Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep news from Allpar

Maserati sales surge; Alfieri may be added

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Maserati has been on a roll. In 2013, U.S. Maserati sales rose 74.1%; in the first quarter of 2014, sales have rocketed up 331.3%, outpacing every other ultra-premium brand. Last year’s worldwide sales climbed 144.9% and trading profit tripled to $236 million.

While Maserati CEO Harald Wester was at the Beijing auto show, he confirmed the trend is continuing. Wester said orders were coming in at the rate of about 3,500 per month, which indicates demand could reach 42,000 in 2014, nearly triple the 15,400 cars delivered in 2013.

Industry analysts’ estimates are lower with a consensus of about 29,000 deliveries forecast, which is still nearly double the number from last year.

All this without an SUV, a lack that will be corrected when the Levante goes into production next year.

According to Italian Financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, the rumor mill says the Maserati line may be further extended when Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne presents FCA’s new business plan on Tuesday, May 6. The word is that the Alfieri concept presented at the Geneva Auto Show will likely be green-lighted for production. At the time the car was unveiled, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, head of design for Chrysler, Fiat and Maserati, said the car was 100% functional and could be ready for production in two years.

For more information on the Alfieri, see “Alfa, Alfieri and Jeep” at ACarPlace.com.

Maserati is riding a wave of growth that is being generated by gradually recovering economies. So far this year, U.S. sales of high-dollar cars like Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes’ S-Class and teh Porsche Panamera are up 19.0% compared to just 1.2% growth in total U.S. light vehicle sales. Some well-known players are already looking to compete with Bentley and Rolls-Royce in the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar range. Mercedes will be introducing the S-Class Maybach in a second attempt to compete with BMW’s Rolls Royce and Volkswagen’s Bentley and BMW presented the Vision Future Luxury, which could be the prototype for a 9-series sedan, at the Beijing Auto Show.

Dodge “Wisdom” is top viral video

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The “Wisdom” video created for Dodge’s 100th anniversary and shown at the New York International Auto Show has gone viral in a big way. After racking up more than four million views in its first 24 hours, a Chrysler Group record, it went on to become the top-ranked automotive video for the week, according to to Visible Measures, a firm that tracks video reach and performance.

Created by the Richards Group of Dallas, the video shows several senior citizens, some born before John and Horace Dodge got mad at Henry Ford and formed their own car company in 1914, sharing their wisdom. At the end, centenarian Fred J. Wild, born in the same year as Dodge, burns rubber in a new Challenger while making a well-known hand gesture.

Watch the video on YouTube.

New fours coming

Recently, Ralph Gilles commented that a new family of four-cylinder engines was coming to Chrysler in around eighteen months— just in time for the refreshed Dodge Dart.

Allpar has confirmed with informal company sources that the head of SRT and Chrysler racing was not simply referring to turbocharged “World Engines,” but was indeed speaking of a brand new line of engines. So far we have not had many details on their origins — whether they are based on the Pentastar V6 design, or grew from Fiat or Alfa Romeo designs, or were created completely in a “clean sheet” fashion, though it seems likely that they will carry some Pentastar influence and characteristics.

The engines have definitely been designed with forced induction in mind, and we have been told that one turbocharged version should bring at least 240 horsepower. This is not a great feat in 2014, depending on the displacement; the Caliber SRT4, long gone now, was rated at 285 horsepower, and even back in 1991, the Dodge Spirit R/T’s 2.2 turbo was pushing out 224 horses.  Still, a drivable, economical 240 horsepower would be welcomed in a car the size of the Dodge Dart, which currently maxes out at 184 hp.

Following their use in the Dodge Dart, we would expect the new engines to be used in the 200, and, if fuel prices should rise, the turbocharged versions may displace or be added to V6 power plants in  other vehicles as well. Perhaps the day of the turbocharged minivan may eventually return?

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.


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