Category Archives: All Mopars

What’s in the driver’s seat?

Some say a company can be defined by its biggest sellers, and others say the image and profit flagships are what count. At FCA US, the biggest sellers are, in some cases, also the flagships.

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The biggest FCA US seller, by far, is the Ram pickup/chassis cab series, which is interesting when one considers that, in the 1980s, the company essentially gave up on that entire class. So far this year, Ram has sold 441,862 of their flagship trucks, more than a fifth of FCA US’ total — 22% of all sales (except the minimal Fiat/Alfa Romeo sales).  Last year, Ram pickups and chassis accounted for 20% of the total.

The #2 best seller at the old Chrysler was the Jeep Grand Cherokee (189,023, year to date), followed closely by the Jeep Cherokee (183,356). Grand Cherokee sales are up 8% for the year, and Cherokee is down 6%; each accounted for 9% of total sales, but Grand Cherokee most likely drove far more profit.

The Grand Cherokee shares the Jeep “flagship” position with the Wrangler, FCA US’ fourth best seller, with 176,053 sales — down 6% from 2015 YTD, but still respectable, and again 9% of total sales.

The next vehicle is the Dodge Caravan, a company leader since the 1980s, boasting a massive 35% sales increase since 2015 (supplies were constrained for part of last year). That’s 6% of total sales, nearly 121,000 minivans moving.

Belvidere's Millionth
Belvidere’s millionth compact, a Jeep Patriot

Next we have a couple of odd fellas, the Jeep Patriot (114,117) and Dodge Journey (96,991), both old stalwarts with few recent changes, likely selling mainly on price and utility. The newer Jeep Renegade comes in just behind them, at 94,561 sales.  No other vehicle comes in with 5% or more of the company’s total US sales.

The Dodge flagship is the Challenger, and that was Dodge’s fifth best  seller, after the Caravan, Journey, Charger, and Durango. That was just 3% of the company’s sales, with 59,176 sold so far this year, but the Challenger arguably drives Dodge’s reputation, and it’s a key car for that reason.

300C-invoice

The Chrysler flagship is the 300, and it sold just 49,657 copies — good for its segment and up slightly from last year, but just 2% of the total FCA sales (around half of Chrysler sales, since the Pacifica came in at 52,083). It’s worth noting that Chrysler minivans have been about even in sales with Dodge in recent years, and that’s still true this year — 120,991 Dodges vs 110,888 Chryslers.

Going by body types, the large cars do much better; the same basic car has three variants, with 197,033 sales last year, a full 10% of FCA US sales year-to-date. Together, though, they don’t come close to the related Grand Cherokee/Durango combination, at a factory-constrained 251,701 sales. You can see why FCA puts its money where it does; the other two related cars, oddly not built in the same plant, were the Dart and 200, with a little over 100,000 sales, combined (about half of 2015’s year-to-date figure).

300C-super-bee

In terms of the “old Mopars vs Fiat-based,” we have on one hand the Renegade, ProMasters, Pacifica, Dart, 200, and Cherokee, and on the other, well, everything else.  It’s a meaningless metric, but we stand at 1.54 million “old Mopars” and 0.48 million “Fiat based” sales.

The most successful FCA US brands have the highest sales from their flagships, while Dodge’s highest sales come from the cars that are least in tune with the brand. It’s an interesting thought.

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Dodge returning to NASCAR?

Over the weekend, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said that he had spoken with racing leaders about bringing Dodge back into NASCAR.

NASCAR-RangerCel-Clarington-Web

Mr. Marchionne was quoted as saying that he had personally chosen to pull out of NASCAR, because money was too tight at the time.  NASCAR vice chair Jim France confirmed this, saying of Marchionne, “He is a very intelligent man.”

NASCAR’s top series has “stock car” races that run carefully monitored, nearly identical cars that have no parts in common with dealership stock, but have decal packages which make them appear similar. Dodge never left NASCAR’s Canadian series, dominating it in recent years; and when they did leave NASCAR racing in 2012, it was just after winning the championship.

If Dodge did come back to NASCAR, chances are it would not happen until the 2018 season. One observer wrote, “I would guess it would take until about 2020 to race at the top level. They would need to buy a charter (or two) from a current team just to get onto the track; the top level teams are already all spoken for. Maybe by 2020 a top level team might willing to switch. By then, a whole new type of body might be required and plenty of work would have to be done to the last Mopar Nascar motor to bring it back to the top level.”

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Jeep sets its world record a month early

FCA has had its share of bad news so far this month, with the last 200 rolling off the line, sales down in the US and Canada, diesel Ram 1500s still delayed by regulatory review (Ram is not unique — many diesels are being held up), and, making it worse, nearly every other automaker having a fine November sales report.

mike manley with jeep cherokee trailhawk

On the lighter side, the worldwide Jeep sales record set last year has already been broken this year, about a month early, as predicted by Bill Cawthon.  In 2015, 1.24 million Jeeps were sold around the world; according to Mike Manley, there are 1.16 million sales through the end of October, so around 75,000 more were needed in November.

The United States brought in 67,285, Canada added another 6,198, and Mexico accounted for 1,430. That means Jeep only had to sell 87 cars in all other countries combined —and I think we can agree they’ve done that. After all, the company sold 8,087 Jeeps in Europe alone last month.

amc-jeepSo — congratulations on breaking another record, Jeep. Not bad for a company that was happy to make 113,443 vehicles, worldwide, in 1983!

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This is the last Chrysler 200

The car that made “Imported From Detroit” famous will no longer be made in (okay, near) the Motor City.  The final Chrysler 200 was made at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant today, a silver Limited.

final Chrysler 200

With low (if any) profit margins and dismal sales in a shrinking segment, the 200 had some critical acclaim but ended up invisible as buyers went for Toyotas, Hondas, Chevys, and Fords.  To save development and tooling funds, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne ended the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 entirely; there was reportedly a plan to have them made under contract, but it seems to have fallen through.

FCA spokesperson Jody Tinsley confirmed the end of production for  the Detroit News, which reported that most of the plant’s 1,700 hourly workers will be temporarily laid off as the plant is converted to make the next-generation Ram pickup. After that, Sterling Heights is expected to have more workers, and Warren will have fewer — assuming Warren itself will indeed find a new life building Jeeps and overflow Rams.

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Meet the first retail hybrid minivan

Chrysler has produced its first official hybrid minivan for retail sale; production started yesterday.

Building a super-module

All Chrysler minivans are made in Windsor, Ontario, which has built them for 33 years — making 10 million of the people-movers (St. Louis built another 4.3 million).

battery

The batteries are installed under the floor, using a carefully shaped case, where the Stow ’n’ Go cavities would normally be. The hybrid vans have removable second row seats instead of the usual Stow ’n’ Go; they still have stowing rear (third row) seats.

The hybrid starts at $34,495, well equipped, after a $7,500 U.S. tax credit, and is to arrive at dealers “over the next several months.”

first Pacifica hybrid

Muscle car enthusiast Patrick Rall has taken the Pacifica Hybrid out for an extended test drive, and we have detailed coverage in our 2017 minivan powertrain page.

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Challenger T/As rolling out

Both the Dodge Charger Daytona and the Dodge Challenger T/A made a splash at the 2016 Woodward Dream Cruise. Ordering opened soon after, on Thursday, October 13, and sources have told us that production has now started, as well.

The company had said that early buyers can expect to get their car  before the end of the calendar year, which remains true.

The Dodge Challenger T/A hasn’t been offered since its first year, way back in 1970, despite brochures for the 1971 model (that never made production).

The 2017 is sold in the T/A, T/A Plus, and T/A 392 forms, with the 5.7 Hemi and 392 Hemi engines. It has dual “air catcher” headlights, a stain black SRT 392 style hood, a cold air intake kit and hood scoop, black 20-inch wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, hood pins, satin black fuel door and spoiler, T/A stripes, a big active exhaust system, and the Super Track Pak — with a starting list price of $38,385, including destination.

The Challenger T/A 392 is based on the Challenger Scat Pack with the 392 Hemi, adding many of the same features as the T/A and T/A Plus, with massive Brembo brakes, front Bilstein suspension setup,  lightweight wheels wrapped in the Hellcat’s Pirelli tires, and other additions; with the manual transmission, it lists for $45,090.

 

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Still #4 after the slip

FCA US, the former Chrysler Corporation plus Fiat and Alfa Romeo, remains in fourth place in US sales, even during a month when competitors gained.

Ram-Ford-Pickups-Web

As usual, General Motors, shorn of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Saturn, came in at #1, without any dispute and with gains for Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC alike.  Toyota edged out Ford for #2, 197,645 vs 196,441; Ford had a very good month indeed, with boosts in incentives paying off. FCA’s seven brands came in at 162,207.

Maserati, running a mostly Chrysler-based lineup, went up to 1,380 sales — 27% better than in November 2015.

Other brands did well; Honda gained around 7,500 to 122,924, keeping its lead over the next tier. Nissan rose by around 8,000 to 115,136, and Hyundai/Kia gained by around 9,500 to 115,011.  The next tier down was about half that number, with Subaru coming in up 5,000 (51,308) and Volkswagen Group (with Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche) was up by a stunning 8,210 to 48,876.

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Pacifica beat mpg estimates

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has beaten the company’s estimated gas-mileage-equivalent, turning in a stunning official 84 miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

No other minivan has ever come close to this rating.

2017 chrysler hybrid minivan

This reflects the combined city and highway figure for electric-only mode. The MPGe figure estimates “mileage” using fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

The EPA’s estimated total driving range is 566 miles, up from Chrysler’s estimated 530. The electric only range is set to 33 miles, higher than Chrysler’s 30. (Patrick Rall found he could travel further on pure electric.)

This all added up to a rating of 10 in the EPA Green Vehicle Guide, the first time a minivan has gained the top score.

2017 pacifica

Head of Powertrain Bob Lee said, “A large share of credit goes to the vehicle’s e-Flite dual-motor electrically variable transmission (EVT).” Bob Lee said it was an FCA US invention; normally, one motor is set as a generator and a second as a power source, but the minivan uses a one-way clutch so only one motor is needed.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is under the second-row floor, eliminating second row folding seats (they can be taken out) but keeping third-row Stow ‘n Go seating and storage, plus room for seven passengers. Recharging can take as little as two hours using a 240-volt charger. When the 120-volt charger that comes with the van, a full recharge takes around 14 hours; the van also has regenerative braking, to recharge when stopping or slowing down.

When the battery power drops, the Pacifica Hybrid acts like a conventional hybrid, with all-electric or electric-and-gasoline power from the Pentastar V-6. This particular engine uses the hybrid-normal Atkinson cycle to cut pumping losses.  The standard non-electric Chrysler Pacifica minivan is rated at 18 mpg city, 28 highway; the only other electric FCA car, the Fiat 500e, is rated at 112 MPGe, combined.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica starts at $34,495 with a U.S. federal tax credit; state and local incentives can drop the price further.

2017 Chrysler PacificaHybrid Minivan Test Drive

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