is working with two teams for the 2001 series. Chrysler has already picked up Ray Evernham, who has a two-car operation. They are rumored to be looking at Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske, and Rusty Wallace. NASCAR is evaluating a proposed new cylinder head (for the truck series) and a complete engine package, but is more likely to order Chrysler to use the truck series engines.

According to Inside Automotive,

  • DC has been considering a move to the US in order to restore investor confidence. IA (and we) think this is unlikely.
  • The CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) may strike Chrysler Canada as a way to get to Magna International, the main minivan seat maker, which has refused to recognize the union despite the company losing an organizing vote. The Canadian government has refused to force the company to follow the law and recognize the union.
  • Ford will pay $525,000 in fines for refusing to turn over infomration to NHTSA on faulty ignition switches and refusing to recall vehicles in a timely manner. NHTSA logged over 1,100 complaints of car fires due to the switches. State Farm sued Ford last year to recover money paid to policyholders whose cars caught fire.

September 29

Douglas Miske has it on good sources that Chrysler is experimenting with putting a small V-8 engine into the next generation minivans. The October Car and Driver (page 33) has a photo of a prototype next-generation minivan with a V8 under the hood.

September 28

The UAW reached terms with Chrysler and Ford.

The government is planning to close loopholes which allow over-8,500 lb SUVs (such as the Excursion) to escape from many regulations that affect all cars, and to tighten up exhaust regulations on mid-size (over 8,500 lb) trucks in general. These actions are expected to save up to $16 billion per year in health costs, while at the same time they make the rules a little less unfair for car owners (whose vehicles must conform to many more rules than "heavy duty" SUVs and pickups).

September 24

There has been a major shakeup at DC as Chrysler president Stallkamp will, most likely, be thrown off the Board as it downsizes. Though his fall should be cushioned by over $5 million in severance pay, the reasons are troubling, and the stock price fell on the news. Though official word is that they are downsizing the board for simplicity's sake, it seems more likely that Stallkamp's resistance to CEO Schrempp's strategies is the real reason. He will be replaced by James Holden of Chrysler sales and marketing.

It is almost official that Plymouth will be killed off, with the last models being produced for the 2001 model year. The company has started removing Plymouth nameplates from minivans (but not Dodge nameplates). Plymouth left Canada last year.

Sept 15

DaimlerChrysler is expected to end the Plymouth brand on Oct 18. Indications include a "major announcement" to dealers on that date, as well as new cars being shipped without Plymouth logos or with logos that clearly do not fit the car properly (since Plymouth is round and Dodge is not). Go to insideautomotive.com for details.

Sept 13

The Jeep Cherokee will be redesigned for January 2001, its first redesign since its 1983 introduction.

A new Grand Cherokee factory will be built in Argentina.

DC will sponsor national car safety seat inspections next year.

The Java is starting to look like reality.

Sept 10

DaimlerChrysler unveiled the Java on Sept. 14. The Neon-based concept car has tall architecture and panoramic seating, allowing more visibility, comfort, space and ease of entry and exit compared to other small cars. Is this their real goal for the 1.4/1.6 engines? Some form of subNeon is very likely, at least for South American markets (which Chrysler has been investing in heavily).

Sept 9

Ford lost their www.blueovalnews.com battle when BON was given the same rights as other media. Ford also agreed to a $7.5 million sexual harassment fine to be split among over 700 women in their Chicago area factories.

Sept 7

DC has new van rebates.

Honda's hybrid electric car, the Insight, ready will be introduced in November (December in North America). Worldwide sales are expected to be under 1,000 units per month, despite a moderate price, because it is a two-seater. (The similar Toyota Prius has four seats.) In Japan, it will be the most fuel efficient car available, though modifications for US sale will lower gas mileage (such as modifications to the a/c system). Honda separately said they would, over the next few years, seek to raise gas mileage by 25 percent. Ford aims to increase gas mileage by 15 percent partly through more diesel use.

Sept 2

DC will start offering Chrysler and Jeep discounts to employees in Germany.

The US government now requires tether straps on child seats, and is phasing in (over 3 years) special connectors so that child seats can be attached safely in all cars. This is a real advancement. One expert believes it will save 50 lives and 3,000 injuries per year.

GM sales are up 64 percent (there was however a strike last year). Chrysler sales rose 9 percent overall - 1 percent on cars and 13 percent on noncars. Both companies offered rebates. VW sales rose 34 percent. Honda sales rose 10.5 percent thanks partly to the Odyssey and Accord.

Michigan is fining Ford over $1 million for at least a dozen safety violations in the Feb. 1 Rouge complex explosion. It is the largest fine of its kind in the state's history.

Sept 1

Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth and Jeep deliver vehicles to fleet buyers faster than anyone else, according to a recent survey in Automotive Fleet Magazine.

DC will spend $624 million to expand its Kenosha, WI engine plant. A 500,000-square-foot expansion beginning this fall will allow a fourth engine line and about 50 to 100 new jobs. The plan makes 2.5-liter I-4 and 4-liter I-6 rear-wheel-drive engines for Jeeps and Dakotas, and 2.7-liter V6 engines for the LH. (It is the former AMC plant - the 2.5 and 4.0 liter engines are former AMC engines).

The New Hampshire Supreme Court confirmed that DC must pay $19.2 million to a man who blamed his brakes for a crash that killed his wife and three children. The accident involved brakes that locked up on a 1986 Voyager (in 1990). Chrysler blamed the accident on driver error in winter weather. The jury and Supreme Court disagreed.

August 31

Peugeot Citroen will help DC to build a cheaper next-generation Smart car by supplying parts and a platform.

According to Blue Oval News, Ford recalled the Cobra because it was 50 hp below specs due to an inefficient exhaust. Ford persuaded a Federal judge to completely shut down the Web site, but the Webmaster found a volunteer lawyer, who convinced the judge to at least bring the site back up, without "secret" internal company documents. (Legal precedent backs the site's right to post those materials, but the judge has reportedly decided the site does not merit the same First Amendment coverage as Business Week.)

August 25

The Town & Country earned Good Housekeeping's Institute Women's Automotive Satisfaction Award.

Three Dodge Dakota R/T pickup truck owners are suing DC for misleading them about their towing capacity, listed as 6,400 pounds but really only 2,000 pounds. The automaker discovered their mistake in April, and notified the 11,000 owners. 64 asked for and were given refunds. However, the other 10,936 owners were not told they could get a refund.

DC will create a Latin American headquarters in North America - Miami, to be exact - by the end of 2000.

GM appears to be ready to buy Daewoo to gain entry to Asia. According to InsideAutomotive they would be paying just for the factories.

Ford swiped a top Rover stylist from BMW. Gerry McGovern, who previously worked for Chrysler and Peugeot, will work on Lincolns.

August 17

1.4 million 1991-1993 minivans are being recalled to prevent windshield wiper breakdowns. No accidents or injuries related to this problem have been reported.

743,000 1996 minivans are being recalled to replace the lock nut and gasket on the fuel pump. There have been about six reports of small underbody fires, but no injuries.

In both recalls, owners should be contacted by mail in Sept.

Inside Automotive notes that Ford is saying they are not responsible any claims by people who were forced to work for their German division during World War II, and points out that, while they claim the Nazis took their company during the war, they also sued the U.S. government immediately after the war for damages done to their plant by Allied bombing. In the early 1960s, Ford was fully compensated for the damages to the plants they now claim no responsibility for.

August 11

DC is the first company to install a new PPG painting system, in its new Brazilian Dakota plant. The Power-Prime two-coat electrodeposition (e-coat) process will receive an R&D Magazine R&D 100 Award as one of 1999's most significant new technologies. It includes a corrosion-inhibiting primer and a full-body anti- chip primer-surfacer e-coat, applied by immersing negatively-charged vehicle bodies in positively-charged coating baths. There are no spray-on primers. PPG says the system improves coating application and performance with less cost and environmental effect, in the same space.

Last year, Chrysler began working with health care suppliers in Continuous Improvement Workshops to streamline health care practices. The goal is, as with other supplier relationships, to benefit health care providers, suppliers and employees as well as DC. The core of the program is cooperation between all parties for continuous improvement.

DC and GM will form a charter airline using spare corporate jets. Though DC will own 49%, DC will supply 12 aircraft and GM will supply 7. The jets will be chartered when not needed for corporate travel. They hope to start by Sept.

August 10

Chrysler brand sales rose to a July sales high of 226,766, a 10 percent increase over July 1998. Big gainers were minivans and Jeeps. European sales hit a new record while international sales overall fell.

August 9

Volvo just purchased nearly seventy percent of Scania, another Swedish truck maker, to make the second largest truck and bus maker in the world. So much for DCX (and VW) talks (DCX remains the world's largest truck and bus maker).

GM and Daewoo are forming a strategic alliance.

Chevrolet has purchased the rights to Warner Bros. characters for use on minivans (sound familiar, Road Runner fans?), and GM vehicles will be given first consideration for Warner Bros. movie appearances.

August 3

Inside Automotive analyzed the tumbling stock of DCX. He notes that Chrysler was responsible for 75 percent of profits at DCX, and that there is a belief that full size truck and SUV sales are peaking - and Chrysler relies on these vehicles. Incentives are also increasing, which is why Chrysler may cut production.

August 2

The European Union will require automakers to take back old vehicles for free and recycle the parts.

July 30

DC stock, owned primarily by Germans, has dropped 23 percent (common shares), mostly due to problems at the former-Daimler Benz. Staff cutbacks will probably hit the former Chrysler, and production cutbacks are already planned even though profits have only dropped by .3 percent. Profits on Chrysler products actually increased by five percent, and the largest contributor to first-half earnings was the former Chrysler, though they are now being blamed for the stock price fall.

Ford is moving its dealers into the tire business.

July 28

2000 Prowlers will be available in silver, red, and black. More substantive changes include a smoother ride due to suspension tuning, run-flat tires, better handling, a stereo with automatic volume adjustment, mini trip computer and glare control integrated into the mirror. Next generation airbags will be used along with a passenger airbag shutoff switch.

July 27

The 60,000-square-foot Chrysler museum will open on October 5. It will feature 75 vehicles such as the 1924 Chrysler Model B70 Touring Car in three levels of granite and glass. The museum will include DeSoto, Dodge, Plymouth, Hudson, Nash, Rambler, Willys, and Jeep as well as Chrysler cars.

July 22

GM agreed to recall 3.5 million light trucks because of problems with antilock brakes to end a five-year investigation.

A jury awarded $21 million to an hourly employee at the Detroit Cherokee plant due to derogatory comments, cartoons and photos over the last seven years. The employee's lawyer said that, despite repeated complaints, Chrysler did nothing to investigate or provide adequate remedial measures.

July 21

DC will test an Intrepid-platform police package mule at the 2000 Model Year Tests of the Michigan State Police, around Sept 1999. Manufacturers usually run a mule (test) car one year prior to offering the real package to the fleet. Speculation is that it will probably contain a tweaked version of the current 3.2 V6. No word on whether it will be a FWD or RWD version - yet.

July 20

Ford, the company which tells us it cares about safety, no longer sells integrated child safety seats with any of its products, according to Detroit News. DC currently only offers them in minivans, and General Motors in some minivans and the Corolla, I mean Prizm.

July 19

Craig Winn, a 19 year Chrysler veteran and vice president of Jeep platform engineering, recently left DC to become president of Magna International's Symatec North America unit. He will be succeeded by Craig Love, who previously led efforts for the Prowler and electric minivan. Love started in 1971 as a student engineer at Chrysler.

DCX will raise US list prices on 2000 models by an average of $108 over the close of 1999 prices (or by nearly $400 over prices at the opening of the 1999 model year). Some models are going up more than others - for example, the Grand Voyager SE will go to $24,080 from $22,775. Price hikes also seemed relatively high on some Jeep and pickup models. The destination charge will also increase.

July 16

Detroit News has a story on the new Avenger/Sebring. They report that the new A/S will look more like Dodges and Chryslers, and that the top engine will be the Mitsubishi 3.0 V6 (which has recently been upgraded).

July 13

Talks between DCX and Volvo Truck continue.

Mitsubishi Motors' debt rating has been lowered to junk status.

DCX extended through October 4 a $1,000 rebate on 2000 Neons.

Rumors from our board: DC reportedly is hoping for an Intrepid R/T by spring 2000. Neon R/T looks like a summer launch as a 2001 model. DC has an all new Ram in 2001 for the 2002 model year. The new Cirrus was reportedly on the cover of Automotive News and looks Concorde-like.

Toyota has been accused by the US government of using faulty smog-control computers on 2.2 million vehicles made from 1996 to 1998. Toyota rejected an offer of $100 million in fines plus repairs. Toyota is the first automaker to turn down an offer of this kind. The likely penalty is much lower.

Ford has been ordered to pay $295 million to the family of a couple who were killed in the rollover of a Bronco. This verdict came three days after another jury awarded $4.9 billion to people severely burned by an exploding (due to collision) Chevrolet Malibu. The plaintiffs in the Ford case said that Ford knew the Bronco's mostly plastic roof would not withstand a rollover.

July 9

Chrysler will be introducing its next-generation minivans in Sept 2000. They are being squeezed in the US by new models from Honda and Toyota, as well as domestic competition. Abroad, the Renault Espace has been more popular, as well as the Windstar-based Ford Galaxy and a VW equivalent. DC still has 40 percent of the US minivan market.

DC appears to be working on a new Outback-like vehicle, probably based on the LH platform, code-named CS. It should debut in 2002, and be styled like an SUV.

DC is working on a merger with Volvo Truck. Ford already owns Volvo cars as well as the Daimler marque.

US auto safety officials will not investigate the safety of DC minivan airbags, but will investigate those of Hyundai.

Reversing a trend of falling sales outside the US, Chrysler brands had their best non-North-America June ever thanks to high Grand Cherokee and 300M sales.

July 6

Honda will produce the world's most fuel-efficient car, the Insight, which will get 82 miles per gallon (about 8 mpg more than the Toyota Prius, which will be introduced soon). Honda is planning for 12,000 sales worldwide, and is at first only selling coupes. In the past, Honda has not had much luck with high-mileage cars - their 1992 Civic VX, with 125 hp, got 62 mpg in a standard body. The Insight will use aluminum extensively. (Details at Inside Automotive).

July 2

The International Tourism Alliance and International Automobile Federation gave the Voyager a zero rating in a front impact test and an overall two star safety rating. It was the worst minivan tested in frontal impacts, though all did well in side impacts. The best vehicles were the Renault Espace and Toyota Picnic. Three star ratings were given to the Peugeot 806, Nissan Serena, VW Sharan (which shares the Ford Windstar/Galaxy platform), and Opel/Vauxhall (GM) Sintra.

Chrysler brands set a new record for the first half of 1999, despite a five percent decline in US sales for May. Truck sales slipped only one percent, while car sales fell. One reason is heavy promotions last May caused higher sales. (Sales report removed).

F. Cheslick wrote: Just got this week's issue of Automotive News, and right on the front is a good spy shot of the Sebring. It looks like it has a Concorde front end with a 300M back end, also has more of an arched greenhouse. They said it will be powered by the 2.7.

DC recently told the media that German and American engineers will be working together on small car projects. Some doubt has been cast over the degree of cooperation.

July 1

For the second consecutive year, Viper Team ORECA won the Le Mans 24-hour race, with a seven lap lead in the GTS class.

Freeman Thomas, who worked on the new Beetle and Audi TT Coupe, has been hired to head product design for the company formerly known as Chrysler. He replaces K. Neil Walling, who recently announced his retirement. The hire was suspiciously made within 24 hours of Mr. Walling's announcement.

GM shut down the Flint Buick (Buick City) plant, one of GM's best.

Some years ago, AMC spun off Hummer, its new military vehicle replacing the Jeep. They were no doubt surprised when Hummer came back to compete in the passenger vehicles arena. Now, their move of years ago is rebounding again - GM is buying the nameplate. We do not know whether they plan to sell rebadged Chevies to compete with Jeep (which would be the most likely case, and would also add more insult and injury to the company whose new name (DaimlerChrysler) is half owned by Ford). Hummer sales have not been strong outside the military, and reliability is reportedly highly questionable.

The midsized Saturn is due soon. Based on the Opel Vectra, which GM will also build in Russia, it will be made in Delaware rather than the current Saturn plant. The revised version of the popular and quite nice Vectra will sell for around $20,000 and have a system that senses when the oil needs to be changed, as well as plastic body panels. Saturn is also in line to get an SUV, and is part of GM's market-share capture strategy - GM plants to double Saturn's size, according to sources. According to Inside Automotive, the Vectra chassis is also used on a $7,800 GM made in Brazil.

Ford is building a $300 million plant in Russia, and is introducing yet another new extra-large SUV with a name beginning with "Ex" (while advertising how environmentally friendly they are). A Mazda-Ford joint venture mini-SUV, the Escape, will is due for next year.

June 29

The Smart car sales have increased to 30,000 for the first half of 1999, and though it is still far below projections, sales have been increasing. Break-even is at over 100,000 units.

The Big Three, including DC, are being sued for $5 billion for allegedly selling cars with defective and dangerous seats and concealing the defect.

June 28

According to Salomón Mervich, DC will sell the new Mercedes A class in Mexico starting in Sept for around 20M to 25M usc. It will be imported from Brazil, and Chrysler dealers (in Mexico) will be able to sell it, with some requirements. The engine will be a 4 cyl. with over 100 hp, and will be offered with an automatic and manual trans. The SMART will be sold just in Europe, next generation may be available in America. D.C Mexico invested 30 million in a new national auto parts warehouse, and will open a new $65 million office building in December.

PT production will start early next year, the goal is 400,000 units annually.

June 24

The gang at the news and rumors board believes that the Pronto Spyder and Charger will both make it into production.

June 23

Volvo, which sold its car operations (for a song) to Ford this year, is reportedly in talks to merge into DaimlerChrysler. The bus, truck, and construction equipment division would reportedly be called Mercedes Volvo.

June 22

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J.D. Power and Associates ranked Dodge Dakota as the best compact pickup in the company's Initial Quality Study (IQS2). Dakota improved more than 20 percent from the previous year and beat all other domestic and import compacts including Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, and Nissan Frontier. Both the Dodge Ram full-size pickup and Dodge Durango compact SUVs ranked second in their segments.

June 21

Ben Klayman of Reuters reported that Chrysler's Thomas Stallkamp has declared corporate neutrality regarding the UAW (union)'s effort to organize the Mercedes and Freightliner plants in the United States. These former Daimler-Benz plants operate in Alabama and North Carolina, and the union had asked DaimlerChrysler to support the union efforts as part of contract renewal talks.

The union is also seeking job security, more compensation (due to strong profits), and help in organizing suppliers, where pay averages $12.20 an hour, roughly 2/3 to half as much as UAW workers. Union representation at suppliers has fallen dramatically over the past decades. DaimlerChrysler, in turn, is asking for a four-year agreement rather than the current three-year contract.

DaimlerChrysler has had years of excellent profits in the US, and co-Chair Robert Eaton was given just short of $70 million in compensation last year.

June 18

Though we did not see it ourselves, we are told that Autoweek said the Charger is on for 2004, rear-drive, sharing the same platform with the next 300M.

More info on the next-generation Viper ACR "Plus": it has $16,000 of Mopar Performance parts, including a race-calibrated engine control module, race rocker arms, a low-restriction exhaust, and headers. The result is a horsepower rise to 506 hp (from 460 on the ACR) and 531 lb ft of torque (from 500 - and remember that the ACR's a few steps above the standard Viper). Putting the power to work are P335/30ZR-18 rear Michelins, adjustable 1" lowering coil-over shock absorbers front and rear, and a 3.73:1 final drive for even quicker launches. CARB approval is under way.

The bumpers on a variety of SUVs, including the Grand Cherokee and Durango, have been criticized for incurring thousands of dollars in damage during low-mileage collisions, due to poor design. SUV and pickup bumpers have also been criticized for causing severe injuries in accidents with cars, because their height is not regulated in the same way as car bumpers. (All car bumpers must be at the same height, while truck bumpers can be much higher, resulting in bumpers missing the cars' protective areas).

June 17

"Buddy" Revell was kind enough to provide us with backup information regarding the new 500 Hemi. According to Hot Rod (Steve Magnante), DC wants an NHRA trophy within two years, and built a redesigned Hemi solely for that goal. The Hemi may power Mitsubishi-built Dodge Avengers in races. There are many new features and design changes, so that there is almost no parts interchangeability with past Hemis. The engine now has small combustion chamgers, eliminating the need for a huge piston dome.

June 15

MMC and DC recalled Galant-based cars due to a ball joint design that could have excessive wear. 170,000 1995-96 Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, and Eagle Talon models are affected, as well as 294,000 Galants, Eclipse, and Spyders from 1994-96 model years. Owners will be contacted by MMC and DC. Ford, GM, and Daewoo also announced recalls.

DC bought the parts of Eurostar that it did not already own. Eurostar produces Chrysler Voyagers and Grand Cherokees in Austria.

June 14

J.D. Power and Associates ranked Dodge Dakota as the best compact pickup in the company's Initial Quality Study (IQS2). Dakota improved more than 20 percent from the previous year and beat all other domestic and import compacts including Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier. Both the Dodge Ram full-size pickup and Dodge Durango compact SUV ranked second in their segments.

A new 2000 ACR Viper will be released with more power and better handling.

Detroit News reports that Ford owns the Daimler name.

June 2

Want sponsors for your Mopar race team? Visit http://www.angelfire.com/az/sedico/intro.html - their RaceBuilder is designed for to manage events, with summary and statistics functions, PR and sponsors management, and other functions. (courtesy macnn.com)

June 1

DC will recall nearly one million 1994-95 minivans to check the airbag system for shorts. It was prompted by about 35 field reports of inadvertent deployment caused by the wiring harness. Most occurred when the vehicle was started, and none caused serious injury or death.

DC is being recognized for its redevelopment of a former stamping facility, which a presidential council is touting as a model for how corporations and communities can reclaim polluted industrial sites. The former Mack Avenue plant, abandoned in 1979 due to financial problems, has been reconstructed to build Chrysler's new V-8 engine family. (The reclamation occured when it was still Chrysler Corp. DC is the only automaker to receive an award.) Over 10 million pounds of PCB-contaminated debris, and more than 1.5 million pounds of asbestos-containing materials, were removed. Eighteen acres of walls and floors were power-washed before being demolished. Eleven million gallons of contaminated water were sanitized and disposed of, and the sewer system under the property was cleaned.

May 25

DCX cochair Schrempp said DC will no longer consider passenger cars its core business, but will emphsize commercial vehicles, financial services, and other areas as well. DCX gets 83 percent of operating profit from cars and light trucks. Schrempp appeared to be ignorant of the meaning of "core business" as he said that whatever DCX does is their core business.

Executive compensation will be streamlined to involve four criteria skewed toward bonuses. American executives are overpaid by German standards, but compensation is expected to rise for the Germans rather than fall for the Americans. Chrysler executives in 1998 are said to have earned two to eight times as much as Daimler-Benz executives with similar jobs.

May 17

Mopar will not renew its sponsorship of the Darrell Gwynn-owned NHRA Top Fuel team after the 1999 NHRA Winston drag racing season due to lack of funds and other opportunities. The team had been Mopar sponsored since 1986 and currently holds to top points standing.

Dakota R/T towing capacity has been downgraded from the advertised 6400 lb to 2000 lb this past week.

May 13

Chrysler Japan will sell a remodelled Jeep Grand Cherokee starting on May 15. Plans are to sell 1,800 of the Jeeps starting at 4.39 million yen each (4.0L) or 4.95 million yen (4.7 V8).

May 5

Raul Castillo writes that the next-generation Stratus should be released in Sept 2000 as a 2001 model, with a preview in January 2000.

F. Cheslik notes that Automobile wrote that the PT Cruiser will offer a 5 speed (probably because a 2.0/5 speed combo is already available for Neon - same reason it is on the Stratus), and that a luggage rack will be optional. They drove a touring package car with emblems and 16 inch 5 spoke chrome wheels.

May 3

The PT Cruiser will seat one to five people, with seats that fold flat, and interior space rivaling full-size sedans. Production will begin next year in Toluca, Mexico for sale in May 2000. The base price is expected to be under $20,000.

Up to 175,000 PT Cruisers per year may be made (more than 1998 Neon sales), including an expected all-wheel-drive Dodge Sequoia version.

It shares the Neon platform, but only 18 percent of the Neon's parts. A right hand drive version will be made for export. Demand for small minivans has been high in non-US markets, with high sales of (for example) Renault's Megane Scenic microvan. Ford, Hyundai, Daewoo, and GM are also planning new mini-minivans - Opel's Zafira is reputed to be the best, but it will not be sold in the US.

Mercedes India may build Chrysler models. They now make only 500 to 1,000 cars a year. The Cherokee, Neon, and Voyager are being considered. Mercedes makes E-class cars and a 12- and 15-seat bus in India.

April 29

DC reported that net profits were $1.5 billion for its first quarter. More than half of the net profits, and 44 percent of revenue, were from Chrysler operations. That's three times the profits of the Mercedes brand.

April 27

Courtesy of "Mr. Designer," who tells us this info is from the Chrysler Times:

DC has started to build a new Quality Center in Auburn Hills, Mich. Scheduled to open in January 2000, it is designed to house four operations now at different locations, so problems can be resolved more quickly:

  1. Part Return Group, for failed-part root-cause analysis and resolution
  2. Advance Diagnostic Research, for creating electronic tools and processes
  3. Service Parts Engineering, for designing cost-saving service parts
  4. Service Engineering Center, dedicated to reducing warranty costs of purchased parts.

DC has supplied 2,400 Caravans to the Post Office in 1998 and (so far) 1999. About half have alternative-fuel engines. DC expects to deliver 3,000 units through the 2000 model year.

April 21

According to "Mr. Designer," DaimlerChrysler said it is asking suppliers to increase the amount of recycled plastics in their parts to 20 percent by 2000 and 30 percent by 2002. The company also wants its vehicles to be 85 percent recyclable by 2002 and 95 percent by 2005.

April 19

According to the DaimlerChrysler Brand Bible, there will be no common-platform cars between the former Daimler and former Chrysler marques. The article notes that synergies are from certain shared technologies, such as diesel engines, and shared administrative services.

The Canadian Auto Workers ended a 24-hour occupation of a Stratford, Ontario Johnson Controls seat cover plant after Johnson Controls agreed to let the plant remain the primary supplier of LH seat covers for the Bramalea LH factory. The plant has 600 workers.
At issue was the violation of a January deal, which assured the workers that only the Stratford facility would supply seat covers to the Bramalea LH plant. Johnson then started to supply that plan from Mexico, as well. 250 workers were then on layoff in Canada, while the Mexican plant employed 200 people in making LH seat covers.

April 16

Next time someone suggests a clunker bill to prevent pollution, ask them what they plan to do about the 12-mpg Ford Excursion!

The European Commission has accused DaimlerChrysler (the Mercedes portion) of violating antitrust rules. DCX shares fell almost two percent after the Commission accused it of ordering dealers in some countries not to sell cars to non-residents from countries where prices are higher.

Competing rumors regarding the Hemi Ram. At this point our best information says just under 400 hp, positioned above the V-10 in price, and limited edition (it would have to be!). Horsepower would be relatively low because it would be set up as a truck engine. We're still looking at competing rumors, and we personally feel it is unlikely this will ever see the light of day except possibly in Mexico, due to the cost of emissions-testing a motor that would only be used in a single vehicle. We've been advised by an insider that there are no plans for this engine to be used in a car - then again, we were also told by many people (as were larger publications) that the Neon was going to be shorter, not longer...we still don't know how close to reality this rumor is.

April 13

As noted earlier, DaimlerChrysler plans to create a new series of heavy duty trucks as an effort of both Dodge and Freightliner.

April 5

Chrysler sales rose 16.5 percent in the US last month (over March 1998). Mitsubishi posted major gains of 63 percent, VW increased 52 percent, and Toyota sales increased 10.5 percent. Honda sales rose under 1 percent, and Nissan rose 4 percent, partly on the strength of a revised Quest minivan (which it now says it will not share with Mercury when their current contract expires).

Ford announced that it would target enthusiasts, and may produce a new line of Cosworth-branded high-performance models. The Contour is to be phased out, but an SVT Focus is likely to replace the SVT Contour.

April 2


We have a rumor on the Chronos, which is apparently largely unrelated to the concept car shown earlier. Charger comes in 2001, Chronos comes in late 2002. "There was a DOHC 4.7 but Benz has stopped all developement on it. Benz likes the idea of supercharged engines."

March 30

It should surprise nobody that the 2000 Taurus looks like... well... like a 2000 Neon!

Reports of poor morale at the former Chrysler Corp. seem...well...accurate.

Now, some rumors, courtesy of "Mr. Designer." Our comments are in [brackets]

  • Plymouth is going to die...this has been all but confirmed by other sources.
  • Pronto Speedster - on hold. T-Rex - no go.
  • Atlantic [straight-8] - Chrysler dropped it.
  • Little Jeep people-mover - on hold. [We later heard - cancelled]
  • Cirrus/Stratus: new engines, old transmissions, new look.
  • LHS: two possible models, one looking like the Phaeton and one like the 300M.
  • Charger and Chronos to replace Avenger and Sebring. Both will be four door rear-wheel drive cars with an available 4.7 liter V8. THe Charger will have a base model with a V6. [We're reserving judgement, but we do believe Avenger/Sebring was promised through at least 2001. We have heard they might carry the contract through on Sebring but not Avenger, or with different names]
  • The Venom is still under development - might never be made. Two doors, two seats, big trunk.
  • RamCharger coming to the US in 2001-02? [DCX said "no way"]
  • The Dakota gets a 2002 update with a number of new options including narrow bed
  • Durango to get a more Ram-like nose.
  • Minivans to get a new body based on the LH platform (original minivans were based on the K). R/T and AWD versions down the road. Intrepid might get AWD too. [We do not consider this especially likely since minivans are essentially on their own platform now, but we don't know.]
  • Limited run Wrangler, lifted higher with wider fenders, roll cage, 4.7 liter V8. [probably a prototype exists, but we think production is unlikely] [more rumors later suggest this might be a go.]
  • Cherokee to be killed off and replaced by a full size convertible SUV with 4.7 V8. [Again, moderately dubious]
  • CS (combined Mercedes/Chrysler): similar to the Citadel, based on a modified LH chassis. The nose has headlamps molded into the fenders and has half/half Chronos/Citadel chrome nose. The rear-end close to production. The U.S. car gets Chrysler drivetrain (V6) and Mercedes uses their own drivetrain. [Hard to say, early statements suggested this as a possibility, Brand Bible says it's not.]
  • Prowler will have fixed and removable hard tops, new colors. It has 4-5 years left, V-8s will not fit, and they will not replace it. Supercharger *may* be possible someday. [Another source says the V-8 WILL fit and will be used in 2001. We find both unlikely, Prowler has not been a runaway hit worthy of great investment. Served its purpose, will probably be allowed to die.]
  • New Viper is coming - no date yet. [We think this is likely]
  • Mercedes Vision SLR will be made.
  • No Plymouth version of the third-generation Neon.

March 24

fcheslik tells us that Automotive News reported that DC will make a long wheelbase PT Cruiser with all wheel drive (price of entry for an SUV?).

March 23

Detroit News recently reported that analysts believe the Plymouth (and Mercury) marques are winding down. At Chrysler, new management may not have the attachment to the Plymouth name. The Breeze will not be replaced, and the PT Cruiser appears to be definitely slated to become a Chrysler, though it is clearly not a luxury vehicle - in fact, it is oriented towards the younger people Plymouth targets. The article noted that the Plymouth Voyager and Prowler could become Chryslers, and that there are few Plymouth-only dealers in the US. (Plymouth has already been cancelled in Canada - as has Mercury).

March 18

DC will build a new fuel-cell vehicle, the NECAR 4, probably to be fueled by methanol. It will be based on the Mercedes A-Class (not sold in the US), mainly because the design can accomodate about 7 inches of equipment in the floor. The next fuel-cell vehicle DC will build will be the NECAR 5 and will be powered by methanol. The first commercial fuel-cell vehicle is estimated to arrive around 2004. (AP/Detroit News)

March 15

DC will not buy any share in Nissan, according to DC.

DC will drop the Plymouth name in Canada starting April 1, according to Detroit News. The brand, created in 1928 as a low-cost alternative, was Chrysler's best seller from 1930 through 1977.

The Wall Street Journal reportedly reported that DC will not create a Mercedes version of the Chrysler minivan.

Ford agreed to pay $425,000 for failing to recall vehicles promptly and withholding information from NHTSA's investigation into ignition switch fires. The recall involved 8.6 million vehicles made from 1988 to 1993 and was the largest recall in US history.

March 11

DC said it intends to double Chrysler brand sales in Europe within five years.

According to our news and rumors board, which includes postings by Buddy Revell:

  • The JA series (Cirrus, Stratus, Breeze - otherwise known as cloud cars) will be replaced shortly by a modified, somewhat larger version called the JR. Featuring the new, more powerful all-Chryrsler V-6 engines.
  • The Stratus European Touring car program will move to the new series.

March 5

DC and Ford sales both rose 8 percent. GM's February car sales rose 20 percent - light truck sales rose 15 percent. Toyota sales rose 19 percent. Honda sales rose 14 percent, mainly due to minivans and SUVs. Nissan sales inched up 4 percent.

Ford car sales fell 6 percent, but pickup sales were very high. Ranger sales rose nearly one and a half times. CC, on the other hand, had nearly equal rises for trucks and cars (SUV sales were up 19 percent).

Honda sales rose 75 percent mainly due to the Odyssey minivan. Toyota saw high car, minivan, and SUV gains. Nissan sales rose due to Infiniti. VW sales rose 79 percent, continuing its steep ascent (not including Audi, whose sales rose 28 percent). Volvo sales increased 15 percent and Subaru rose 12 percent.

Avis Europe stopped renting DC's (mainly Daimler's) Smart car because it appears to be unstable in bad weather. Avis and DC are changing the tires and upgrading the electronic stability system to prevent accidents.

March 4

A US government test shows the passenger airbag hits the neck of a crash test dummy with unusual force in the 1993-97 Caravan and Voyager. Newer mini-vans have a less forceful air bag.

Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep sales outside of North America were down 25 percent from last February, with 11,790 units sold. Sales in Canada also fell substantially.

DC promoted Thomas McAlear to be Vice President, DaimlerChrysler and Vice President of Chrysler Financial Company. He will be responsible for sales financing and leasing support to former Chrysler Corp. dealerships in North America.

Shamel Rushwin, senior vice president of international manufacturing and minivan operations, and Chris Theodore, senior vice president of platform engineering, moved from the Chrysler part of DC to Ford. Earlier, top manufacturing executive Dennis Pawley retired, and top communications executive Steve Harris left for GM.

February 24

Despite a record year and enormous executive bonuses for senior management, including $69 million for Bob Eaton alone, profit sharing at Chrysler will not surpass 1994 levels. Workers will be receiving between $6,800 and $7,300, above average bonuses at Ford of $6,100 and at GM of $300, but below 1994 bonuses averaging about $8,000. Company officials said the same formula was in place as in previous years. Executive bonuses at Chrysler hit record levels.

February 23

Three of the eight Chrysler dealers in South Africa will start to carry Mercedes, and about a quarter of the 100 Mercedes dealers in southern Africa will sell Chrysler models. Four or five dealerships in isolated regions will start to service both, though they will still sell one or the other. The combined dealerships will merge service and administration while keeping sales separate. This is expected to boost Chrysler's very small sales in Southern Africa.

Ironically, Mercedes dealers in South Africa already sell Hondas and Mitsubishis. Mitsubishi purchased Chrysler's Australian operations over a decade ago.

February 18

As previously reported here, DC will be using an Allison six speed automatic transmission with the Cummins diesel engine, allowing them to increase their power without damaging the 47RE transmission. A new six speed manual transmission will also be available shortly - no earth shattering changes except revised gearing. Both should be available very soon (possibly by now).

Mike Dunn's Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster set a quarter-mile record in the Winternationals of 4.50 seconds at over 312 mph. He also had runs of 4.51 and 4.52 seconds.

February 10

Chrysler is piloting a new Electronic Sales System (ESS), a computer system which lets salespeople at desktop computers take combine customer specifications to create detailed price and fact sheets. The system is designed to avoid the "back room" calculations and remove the mystery from pricing. A national roll-out date has yet to be determined. The system is also expected to reduce administrative costs and errors.

February 8

Posted on our rumors message board: Dodge will offer a 6-speed Allison automatic transmission along with the manual for the diesel engine, on late 1999 models.

February 4

AutoWeek has reportedly captured spy photos of a next-generation SUV to be based on the LH series (Intrepid), a clever idea considering the warm reception to the PT Cruiser and the fact that most SUV owners never go off-road.

Chrysler Canada Ltd. has appointed Edwin H. Brust, President, Chief Executive Officer, and has elected him a Director of Chrysler Canada Ltd.

Chrysler sales outside North America fell 17 percent in January 1999 compared to January 1998.

Chrysler Canada car sales were down around 10 percent from last January, truck sales were down about 20 percent, even though SUV sales increased 15 percent and minivans were up 64 percent.

January 29

Buddy Revell tells us that the new Charger will go into production as a V-8 rear wheel drive model with two or four doors. The modified LH model will have both a five speed and automatic option, with 3 different gasoline engines, the new V-6 (based on the 4.7 V-8), a high-performance 4.7 V-8, and a supercharged DOHC 4.7. There may be three packages: base, SE, and R/T. He claims to have this on a good source.

[Webmaster opinion: On recent specialty models, initial plans to offer alternative engines and five-speeds have generally fallen (i.e. supercharged Neon, V-8 Viper, five-speeds, etc), so most of these plans will probably be squelched before production.]

January 21

Dodge will be the exclusive vehicle supplier in Universal Studios theme parks and productions.

January 20

Dakota Quad Cab and New Drivetrain

The 2000 Dakota Quad Cab (to be sold starting late this year) will be the first Dodge truck to feature the new 4.7 liter V-8, which replaces the venerable 318 (5.2). The 4.7-liter Magnum produces 235 horsepower and 295 lb.ft. of torque, with better gas mileage than the 318. (The 360/5.9 will also be available). A new 45RFE transmission will also be available, and is calibrated to the 4.7 engine for refined power flow and increased fuel efficiency.

The new 45RFE transmission has a tall 3.00:1 first gear ratio for better initial acceleration. An alternate second gear ratio enhances performance: during normal acceleration, second gear has a ratio of 1.67:1. A 1.50:1 second gear ratio is available for acceleration and passing, for smoother downshifts. The reverse and first gear ratios are identical for more power in reverse.

The Dakota's handling and ride was improved for the Quad Cab models. A revised lightweight independent front suspension on four wheel drive models improves ride and has more responsive steering and longer front tire life.

Chrysler Mexico sold 92,299 vehicles in 1998, 37 percent more than in 1997. As a whole, Mexico's domestic car buying has increased substantially. The DC increase was roughly evenly balanced among cars and (buses and trucks). Intrepid sales quintupled, Neon sales rose 127 percent, and the Grand Cherokee rose 29 percent.

DaimlerChrysler and Renault are both seeking to acquire a major interest in Nissan's heavy truck division.

DC will buy ABB's share of their 50-50 joint venture rail transportation company, Adtranz.

DC will combine all global financial services into DaimlerChrysler Services AG, which will be the largest non-bank provider of financial services.

January 18 - UK Reliability

WhatCar?'s study of 80,000 leased vehicles included 422 Chrysler vehicles, mainly Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees. In 1997, 15.8 percent had mechanical breakdowns, which was a fair-to-middling performance. In 1998, this improved to 14.7 percent, far better than Land Rover (whose figure was over 27). They noted that most of the Cherokee's breakdowns were due to a faulty hose which has been revised in 1997, and which is covered by a service bulletin for a free repair. The number of Neons and Voyagers was too small to be listed separately. Click here to visit WhatCar?.

(Two comparisons: Toyota went from 10.8 in 1997 to 16.4, Ford went from 23.8 to 31.9, with a fleet of mostly Mondeos (similar to Contour/Mystique).

January 12

The PT Cruiser will be priced at under $20,000.

January 9

According to Motor Trend, the Shelby 360 Durango has 360 hp, a TV, and a $56,000 price tag.

There is a new option for a six-speed manual transmission on Dodge pickups.

A new full size SUV based on the Ram, the Adventurer will be built in Mexico and exported to Latin America. Despite official statements it will not be brought here, it has been seen in Detroit.

The 2000 Dakota Quad Cab will have four "real" doors, instead of two real ones and two suicides that can't be opened independently like on the Ram and Ford Fs. The 360 will be available.

January 8: 1998 Sales Figures Are In

Chrysler brand sales outside North America (including Dodge and Jeep) fell 50 percent in Asian/Pacific, 1 percent in Europe, and 16 percent for exports overall. Sales in Latin America rose 4 percent and sales in the US rose 9 percent.

DC sold a record 2,510,011 former-CC vehicles in the U.S. in 1998. For the first time, over 3 million units were sold worldwide, including nearly 300,000 in Canada and just over 200,000 in the rest of the world.

US sales were up 9 percent with non-car sales of 1,770,794, 13 percent higher than last year. 616,217 of these were SUVs. Car sales, 739,217, were slightly higher than 1997. Sales records were set by the Dodge division, the Dodge Dakota, and the Chrysler Concorde (sales up 67 percent over last year and about 1,200 units over the previous best year, 1994), as well as minivans (up 11 percent despite intense competition), the Ram pickup, and the Durango (compared with December).

VW, Land Rover, and other companies also reported record years. Ford car sales fell 4.5 percent but light trucks rose 6.4 percent, leading to an overall 2 percent sales increase and Ford's best annual sales in 20 years.

January 6, 1999

The Charger R/T concept car is a four-door sedan with a 4.7 liter natural gas V-8 and manual transmission. 19 inch wheels in front, 20 inch in rear. Rear wheel drive, about 3,000 lb, cockpit-type interior, 325 horsepower with ultra low emissions.

January 5, 1999

The 2000 Neon was developed for only $700 million, including right-hand-drive versions.

The Mexico factory will stop making Coupes to retool for the SUV. The Coupe will be dropped, to save $200 million in production costs. Fewer options will cut production time to 11 hours per car.

We hear an Intrepid R/T is planned for the 2001. Powered by a 242-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, it will have AutoStick, a performance suspension, unique wheels and tires, a rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips, and fog lamps.

We hear the Neon R/T will return for the 2001 model year with a 150 hp 2.0 SOHC engine, sport suspension, 16-inch aluminum wheels, and performance tires. It will also have styling differences.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser will be the same length as a small car, but with the interior space of a full-size sedan. US versions will have a DOHC 16-valve engine with an automatic or manual transmission. International versions may will have a smaller gasoline engine and a diesel option.





    Overall Length:          168.8 (4288.5)

    Overall Width:           67.1 (1704.9)

    Overall Height:          63.0 (1601.3)

    Wheelbase                103 inches

    Track (F/R):             58.3/58.2 (1481.0/1478.0)

    Interior Volume(EPA):    119.8 cu. ft. (3.39 cu. meters)

    Cargo Volume (EPA):      18.3 cu. ft. (.52 cu. meters)

 

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