Respected automotive engineer Bob Sheaves has looked into Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s statements that the 2017 Jeep Wrangler would likely be the first Jeep to use aluminum extensively.

While Chrysler produced the aluminum-bodied Plymouth Prowler in the 1990s, both to learn about working with the metal and to establish a new Plymouth look, most of the people on that project (including its leader) were hired away by Ford shortly after the Daimler takeover.

In his analysis, Mr. Sheaves considers advantages and disadvantages of aluminum, including the difficulty of converting factories to produce it, and looks at which parts of the Wrangler might move from steel.  In future segments, he will consider the question of independent suspensions, where Wrangler will be built, other ways to increase fuel economy, and related future-Wrangler topics.

Read more… 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has added more than 370,000 DaimlerChrysler-built and Chrysler LLC-built cars, SUVs and trucks to a six-million-vehicle recall to replace defective airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation.

A faulty propellant inside the air bag is unstable and can explode after even a minor accident, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least three deaths and more than 100 injuries are said to have been caused by the defect.

In a press release, the NHTSA urged owners of vehicles involved in the recall to act immediately to replace defective Takata airbags.

Since high humidity has been connected with the defect, owners of vehicles in Florida, Puerto Rico and areas of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana that are located near the Gulf Coast should make it a priority to have their vehicles checked.

“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures. However, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman.

“Takata is committed to the highest standards of safety for our customers – and their
customers,” said Shigehisa Takada, Chairman and CEO of Takata Corporation. “For the past several months, we have been consistently cooperating with NHTSA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation that the agency recently opened, but we also stand by the quality of our
products. Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its air bag inflators,
and we strive to avoid any malfunction.

“Each of the six incidents that prompted the NHTSA investigation occurred in Puerto Rico or
Florida.  We currently believe the high levels of absolute humidity in those states are
important factors; and as a result our engineers are analyzing the impact that humidity may
have on the potential for an inflator malfunction, as well as other possible contributing
factors. We will share these results and continue to work in concert with NHTSA and our customers.”

The affected Chrysler vehicles include:

• 2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300

•  2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

• 2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500

•2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500

• 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500

• 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500

• 2008 – Dodge Ram 5500

• 2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango

• 2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota

The NHTSA website has a page, that owners can access to see if their particular vehicle is included in the recall, but the volume of inquiries crashed it and it was still down at 5:00 AM Eastern Time.

Allpar’s informal sources have agreed that there are plans for a new Dodge Viper ACR, debuting for the 2016 model year, possibly replacing the current TA (Time Attack) model. Artist suzq044 provided the following rendering, which uses SRT’s trademark black wheels and a Dodge concept-car semi-rendering.

The Viper ACR may have a mild power boost, but will be mainly a suspension and/or airflow upgrade, to increase track performance and presumably re-set a record at “the Ring.”  Adjustable suspension components for compensation for local tracks is likely, along with higher downforce (to add traction). The old 2011 Dodge Viper ACR also had some of the stickiest tires available, Michelin Pro Sport Cup 2s, and “no compromises” tires are likely for the 2016 as well.

One source said that the old Viper ACR had much more downforce in the rear than the current model, which is why this might be a target.

The release of a Viper ACR at the upcoming aftermarket show (SEMA) appears to be certain, with Dodge releasing the teaser image below. See more of Suzq044’s work.

Engineer Steven St. Laurent noted a new patent filed by Chrysler, covering an extension of stowable seats. The “Stow ’n’ Go” system in Chrysler and Dodge minivans allows owners to easily fold the middle and rear seats into the floor, providing a completely flat surface for moving large objects (or lots of small ones); when not in use, owners can use the under-floor space for added storage.

Like related Chrysler stowable-seat patents of 2014, this one focuses on simplicity of construction and usage.

Instead, using fewer parts, the new seats can apparently be folded forward and down into the floor. In addition, they provide unobstructed space between the bottom of the seat and the floor, for other passengers’ feet and whatnot. (The patent actually provides for more than one arrangement using pivotable couplings.)

Mr. St. Laurent wrote,

Chrysler is seeking to have rear and middle seats in new-generation trucks and SUVs fold completely into the floors — a flat surface vs a 5-10° incline when folding middle or rear seats (e.g. in Durango).  Anything behind the driver seat will be a flat surface.

It is now simpler to drop the seat and align it to the floor tub, without much effort. On this one, the seat back will be the surface of the floor. I haven’t see the latest seats to determine how and why would I use the back seat surface as the floor surface.  It would interest anyone who uses the interior space of the truck or SUV for storage.

[It could also be helpful for using] the rear of the quad-cab Ram truck for sleeping when driving on long trips, by folding the seat and placing a mat on top when switching drivers. In an SUV, flat rear space for cargo is better what I am seeing in any SUV.

The inventors were Michigan residents Walter Holzhueter and Todd McCann. Also see our related coverage from 2013 and 2014.

Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore says that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne welcomed FCA’s new stock listing by purchasing 335,000 shares. The stock came from that returned by investors exercising their cash exit option.

Marchionne paid $3.32 million for the stake at about $9.90 per share, the same price Fiat S.p.A. paid for the returned shares.

The additional shares bring Marchionne’s holdings in FCA and CNH to 6.8 million shares; about 0.5% of the total shares issued.

Marchionne’s lead was not followed by Exor, the Agnelli family holding company that owns 30% of FCA. With 46% of the voting rights, Exor is staying on the sidelines.

In February 2015, Marchionne will receive an additional 2,333,000 shares of FCA and 366,000 shares of CNH Industrial. Some will no doubt be sold to pay taxes but Marchionne’s pre-tax stake would be close to 9 million shares.

While the Dodge brothers were so close they refused to open mail addressed to just one of them, the latest Dodge commercial shows, in the company’s words, “John and Horace Dodge battle it out in a century-long car chase that takes them through the history of the brands most celebrated automobiles, culminating in an epic duel between the latest cars to continue the Dodge legacy.”

The ad breaks tonight during Jimmy Kimmel Live, and will also run this week during The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with David Letterman, among other shows (including sports and prime time broadcasts).

The spot highlights some Dodges many people may never have seen. In fairness, while the Dodges were enthusiastic and energetic, the early Dodges were not known for their power and speed, but for their strong engineering and durability (at the price). Those were such important factors to Dodge customers that famed copywriter Theodore MacManus created the word “dependability” for a Dodge promotion.

dodge ads

The Dodge Brothers never made performance cars, as such, and Dodge itself did not either, arguably until the D-500, and even then the brand was still focused more on near-luxury than performance. Plymouth had been equally or more known for performance, thanks to their backing of Lee and Richard Petty, the affordable and potent Plymouth Road Runner (followed by the Duster 340), and the 1964-69 Plymouth Barracuda, which was not shared with Dodge.  Then, in the 1980s, Lee Iacocca allocated all the performance cars to Dodge or Chrysler, with only Dodge getting the top “Turbo III” and “Turbo IV” engines.

See our 1922 Dodge Brothers Touring Car test drive.

Is this the Viper ACR?

Allpar’s informal sources have agreed that there are plans for a new Dodge Viper ACR, debuting for the 2016 model year, possibly replacing the current TA (Time Attack) model. Artist suzq044 provided the following rendering, which uses SRT’s trademark black wheels and a Dodge concept-car semi-rendering. The Viper ACR may have a mild power boost, but will be mainly a suspension and/or airflow upgrade, to increase track [...]

Charger Hellcat, SRT, other pricing

Dodge has released pricing for the full Charger lineup, starting with the V6/eight-speed Dodge Charger SE at $28,990 (all prices include $995 destination for the “49 states”). Charger was thoroughly renovated for the 2015 model year, with a new look, suspension and electronics revisions, a standard eight-speed automatic for ever engine, and other upgrades. The top Charger, the SRT Hellcat, has [...]

Ferrari engines: “Imported from Detroit”

Months after unconfirmed reports made it to Allpar’s pages, the power of Automotive News, in the person of reporter Larry Vellequette, pried a key fact from Chrysler executives — that they cast and build “Ferrari” engines for Maserati. As our sister site reported, the engines are actually cast in Kokomo, and machined in the Trenton Engine plant, using a mixture of [...]

Chrysler issues SEMA “teasers”

Keeping a years-long tradition, Chrysler today released a number of “teaser images” for concepts to be revealed at the SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each brand is covered, though Chrysler has but one car — the 200S. That can be explained by the status of the brand’s three cars: the 2015 300 has yet to be launched, and the [...]

Wrangler may leave frame, factory, steel behind

The 2017 Jeep Wrangler may leave its historic steel body-on-frame construction and Toledo plant behind, according to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, as quoted by Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette. The current Wrangler has good mileage for rugged four wheel drive vehicles, but poor economy overall, at around 17/21 mpg (depending on model and transmission). Mr. Marchionne said the Wrangler will need to lose weight [...]

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