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Archive for the 'Chrysler' Category

Ram 1500 weight close to 2015 Ford?


Ram spokesman Nick Cappa wrote,

We have received inquiries on weight reduction regarding half-ton trucks and a 2014 vs 2015 weight comparison from one of our competitors. … The 2014 Ram 1500 uses aluminum in strategic locations including the hood, suspension components, engine components and drive shaft.

The more interesting story is our apples to apples weight numbers. We selected the Laramie trim since content is similar to [Ford F-150] Lariat. The Ram 1500 Laramie is a very nicely equipped truck and within our top three trim levels. The data below reflects 43-pound side steps and about 18 pounds for fuel to align with our competitor’s claim. All weights include fluids (lubricants, coolant, etc.)

Drive Engine Cab/Bed Ram Weight
RWD V6 Crew, 5’7” 5,018 lb
RWD V8 Crew, 5’7” 5,252 lb
4×4 V6 Crew, 5’7” 5,215 lb
4×4 V8 Crew, 5’7” 5,445 lb

[In a] straight up comparison, the Ram 1500 Laramie weighs about 273 pounds more than an aluminum-bodied truck. We expect the weight comparison differences to shrink in other trim levels and configurations.

While Mr. Cappa did not mention Ford by name, Ram’s F-word rival’s shopping site lists weights for the model 2014 (not 2015) F-150, but only for the “Super Crew” cab with the 5’6” bed — and these curb weights are likely for the lowest trim level available with each engine. The weights vary from 5,128 lb (base V6) to 5,615 lb (turbo V6, which is heavier than the 5-liter V8). There is also a 5,774-lb 6.2 liter option.  The 2015 model-year trucks are expected to lose up to 733 lb.

While Ford has made many headlines for their extensive use of aluminum, which likely was partly enabled by their hiring of much of the Plymouth Prowler’s engineering team some years back, Ram is expected to increase its own use of aluminum and to find other methods of weight reduction, as automakers race to cut fuel economy without lowering capacity. With the weights this close, some owners may choose to avoid the higher repair costs of aluminum body panels.

Ford has promised to use SAE-standard tow ratings for its 2015 pickups, but had made and backed away from that promise earlier, as well. Ram has already released their SAE standard tow ratings, revealing that their existing ratings had been in line with the SAE numbers; Toyota switched some time ago on their Tundra.

Auctioning the first Hellcat

Dodge will auction the very first production 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the most powerful and fastest muscle car ever built, during the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas 2014 auction on September 27 in Las Vegas. Proceeds will benefit the not-for-profit Opportunity Village

The special-edition 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, with a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI® V-8 engine and 0001 vehicle identification number (VIN), has an NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of 10.8 seconds at 126 mph. The donated muscle car will be the only Dodge Challenger to have a (Viper) Stryker Red exterior, hand-painted at the Dodge Viper paint facility, along with special badging, VIN documentation, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia.

Stryker Red Challenger Hellcat #1
The car has a TorqueFlite 8-speed paddle shift automatic transmission with RPM matching downshifts, the largest brakes ever offered by Chrysler Group, and 20-by-9.5-inch wheels of lightweight matte black forged aluminum. 
The auction package includes a presentation box with a electronic vehicle build book and video documentary, still shots, vehicle footage, a Challenger SRT Hellcat embossed Laguna Leather iPad sleeve, a signed SRT Hellcat lithograph, and a “birth certificate” for VIN0001. 
Barrett-Jackson is waiving all bidding and consignment fees. A prototype 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat will be on display at the Dodge booth in Hall 3 from July 31 to Aug. 2 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

July sales forecasts

While sales numbers won’t be released until a week from today and even though there’s one more selling weekend in the month, industry analysts have already issued their forecasts for July light vehicle sales., Kelley Blue Book’s, and all see Chrysler Group reporting the highest growth of the top automakers with sales more than 20% higher than they were in July 2013, a month where Chrysler temporarily fell to fifth in the volume rankings, outsold by American Honda.

Edmunds says Chrysler’s July sales will be about 0.2% below June 2014 while Kelley Blue Book has Chrysler coming in 0.5% ahead. TrueCar looks for sales to be about the same.

Overall, this month is forecast to be the strongest July since 2006. Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar all expect the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) to come in at 16.6 million sales or better, making July the fifth consecutive month that the SAAR has been above 16 million.

J.D. Power/LMC Automotive agrees with the industry estimate and has raised its projections for the full year to 16.3 million cars and light trucks.

“July’s performance is the clearest indication yet that retail buyers are driving market demand,” says analyst Jessica Caldwell. “Shoppers are looking past news of recalls and rising gas prices and they’re finding affordable interest rates and other incentives that make it easier to buy a new car.”

Sales Volume Market Share
Manufacturer July 2014¹ July 2013² Change July 2014¹ July 2013² Change
General Motors 258,966 234,071 10.64% 17.72% 17.80% -0.45%
Toyota Motor Sales 217,314 193,394 12.37% 14.87% 14.71% 1.11%
Ford Motor Company 212,714 193,080 10.17% 14.56% 14.68% -0.87%
Chrysler Group 170,659 140,102 21.81% 11.68% 10.66% 9.61%
American Honda 144,701 141,439 2.31% 9.90% 10.76% -7.94%
Hyundai-Kia 126,937 115,009 10.37% 8.69% 8.75% -0.69%
Nissan North America 123,653 109,041 13.40% 8.46% 8.29% 2.04%
Volkswagen Group³ 48,379 48,843 -0.95% 3.31% 3.71% -10.87%
Industry 1,461,290 1,314,891 11.13% N/A
¹ forecast
²Actual sales/share based on manufacturer reports
³Volkswagen Group volume includes only Audi & Volkswagen brands

Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said, “Following last month’s record SAAR since July 2006, sales should slow slightly, but remain strong overall in July. Sales in the first half of the year totaled 8.15 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from last year. In the second quarter, sales hit 4.41 million, which is the second-best quarter since 2006.”

Sales Volume Market Share
Manufacturer July 2014¹ July 2013² Change July 2014¹ July 2013² Change
General Motors 259,000 234,071 10.65% 17.70% 17.80% -0.10%
Toyota Motor Sales 213,000 193,394 10.14% 14.50% 14.70% -0.20%
Ford Motor Company 210,000 193,080 8.76% 14.30% 14.70% -0.40%
Chrysler Group 172,000 140,102 22.77% 11.70% 10.70% 1.10%
American Honda 151,000 141,439 6.76% 10.30% 10.80% -0.50%
Hyundai-Kia 126,000 115,009 9.56% 8.60% 8.80% -0.20%
Nissan North America 125,000 109,041 14.64% 8.50% 8.30% 0.20%
Volkswagen Group³ 54,000 52,663 2.54% 3.70% 4.00% -0.30%
Industry 1,465,000 1,312,991 11.58% N/A
¹Kelley Blue Book forecast
²Actual sales/share based on manufacturer reports
³Volkswagen Group includes Audi, Porsche & Volkswagen brands

“July sales are red hot and better than expected, with our forecast up about 10 percent over last year,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. “While some of the growth is powered by incentive spending up $200 per vehicle, we are seeing continued strong demand for trucks and utility vehicles.”

TrueCar sees Ford continuing to hold onto the No. 2 spot by a slim margin while Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book see the Japanese automaker repeating its performance from last year, when it knocked the Blue Oval down to third by 314 sales.’s estimates of incentive spending put Chrysler at the top for the month, averaging $3,458 per vehicle, $60 ahead of Ford and $79 ahead of GM.

Sales Volume Market Share
Manufacturer July 2014¹ July 2013² Change July 2014¹ July 2013² Change
General Motors 268,000 234,071 14.5% 18.56% 17.82% 4.18%
Ford Motor Company 211,000 193,080 9.3% 14.61% 14.70% -0.57%
Toyota Motor Sales 210,000 193,394 8.6% 14.54% 14.72% -1.20%
Chrysler Group 171,000 140,102 22.1% 11.84% 10.66% 11.05%
American Honda 146,000 141,439 3.2% 10.11% 10.77% -6.08%
Hyundai-Kia 125,000 115,009 8.7% 8.66% 8.75% -1.11%
Nissan North America 122,000 109,041 11.9% 8.45% 8.30% 1.80%
Volkswagen Group³ 46,000 52,663 -12.7% 3.19% 4.01% -20.53%
Industry 1,444,000 1,313,844 9.9% N/A
¹ forecast
²Actual sales/share based on manufacturer reports
³Volkswagen Group includes Audi, Porsche & Volkswagen brands

Note: Industry totals vary from source to source due to what each includes and according to each one’s estimate of certain brands, such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and Rolls-Royce, that do not report monthly sales.

Wrangler: aluminum and/or hybrid?

As government rules get tighter, and to avoid losing customers if/when gas prices rise, automakers are trying to increase gas mileage.

At Chrysler, Ram has been slashing fuel consumption by cutting parasitic losses, using eight-speed automatics, and spreading diesels to the 1500 line. Jeep is busily creating the new Wrangler, with an eye towards saving weight, and Chrysler has been advertising for a senior buyer for large aluminum castings.

2017 Jeep Wrangler

While many Jeepers have called for a diesel in American Wranglers, because they conserve fuel while boosting low-end torque, industry insiders are talking about other Wrangler options. For one, there’s likely to be a lot more aluminum in the rugged Wrangler, perhaps including the body tub (a hydroformed steel frame seems to be likely, too).

There’s been some quiet buzz around the idea of a hybrid Wrangler. This would likely not be an all-out effort like Prius, but a repeat of the Durango/Aspen “drop in hybrid” type of solution. We’ve been told to look for something like the FEV seven-speed dual-clutch full hybrid transmission, whose electric motor smooths the ride by eliminating gaps between shifts.

Hybrids have downsides, including added weight and space requirements. The weight of  hybrid drive systems has fallen, but current systems still add about 100 pounds and the space needed for the battery pack could be a problem, especially in the two-door Wrangler (perhaps it would be an Unlimited option only).

Whether Jeep actually goes forward with an alternative powertrain may well depend on whether fuel prices shoot up over the next few years. The company may be planning something for their “back pocket,” or for sale in countries where fuel is more expensive. An advantage of transmission-based hybrids is they can be used with either diesels or gasoline engines. Wrangler is a prime candidate for change, since it sells very well but has (along with other cars in its class) poor fuel mileage.

Regardless of how they do it, we can probably expect a lighter, and hopefully equally rugged, Wrangler in the next generation. As we noted last week, Jeep Wrangler is the Jeep that controls all other Jeeps; they can’t afford to screw it up.

No FCA-PSA Peugeot merger talks (either)

The slow week for Fiat news has journalists scrambling again. Thursday’s Financial Times reported that Fiat-Chrysler and PSA Peugeot have discussed a merger.

Unlike the story in Manager Magazine about a possible FCA-Volkswagen tieup, the Financial Times said “people familiar with the talks” were fairly straightforward: the automakers did have discussions but nothing progressed beyond that point. The sources said talks ended in February, about the same time PSA Peugeot received a $2.14 billion cash infusion from Dongfeng Motors and the French government, which each took a 14% stake in the French automaker. The Peugeot family took an equal interest, giving up command of the company they had controlled since 1810.

Both Fiat-Chrysler and PSA Peugeot deny there are any further discussions planned.

Advisors call for Fiat-Chrysler merger rejection

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), the world’s leading provider of corporate proxy voting services, has issued a recommendation that Fiat shareholders reject the proposed merger of Fiat and Chrysler.

Fiat needs the approval of the holders of at least two-thirds of the shares being voted.

According to a Reuters report, an ISS recommendation document says, “Despite the potential benefits of a NYSE-listing in attracting new investors, (the merger) would decrease shareholder rights.”

Frontis Governance, a smaller, Italian proxy advisor based in Rome, has made the same recommendation.

A primary objection to the merger is the special class of “loyalty” stock which rewards long-term shareholders with additional voting shares.

Fiat shareholders who vote on the merger, whether in person or by proxy, and continue to hold their shares until the closing, are eligible to receive special voting shares equivalent in number to the FCA common shares they receive.

Shareholders are eligible to receive the special shares regardless of how they vote and those who hold their FCA common shares for at least three years would also be entitled to participate in the loyalty voting structure.

Under the plan, ISS and Frontis say that Exor, the Agnelli family holding company that has a 30% controlling interest in Fiat S.p.A., could have up to a 46% voting interest in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Quoted by Reuters, Sergio Carbonara, the founder of Frontis Governance, said, “The idea of a second voting share is like a gift to Exor.”

Shareholder Shares Percent
Exor S.p.A. 375,803,870 30.00%
Fiat S.p.A. 34,577,882 2.76%
Baillie Gifford & Co. 33,034,705 2.64%
Norges Bank Investment Management 26,945,587 2.15%
The Vanguard Group, Inc. 25,782,643 2.06%
Schroder Investment Management Ltd. 25,782,643 2.06%
Marketfield Asset Management LLC 24,399,565 1.95%
BlackRock Fund Advisors 13,433,385 1.07%
Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo Co. LLC 9,849,007 0.79%
Capital Research & Management Co. 9,000,000 0.72%
TOTAL 578,609,287 46.20%

As the chart shows, the top ten shareholders have a total stake of 46.2%, far less than the 66.7% needed to approve the merger. As of July 22, the company has issued 1,250,963,898 shares, and it’s going to need more than 833,975,932 of them to be voted in favor of the merger.

With just eight days until the scheduled vote a week from Friday, Sergio Marchionne and John Elkann are going to be busy lining up support.

Since the new five-year plan is predicated on the merger going through, it’s not known what form any Plan B would take, considering that plans to list the new company’s stock on the New York exchange would have to be shelved, making it more difficult for either Fiat or Chrysler to access American financial markets.

Altering the terms of the merger would throw a monkey wrench into the timing, as new documents would have to be prepared and filed and the Fiat board would have to meet again before a new shareholder’s meeting could be scheduled. This would certainly push Marchionne’s timetable well into the first quarter of 2015 if not later.

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