Chrysler buys test track, mulls 300C diesel

Larry Vellequette reported in Automotive News that Chrysler has purchased 531 acres of testing center near Naples, Florida, to expand vehicle testing. The facility will be especially useful in winter, along with its Yucca, Arizona facility.

Chrysler was one of the first automakers to create an extensive testing facility in Chelsea, Michigan, a fairly good distance away from its headquarters in Highland Park (later moved to Auburn Hills). The track, which is was created by Ford, was sold to Harley-Davidson in 2002; the motorcycle company will still be leasing parts of the testing center.

An anonymous source added:

Chrysler built an excellent hot-weather proving grounds in Whitman, AZ in 1986. It had a 10 mile perimeter washboard road, with 4 mile oval, 2 mile oval, 2 mile straightaway, a duplicate of the Rubicon trail, a grade hill, and numerous ride-roads. There was a large, modern office building and garage/warehouse. Daimler sold it all for $440 million, the largest land sale in AZ history. You can bet that money quickly went to Germany to prop-up some failing European operation. Loose German accounting laws mean we’ll never know for sure. They then leased the land back from Toll Brothers Homes at a ridiculous rate. On my most recent trip to Phoenix last year, the old Chrysler proving grounds sat like a ghost town in the far-flung desert. You could probably go in, rinse the dust off, flip the breakers, and start testing cars within the week.

One of the first things Cerberus did was get out of that lease and take over the old Ford facility in Yucca, AZ. However, most of the employees were less-than-thrilled.

In other news, Autoblog reported that Chrysler chief Saad Chebad said the company was evaluating the idea of selling a 3-liter VM diesel version of the 300C in North America. The car is already sold in Europe, and the diesel engine conforms to American emissions laws; the main expense would presumably be certification and crash-testing of the car as a whole, since the engine is already used by Chrysler in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and will soon be in the Ram 1500.

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Rendering the Grand Cherokee

DarkSky envisioned a somewhat Range Rover-influenced 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee, keeping roughly the same body shape but altering the front. This design makes the front end both more conventional and more aggressive, while separating it from the Cherokee and Compass alike.

This goes along, somewhat, with the photos recently seen on a Jeep display, assumed by many to be a Wagoneer — but most likely, a styling direction not taken for the current generation Grand Cherokees.

Read the full story: Rendering the Grand Cherokee  »

Where are Wranglers sold?

2015 Jeep Wrangler Altitude

The Jeep Wrangler is an American staple, but it’s sold around the world. Recently, as part of a recall, FCA revealed the sales distribution of the 2016-17 Wrangler.

The great bulk of vehicles — 182,743 — were sold or distributed to the United States. Around 10% of those, 18,011, were in Canada. Accounting for around 20% of the Canadian number were 3,087 in Mexico. Finally, 20,948 were sold outside North America — a bit over 10%.

Read the full story: Where are Wranglers sold?  »

Which Rams and Jeeps will we see?

The last few days have brought numerous photos to the fore; but which will we see?

The big truck-based Wagoneer, so far as it’s based on the photos above, seems least likely, at least in that form. Looking at it after the two images were set to the same scale, you can see that the “new Jeep” is likely a design study for the Grand Cherokee — either the next or current generation.

Read the full story: Which Rams and Jeeps will we see?  »

The Renegade-influenced Wrangler

Reddit member “arcsreddit” recently shared this photo of a Renegade-fronted Jeep Wrangler was photographed, in part-size clay-model form (which looks incredibly real).  While it’s hard to criticize on its appearance, it could send the wrong message — that the Wrangler has been “Renegaded” and lost capability.

Sources have told us that the next Wrangler will be as capable as the current one, if not more so;

Read the full story: The Renegade-influenced Wrangler  »

Could we see a Chrysler SUV?

Chrysler SUV

With the Warren plant soon to be emptied of mainstream Ram production, FCA will be able to create derivatives of the popular pickups without fear of disrupting production. The question is, will they do it? If so, what will we see?

There has already been some speculation about whether the Jeep Grand Wagoneer would be based on the Grand Cherokee, as statements from Mike Manley would lead us to believe,

Read the full story: Could we see a Chrysler SUV?  »

Rendering the Grand Cherokee
2015 Jeep Wrangler Altitude
Where are Wranglers sold?

Which Rams and Jeeps will we see?

The Renegade-influenced Wrangler

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