Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep news from Allpar

Chrysler plant cut energy use, got $1mm

Belvidere Assembly

Nicor Gas gave Chrysler’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois a rebate check for $1.3 million, the result of savings from three projects and the largest incentive ever awarded by Nicor for energy efficiency.  Chrysler’s Head of Assembly Operations, Zachary Leroux, and Belvidere Plant Manager Eric Schimmel accepted the check.

The Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program gives rebates to customers who install qualifying natural-gas-saving products, and to pre-approved customers who develop customized natural gas reduction projects.

Belvidere’s three energy conservation projects will save nearly 2.5 million therms — roughly the energy used in 1,000 homes — per year. They are:

  • Cascade Air, which reuses heated air rather than using natural gas to continually heat cold outside air. The rebate for this project was $400,000.
  • Installing 34 variable frequency drive motors on direct gas-fired air handling units; rather than being off or fully on, these motors can operate at whatever speed is needed, to reduce the volume of heated air used by the plant. This project generated a $323,000 rebate.
  • Finally, Chrysler used the $500,000 incentive from Nicor towards a $1.3 million project to upgrade hardware and install new software to connect and control 25 air supply units and various exhaust fans, to create an integrated control system which provides a plant-wide air balance, along with non-production heating setbacks.

Nicor provided a 30% bonus on two projects that were identified in a Nicor assessment.

Belvidere Assembly also cut water use by 13%, reduced waste by 6%, and cut total energy consumption (including electricity) by 9.5%.  The plant makes the Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot; in 2013, the plant built more than 325,000 vehicles with nearly 4,500 employees, working two 10-hour shifts, six days per week.

Dodge and Mötley Crüe kick off “Chance to be Bad”

Dodge-MotleyCrue
Dodge is kicking off the “Dodge Chance to Be Bad Giveaway” to tie in with its sponsorship of rock band Mötley Crüe’s “Final Tour” that begins July 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mötley Crüe announced the band’s retirement and final tour in January and Dodge signed on as a presenting sponsor. Over the 30 years since the group formed, it has sold more than 80 million records, tapes and CDs, including seven platinum albums, and racked numerous Top 40 and Top 20 hits.

“The 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger are the ultimate American muscle cars just as the much anticipated Mötley Crüe ‘Final Tour’ is the ultimate high octane music event of the summer,” said Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis. “The ‘Chance to Be Bad Giveaway’ gives our mutual fans an opportunity to win prize packages that are just as irreverent as our new muscle cars and the band itself.”

Sweepstakes prizes include the chance to win a 2015 Dodge Charger or Challenger, an ultimate VIP experience and other prizes, including autographed guitars, band collector’s items and tickets to “Final Tour” shows this summer.

Registrants entering at www.dodgechancetobebad.com can earn five more chances to win by sharing custom links with their friends across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. Qualified registrants will also receive an exclusive offer to test drive a new 2014 Dodge vehicle at their local dealer and receive Mötley Crüe concert tickets when they do.

In addition, fans of the Dodge Facebook page will be invited to like and comment during a weekly wall contest to enter to win a package of exclusive Mötley Crüe collector’s items.

The contest is open now and runs through July 1, 2014. It is open to legal U.S. residents, 18 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license. Complete rules and additional information are available at http://dodgechancetobebad.com/rules.aspx.

V6: direct injection, turbos?

According to Allpar sources, Chrysler has resumed work on its original plans for the Pentastar V6 engine series: direct injection and forced induction.

Given the Tier 3 Gasoline Sulfur program, which will slash the sulfur content of gasoline once again, some observers do not expect Chrysler to use direct injection in the United States until 2017; however, given that General Motors and other companies have used the technology in the U.S. already, Chrysler may be planning on an earlier debut. The use of direct injection may explain rumors that the Pentastar engines are to get horsepower boosts… though not soon enough, apparently, to be seen in the 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger.

Sources also claim that Chrysler is working on its own turbocharged Pentastar V6, an effort completely separate from Maserati/Ferrari’s work. Fiat’s high-performance car companies reportedly used the Pentastar V6 as a basis for the V6 used in the Ghibli, but with extensive changes that extend to the block itself.  The 2009 plan for the Pentastar included both twin-turbo and single-turbocharger versions; a supercharged version was also rumored.

Update: a source reported that the Pentastar is being tested with single and dual turbochargers, and with a supercharger. It seems unlikely that all three would be used; more likely, the company is testing different configurations for drivability, durability, fuel economy, and cost, and will end up with one supercharged or single-turbo version, and one twin-turbo. Using a V6 in the upcoming mid-sized rear wheel drive car, rather than a V8, would likely slash Dodge’s development costs, since Alfa Romeo is highly unlikely to use a V8.

Trenton Engine wins the bronze

Chrysler’s Trenton Engine Complex, in a pleasant area just a half-hour southwest of Detroit,  has won bronze status for World Class Manufacturing (WCM), the fifth North American facility to achieve the first WCM award milestone.

It took around four years to reach bronze status; during that time, Trenton North was thoroughly rebuilt and recommissioned to build plants and assemble engines. Trenton South was built specifically to assemble the Pentastar V6; North, built in 1952, was idled in 2011 but then rebuilt and put back into operation.



World Class Manufacturing, which shares quite a bit in common with the old pre-Daimler Chrysler system, focuses on reducing waste while increasing productivity, quality, and safety, using the workforce as a source of innovation. It was first implemented by Fiat in 2006, and was introduced to Chrysler Group in June 2009. Chrysler claims to have saved over $1 billion through WCM, so far.

During an audit, zero to five points are awarded for each of the 10 technical pillars, which include safety, workplace organization, logistics and the environment, and for each of the 10 managerial pillars, such as commitment, clarity of objectives, allocation of people, and motivation of operators. The top score is 100; for bronze, the minimum is 50.  Currently, the top Chrysler plant in WCM is Windsor Assembly (Ontario; minivans), at silver; other bronze plants are in Toledo, Ohio, Saltillo, Mexico, and Dundee, Michigan.



The fate of Charger R/T AWD

In the past, Dodge has combined the Hemi engine with all wheel drive (AWD) for better launches and improved rain and snow handling in the Charger R/T AWD. Indeed, for 2014, even police cars were made available with the combination of Hemi and AWD. For 2015, however, AWD is being restricted to V6 cars.  This led to speculation about whether the issue was lack of space, drivetrain weakness, or scheduling — whether the V8/AWD combination was going to be available, but later.

Allpar’s Jim Choate contacted Ralph Gilles, SRT and motorsports chief, and asked for the reason. Mr. Gilles replied that the issue was a “very low take rate” — few customers chose the combination of V8 and all wheel drive. Mr. Gilles’ guess was that “most V8 lovers like a good powerslide once in a while,” adding that Dodge doesn’t officially endorse such behavior.

So far, there has been no word about what the police can expect from the 2015 Dodge Charger. Most likely, the V6/AWD combination will be available to compete with Ford’s AWD cute-utes, and the five-speed automatic will be dropped; through 2014, the five-speed was the sole transmission available for police cars, even with the V6. Reliable source oh2o suggested that the police might even be able to get a Hemi AWD combination.

Chrysler 200 hitting dealers soon

Chrysler-200-Detroit-Web
According to Chrysler brand CEO Al Gardner, the new Chrysler 200 sedans will hit dealer lots by mid-May. Previous company statements had said only that the cars would be shipping in the second quarter.

“We’re ahead of every schedule that we’re looking at right now,” Al Gardner, CEO of the Chrysler brand, told Bloomberg in an interview at the New York International Auto Show Sunday. “Everything we want it to be, it’s there, plus some. It really comes down to when our quality team is prepared to release, and they’re on their own schedule and we can’t touch it.”

The previous version of the 200 was one of Chrysler Group’s best-selling products and hopes are high this new sedan can outperform its predecessor. The 200 has garnered decent early reviews with the consensus being that it’s a worthy entry in one of the most competitive markets in the auto industry.

The mid-May date means Chrysler dealers get a fresh mid-size sedan that isn’t a makeover of a DaimlerChrysler design and it avoids the problems with long stretches between the end of one product and the shipment of its replacement.

Reid Bigland, Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales chief, predicts that April sales will extend Chrysler’s streak of consecutive monthly sales improvements to 49. April sales figures will be announced Thursday, May first.




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