Long before the Challenger Hellcat was officially launched, Allpar noted that the engine — which we estimated at “620-680 horsepower” (depending on when the stories were written) — was being tested in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Then we wrote that it had probably been ruled out, for various reasons.

Today, one source wrote that the trademarked Trackhawk name, which we had thought was a Jeep replacement for SRT (since SRT is increasingly associated with Dodge and only Dodge), may be a special Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 707 horsepower Hellcat engine.

It might not reach quite that power rating in the Jeep, given available space and the effect it has on other systems, but would certainly provide more power than the already hefty 6.4 liter Hemi.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 has earned a five-star (the highest possible) overall safety rating  from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  It scored five stars in frontal collisions, two-vehicle side-impacts, and single-vehicle-with-pole side impacts. It got four stars for rollover resistance.

The 2015 200 had already earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Chrysler-200-Detroit-Web

The car’s many optional active safety systems do not factor into the ratings, though NHTSA provides recognition on their safety-ratings page for them. Collision-warning systems are required for IIHS Top Safety Pick+ status.

One segment-exclusive feature is the standard Electronic Park Brake (EPB) with SafeHold. This automatically activates the parking brake if the driver’s seatbelt is unlatched and their door is opened while in Drive or Reverse, to prevent rollaways.

Other standard and available features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), electronic roll mitigation, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, ParkSense rear backup sensors, ParkView rear backup camera, blind-spot monitoring, Rear Cross Path Detection and LATCH child seat anchors.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is built in Sterling Heights, Michigan, a short drive north from Detroit.

hellcat-chargerUS prices for the 2015 Dodge Charger have already been announced; Chrysler Canada has just released Canadian prices.  Both are shown here for comparison, including destination charges. Ironically, while Chargers are assembled in Canada, the destination charge is much higher for Canadians (the equivalent of C$1,119 vs C$1,695). However, AWD is sold at a lower cost, as is the Road & Track package which creates the Charger R/T R/T.

Dodge claims that the Hellcat model is the quickest, fastest, and most powerful sedan in the world. It has a top speed of 328 km/h.

Readers should note that as of posting time, US$40,000 equalled C$44,978. Thus, in US dollars, the Canada Charger SE would run $32,598 — still below the Canadian price, but not by quite as high a margin.  In comparison, the Hellcat is actually cheaper in Canada — US$64,990 is equivalent to $73,078.  Rates fluctuate constantly and Chrysler may have built some reserve into the lower-margin, higher-volume cars to prevent losses if the Canadian dollar falls or the U.S. dollar rises.

At Launch: Charger SE Charger SXT Charger R/T Scat Pack SRT 392 SRT Hellcat
Engine V6 V6 5.7 V8 6.4 V8 6.4 V8 S/C 6.2 V8
Key options AWD* AWD* Road & Track*
US price** $28,990 $30,990 $33,990 $40,990 $49,380 $64,990
Canada price** $34,190 $37,290 $41,190 $49,095 $53,095 $67,095

* $3,000 extra in the United States.
AWD $2,200 extra in Canada; R&T $2,000 extra in Canada

** Includes destination charge ($995 in 48 states, $1,695 in Canada)

Tucker Hibbert in Ram Snocross

2013-14 Snocross series champion Tucker Hibbert will be returning for another year — racing for Ram Trucks.

The eight-time national title-winning racer has won 15 of his 17 Pro Open finals. He will be racing under the Monster Energy, Arctic Cat, and Ram Truck banners.

Ram CEO Bob Hegbloom justified the investment by saying, “The fact that he’s out there with his Ram truck pulling his sleds over North America’s most demanding roads and through the most extreme weather conditions is a reflection of the real-life expectations Ram owners have of their trucks.”

In January 2014, Hibbert also became the most winning racer in the history of snocross, and – with 95 wins under his belt – is expected to claim his 100th pro national victory this season.

Tucker Hibbert in Ram SnocrossHibbert also competed in the 2014 Winter X Games, becoming the first winter athlete to win seven consecutive gold medals.  Hibbert became the X Games youngest gold medalist at age 15. Ram will also support Hibbert in his bid to earn his ninth Winter X Games gold.

Hibbert said, “Our Ram trucks are reliable, capable and take us race to race through some of the snowiest parts of the country. Snocross fans are loyal, and they recognize that Ram is here, helping power their sport.”

Ram Truck will return as the official truck of the International Series of Champions (“ISOC”) series. The series’ management says that 84% of their audience owns pickup trucks.

Last month, ISOC announced a multi-year television agreement with CBS Sports Network. This will kick off on Sunday, December 7, with a one hour preview show; there will be 17 one-hour programs in all.

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association claims there are 1.4 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S. and nearly 600,000 in Canada.  The International Series of Champions (ISOC) is a snowmobile race-sanctioning organization.

Jeep-Globe-Web
When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last Monday, he repeated his goal of making Jeep the company’s top global brand with annual worldwide sales of 1.9 million by 2018.

Analysts quickly pounced on the  statement, saying Jeep couldn’t possibly hit that target.

According to a Reuters report, Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive pegged Jeep sales at 1.2 million in 2018; Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital predicted 1.4 million deliveries and longtime industry analyst Maryann Keller simply said, “Realistically, he’s not going to make the numbers.”

1.9 million sales is an audacious target. If Jeep can hit a million sales worldwide this year, it still will take growth averaging 17.5% annually to get there.

While this sounds like a huge challenge, the analysts’ criticism appears to ignore factors that make the next four years difficult to predict.

First, Marchionne’s plan calls for most of the growth to come from outside North America. In 2013, 73.1% of worldwide Jeep sales came from the United States and Canada. The success of the Jeep plan is predicated on that share dropping below 50%.

Second, Jeep is introducing new vehicles and will use more international production to meet the goal. Chief among these is the Renegade.

From an international perspective, the Renegade is possibly one of the biggest game changers in recent Jeep history. The smallest and perhaps least “American” Jeep ever (despite Klaus Busse’s many Easter Eggs), it’s a new benchmark of the compact capability that’s valued in  many countries. Furthermore, it’s offered with an efficient diesel engine and real off-road chops unmatched in its class.

Jeeps-Army-Renegade-Web

In a recent review of the Renegade Trailhawk, Great Britain’s Car magazine said, “We tried it all (including the skid plates…), and found the Trail Hawk deeply impressive. Not just for a small vehicle, but for an SUV of any description. A top whack (Škoda) Yeti ain’t bad, but this is a different class of mud-plugger entirely.”

Third, Jeep’s reach is growing. When it’s fully up to speed, the Renegade will be on sale in 100 countries, a Jeep brand record, and it has four years to build a market that could make it one of the best-selling Jeep vehicles.

Finally, while past performance is no guarantee of future success, the past five years have demonstrated Sergio Marchionne’s ability to deliver on the majority of his promises.

There are some potential minefields ahead: Marchionne has got to be banking on improving sales in the European Union; the settlement of the Ukraine issue that has caused serious problems in the Russian market; the Latin American market resolving its financial problems and China. This last is a major consideration; Marchionne is depending on FCA’s joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group to dramatically increase Jeep sales in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Jeep-Chinese

There is also a potential bump in the road here in the U.S. In every decade since the end of World War II, there has been a correction in light vehicle sales. Generally, the earlier in the decade the correction takes place, the milder it is. The most recent correction, in 2009, was the largest since the Great Depression so the industry should avoid the shellacking it took then, but it’s almost guaranteed there will be a bad year before 2020.

In order to gain some perspective on the future, it’s worth understanding what Jeep has achieved in recent years.

From 2007 to 2009, Jeep sales plunged by more than 50%. From 2009 through the end of 2013, Jeep sales grew faster than any other major brand, more than doubling in that time; 2013 was Jeep’s best U.S. sales year since 2000.

From June 2009, when Fiat took control of Chrysler, to the end of last month, Jeep U.S. sales have totaled more than 2.3 million units. That’s more than Jeep’s total production from the first CJ2A after the end of World War II to 1986, the last year Jeep wasn’t a Chrysler brand.

Of all the “civilian” Jeeps (CJ, YJ, TJ, Wrangler, etc.) produced in the past 70 years, 20.7% of them have been sold since June 2009.

At the end of September, Jeep U.S. sales totaled 516,387 for the first nine months of 2014, 38,709 shy of the 12-month total for 1999, Jeep’s all-time record sales year. Jeep should surpass that record by the end of October.

With those facts in mind, it would be a shame not to dream – and plan – big.

Cop-Stop-FCA-Web
The Wall Street Journal reports that the European Union is looking into tax arrangements that a number of companies, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, have made with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is a tiny country about half the size of Rhode Island surrounded by Belgium, Germany and France.  It’s home to the richest population in the world, on a per capita basis. It’s also a tax haven for some 50,000 holding companies.

Once a steelmaking country, Luxembourg’s primary industry these days is tax breaks.

Luxembourg has a federal agency called Sociétés 6 that specializes in approving confidential tax arrangements for the companies, helping them get rates as low as 0.4% on certain types of income.

Investigators say the activities of Sociétés 6 violate European Union rules that prohibit state aid to private companies.

The probe that includes FCA came out of one that targeted Amazon.com.

While Luxembourg has the most aggressive program, it isn’t the only target for the EU’s tax police: Ireland recently scaled back its tax considerations and the Netherlands has now come under scrutiny, as well. FCA is incorporated in the Netherlands, but so far the investigation has focused on the structure of Starbucks’ European roasting operation.

At stake are billions of dollars in taxes. American companies are estimated to shelter more than a trillion dollars overseas to avoid U.S. taxes.

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 pentastars.com reported, the engines are actually cast in Kokomo, and machined in the Trenton Engine plant, using a mixture of [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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