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2005 Chrysler News (archived)

Chrysler 300C SRT-8 Less Than $40,000

Chrysler announced pricing today for the all-new 2005 Chrysler 300C SRT8 - $39,995, which includes $625 for destination.

Powered by an SRT-engineered 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 producing 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and equipped with a host of performance upgrades and premium amenities, the Chrysler 300C SRT8 arrives in showrooms this spring.

"With the Chrysler 300C SRT8, we're delivering the ultimate performance sedan," said Jeff Bell, Vice President, Chrysler Marketing. "No other manufacturer can bring together the incredible combination of the HEMI, the Chrysler 300C, and SRT. Chrysler does just that with the 300C SRT8, all at an unbeatable value.

'For less than $40,000, the Chrysler 300C SRT8 delivers world-class handling, benchmark braking, functional exterior enhancements, race-inspired interior appointments and a jaw-dropping 425 horsepower,' Bell added.' 'No one else comes even close to delivering the Chrysler 300C SRT8's combination of performance and value.'

Reported by Chris H at (January 03 2005, 06 PM)

Chrysler sales summary

December 2004 was a record month for Chrysler sales dollar values; it was up 5% for the month, with a gain of 3.4% for the year, and a slight market share gain. The minivan line saw a 34% improvement over the prior month, up 29% for the year - the first time for over 40,000 minivans since March 2003.

Durango was up 22% over the year, up 2% from November. The 300 has gained 3% over the prior year, with an under 30 day supply. The Grand Cherokee rose 72% over December 2004, with most of that rise in the last ten days of December as vehicles reached the market.

There are 600,000 units of inventory at the moment, an 81 day supply, up from 74 days last year.

GM sales were down about 6% from December 2004, with full-year sales falling 1%.

Reported by Dave at (January 04 2005, 03 PM)

Chrysler will not build ME-412

Citing economic issues, Chrysler announced it would not build the ME-412. Our sources claim the real reason is that it would upstage Mercedes too badly - being developed largely by American suppliers (admittedly with an American-specification AMG engine), and at a surprisingly low cost, yet clearly beating the rather expensive Mercedes/McLaren SLR. The ME-412 had been created by a small team in a very brief time, but would have been the fastest (low) production car in the world.

Reported by Dave at (January 06 2005, 08 AM)

Five-star crash rating for vans with Stow 'n Go

With safety, security, and quality at the forefront of its design, the entire line-up of 2005 Chrysler Group minivans has earned the highest ratings -- five-stars for frontal impact crash tests -- from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Included in the five-star rating are the 2005 Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan -- both short-wheel base and long-wheel base versions.

NHTSA's five-star rating ranks the likelihood of injury in a frontal impact crash at 10 percent or less.

Reported by Chris H at (January 08 2005, 11 AM)

CPOV Sales

Chrysler reported record sales for its Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles (CPOV) for December 2004 of 9,892 units, an increase of 69 percent compared to December 2003 when 5,853 units were sold. Total CPOV sales for 2004 also set a new record, posting sales of 100,360 units, an increase of 23 percent over 2003 sales of 81,297 units. Sales for 2004 marked the first time that Chrysler Group CPOV sales exceeded 100,000 units in one year.

"Exceeding 100,000 unit sales in one year is a significant milestone for Chrysler Group CPOV," said Ray Fisher, Chrysler Group Vice President - Sales and Service and Parts Operations. "Coupled with the fact that only our best dealers - Five Star Certified - are authorized to sell Chrysler Group CPOV, setting new sales records during 2004 speaks strongly about customer acceptance of our certified used vehicle program versus our competitors."

All three Chrysler Group brands posted year-over-year CPOV sales gains in 2004. The Chrysler brand posted CPOV sales of 28,837 units, an improvement of 45 percent over 2003 sales of 19,834 units. The Dodge brand continued its position as the Chrysler Group CPOV volume sales leader, posting sales of 48,869 units, 22 percent higher than Dodge brand CPOV sales of 40,107 units in 2003. Jeep CPOV sales increased 5 percent to 22,654 units compared to 2003 sales of 21,612 units.

Reported by Chris H at (January 13 2005, 06 PM)

Detroit News - Five new models in ’05

DN is reporting that Chrysler will introduce five new models this year. The Charger, Commander, and Ram Mega Cab are three of them. Two others aren't named.

The article also says that the SRT variants of the 300, Magnum, "and possibly the Charger" will be rolled out this year, but will not count as part of the five new cars for the year or the much-bandied-about 25 over three years. It is also unclear whether the Viper Coupe is counted as a new model.

Finally, the article says Chrysler will decide whether to build Gladiator and Firepower within a year.

(Thanks Georgejetson)

Reported by Chris H at (January 18 2005, 02 PM)

SRT-8 Update

Sources close to Allpar report that the upcoming Charger SRT-8 (or maybe the Daytona) a front end made by ASC and be launched in late spring.

This may mean that it will have more than just a chin spoiler like that one the 300C SRT-8. Also reported is that one will be able to still get a chrome grill on the 300C SRT-8 as an option (standard on the SRT-8 is a body colored grill).

Reported by Chris H at (January 18 2005, 03 PM)

First Charger, NASCAR shell to be auctioned

Chrysler is auctioning off the first volume production Dodge Charger as well as the NASCAR body shell used in the car’s introduction this month in Detroit.

"The King," Richard Petty, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series title winner and legendary Dodge Charger driver, will deliver the keys to the top bidder at the May 7 Darlington Raceway race. The auction proceeds will benefit Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Salvation Army.

The mock race car shell is a replica of NASCAR Rookie-of-the-Year driver Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger. The shell covered the production version of the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger as it was revealed for the first time. The NASCAR shell has been autographed by Petty, Kahne and Chrysler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche.

Zetsche said, "During the first week following the press conference, the Dodge Web site received more than 300,000 “Charger hits” and more than 50,000 handraisers requesting more information on the car. We thought, what better way to support two worthy charitable organizations than by auctioning both items and offering the chance to meet the King himself, Richard Petty."

Bidding will begin at http://www.eBay.com/charger on February 1. Proceeds from the winning bid will be shared between Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Salvation Army. The auction will close on February 11, 2005.

Victory Junction Gang Camp was founded by Paul Newman and Kyle and Pattie Petty to enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

Richard Petty had 36 NASCAR Cup Series victories in a Dodge Charger. Petty drove a Dodge Charger during three of his NASCAR driver championships (1972, 1974, 1975). For more on Richard Petty, see http://www.allpar.com/racing/petty-plymouth-racing.html

Reported by Dave at (January 27 2005, 09 AM)

Commercial Vehicle Sales in ’04

DaimlerChrysler sold 712,200 commercial vehicles worldwide in 2004, a 42% increase from 2003 (501,000 units), a new all time high for the sale of trucks, buses and vans. This sales figure includes 118,100 vehicles from the Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) business unit, which was incorporated into the Consolidated Group in April 2004. When adjusted for MFTBC, sales totaled 594,100 commercial vehicles in 2004, and were thus substantially higher than the previous record sales result achieved in 1999 (554,000 units). The sales increase for 2004 excluding MFTBC was 19%.

Sales totaled 274,400 units in Western Europe (2003: 249,500), 177,100 in the NAFTA region (2003: 134,200) and 57,600 units in Latin America (2003: 40,200). In the regions outside of the core markets, unit sales were up from 77,100 to 203,000 commercial vehicles in 2004. This sharp increase was caused by the attractive product portfolio and high demand in the Middle East and Asia. DaimlerChrysler sold a total of 119,400 units in the latter region in 2004.

Reported by Chris H at (January 27 2005, 03 PM)

$419 Million Belvidere Investment

Chrysler Group Executive Vice President of Manufacturing Frank Ewasyshyn today joined Illinois Governor Broadbill and United Auto Workers (UAW) Vice President of the DaimlerChrysler Department Nate Gooden to announce a $419 million investment in the company’s Belvidere (Illinois) Assembly Plant, as well as the addition of a second shift and up to 1,000 jobs to the facility.

"Since Chrysler Group opened the doors at Belvidere Assembly almost 40 years ago, the plant has been a key player in our manufacturing portfolio and product offensive," said Frank Ewasyshyn. "Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to this facility and community by bringing back up to 1,000 jobs and investing $419 million, so that future production reaches new levels of operational excellence and produces world-class, quality vehicles.

The Belvidere investment will be used to overhaul the plant’s body shop as well as modify the paint shop and final assembly area. All changes to the facility will enable greater manufacturing flexibility, while simultaneously preparing for future launches of as-yet-unannounced new products. Production is targeted to begin in early 2006.

The body shop will be retooled, utilizing a combination of new, high-tech robotics and existing plant equipment. New processes will also broaden the plant’s capabilities in the types of vehicles that could be manufactured at the facility. The paint shop and final assembly areas will undergo technology upgrades, in order to achieve new levels of efficiency and quality.

Once implemented, the plant will have the capability to produce multiple vehicles while simultaneously piloting another model, minimizing production losses and down time.
A new local union agreement paves the way to implementing new manufacturing practices that are key to closing the competitive gap with benchmark assembly plants.

The labor plan provides for concepts such as work teams, self-designed work stations, a framework of minimal and flexible job classifications, extensive employee training, and other elements that will provide a better work environment for the assembly line operators.

Reported by Chris H at (January 27 2005, 03 PM)

300C SRT-8 Orders??

Some dealers are reporting that they have now placed orders for the 300C SRT-8, while others claim they can not place orders. Either way, Chrysler did plan for a "January 2005 Intro," with the cars arriving at dealers by spring.

One dealer noted that they have already placed three orders, and Chrysler was quoted as saying the cars would be available in only three months - a claim that might be pushing it - considering order wait times on "regular" 300Cs.

Reported by Chris H at (January 30 2005, 01 PM)

Most car sales fall; Chrysler rises

Ford sales plummeted 13% in January, compared with January 2004, while GM fell 7% and even the mighty Honda fell by 9.6%. Toyota fared better, with a 1.9% fall, while Chrysler actually gained by 9% (8/10 of a point when not adjusted for selling days). Hyundai, still a relatively small player, had a 10% gain, with the Sonata leaping ahead by 21%. It is worth noting that Ford’s fall was due largely to the F-series, whose sales fell 20% compared by January 2004, and the Explorer whose sales fell a remarkable 41%.

It is never good to read too much into monthly sales figures, which tend to fluctuate quite a bit, but it is probably a good sign that Chrysler has not fallen along with most other major players.

Reported by Dave at (February 02 2005, 08 AM)

Chrysler sales detail

As we look at the January 2005 sales figures, keep in mind that month-to-month variability can be high, and that large truck sales slowed at other brands, with the Explorer, F-150, and TrailBlazer all taking major hits. All figures below are based on the adjusted-for-selling-days numbers.

First, the biggest sellers - the trucks. The Ram was down 6%, not bad given increased competition and the F-150’s fall, but still 4,000 units lower than January 2004 sales. Minivans are a mixed bag, with the relatively low-volume Town and Country up 67% - again, 4,000 units! - but the Caravan down 15%, for an overall (albeit small) gain. The Dakota is up 14%, as well.

Moving over the Jeep, the story is not pretty, with the Wrangler down 25%, the Liberty down 6%, and the Grand Cherokee down 9% even as the newly redesigned model is introduced with optional hemi power. Jeep figures do tend to fluctuate without apparent cause, and, again, the Grand Cherokee’s 9% loss is good compared with the news at Ford.

Rounding out the truck lines, the Durango was up 10%, thanks most likely to the redesign, and the PT Cruiser was down 19% but remains a volume leader at Chrysler. The Pacifica, with fire sales galore, still managed to sell 1,200 units less than in January 2004 - down 12%.

The Neon gained 13% over 2004, perhaps partly because of buzz over its replacement and excitement over the small-car sector with the introduction of the Cobalt - buyers may be checking out the Cobalt and then buying the cheaper but still nice Neon.

The Stratus is up 69% (that’s 3,000 units) but the Sebring is down 10% - remember that includes convertibles. Overall, the twins are up in units.

The 300 is doing fairly well, with 10,112 units sold in January 2005, but there’s not much other than the Magnum (5,067 units) to compare it with unless we go back more than one year.

In sum, Chrysler was up 33%, largely due to the 300 taking the place of the Concorde, 300M, and Intrepid; Jeep was down 11%; and Dodge was up 7% overall. Cars were up 47% - we haven’t said that often! - while trucks were dead even for a total 9% increase, adjusted for the number of selling days. (Without that adjustment, cars were up 36%, trucks down 8%, and overall up 1%).

Click on the details/full story link to get the actual sales chart.

Reported by Dave at (February 02 2005, 02 PM)

2005 Dakota Gets 5-Stars

The all-new 2005 Dodge Dakota Club Cab has received a Five-Star rating in front and side-impact crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Dodge Dakota marks the eighth consecutive new Chrysler Group product to receive Five-Star frontal crash-test rating.

Safety features on the all-new Dodge Dakota include a hydroformed and fully-boxed frame that improves handling, accident avoidance and crash protection. The new, award-winning and patented octagonal front frame rail tips help absorb impacts in a frontal crash.

Additionally, the 2005 Dodge Dakota features a new advanced air bag system that includes dual-stage front air bags and an occupant-sensing system for the passenger-side front air bag. Other safety features available on the new Dodge Dakota include side curtain air bags, which cover both rows of seats on Club and Quad Cabs. Rear seat positions in the Dodge Dakota feature three-point shoulder belts, including a new center seating position on the Quad Cab.

Starting with the Chrysler Pacifica in 2003, Chrysler Group has an unbroken string of eight consecutive product launches that produced NHTSA-rated Five-Star vehicles for frontal crash protection: Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler and Dodge Minivan, Dodge Durango, Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Ram Quad, Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and Dodge Dakota.

Reported by Chris H at (February 03 2005, 04 PM)

Good Housekeeping Institute Honors PT

The Chrysler PT Cruiser is the best premium compact car on the road, according to a survey of women by the Good Housekeeping Institute in partnership with J.D. Power and Associates.

Good Housekeeping and J.D. Power and Associates surveyed more than 40,000 female new vehicle owners and asked them to rank their satisfaction with their purchase. Safety was the single most important contributor to overall vehicle satisfaction. Other deciding factors included the durability, interior and exterior construction, and quietness. The Chrysler PT Cruiser was the only domestic make to win its segment.

Reported by Chris H at (February 03 2005, 04 PM)

Dodge Charger Daytona R/T announced, shown

Details are at http://www.allpar.com/cars/lx/charger.html - in essence, this is mainly a graphics kit, with a small "chin spoiler," small trunk spoiler, R/T badging, a ten horsepower boost, and the optional performance suspension.

Reported by Dave at (February 07 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler Group Test Track

Those looking to do more than just slam doors and kick tires at the upcoming Chicago Auto Show will want to make sure they visit the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge displays at McCormick Place. Test drives, unique displays, games, giveaways, live bands and more will entertain and educate consumers throughout the 156,000-square-foot display.

Consumers will have an opportunity to experience the many hot new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs on a specially designed half-mile course that moves through a range of on- and off-road challenges. The Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Jeep Grand Cherokee are just three of the award-winning new products that will be available. (see "Full Story" for more)

Reported by Chris H at (February 07 2005, 05 PM)

Chrysler, Mitsubishi split on mid-sized cars

Detroit News reported today that Mitsubishi will not continue joint development of mid-sized cars with Chrysler. They quoted Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff as saying that the two would still share development of four-cylinder engines and small cars. The next-generation Stratus and Sebring were reportedly fairly close to completion - using a new platform shared with the Mitsubishi Galant. No details on the reasons were shared. (Thanks, Robert Meyer)

Reported by Dave at (February 09 2005, 02 PM)

DCX & MMC agree on compensation settlement

The Supervisory Board of DaimlerChrysler AG, Stuttgart, and the Board of Directors of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), Tokyo, have approved today a Letter of Intent (LOI) regarding the compensation for financial damages resulting from defect cover-ups and recalls at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC). The LOI consists of the following aspects: a cash payment; the transfer of the remaining 20% share of MMC in MFTBC to DaimlerChrysler AG; the agreement that MMC will continue to maintain 100% ownership of NedCar plus additional operative cooperation between MMC and MFTBC in various other areas.

On the basis of this non-binding LOI a final contractual agreement is expected to be reached in March.

In March 2003 and March 2004, DaimlerChrysler AG acquired a total 65% share in MFTBC, the former commercial vehicle division of MMC.

Reported by Chris H at (February 09 2005, 10 PM)

Ram Mega Cab Shown

In the quest to make pickup truck cabs more spacious, more comfortable and more practical, the all-new 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab extends beyond the competition with the largest pickup cab ever.

Reported by Chris H at (February 09 2005, 10 PM)

Auto show report

Immediately headed for the Chrysler Group displays, but stopped at Mitsubishi first, since it was "in the way." Raider on display. Sad to see that the interior is changed little, if at all, from the Dakota - gauge cluster is identical. No V6 models, just V8s on display. Galant RalliArt and Endeavor RalliArt models are impressive, and if they could actually produce them, it might bosst sales. Compared to them, the base models are just bland and boring.

The new Eclipse looks better every time I see it, and I'm noticing more "concept" cars with that same profile appearing.

Jeep. Gladiator anchors the display, and it's impressive looking. The Jeep portion of the test track is here, and they were still shoveling dirt and making bumps and hills. There's even a water portion. And that hill in the above pictures? It's a LOT steeper than it looks. Watched a JGC amble down the track, and it's impressive to see the suspension in action. Hurricane gets it's own stand - be interesting to watch it go over the track, too.

Chrysler. Other than Firepower and the large 300 Car of the Year display, not much new to see here. The Sebring TSi Sedan looks nicer in person, I still hate the front fascia, and I wonder just how many they can sell and if adding another trim is really necessary - there are now 5 trim levels on it. There was ONE Sebring Coupe, and it was a base model at that. A couple of Sebring Verts, a few PTs, Pacificas, and T&Cs round out the mix.

Dodge. I sat and watched the rehearsal of the MegaCab intro to take place at 10:45am CST today. The theme is "The Joy of Six" - six being the 6 things that Dodge beats everyone at. It's an interesting twist on the "clown car" theme. The cab alone on the MegaCab is 111 inches long, following by a just-over-6 foot bed. Rear doors are about 35"x35" and open up to 85 degrees. Rear seats recline. The black one is Hemi-powered, and the red one is Cummins-powered.

Grabbed shots of the Dodge Dakota R/T Club Cab. I cannot recall if that is "new" or not. Hood scoop with "V8 High-Performance" (or something like that) on the sides of the scoop, and R/T decals on the rear quarters. Pretty sharp, but I still prefer the looks of the last-gen Dakota.

Sat in the Charger SXT. I don't find it claustrophobic as some do, rear visibility is no worse than my Stratus, and the rear seat room is pretty decent as well. An interesting comparison - I also sat in the Ford Five Hundred - arguably a main competitor to the Charger. In the Ford, you actually have to get up a bit to get in it, and it's a long way over the door sill to the seat. Once inside, you get a "pinched" feeling - while it may close to the Charger in interior dimensions, it "feels" smaller. I was not impressed at all with the Ford.

Stratus - there were two sedans, a base SXT (still with that "puff sticker" SXT badge on the rear - can someone do something so it doesn't scream "cheap" so much?) and the orange R/T from the Detroit show. The R/T looks nice, the wing I can do without, and the interior is nothing to rave over. Maybe they ought to take the two-tone seats out of the Sebring TSi and add them to the R/T...

Neon - nothing new - same old, although it appears that the bottom part of the SXT front fascia is new - I could be wrong.

Only saw one Magnum - the SRT-8 model. While I prefer the original SRT concept with the wide fenders, this one is acceptable and the front fascia looks much better than the standard Magnum.

A few Durangos, Caravans, and plenty of pickup trucks on hand (SRT-10. 3500 Big Horn. Power Wagon.) One each of the Vipers - vert and coupe.

The Nitro was well hidden, and I believe that intro is for tomorrow - although with the photos online now, that kind of kills the buzz.

Reported by Dave at (February 10 2005, 11 AM)

Chrysler power steering fluid warning

The following 2004-05 vehicles can be severely damaged if the wrong power steering fluid is used. Fluids or supplements containing Teflon have a special danger of clogging or restricting the mesh filter in the pump reservoir, which can actually result in the loss of the steering rack: Pacifica, Sebring, Stratus, Neon, SRT-4, PT Cruiser, minivan, Viper, 300, and Magnum.

To be safe, use either Chrysler power steering fluid or, if none is available, ATF+4 transmission fluid.

(Thanks, Richard Benner. Based on a Service Slants article.)

Reported by Dave at (February 18 2005, 09 AM)

Chrysler Canada scandal, firings

This Detroit News article describes a scandal at Chrysler Canada, where Pentamark ad agency executives apparently paid entertainment bills for Chrysler managers, then billed the company back for the expense. Cash may also have been involved. The theft has apparently been going on for about ten years.

Reported by Dave at (February 18 2005, 03 PM)

NASCAR Charger Updates

Dodge is leveraging one of the most-watched sporting events of the year - the Daytona 500 - to herald the return of the legendary Dodge Charger to American roadways and racetracks nationwide and to celebrate the launch of the several new Dodge vehicles.

"Throughout Dodge's involvement in modern-era NASCAR competition, its vehicles have dominated at Daytona," said Darryl Jackson, Vice President - Dodge Marketing, Chrysler Group. "From the time that Dodge painted the city of Daytona Beach red to lead its return to NASCAR Cup Series racing in 2001, Dodge has generated tremendous excitement for race fans. This year we're adding to that excitement with the introduction of the new Dodge Charger and, hopefully, another visit to Victory Lane at the Daytona International Speedway."

Dodge Charger Gears Up for 2005 NASCAR Debut
After almost 30 years, the legendary Dodge Charger race car will roar again in NASCAR competition. Just one day after the Dodge Charger passenger vehicle was revealed at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in a NASCAR-themed press event in Detroit, legendary Dodge Charger driver Richard Petty and one of the top Dodge drivers of 2004, Jeremy Mayfield, unveiled the new Dodge Charger race car at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 11.

This Sunday, four Dodge factory-backed teams, including 10 drivers, will drive Dodge Chargers in the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500. The original Dodge Charger race car debuted during the 1966 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. Richard Petty earned the most recent Dodge Charger victory in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 1974.

The Dodge Charger race car takes its cues from the production car, with strong styling and powerful performance.

Reported by Chris H at (February 18 2005, 05 PM)

Grand Cherokee Receives Top Safety Rating from NHTSA

The 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee has received the government's highest ratings for frontal and side-impact crash protection in testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Five-Star rating for frontal crash protection for the Jeep Grand Cherokee makes it the ninth consecutive new product from Chrysler Group to achieve the top safety rating in the governmental frontal crash tests.


The 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee is equipped with the latest safety technology, including advanced multistage air bags with an Occupant Classification System (OCS) for the front passenger occupant, available Electronic Stability Program (ESP), available side curtain air bags, tire pressure monitoring system, and all-new SmartBeam headlamps.

Reported by Chris H at (February 28 2005, 09 PM)

Gilles Receives Award

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group Director of Product Design, was presented with the President's Award at the "Black Engineer of the Year" awards ceremony, Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Gilles, who lead the design team of the award-winning Chrysler 300, joins a premiere group of individuals honored for their outstanding talents and managerial contributions.

Gilles has been with the Chrysler Group since 1992, when he served as the primary interior designer for the Dodge Viper GTS/R, Dodge ESX2 and Jeep Jeepster concept vehicles, as well as the production versions of the 2003 Dodge Viper and 2002 Jeep Liberty. In his current position, Gilles directed the design team of two of Chrysler Group's most popular 2005 vehicles, the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300. (see "Full Story")

Reported by Chris H at (March 03 2005, 04 PM)

New CG Appointments

Chrysler Group today announced a series of job appointments intended to provide broad operational experience to key executives.

At DaimlerChrysler Canada, Michael J. Accavitti was named to the position of Vice President - Marketing. Accavitti is responsible for all Canadian product plans and marketing strategies, brand development, advertising and customer relationship management initiatives. He was formerly Director - Jeep Marketing & Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Product Planning for the Chrysler Group in Auburn Hills, Mich. Accavitti will report to DaimlerChrysler Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Norman. (see "Full Story" for the others)

Reported by Chris H at (March 06 2005, 12 PM)

Stratus, Sebring coupes discontinued

The last of the Diamond-Star Stratus-Sebring coupes (until next year's redesigned models appear) rolled off the line in Michigan, according to Mitsubishi. The Eclipse and Galant are still being produced there. The next generation of Chrysler Group mid-sized coupes will most likely be produced at the Sterling Heights plant.

Reported by Dave at (March 07 2005, 02 PM)

Grand Cherokee wins Car & Driver comparison test

The Grand Cherokee won Car & Driver's comparison test, albeit partly on the strength of the Hemi. Low ground clearance was compensated for off-road by good traction and on-road feel. It beat, among other vehicles, the Toyota 4Runner, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Montero, Volkswagen Touareg,

Reported by Dave at (March 07 2005, 02 PM)

Six-speed automatics in January 2007

Chrysler will be a bit late to the six-speed automatic party, but according to Kokomo Perspective, it will be there in 2007, with two new transmissions - the 62TE (replacing the 41TE), and the 68RFE. The first number in the transmission title is the number of gears, the second is the duty cycle (where 1 is the lightest duty). Some observers have suggested that Dodge's largest hindrance in trucks and, to a lesser degree, cars, has been its transmissions, which in some cases are relatively inefficient and in other cases have a poor reputation for reliability. Using transmissions with higher duty ratings should help solve the latter issue over time, while having more gears can keep the engine in its peak power or economy range more effectively.

Reported by Dave at (March 07 2005, 03 PM)

New Caliber, Stratus/Sebring details

We have new details on the Caliber (Neon replacement) which is apparently at the pilot stage, and have discovered that what we thought were Caliber sedan / Rebel photos are in fact Stratus/Sebring photos (so the movie has been moved to the Stratus/Sebring page). See http://www.allpar.com/model/stratus01.html for Stratus details, http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/caliber.html for Caliber information.

Reported by Dave at (March 07 2005, 04 PM)

Grand Cherokee production at Magna Steyr

Today the first all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled off the line as production officially began at the Magna Steyr manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group and Magna Steyr made a $27.6 million capital investment in the reconstruction of the plant's body and paint shops, in addition to significant production line flexibility improvements. About 1,200 employees have been trained to work with the new equipment and new processes, ensuring a smooth transition and consistent production quality. These combined enhancements make the plant well prepared to accommodate Jeep Grand Cherokee production for Europe and other world markets.

Reported by Chris H at (March 07 2005, 08 PM)

Next generation Wranglers, Nitro coming in 2006

According to an article in the Toledo Blade, area Jeep plants will be producing not only the Dodge Nitro (based on the Jeep Liberty, and built in the same plant) but also both two and four door Wranglers in 2006. Details are in our upcoming models page.

Reported by Dave at (March 09 2005, 07 PM)

Commander Uncovered

The Detroit Free Press has printed a leaked photo of the upcoming Commander. xkjeeps.com also has photos of the vehicle, which resembles a 1980s/1990s Jeep Cherokee on the outside and a Jeep Wagoneer on the inside. Specifications are as expected - a stretched Grand Cherokee with the same basic features and options, and a slightly upgraded instrument panel, with a substantially upgraded interior. The Commander appears to be a luxury version as well as a stretch version, based on the released photos.

Chrysler has not yet released official Commander information and we'd expect it to come out at the New York Auto Show (http://www.autoshowny.com/ ). We have not yet gotten word on which vehicles will be shown there.

Reported by Chris H at (March 11 2005, 03 PM)

Dodge Magnum police vehicles

The streets and communities of Auburn Hills, Mich., will now be patrolled by the Auburn Hills Police Department (AHPD) in four new Dodge Magnum police vehicles. The vehicles are being donated by DaimlerChrysler to the AHPD as part of an on-going testing program that provides valuable feedback to the company on how the specially-equipped Dodge Magnum vehicle performs under day-to-day police work conditions. The test also will provide valuable real-world information to the AHPD by demonstrating the best vehicle package that works for a law enforcement vehicle.

DaimlerChrysler is donating four specially-equipped 2006 Dodge Magnums from the engineering test fleet for the purposes of testing by police departments. The vehicles have been thoroughly upgraded with heavy duty suspension and braking systems, upgraded electronics that are specially adjusted to accommodate law enforcement equipment and modified interiors. Exterior features and markings will be added to identify the vehicles as Auburn Hills Police Department vehicles.

Reported by Chris H at (March 11 2005, 03 PM)

GEM Updates

Global Electric Motorcars, LLC (GEM) recently named Orlando Dodge of Orlando, Florida as their 2004 Dealer of the Year. This award is given to the top dealer for the calendar year and is based on sales, service, and other qualifications. 'We are pleased to award such an outstanding dealer with this award,' said Richard J. Kasper, President and Chief Operating Officer for Global Electric Motorcars, LLC.' 'Their hard work and dedication to the GEM line of vehicles have resulted in strong sales of our product in their market.'

The 2005 GEMs are available in selected Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers nationwide. Four models are sold: the e2 which is a two-passenger coupe, the e4, a four-passenger sedan, as well as the eL and eS, which are two passenger cars designed with cargo beds for light hauling.


Classified as a low-speed vehicle, DaimlerChrysler debuted the 2005 versions of its industry-leading GEM electric vehicles last spring during a 9 city launch tour which included a stop at Orlando Dodge and their largest market for the vehicles, The Villages. The new model year was released last spring to meet marketing demands for this top selling, environmentally friendly, neighborhood electric vehicle.

Reported by Chris H at (March 14 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler-Dodge minivans get five star crash rating

The Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country both gained the government's highest safety rating for their 2005 models, joining the Kia Sedona, Mazda MPV, Nissan Quest, and Honda Odyssey. However, during a side crash test, the Honda's driver's door opened itself, which may be a concern.

Reported by Dave at (March 18 2005, 02 PM)

Auto Show - Commander, Jeep SRT-8 reveals

"Starting at the end," with a "media scrum" of actors pretending to be journalists, complete with mics and TV cameras, Dieter Zetsche introduced the Jeep Commander today, pointing to its heritage in the Cherokee and other past Jeeps. He pointed out the off-road credentials of the new vehicle, which we have a great deal of information on - click here to read it - before moving on to its creature comforts and competitive advantages.

The next vehicle introduced was the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (click here for details, a 410 horsepower SUV that can still go off-road and tow over 3,0000 pounds, but also does 0-60 in 5 seconds - making it faster, according to Zetsche, than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the quickest BMW SUV.

One of the more interesting launches from other automakers was Lexus, which says it is serious about capturing 14% of the luxury market - nearly double their current share - with the new GS, which is coming with more than one drivetrain option. The most exciting new Lexus is probably the GS430h, which has a hybrid-electric drivetrain that produces instant acceleration in the 30-50 mph range and a 0-60 of about six seconds, but still produces gas mileage similar to many four-cylinder automatic sedans - in the high 20s, combined city-highway. The IS250 and IS350 were also debuted, the latter having a 300 horsepower V6. The IS has not been a sales success, but Lexus believes they will more than double sales of the model. Details on both Lexuses will be available at toyoland.com on Monday or Tuesday.

We will have photos from the floor next week, and *should* have additional semi-live coverage tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned.

Reported by Dave at (March 23 2005, 12 PM)

NY Auto Show Day 2 - Charger SRT-8 and Police Package

The Dodge Charger SRT-8 and Dodge Charger Police Vehicle were launched today at the New York International Auto Show. Chrysler Group Vice President Eric Ridenour told the gathered crowd of automotive media that there was a live event downtown that we might be interested in. They switch to a "satellite" feed downtown with Tom Lasorda showing a local police chief the new Dodge Charger SRT-8 and goes over the amazing specs. The police chief stated that with all these SRTs, Dodge was making their life more difficult. Tom said that of course, all SRT drivers will be law abiding citizens, but if the cars do fall into the wrong hands there is some new help for them. Enter the new Dodge Charger Police vehicle.

As he was showing the 5.7 HEMI Charger Police package to the chief, someone "stole" the new Charger SRT-8. Tom and the police chief followed in pursuit through a downtown chase. Other vehicles tried to join in, but only the Dodge Charger Police vehicle could keep up. The chase made it way to the Jacob Javits Center and on to the stage. Joe Eberhardt then climbed out of the Charger SRT-8 and was promptly arrested.

Tom Lasorda then went over the various specs of the two vehicles. He also announced a new program starting in April for new SRT owners. They will get a free SRT Track Experience day with help from Skip Barber Driving School Instructors. There will be about 25 dates this year.

My first impressions of the cars: they look good. Very good. Though the SRT-8 is only lowered 0.5 inches it seems much lower. The body colored grill and functional hood scoop provide a very menacing look. The hood is aluminum to save weight but unlike the 300C SRT-8 the Charger SRT-8 decklid is steel. The rear wing is strikingly like those on the second generation Charger R/Ts.

The new 20" wheels are unique to the Charger SRT-8. They remind me a bit of the Plymouth Prowler wheels but more squared off and complete a very nice look. The 14.2 and 14.4 inch brembo brakes behind them are accented with red paint, which seems standard on all Dodge SRT's. The brakes will stop this 4100 lb mass of muscle in Viper-matching 110 feet from 60. The interior is quite similar to the Magnum SRT-8 and seemed to have very good fit and finish. The front buckets have contrasting suede inserts for a splash of color and the rear seats have been given a matching treatment. The steering wheel also had some contrasting leather. Overall, a great package that should do very well.

The Charger Police Vehicle is nice looking in its own right with a body colored grill and steel wheels hidden behind a cap resembling the standard Charger wheels. Overall, the package seems very similar to the Magnum Police Vehicle.

After the launch I spoke a bit with Dan Knott and asked him about the "functional" hood scoop. He mentioned that there are several factors to deal with if they did a Ram Air type scoop; things such as water and snow management. He said that the height of the 6.1 L engine also made it a tricky proposition. He also stated that there might be some opportunity for aftermarket or Mopar Performance parts to make the scoop more functional. I also asked if the rear wing might be a delete option and he said "no."

I then pulled Ralph Gilles aside (he seemed quite familiar with Allpar by the way) and asked the designer about this car and he said that the Charger SRT-8 is the LX car that is most him and his personality. In retrospect he said he almost wished that they had led the Charger launch with this car as it has been done for some time, but that the plan was to release it in New York all along. He said that they considered a different hood and fascia combination (i.e. different shape) but by keeping the shape similar someone could order the SRT hood for instance as a service part and add it to their Charger R/T.

Gilles also stated that he would not do a 2 door with a 120" wheelbase and that the resources for a shortened LX weren't there yet so there will be no SWB LX anytime soon.

I asked him about the new minivans (which he is leading the design of) and he wouldn't say much other then saying he was having a lot of fun with them and that he wanted them to be striking and attention grabbing. They want to re-invent what the minivan can be.

Photos will be posted on Allpar soon.

- Second-day reporting by J. White

Reported by Dave at (March 24 2005, 02 PM)

Sebring still 1st in sales

The Chrysler Group continues to dominate the domestic convertible market as the Chrysler Sebring Convertible retains its best-selling title in the U.S. market for the 2004 calendar year, according to automotive research company R.L. Polk & Co. It's the third consecutive year and the seventh time in the last nine years that the Sebring Convertible has earned the best-selling convertible honor.

"The Chrysler Sebring Convertible continues its run as the best-selling convertible in the United States for good reason," said Jeff Bell, Vice President-Chrysler. "Sebring Convertible's unprecedented combination of unmistakable road presence, athletic handling and spacious interior roominess keeps it at the forefront of the segment."

According to R.L. Polk & Co., the Chrysler Group sold 37,147 Chrysler Sebring Convertibles in the United States during the 2004 calendar year. The Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible ranked fifth in Polk's annual survey with 15,137 units sold.

Reported by Chris H at (March 24 2005, 06 PM)

Durango Facelift, Updates

According to sources close to Allpar News, the Durango will get a mid-life facelift in 2006 or 2007. Internal DCX pictures show the Durango sporting a new look, similar to that of the Ram Mega Cab; with a hint of "concept Durango" from 2003. The grill will be body colored on lower tim levels, with high end models having a "bright" chrome grill. Interior upgrades are also in the works, with improved workmanship and quality.

Also, confirmed by Allpar sources for 2006: Models with the 5.7L Hemi will have MDS.

Conflicting reports are abound about a possible Chrysler version of the Durango. With the recent introduction of the Jeep Commander, more than one option is available for a full-sized Chrysler SUV.

Reported by Chris H at (March 27 2005, 10 PM)

Sebring/Stratus Replacements: Details

While New York did not bring the Sebring/Stratus replacements as we thought, it is reported that development is still progressing at a speedy rate. Although the two cars are 'Twins' now, the new models share almost no sheet metal or styling details. The Chrysler version, which may or may not be called 'Sebring' (New Yorker is in the running for possible names, as well a character lacking alphanumerical designation typical of import and increasingly domestic brands) has an angular profile with a cross of LH and LX like proportions; as well as a 'new interpretation' of the well known Chrysler grill. The car will not be a carbon copy of the Airflite, as many suggested.

The Dodge version - possibly sporting the badge 'Rebel' - will have similar proportions to that of the Chrysler version, but with styling cues from the Avenger, and other Dodge concepts.

Reported by Chris H at (March 27 2005, 10 PM)

Wranglers literally life-savers on movie set

According to a news release, Michael Eisner noted that Jeeps saved a movie crew from a flash flood. "While filming in the Tinghrasse Valley in Western Sahara, we were hit by a freak rainstorm," said Eisner. "A dry river bed that hadn't seen water in years suddenly began filling up, threatening to cut off the 200 people in our crew. With the water getting deeper fast, we knew we had to evacuate everyone over the river to safety. We first tried fording the waters in our rented 4x4s, but they couldn't make the crossing. We realized that only the Jeep Wranglers, which were standing by to be featured on camera in the movie, had enough clearance to cross the rushing water and get people to safety on the opposite bank. In a series of river crossings using the 'picture' Jeep vehicles, the entire crew was ferried to safety. The fact that everyone got back to base unharmed that evening was thanks to the Jeep vehicles." (Thanks, "hemicharger")

Reported by Dave at (March 28 2005, 08 AM)

Autoweek, "Jeep Compass a go"

According to Autoweek, Jeep has confirmed the 4WD Soft-Roader 'Compass,' which will be produced for the 2007 model year. While the new Jeep might not be 'Trail Rated,' it will bear a family resemblance to the rest of the line. Positioned under the Wrangler (not in size, but market), the Compass with go head to head with models such as the RVA4, CRV, and Land Rover's Freelander.

Reported by Chris H at (March 31 2005, 08 PM)

March Sales

Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales for March 2005 of 212,978 units, an increase of 4 percent (8 percent increase unadjusted) over March 2004 sales of 197,856. All sales are reported on a day-rate adjusted basis unless otherwise indicated. March sales results mark 12 consecutive months of year-over-year monthly sales gains for the Chrysler Group, and 17 of the past 18 months the company has achieved positive monthly results. (see "Full Story" for more info)

Reported by Chris H at (April 01 2005, 04 PM)

Chrysler to drop 7/70 Powertrain Warranty

Thanks to KerrymanMopar for this information (it is quoted from an unnamed source within Chrysler, it's by no means official).

'Over the past five years, warranty costs have been reduced by over 40%, and we have had13 straight years of double-digit quality improvements at the Chrysler group. As the overall quality of our products continues to improve, an extended powertrain warranty has become less important to our customers. Ownership trading cycles are decreasing - Chrysler Group research reveals that the average length of new car ownership is 3.5 years. Despite our heavy promotion of 7/70 since 2002, less than 10% of consumers know that we have an extended powertrain warranty. That is why it has not become the traffic driving tool we had hoped. Consumers want new products and new features. What they truly value are our nine new products in 2004 and the many new products in 2005-2006. This is where we want to invest our money. We have decided to eliminate the 7/70 powertrain warranty effective on '06 MY vehicles. The 3/36 will remain in place.

Service Contracts has already developed new programs that reflect these changes and continues to offer an array of products that range in age/mileage coverage and deductible amounts; which allows dealers the ability to customize the contract to meet customer's needs. These plans can be found starting on Page 10 in the pricing and eligibility guide under New Vehicle Plans 3/36 Basic Warranty tab. Our 3/36 warranty coverage is competitive with General Motors, Ford, and Honda.'

Reported by Chris H at (April 05 2005, 09 PM)

More Chrysler Group Awards

As the International Car Wash Association's (ICA) Most Washable Car 2005, the Chrysler 300 has earned the 122nd award bestowed on a 2005 Chrysler Group vehicle. The Chrysler 300 is the most awarded new car ever, based on automotive awards won within the initial year of a model's introduction.

A few of the other organizations and publications awarding top honors to the 2005 Chrysler 300 include Automobile Magazine, AutoWeek, Car and Driver, Edmunds.com, JD Power APEAL, Money Magazine and Motor Trend. The car also was honored with the prestigious "North American Car of the Year" award, selected by 50 journalists representing publications throughout North America.

The Chrysler 300 earned 42 of the 122 2005 global awards Chrysler Group has received to date.

In addition, Chrysler Group won awards for the all-new 5.7-liter HEMI' V-8 engine with Multi-Displacement System (MDS), the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 crate motor available from Mopar and the Stow 'n GoTM seating and storage system technology featured on the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.

Reported by Chris H at (April 09 2005, 04 PM)

Grand Cherokee Surpass Three Million Units

The Jeep Grand Cherokee, which debuted by being driven through a glass wall during the North American International Auto Show on Jan. 7, 1992, recently broke through another barrier: North American sales of the vehicle that redefined the sport-utility market surpassed three million units in March. Worldwide, nearly 3.5 million Jeep Grand Cherokees have been sold since that memorable introduction 13 years ago at the Cobo Convention Center in Detroit.

Jeep Grand Cherokee sales in March 2005 were 18,828 units, lifting sales to 3,013,296 units since the 1992 introduction of the vehicle. Last month’s Grand Cherokee sales were up compared to February 2005 (15,531 units) and March 2004 (17,105 units).

Reported by Chris H at (April 13 2005, 09 PM)

300C models available at the Chrysler Museum

The 1:18 Chrysler 300-C models have arrived in the Walter P. Chrysler Museum (only dark red for now, black and silver are coming). The price is $25 (less 10% for Museum volunteers or Museum Members). Tomahawk models are also available.

See: http://www.chryslerheritage.com/pg200.htm

Reported by Dave at (April 14 2005, 03 PM)

Ewasyshyn, Chrysler manufacturing chief, gets award

Frank J. Ewasyshyn, Chrysler Group Executive Vice President of Manufacturing, was today inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy. The Shingo Academy recognizes dedication to the pursuit of lean, world-class manufacturing and is managed by the Utah State University College of Business. Ewasyshyn accepted the honor at the Shingo Prize Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reported by Dave at (April 20 2005, 03 PM)

Hemi badges getting bigger

With over 500,000 Hemi engines having been sold, Chrysler is increasing the size of the Hemi badge on the 300C and Magnum to one and a half times its current size (145%), and on the Ram and Durango, to one and a third times its current size.

The take rate on the Hemi engine option is a whopping 53% on the Durango, 48% on the Ram 1500, 46% on the Magnum, 41% on the Chrysler 300, 13% on the Ram 2500 and 3500 (where the Cummins seems more popular), and 19% on the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Reported by Dave at (April 20 2005, 03 PM)

Charger "Build & Price" now up

Dodge has now added the "Build & Price" section for the Charger to their website. The url is http://www-5.dodge.com/vehsuite/ModelSelector.jsp?vehicle=CHARGER&pid=u&adid=u&rid=u .

Reported by Chris H at (April 27 2005, 04 PM)

New trademarks

"ME FOUR TWELVE" was published for opposition on 4/12/05.

"TRX," "TRX4", and "RAMCHARGER" were also new.

The RamCharger name might be placed on a fullsize Dodge SUV; or on a newer model outside the U.S. market as it has been in the recent past.

Reported by Chris H at (April 27 2005, 04 PM)

Chrysler moving to team-based work?

Over three decades ago, Volvo began a careful experiment to see if team-based work and empowered factory workers would increase employee retention. They found powerful results not just in retention and absenteeism, but also large quality gains and productivity increases, and moved whole-heartedly into the system, only stopping when CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar left.

Chrysler appears to be moving in the same direction, with Dieter Zetsche telling employees that Sterling Heights and Belvedere redesigns provide "for concepts such as small work teams, self-designed work stations, a framework
of minimal and flexible job classifications, and extensive employee training. It also incorporates elements that will provide for a more productive plant, as well as a better work environment for our assembly line operators."

These changes may increase productivity and quality, especially if combined with more bottom-up action and communication. (Toyota empowers its California workers with authority to make needed changes.)

Belvedere and Sterling Heights will both be able to make both C and D segment vehicles - in Dodge terms, Neon sized and Stratus sized vehicles (which are expected in SUV and sedan form).

Reported by Dave at (April 28 2005, 02 PM)

DCX posts first-quarter profits

DaimlerChrysler recorded an operating profit of $814 million in the first quarter of 2005, compared with $2 billion in the same quarter 2004. The company reported net income of $374 million compared with $534 million for the same period of last year. Earnings per share were $0.36, compared with $0.53 in Q1 2004. In the first quarter 2005, DaimlerChrysler sold 1.1 million vehicles worldwide, a 1 percent increase. The total DaimlerChrysler work force numbered 386,789 people worldwide, 23,882 more than one year earlier, a 7 percent increase. (see "Full Story" for a breakdown of the numbers)

Reported by Chris H at (May 01 2005, 05 PM)

MDS to be on all 5.7L Hemis by 2006

MDS will become standard on all models with the 5.7L Hemi, by the 2006 model year, Automotive News reports. The update, while expected, will also include the Rams, Commander, and Durango. EPA numbers will be released in June of this year.

Reported by Chris H at (May 04 2005, 06 AM)

Kerkorian trying for 9% share of GM

Kirk Kerkorian, who tried to take over Chrysler at its 1990s peak and is currently suing DCX over misrepresenting the takeover of Chrysler as a merger, is currently trying to gain a 9% share of General Motors. Sources are speculating about whether this is an investment opportunity, as Kerkorian claims - GM is relatively low priced at the moment, but Bob Lutz is still in place, and a number of new vehicles and technologies are expected soon - or the first part of a takeover bid.

Reported by Dave at (May 04 2005, 04 PM)

Chrysler sales up, Mercedes, GM, Ford down

Chrysler posted an increase in sales, year-to-year, in April 2005, while Mercedes had an actual loss (or a slight gain when adjusted for the number of selling days). GM and Ford were both down, due largely to plunging truck and SUV sales - GM actually saw an increase in car sales - while Toyota and other Asian automakers saw sizeable increases.

For Chrysler, this was the best April since 2000 and the long decline that has only recently been reversed. Of particular interest was the large rise in minivan sales, thanks to Stow 'n Go, with a 23% hike in sales compared to April 2004. There were also increases in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and pickup trucks.

From here, we will be using year-to-date numbers, since monthly numbers tend to fluctuate quite a bit at the car level.

Chrysler sales were up 24%, largely on the strength of the 300, which still has no Dodge sedan competition. 150,000 300s have now been sold over the past 12 months, not quite Camry numbers but still quite good. The Magnum, with 21,508 sales so far in 2005, is selling at less than half the rate of the 300 series. It seems the Charger is coming just in time - the Intrepid used to be the best-selling LH.

The Sebring continues its decline, with a 12% year to date fall, while the Stratus oddly gained 7%; the two sell at about the same rate, so there's a net mid-sized car loss.

The Neon, still competitive but burdened with a poor reputation and Consumer Reports' scorn, fell 6%, with 40,781 sales over the first four months of 2005.

The PT Cruiser, which was never expected to sell as well as it's still selling, managed only a 4% fall, not bad considering many believe there's a V6 in the wings.

On the minivan side, the Town & Country posted a surprising 36% sales increase despite new competition from Honda and Toyota, not to mention Ford; the Caravan, oddly enough, only went up 2%. The Caravan still outsells the Town & Country, though by a much smaller margin now - it used to sell nearly twice as many, but now is ahead by only about 88,000 to 61,000.

Speaking of minivans, the Pacifica is staying dead even with last year, with sales no doubt influenced by Detroit-area "practical giveaways" and strong incentives. We actually like the Pacifica and find the still-fairly-slow sales a little strange, but at least it's not losing ground.

In the land of Jeep, it's bad times for the Wrangler, whose sales fell 20% year to date, for no reason we can see other than perhaps high gas prices. The Liberty also fell, 4%, while the Grand Cherokee just gained a little - 2% - for year to date. Since it's a new model, perhaps it would make more sense to look at the current month, with a n increase of 16%. It is still the best selling Jeep. The Commander is coming soon, as well.

The Dakota, which has amassed an inventory of over 100 days and is reportedly running massive sales banks in every disused parking lot in the area, saw a slight sales gain of 3%. The Ram, despite a better showing in April, is still down 8% for the year to date (compared with January-April of 2004). The redesigned Durango is up 12%.

Overall, then, Chrysler is up, Jeep is slightly down, Dodge is slightly up; Chrysler as a whole is up 7%; that's 16% higher in cars, and 4% higher in trucks. It's worth noting that GM also saw a sizeable gain in cars, but it was offset by a loss in trucks, for an overall loss.

Reported by Dave at (May 04 2005, 05 PM)

Chrysler Group finally gets its own web site

After Daimler-Benz took over Chrysler, the American operations were renamed DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and "Daimler" was placed in front of "Chrysler" in just about all marketing materials, parts boxes, factory signs, and the like. Then Chrysler Group was set up under DaimlerChrysler to refer to Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge. Now, Chrysler Group finally has its own Web site. It's not chryslergroup.com - that's been taken by a real estate firm - but http://chryslergroup.daimlerchrysler.com/ (or, as the header on the page puts it, http://www.daimlerchrysler.com/dccom/0,,0-5-479389-1-470122-1-0-0-0-0-0-8-479389-0-0-0-0-0-0-0,00.html .) There are some odd things - the banner headline is still DaimlerChrysler, rather than Chrysler Group, and the title is "DaimlerChrysler - Chrysler Group - Chrysler Group," but at least Chrysler doesn't have to squat down underneath Mercedes and Maybach.

Reported by Dave at (May 05 2005, 03 PM)

Consumer Reports recommends PT Ragtop

In the latest issue of Consumer Reports, the magazine evaluated a number of convertible models, including the Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang, Toyota Solara, PT Cruiser Convertible, Chrysler Sebring and VW Beetle. The PT Cruiser Convertible and the Toyota Camry Solara were selected to receive 'recommended' status. The Chrysler Group now has seven recommended models (Thanks oh2o), the highest number in years (possibly ever, from CR).

Reported by Chris H at (May 07 2005, 12 AM)

Chargers ads; at dealers soon

The Chrysler Group will debut a new TV ad this weekend to give U.S. consumers a look at the 2006 Dodge Charger. The company is planning to air a 15-second teaser spot for Charger six times during Saturday's telecast of the Dodge Charger 500 NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina to build excitement before the car lands in showrooms in June. In the ad, a driver sits at the wheel of a red Charger, sipping coffee. As the camera pulls back, a drag-racing car pulls up next to him with a straightaway laid out before the two cars. A light turns green, the screen goes black and a message appears: 'Prepare to unleash Dodge Charger, coming June 1.' Darryl Jackson, Vice President of Global Dodge Marketing, said the 'unleashed' theme will run through all Charger advertising, whether it is aimed at NASCAR dads or soccer moms. 'It's all about letting your inner expression loose,' he said.

Aside from the above statement from DCX Media, some forum members are reporting that Chargers can be found at sporadic locations around the country. There's also been reports of fleet Chargers and well as Charger police vehicles already on the road, well ahead of the planned June release.

Reported by Chris H at (May 07 2005, 12 AM)

Chevy's PT lookalike to sell for similar price

GM will be selling the Chevrolet HHR, styled exactly like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, starting at just under $16,000, close to the PT's original price and near its current Touring Edition price. The top edition, at $18,790, is less expensive than a similarly equipped PT (before rebates). These prices include destination charges.

The HHR was styled by Brian Nesbitt, who was also largely responsible for the PT's styling. Chrysler chose not to keep Nesbitt on as a full-time, permanent employee.

Reported by Dave at (May 11 2005, 08 AM)

Chargers in production

John Cressy wrote: "Automobile news puts total production of Dodge Chargers up to May 7th 2005 at about 252 vehicles. ... They haven't reached the weekly production figures to supply dealers yet. The Mitsubishi Eclipse is further along at this point than the Charger. I'd say maybe every dealer will have one on or about Memorial Day if they are lucky. Remember this 252 vehicles is for a whole month to work out teething problems. Production started around April 7th."

Reported by Dave at (May 12 2005, 11 AM)

New SRT-8s?

redriderbob of Dodgeforum.com reports that SRT is developing two new vehicles for their line. The Dakota and Durango will be the two to received the high performance treatment. The Dodge Dakota SRT-8 will feature the 6.1L HEMI V-8 featuring 425 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque, straight from the Charger, 300C, and Magnum SRT-8 models. The new truck will feature 20" rims, street tuned, and lowered suspension, and a 5-speed automatic transmission. There will be a functional ram air induction hood, as well as two racing bucket seats of leather.

The SRT Durango will have 20" rims, SRT tuned suspension, an automatic transmission, leather buckets in the first two rows of seats, as well as a high rear gearing, and similar to that of the Ram SRT-10's 4.56 gears.

Reported by Chris H at (May 13 2005, 06 AM)

Chargers crash tests

The 2006 Dodge Charger has received the government's highest rating for frontal-impact crash protection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Charger's five-star rating for frontal crash protection makes it the 10th new product from Chrysler Group to achieve the top safety rating in the governmental frontal crash tests.

"The all-new Dodge Charger is built on the successful Dodge formula. It's bold, powerful and loaded with state-of-the-art technology that make for both an exciting and safe ride," said Craig Love, Vice President -- Rear Wheel Drive Product Team, Chrysler Group. "In addition to eye-catching styling and goose-bump generating performance, Charger carries the very latest in active and passive safety science to help our customers avoid accidents and help keep them safe and secure in case of a crash."

Reported by Chris H at (May 13 2005, 06 AM)

Hybrid Technologies Crossfire & PT Cruiser

Hybrid Technologies, a development stage technology company that focuses on the development and marketing of electric powered vehicles and products has introduced their "R-Car Chrysler Crossfire" conversion as well as a "R-Car Chrysler PT Cruiser" conversion. The Crossfire and PT are said to be able to reach and sustain speeds of 90 MPH for distances of around 100 miles. According to the companies website, the two cars gas engines have been removed, so there is no equivalent horsepower rating. *Estimated* peak power at 50 mph is 72 hp with a charge time or 1-8 hours, depending on the outlet and voltage. Battery charge lifespan is claimed to be "over 1000 charges."

Hybrid Technologies website is: http://www.hybridtechnologies.com

Reported by Chris H at (May 14 2005, 03 PM)

Third shift at BAP

To help keep up production of the 300 SRT-8, Magnum SRT-8, and '06 Charger, a third shift has been added at Brampton. Production of the Magnum SRT-8 will begin next week.

In addition to Brampton, the other two plants that run three shifts are the Windsor Assembly Plant, which builds the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and Chrysler Pacifica, and the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, which produces the Dodge Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota.

At Brampton, the addition of a third shift created approximately 950 new jobs. It was implemented to not only increase the plant's capacity, but also improve its flexibility to accommodate production of the company's family of rear-wheel drive sedans. Off of one platform, the workers at Brampton are building the Chrysler 300, Chrysler 300C Touring for Europe, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger, including all of the model variants such as the 300C, rear- wheel and all-wheel drive variations, and high performance SRT models, and the Magnum police cruiser.

In preparation for the launch of the Charger, Chrysler Group invested $203 million into the plant. That includes $68 million to transform assembly operations and $57 million to upgrade stamping operations. This was in addition to $1 billion to prepare the Brampton facility for production of the LX cars.

Reported by Chris H at (May 19 2005, 06 PM)

Chrysler executives to race SRT-8's

Race-inspired, street-legal American muscle - specifically the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 and the 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT8 - is headed to Newfoundland this September, courtesy of Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) organization. At the wheel of SRT's latest benchmark performance vehicles: Dan Knott, Director - SRT, Chrysler Group; and Ralph Gilles, Director - Interior/Exterior Product Design and Specialty Vehicles, Chrysler Group -- who led the Design team that created the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger (and Dodge Magnum).

At stake: serious competition in the Unlimited division of the prestigious Targa Newfoundland rally.

The fourth annual Targa Newfoundland -- the only event of its kind held in North America -- is a 38-stage competitive rally for historic, classic and modern sporting cars held on the paved roads of the eastern and central parts of the island of Newfoundland, Canada. Based on the original Targa Florio, which was run in Sicily for many years, Targa Newfoundland -- billed as "the ultimate North American Motorsport Adventure" -- is a six-day competition that begins on Sunday, Sept. 11 in the capital city of St. John's.

Slight modifications will be made to the Charger SRT8 and 300C SRT8 competing in the Targa Newfoundland. The 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 will remain stock, as will the SRT8 brakes. The vehicles' suspensions will be stiffened, and modifications will be made to the exteriors in order to accommodate larger wheels and tires. Roll cages will be added, and unnecessary weight will be removed for racing competition.

Reported by Chris H at (May 20 2005, 06 PM)

Allpar 200,000 Mile Club passes 2,600 vehicles

The Allpar 200,000 Mile Club has just passed 2,600 vehicles. Currently, 2,608 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth, AMC, and DeSoto vehicles are listed. Meanwhile, our sister site toyoland's 200,000 Mile Club is on its way to 100 vehicles (94 so far). http://www.allpar.com/old/club/

Reported by Dave at (May 24 2005, 02 PM)

U.S. military orders 19,000 minivans, 5,000 Pacificas

A recent Windsor Star article reports that the U.S. military has placed an order for 19,000 Mopar minivans, and 5,000 Chrysler Pacificas. According to the article, the U.S. armed forces have ordered the 24,000 vehicles for use as light-duty transport in the U.S., Iraq and other bases around the world. Also stated by the article, the light-duty gasoline-powered vehicles will replace the diesel-powered Humvees which are used currently as light personnel carriers. This move comes after fuel consumption concerns.

The minivans and Pacificas for this order are said to be "regular minivans with a few upgrades," according an unnamed Windsor Star source.

Reported by Chris H at (May 24 2005, 06 PM)

Chrysler: change tires at six years

Chrysler is placing a warning in its owners' manuals, starting with some 2005 models but to be in all 2006 models, that "Tires and spare tire should be replaced after six years, regardless of the remaining tread. Failure to follow this warning can result in sudden tire failure. You could lose control and have an accident resulting in serious injury or death." Research shows that tires have a definite functional life, after which their safety is reduced.

Reported by Dave at (May 27 2005, 08 AM)

SRT Commemorative Editions

Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) has introduced three 2005 Commemorative Edition SRT vehicles to celebrate the excitement, power and performance of three of the hottest production vehicles on the road today.

Limited-edition models of the 2005 Dodge Viper SRT10, 2005 Dodge SRT4 and 2005 Dodge Ram SRT10 will feature distinctive paint schemes of blue 'dual-fang' racing stripes over a white body color. Every SRT Commemorative Edition vehicle will include unique interior features, a numbered plaque and a special limited-edition SRT book.

The SRT Commemorative Edition vehicles will arrive in dealerships this summer (see "Full Story" for more).

Reported by Chris H at (May 27 2005, 09 PM)

Magnum SRT-8 MSRP

The 2006 Dodge Magnum SRT-8 has been announced with a priced of $37,995 including destination. The Magnum SRT-8 offers an additional 85 "HEMI horses" ' 25 percent more power then the 5.7L Hemi. Zero to 60 times are said to be in low-5-second range; quarter-mile time in the high 13-second range; 0-100-0 mph in mid-16-second range.

Sources tell us that the Charger SRT-8 will probably share this same price when it goes on sale later this year.

Reported by Chris H at (May 27 2005, 09 PM)

V6 LXs to get 5-speed transmissions

The Chrysler group will put five-speed automatic transmissions in 2006-model Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300 models with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The running change, from a four-speed automatic, will be made in the fourth quarter, after 2006 models go into production. However, redhed noted that the 2006 LXs are already in production, so it's assumed that some 06 will have the four-speed while later models have the five-speed.

Reported by Chris H at (May 31 2005, 06 AM)

Chrysler sales up (adjusted), down (unadjusted) for May

Depending on whether you go by adjusted or unadjusted sales, Chrysler had a moderately bad or moderately good month in May 2005, compared with May 2004. Car sales were up 4% (unadjusted) while truck sales were down 5% (unadjusted); adjusted figures show gains of 13% for cars and 3% for trucks. (The adjustment is for the number of selling days in a month).

the Magnum continues to lag far behind the 300, with 12,958 300s and 5,035 Magnums sold in May 2005 (13,694 300s were sold in May 2004, but production may have been limited due to the Charger launch; nearly 2,000 Chargers were sold in May). The mid-sized Sebring/Stratus, due to be replaced soon, posted gains of (all numbers from here on are unadjusted) 11% and for the more-popular Dodge and a loss of 5% for the Chrysler, with a net gain across the platform. The loss of the Mitsubishi-based coupes does not seem noticeable.

The Neon posted a mild sales gain of 3%, not bad for a vehicle soon to be replaced, albeit with a wagon. Neon sales were still about half of Stratus/Sebring sales, but historically should be higher. The PT, meanwhile, continues to outshine its initial production estimates by a huge margin, also beating the Neon coupe it replaced, with a whopping 18% sales gain to end up with 12,312 sales in May. That's pretty good for a "niche vehicle" that's been out for a few years, and certainly long enough for supply to match demand. New lower prices on the base model may be helping - it's a bargain in base form.

Over on the Jeep side, sales took a 4% dive, with the Liberty, of all vehicles, falling 11% and the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee posting small gains.

Some of the big vehicles are certainly hurting sales, with the Ram falling 11% - that's 3,400 units - and the Caravan and Durango also falling by 14% and 41% respectively. The plummeting sales of the Durango are certainly worrisome, given how new it is; gas mileage is probably the key factor, since the Durango is, like the Expedition and Suburban, a guzzler. The Caravan's slide, while not surprising in the face of the Sienna, new Odyssey, Windstar, and Quest, is also an issue Chrysler will have to deal with soon - a 4-liter V6 and six-speed automatic are in the works but still probably a year away. Lost customers may not return. (To be fair, the Town and Country was up 26%, or 3,400 units, even as the Caravan was down 3,400 units, so together they are just 78 units below May 2004.) The Pacifica, meanwhile, reached 7,261 sales, or a 9% increase. A massive government order for Iraq use may or may not have been felt there, but Pacificas are also being heavily discounted in Michigan with excellent leases for employees and locals.

Overall, the Chrysler brand is up 8%, Jeep is down 4%, and Dodge is down 7%, largely due to the Ram and Durango. Rebadged and retuned Mercedes vehicles did moderately well with the Crossfire up 4% and the Springer up 87%. Together, the two sold about 3,500 units, compared to, say, 5,035 Magnums or the next slowest seller (besides the Viper), 7,261 Pacificas.

See the Full Story link for actual sales numbers.

Reported by Dave at (June 02 2005, 01 PM)

Productivity Gains according to Harbour Report

The Chrysler Group has improved its overall manufacturing productivity by an industry-leading19 percent over the last three years, according to the Harbour Report North America 2005. The company improved its overall hours per vehicle (HPV) time by 4.2 percent to 35.85, tied for second most improved.

The annual Harbour Report is a broadly accepted measure of productivity in the automotive industry. Nearly all major manufacturers participate in the survey. According to Ron Harbour, President -- Harbour Consulting, Chrysler Group's manufacturing productivity is supported by improvements throughout the company.

"Unlike past recoveries, the Chrysler Group's new products are supported by some dramatic quality and productivity improvements at the plant level, linked to unprecedented involvement of the design, engineering and purchasing organizations," said Harbour.

Among the highlights for the Chrysler Group, transmission productivity is the best in the industry and the Company's engine productivity was most improved. Company plants were also the leader in five segments. During the survey period, the Chrysler Group launched nine new vehicles, the most in any one year in its history.

Reported by Chris H at (June 02 2005, 02 PM)

May Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Sales

Chrysler Group reported sales of its Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles (CPOV) for May 2005 of 7,961 units, a decrease of 6 percent from May 2004 sales of 8,466 units. Year-to-date sales are 44,523 units, an increase of 5 percent from the same period last year and outpacing the overall industry CPOV segment growth of 3 percent.

Chrysler Group's May marketshare in the CPOV segment held steady at 6.2 percent. Year-to-date marketshare improved over the same period in 2004 to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent.

Reported by Chris H at (June 08 2005, 05 PM)

Liberty CRD off to good start

The launch of the 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD, the first diesel-powered mid-size SUV in the U.S. market, has been met with strong customer response, with vehicles moving quickly out of dealer showrooms and into the hands of new owners. At the end of May more than 6,000 units had been shipped to dealers, and 3,000 of those sold. Vehicles are sitting on the dealer lots an average of 23 days, about one-third the typical time.

"The 2005 Jeep Liberty diesel has gotten off to a strong start, demonstrating that there is a latent interest in modern, clean-running diesels ' an interest that we believe can be nurtured and expanded," said Jeff Bell, Vice President ' Chrysler & Jeep.

Because of an infusion of technology, including common-rail diesel (CRD), today's diesel engines have 80 percent lower particulate emissions, 70 percent lower NOx emissions, 15 percent improved fuel consumption, 50 percent more power and 30 percent more torque than diesel engines had just a decade ago. They are also much quieter than older diesels.

Chrysler is extending the warranty on diesel engines in all 2006 model year vehicles; the Diesel Engine Limited Warranty covers engine parts and components up to five years or 100,000 miles. This durability also helps diesel-powered vehicles hold their value: in one example, a diesel-powered vehicle had a 64 percent higher residual value than a comparable gasoline model.

Reported by Chris H at (June 12 2005, 10 PM)

2006 PT to be shown on Thursday (6/16)

The Chrysler Group will hold a new product reveal on Thursday, June 16, 11 a.m. at the Chelsea Proving Grounds. The new product will be the refreshed 2006 PT Cruiser, which we are told will be on sale before the end of the calendar year. Stay tuned with Allpar for full coverage.

Reported by Chris H at (June 13 2005, 06 PM)

2006 line shown; new Ram, PT

Today, the Chrysler Group reviled it's official 2006 product line. In addition to the model year changeover, the new PT Cruiser was shown as well as the 2006 Dodge Ram, both of which received refreshes. The 2006 PT sports an updated front end, new interior, and a power boost. The '06 Ram now has MDS, a larger, bolder grill (as if the current one was not bold enough) and new wheels.

For more information, see Allpar's homepage.

Reported by Chris H at (June 16 2005, 03 PM)

JD Power Dependability Study results

While automakers like to talk about the "initial quality" studies that look at customers' reactions to their cars after 30 or 90 days, perhaps more meaningful is the dependability study, which looks at the performance of 3-year-old cars. The 2005 study, whose results have just been released, concerns cars from 2002.

The industry average for this study improved by 32 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 2004, and nearly all nameplates and models scored improvements, particularly in ride, handling, braking, engines, and interiors.

2002 was a tumultuous year for Chrysler, with the merger still active and uncertainty regarding the future in full swing.

Lexus continues to rank highest, for the 11th consecutive year, and the LS 430 was the first car to break 100 problems per 100 vehicles with just 90. Porsche improved by 91 problems per 100 vehicles to rank second. More significantly, Hyundai had a 115 problem per 100 vehicle improvement for 2002 models, still finishing below the industry average but definitely moving up.

General Motors and Ford both received record numbers of "best in class" awards, eight for GM and five for Ford, while Toyota received four (we believe seven if Lexus is included, as it should be). Chevrolet's awards include the Prizm, which was made by Toyota. Ford's include the Thunderbird (no longer made), Windstar (no longer made), and E-Series full-sized van.

Chrysler was barely above average, falling below both Chevrolet and Ford. Toyota, interestingly, was above Honda and Acura, but below Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln, Buick, Cadillac, and Infiniti. BMW improved to above-average.

Amusingly, Hyundai, while below average (260 vs an average of 237, with Lexus at 139), was better than Subaru, Volvo, Dodge, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, and Audi.

Bringing up the bottom of the list were the usual suspects: Kia, Land Rover, and Mini, all with over 380 problems per 100 cars. Isuzu, Daewoo, and Audi also did poorly. More surprising was Jeep, below Mercedes - the only DCX brand to be below Mercedes except Kia.

The 2006 rankings will most likely show an improvement in Jeep as well as a similarly drastic change in Hyundai. For the moment, though, it does appear that Toyota remains a good bet - albeit not as good as Buick - and that Dodge and Chrysler remain more reliable than Mercedes.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 29 2005, 04 PM)

June Sales

Chrysler Group reported sales for June 2005 of 220,032 units, an increase of 1 percent (5 percent unadjusted) over June 2004 sales of 209,252 units. Second quarter sales of 641,153 units increased 4 percent over 2004 second quarter sales and marked the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year sales gains for the Chrysler Group. Sales are calculated on a day-rate adjusted basis unless specified. (see "Full Story" for details)

Reported by Chris H at (July 02 2005, 06 AM)

June sales (again)

June sales for General Motors were the big news, even for Chrysler fans, with truck sales up a full 69% and car sales up a mere 3%, so that year to date sales for all vehicles rose 3% rather than falling. At Ford, cars were up 4% year to year, trucks down 8%, and total vehicles down 4%. Toyota saw a good month and year so far, with cars up 20% year to date, trucks up 2%, and total vehicles up 12% (since they sell more cars than trucks, unlike GM and Ford).

At DCX, month to month sales were surprisingly good given the GM success, with year to date car sales up by 11%, truck sales up by 4%, for a total of 5%.





BrandCarsTrucks
GM898,1431,401,510
Ford512,022932,209
DCX278,525 909,360
Toyota634,611479,459

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 02 2005, 11 AM)

Hemi Jeep pickup truck offered by AEV

AEV Conversions is now offering a Jeep-based pickup truck, complete with a composite six-foot bed and injection-molded top. Options include a high capacity rear suspension, Hemi conversion, offroad packages, air compressor and welder, and other configurations. Half of the first production run of 25 units has been sold; the company will take $10,000 refundable deposits for more vehicles.
http://www.aev-conversions.com/Brute/Brute_Introduction.html

Thanks, Bob Sheaves, for pointing this out.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 05 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler matches employee discounts

Chrysler will be offering a program similar to GM's "employee discounts for everyone" with 4% to 5% below invoice pricing on all cars except LX, SRT, and Viper, for the month of July. Ford is also countering with a similar program, though they appear to have lowered rebate as well, negating the effect but still bringing in traffic. Ford's program covers the new 500 but not the Mustang.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 06 2005, 12 PM)

New Minivans to be shown at Detroit in 2007

Automotive News reports:

"...Meanwhile, the next-generation Chrysler and Dodge minivans are expected to be highly differentiated when they are re-engineered and reskinned for the 2008 model year.

The planned re-engineering is "substantial," an insider says. The exterior was described as "evolutionary, but an all-new look."

Chrysler will unveil the minivans at the 2007 Detroit auto show..."

This information generally coincides with the information from Allpar sources.

Reported by Chris H at (July 06 2005, 01 PM)

Iaccoca returns - as Chrysler pitchman

Apparently putting aside any differences, including his desire to run the company, Lee Iaccoca will return as Chrysler's pitchman in a series of commercials with Jason Alexander (from Seinfeld) in a $75 million ad campaign featuring the new employee pricing scheme.

Iaccoca will be paid both a flat fee and in donations to his diabetes research charity - the latter getting $1 per car sold through the end of the year.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 07 2005, 08 AM)

1,200 Owners Gather in Southern France for Euro Camp Jeep

Hundreds of Jeep enthusiasts from across Europe and beyond will gather this weekend at picturesque resort Ch'teau de Lastours in southern France for the fifth Euro Camp Jeep. This ultimate celebration of Jeep - the brand, the vehicles and the lifestyle - will be held July 7-10 with three full days of fun and adventure.

Euro Camp Jeep is an exclusive annual event for Jeep aficionados, their families and friends, which allows them to explore a full range of activities and share their experiences with fellow Jeep fans in a friendly, family-oriented environment. Each year the event has attracted more and more Jeep customers. The 2005 program will see more than 1,200 Jeep customers - the largest number ever - and almost 500 vehicles converging on one of Europe's most inspiring locations, the 104-hectare Ch'teau de Lastours estate in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

"The ever-increasing participation of people from so many countries is testimony to the passion our customers have for the Jeep brand, its values and the Jeep lifestyle," said Joe Eberhardt, Executive Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Service, Chrysler Group. "Euro Camp Jeep has grown over the past five years into an essential weekend for Jeep customers and enthusiasts in Europe. And we're happy that this year's Euro Camp Jeep in France continues to grow in size and scope."

Reported by Chris H at (July 07 2005, 07 PM)

2006 Dodge Dakota changes - New trims

Posted by oh2o:

New optional sunroof, available only on the Quad Cab
Club Cab Full Swing rear access doors that open nearly 180 degrees (late availability)
New variable line pressure 4-speed auto transmission that improves fuel economy in the 3.7-liter V6 engine
Club Cab only 508-watt SoundBox and 6-speaker Alpine sound system with 6-disc CD player (late availability)
Audio input auxiliary jack. (see "Full Story" for all the changes - there are many)

Reported by Chris H at (July 15 2005, 11 PM)

Anniversary of Dodge Bros. creation

Ninety-one years and two days ago, Dodge Brothers was created as an automaker. The Dodge brothers had previously been one of the world's largest parts makers and had assembled much of the current Ford models. The Ddoge Brothers cars would achieve a strong reputation for unusual sturdiness and reliability, propelling Dodge Brothers to the ranks of the country's largest automakers. The company was purchased by Chrysler in 1928 after the death of both brothers in 1920.

DCX and the CAW Kick-off 2005 Contract Negotiations

DaimlerChrysler Canada's labour relations team formally began the 2005 contract negotiations process today with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). DaimlerChrysler Canada has more than 10,600 represented workers at its various Canadian facilities, primarily in Brampton, Etobicoke and Windsor, Ontario.

'Our entire global organization, from product development to manufacturing, has been challenged to achieve world-class performance, and the 2005 CAW negotiations are a big opportunity for our Canadian operations to make significant progress in that regard,' said DaimlerChrysler Canada Vice President of Human Resources Mark Gendregske. 'A responsible agreement that slows the growth of labour costs is also the best investment we can make in sustaining Canada's export automotive economy.'

"Commitment to Canada"

' DaimlerChrysler has invested more than $2.6 billion (CAN) in Canada since the last contract agreement in 2002.
' Since the last contract agreement in 2002, DaimlerChrysler has invested heavily in the products it manufactures in Canada resulting in increased consumer demand, and thus requiring its Brampton and Windsor plants to operate three shifts.
' DaimlerChrysler created approximately 1,000 new CAW jobs in Brampton in 2005.

Reported by Chris H at (July 24 2005, 01 PM)

Commander Launch at Jefferson North Assembly Plant

Chrysler has scheduled the official launch of the 2006 Jeep Commander for Thursday, July 28, at Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP). The media event will also outline how JNAP becomes next plant to showcase multi-product capability and increased flexibility. Details on JNAP's simultaneous changeover to the Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee platforms will be provided as well.

The event begins promptly at 12:30 p.m. with a "media round table" from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m. A photo op with Commander will be held on plant floor at 1:45 p.m.

Reported by Chris H at (July 24 2005, 01 PM)

Chrysler PT - Nintendo Edition

Chrysler UK announced the launch of its special edition PT Cruiser Nintendo DS, featuring privacy glass and two Nintendo DS game consoles. Available in either black or silver, only 100 models are available for sale. In collaboration with the Nintendo ''Touch Me Tour," three customized Nintendo DS Chrysler PT Cruisers will tour up and down the United Kingdom until August 18 at events such as the Gold Coast Oceanfest and BMX Racing European Championship.'

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 27 2005, 10 AM)

DCX posts profits for the second quarter

DaimlerChrysler recorded an operating profit of $2 billion in the second quarter of 2005, compared with $2.5 billion in the same period of last year, a decline largely caused by changes at the smart (car) unit. Actual net profit was $892 million, $194 million higher than in the Q2 2004.

Worldwide unit sales increased by 4% to 1.3 million vehicles compared with the second quarter of 2004, partly because Chrysler Group increased its second-quarter worldwide retail sales by 3% to 783,000 vehicles (factory shipments to dealers rose by 4% to 812,200 vehicles). Much of the rest of the increase was due to better commercial-vehicle sales.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 28 2005, 09 AM)

Schrempp leaves - replaced by Zetsche

(Corrected story) In what is most likely very good news for Chrysler Group, DCX announced that current CEO Juergen Schrempp, who engineered the takeover of Chrysler Corporation and other companies, will leave at the end of the year. Taking his place will be Chrysler Group head Dieter Zetsche. Chrysler's current chief operating officer, Thomas LaSorda, will become CEO of Chrysler Group, while Eric Ridenour takes LaSorda's place as COO.

Zetsche will take over as chairman of the management board, and Hilmar Kopper will remain chairman of the supervisory board. The change was made unanimously by the supervisory board, and will take place on January 1, 2006.

DCX shares rose nearly 8% on the news.

In his letter of announcement, Zetsche wrote: "My family and I loved living in Michigan. Chrysler is a wonderful company ' vibrant, emotional and very focused. You folks are simply the best. My heart will always stay with this organization. And, by the way, whether you like it or
not, I can promise you, that beyond the end of this year, I will stay deeply involved in Chrysler's dealings and spend a fair share of my time in Auburn Hills."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 28 2005, 01 PM)

Commander now in production

As of July 28, the Jeep Commander is now in production at the Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant (JNAP), which has been the home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee since 1992. Commander is the fourth model in the current Jeep brand line up, along with the Toledo-built Wrangler and Liberty.

Commander production marks the first time that JNAP has had the capability to produce more than one model at a time. Chrysler Group is giving each of its assembly plants the ability to produce multiple models on one production line, giving the Company the agility needed to respond quickly to market demand. Additionally, the plant will begin producing the SRT8 version of the Grand Cherokee in November.

In addition to other plants, the Company previously announced the next two plants that will become fully flexible: Belvidere Assembly Plant, where Dodge Caliber production will begin in the first quarter of 2006, and Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which produces the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus. Next year both plants will have the ability to produce multiple models in batch sizes as small as one unit.

Reported by Chris H at (July 31 2005, 08 PM)

Durango to seat 8 for '06, MDS standard

With production starting tomorrow, the 2006 Durango will receive a host of improvements, including a revised seating plan with space for 8 passengers. A new, 3 passenger, 60/40 3rd row seat replaces the 50/50 used currently. Heated seats and Sirius satellite radio are now standard on the Limited model, and the Infinity speakers will be replaced with Alpine units.

Also, as reported earlier, MDS will be standard on all 5.7L Hemi equipped models.

Reported by Chris H at (July 31 2005, 08 PM)

EPA to keep old gas mileage test with new adjustment

Detroit News credits Republican Congressman Mike Rogers with derailing a plan that would have made a more useful EPA gas mileage test. Currently, the maximum speed reached is 55 mph, with air conditioning off; the new test would have gone up to 70 mph with air conditioning on, to better match real world conditions. There would likely have been a number of other changes as well to reflect greater congestion on America's roads and highways as well as modern driving habits. Instead, the EPA will most likely apply another adjustment factor to bring average EPA estimates down to average real-world mileage - which will benefit some cars and hurt others. (For example, the Toyota Corolla tends to do as well as or slightly better than current EPA estimates, while the Prius tends to do much better than current estimates.)

While some commentators felt that most customers realize the EPA estimates are fairly far off, others argued that the estimate are the only unbiased, objective numbers widely available for comparing different cars' gas mileage, and that customers tended to believe the numbers were accurate (though they can be up to 1/3 more optimistic.)

The EPA did a similar adjustment in 1985, cutting lab numbers by 10% for highway figures and 22% for city figures.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 02 2005, 08 AM)

Big Three all have gains; other automakers do well too

While General Motors was only thinking of its own sales when it started Employee Pricing for Everyone, the plan seems to have rebounded favorably for its competitors, too. While Ford and Chrysler both copied GM's plan, even those without employee pricing schemes - including Toyota and Mercedes - gained substantially from the increased car-shopping and pushing-forward of new car buying. Toyota and Nissan had their best sales months ever.

DaimlerChrysler, including Mercedes, recorded a 25% increase in sales over July 2004, with Mercedes gaining 12%. Toyota increased to 8% more sales than in July 2004, with year to date sales 10% higher than in the same period last year.

GM's efforts actually did not have quite the same impact on their second month, perhaps due to limited availability of 2005 models as well as diminishing returns. Sales rose 15% over July 2004. At both Ford and GM, most of the gains came from higher truck sales. GM's inventories are now at around 40 days' supply, considerably less than the same time last year.

Ford, which did employee pricing, had a 28.5% increase, bringing year-to-date totals up to even with last year (through July).

Honda also saw a 10% increase for the month. Hyundai/Kia went up 11%, Nissan went up 15%, BMW went up 11%, and Subaru 2%. Oddly, despite new vehicles, Volkswagen sales actually fell 12%; Isuzu and Mitsubishi also fell.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 02 2005, 05 PM)

PT Cruiser "Route 66 Edition"

For the 2006 model year, Chrysler will offer a limited edition "Route 66' package for the newly face-lifted PT Cruiser. The special options package will include Hot Rod inspired cues, to help celebrating America's "Mother Road" This limited edition model is only available on "GT" and "Limited" models, but at a "Touring" price. Product highlights: Exclusive Solar Yellow Clear Coat Paint; Solar Yellow Brake Calipers; Body-Color Grille; Sunscreen Glass; Liftgate Mounted Spoiler; Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel with "Satin Silver" Spokes; Solar Yellow Instrument Panel Accents; 6-Way Power Driver Seat; Chrome Bodyside Moldings; and "Sport Suspension"

Pricing is as follows:

Street Cruiser Route 66 Edition Package $2,755
Solar Yellow Clear Coat 138 $150
Total Package $2,905

Reported by Chris H at (August 02 2005, 10 PM)

Liberty diesel - A popular option

Automotive News reports that the demand for the new Jeep Liberty Diesel is far exceeding expectations. 8,300 Jeep Liberty SUVs with diesel's have been built, with production expected to reach 10,000 units by then end of 2005, double the amount Chrysler originally predicted. The Automotive News article also reports that over 60,000 consumers have expressed interest in the vehicle.

This comes as welcome news, as Chrysler is planning the use of diesels in other products for North America. Europe specification Jeep Grand Cherokees and Chrysler 300 sedans sold in Europe use diesel engines.

Reported by Chris H at (August 06 2005, 07 PM)

Chrysler releases Dodge Caliber details

The official release of Dodge Caliber drivetrain details has now taken place, and to our surprise, we find that it matches exactly our own information! However, there are some nuances now available on the CVT and all-wheel-drive system - see our summary at http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/caliber.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 10 2005, 01 PM)

Two Jeep concepts due at Frankfurt

Jeep brand hints at global portfolio expansion and explores all-new territory with the world premiere of two compact SUV concepts: the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass Rallye. The Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass Rallye concepts are compact Jeep 4x4s that would deliver fun, freedom, utility, capability, as well as the potential for exceptional fuel economy and interior flexibility-all at a great value. The two concepts make their world premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) on September 12.

The Jeep Patriot concept offers a modern interpretation of classic Jeep styling: rugged, strong and capable. It would appeal to young buyers looking to join the brand in a genuine Jeep vehicle that would deliver fun and freedom at a great value. Jeep Patriot not only looks like a Jeep, but all-new Jeep off-road technology would ensure Patriot could be a Jeep Trail Rated 4x4, making it the most capable vehicle in its class.

Reported by Chris H at (August 10 2005, 02 PM)

New life for old concepts?

With Juergen Schrempp gone, some decisions may be re-made -- including the status of the Chrysler Firepower, Jeep Gladiator, and Chrysler 300 convertible, according to AutoWeek. These vehicles' fate will be decided soon by Eric Ridenour, according to that magazine.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 11 2005, 08 AM)

Chrysler licenses transmission fluid

Chrysler has finally licensed its ATF+4 transmission fluid for retail and commercial use, allowing third parties to sell the fluid whose characteristics are essential for the life of most Chrysler Group transmissions.

Some have suggested that the primary cause of Chrysler transmission failure is the use of incorrect fluid.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 12 2005, 03 PM)

Factory gets governor's award

Chrysler's Kokomo (Ind.) Transmission Plant (KTP) will be recognized today as a 'Patriot Award' recipient by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. The award recognizes companies that implement policies and practices that support their employees' participation in the National Guard and Reserve. James Reed, Plant Manager of KTP, will accept the award on behalf of the Company.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 12 2005, 04 PM)

Indianapolis foundry being closed

881 people will lose their jobs at Chrysler's Indianapolis foundry, being closed by the end of September, as agreed to by the UAW in their 2003 contract. The current plant workers can either retire or find jobs at other Chrysler plants, getting 95% of their salary until they do find another plant job.

The plant was first purchased by Chrysler in 1946, and makes V6 and V8 engine blocks. The last major upgrades were made in the 1990s.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 13 2005, 10 AM)

Landry takes over Dodge marketing

As Dodge is about to get a number of new vehicles, including Neon and Stratus replacements, Darryl Jackson and Stephen Landry have swapped jobs; Jackson is now head of the Great Lakes sales region, and Canadian Landry is now head of Dodge marketing. Landry, who has been with Chrysler for 23 years, said he would try to position Dodge as a "bold performance brand," which may be difficult as Dodge will stand alone (within Chrysler Group) in the small-vehicle market.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 15 2005, 02 PM)

Dodge Caliber spy shots including interior

Allpar has posted Dodge Caliber spy shots, including the interior, at their Caliber information page:
http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/caliber.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 16 2005, 04 PM)

Viper now rated at 510 HP

"Truth" reports, in connection with a Detroit News article on the new standards for rating horsepower (which resulted in losses for many Hondas and Toyotas), "DaimlerChrysler is making a special effort to test high-performance models." The article had cited the Viper as moving from 500 to 510 horsepower due to changes in the test methods.

Others have said that Chrysler is actively seeking to increase the Viper's power, either by using a different powerplant, modified within or outside of the company, or by boosting the power of the current V-10. The Viper's engine, though thoroughly modern, uses the basic design of the LA-series V8s created in the 1960s.

Reported by Chris H at (August 17 2005, 12 PM)

DCX news: investigations, Mercedes head leaving

Eckhard Cordes, the current head of Mercedes, is leaving the company in August, as threatened when Juergen Schrempp resigned and was replaced by Dieter Zetsche.

In other news, DCX is being investigated by the SEC for patterns of routine bribery first exposed by a Chrysler accountant shortly after the takeover; and is being investigated by German authorities for insider trading that may have occurred just before Schrempp stepped down.

At Chrysler, meanwhile, further cuts are apparently planned despite increasing profits, possibly to help pay back banks for money borrowed during the money-losing years. While Chrysler had been banking billions of dollars to prevent the need for detrimental cuts, DCX appears to have spent the cash reserves on acquisitions.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 18 2005, 10 AM)

Chrysler to have record number of intros

Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda promised ten completely new models in 2006, not including any "refreshed" models. According to Inside Line, this will include two Jeeps based on cars (Compass and Patriot, to be shown soon), along with redesigned two and four door Wranglers (see Allpar's upcoming vehicles page for details, the Grand Cherokee SRT-8, and a super duty Ram. The Compass, Patriot, or both will be based on the Caliber. Dodge will also get a version of the Liberty, and Chrysler will get an SUV - either based on the LX or the Durango. Then there are the Sebring/Stratus replacements, using a new platform jointly engineered with Mitsubishi.

Coming up afterwards are more diesels and a hybrid Durango (using GM/Chrysler technology).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 18 2005, 10 AM)

Zetsche taking over Mercedes

With Eckhard Cordes leaving Mercedes at the end of August, Dieter Zetsche will take over management of Mercedes while a successor is found. This will speed Tom LaSorda's induction as Chrysler CEO by a full three months. Wolfgang Bernhard said he would be staying with Volkswagen and not taking the Mercedes top-spot job.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 19 2005, 08 AM)

Firepower one of 10 new models??

While the speculated list of "10 new models" to be introduced in 2006 is almost complete, we are left to wonder about the Chrysler Firepower's fate. Recently, this high powered "Chrysler Viper" was featured on the cover of L'Automobile magazine, a French publication (not related to Automobile sold here in North America). The cover also touts the issues as having information on 2005-2006 new models. It has long been rumored that the Firepower might be eventually green-lighted for production, and this article makes a stronger case, however, concerns of brand image, marketing, and overall feasibility of the project have lead it nowhere - at least to the public's eye.

Reported by Chris H at (August 19 2005, 08 AM)

Commander pricing released

Chrysler has released the pricing of the Commander:

* Jeep Commander 4x2 $27,985 (including $695 destination)
* Jeep Commander 4x4 $29,985 (including $695 destination)
* Jeep Commander Limited 4x2 $36,280 (including $695 destination)
* Jeep Commander Limited 4x4 $38,900 (including $695 destination)

Surprisingly, the base 2006 Commander starts only $935 higher then the base model of the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Reported by Chris H at (August 19 2005, 05 PM)

Rumor: 2007 Sebring artists' rendering posted

Allpar has posted an artists' rendering of the 2007 Chrysler Sebring along with a current rumor roundup.
http://www.allpar.com/model/stratus01.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 23 2005, 09 AM)

VW may sell Dodge-based minivan

Volkswagen may sell a minivan based on the Caravan/Town & Country in the United States by 2007, according to several reports in Germand and American newspapers. The deal, which may have been part of a larger agreement including the sale of popular diesel engines for the Dodge Caliber, would bring added revenue to Chrysler while helping Volkswagen boost sales for its dealers and garner additional profits.

The last Volkswagen minivan was noted for having the highest cost, slowest acceleration, and lowest gas mileage in the field.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 25 2005, 09 AM)

GM, DCX agree on hybrid development

Under a recently signed agreement, GM and DCX will jointly develop hybrid vehicles. GM will take the lead on engineering of engines for trucks, SUVs, crossover vehicles, and front wheel drive cars, and DCX will lead engineering of powerplants for rear-wheel-drive luxury cars (which makes it appear as though engineering will be done via Mercedes rather than Chrysler). The first beneficiaries will be the Tahoe and Yukon (in 2007), followed by the Durango.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 26 2005, 08 AM)

Ten "Completely new" models for 2006

Chrysler Group's incoming CEO, Tom LaSorda, said the automaker "will continue its momentum" with the rollout of "at least" 10 completely new models in 2006.

LaSorda, who takes over January 1, 2006, said next year's new-model launches will surpass the record set in 2004.

"That's at least 10 completely new models, not refreshed ones," he told media representatives, though he personally wouldn't confirm which ones.

Known new models include the upcoming car-based Jeeps ' the Compass and Patriot. Jeep will also get the redesigned 2007 Wrangler, sporting both two and four-door versions. Dodge will see the Caliber, and super-duty versions of the Ram. The rumored car-based SUV will be badged under the Chrysler nameplate, (possibly Aspen), and one new crossover will go to Dodge.

The base platform for the new crossovers is the upcoming Dodge Caliber, a hatchback that replaces the Neon. Replacements for the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus are due out for summer of 2006, as 2007 models.

Beyond next year, LaSorda said Chrysler will introduce a Dodge Durango featuring a hybrid powertrain co-developed with General Motors, and more diesel models likely will follow the successful Jeep Liberty diesel.

Reported by Chris H at (August 29 2005, 07 PM)

CAW workers authorize strikes

CAW workers voted to authorize a strike of Canadian Chrysler plants. DCX wants to cut one vacation week (which would cost 250 jobs), retirees' cost of living allowance, and certain benefits, as well as wanting to sell Chrysler Transport.

In past talks, the CAW had given concessions in return for having a new vehicle possibly produced at Windsor's former full-sized van plant. The vehicle was never produced, but the plant appears to still be under active consideration for a new vehicle; DCX is rumored to have been buying adjacent plots of land.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 31 2005, 08 AM)

Chrysler sales

For reference, General Motors sales fell 13% in August 2005 from August 2004 levels; while Ford's sales rose 2.2% (adjusted; 6.3% non-adjusted), Ford's large SUV (Expedition and Explorer) sales fell over 40%. Meanwhile, Toyota sales rose 14%, Honda 23%, Nissan 15%, and Hyundai 9%. Part of the reason may be employee pricing, which artificially boosted American automakers' sales last month. High gas prices may also help Toyota and other companies with thriftier alternatives (for example, aside from the 50-mpg Prius, the Toyota Corolla stick-shift gets 30 mpg city, 41 highway, according to the EPA).

Chrysler sales increased slightly in August 2005 (over August 2004 numbers), thanks partly to the continuation of "employee pricing for everyone." Sales grew 1% (adjusted; 5% unadjusted) to 187,085 units. Jeep sales in particular were strong, with a 16% increase overall and increases on each of the three Jeep models. It should be noted that the Liberty Diesel has now sold 5,096 units, though initial estimates were for 5,000 units for the entire year. In addition, there were 40,000 orders for the Jeep Commander. In all, Wrangler sales were up 11%, Liberty up 8%, and Grand Cherokee, with the new model out, up 27%.

Dodge Ram sales also increased 1%, and the 2006 Ram went on sale on September 1, now featuring the multiple-displacement system for better gas mileage (just in time for high gas prices). The 2006 Ram also has a new frame and suspension, interior, and exterior styling.

In minivans, the news was mixed. The Town & Country fell 17% (adjusted), though it is still up 40% for the year; the Caravan fell 15%, making it just about even for the year. The minivan-based SUV, Pacifica, did far better, with a 14% rise in sales, but it remains at far lower volume than either of Chrysler's remaining minivans. The PT Cruiser fared better, with a 12% sales gain, even before the restyled, quieter 2006 models appeared - perhaps "purists" getting the last of the original style.

The stalwart Neon showed a good sales gain of 15%, riding the tide of employee pricing along with the Stratus (up an amazing 33%). Oddly, Sebring sales fell a whomping 30%, though.

The Dodge Charger sold over 5,000 units, but the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum saw major sales dips, with sales 20% and 19% (respectively) below August 2004. Overall, the entire LX series gained about 2,000 units; the reason for the 300 and Magnum falling may well be supply constraints rather than demand.

So where is the bad news? Minivans fell; and the Dakota and Durango plummeted as well, down 19% and 23%. These are all high volume cars for Chrysler, and were it not for the Ram staying the course and Jeep rising, sales would have been far worse.

For specific numbers, see "Full Story."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 02 2005, 09 AM)

Ford, Toyota recalls

Ford recalled 3.8 million trucks in the fifth largest auto industry recall in history. The 1994-2002 F-150, Expedition, Navigator, and Bronco are being recalled due to a cruise control switch that can cause fires. Ford had been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota recalled 978,000 4Runners, compact pickups, and T-100s built between 1989 and 1998 as well.

Last week, GM recalled a large number of pickup trucks.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 07 2005, 03 PM)

Chrysler to license minivan building in China

Chrysler minivans will be built in China for the local market, using two local suppliers. One supplier built commercial Mercedes vans for China and the other built Chrysler minivans for Taiwan. While Jeeps were the first American vehicles to be made in China in a joint venture, fewer than 4,000 Jeeps are made in China each year, a number which pales in comparison to GM's over-200,000 vehicles per year in the local market. The first Chinese minivans will be made in late 2006.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 15 2005, 10 AM)

Chrysler 300 to be built in China

Following the announcement that minivans would be made in China came one that Beijing Jeep is being renamed Beijing Benz DaimlerChrysler and will be making, in addition to Jeeps, Mercedes cars and Chrysler 300s for sale in China.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 16 2005, 09 AM)

Neon ceases production this week

The first modern American entry-level car to make a profit, a perennial SCCA winner, the fastest car in its class (according to Grassroots Motorsports), and the saddest loss of a fine car to foolish cost-cutting measures - the Neon will reach the end of its eleven-year production run later this week. Detroit News has an unusually sympathetic and fair article on the life and death of the Neon - click here to read it.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 19 2005, 08 AM)

'06 Ram to offer navigation system

Dodge has announced it will offer a full-screen navigation system on the 2006 Dodge Ram. The system will be made by Alpine Electronics and will cost around $1,500 as a factory option.

It should be noted that Dodge is the first domestic automaker to offer a navigation system as a factory option.

Reported by Chris H at (September 19 2005, 09 PM)

Rumor: Caliber in production

According to one source, Calibers are currently in production, though most likely they are making preproduction models for testing.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 21 2005, 08 AM)

Michigan State Police preliminary test results

The Michigan State Police finished their preliminary tests of squad cars for the year. Of particular import is the results for the Dodge Charger vs the popular but flawed Ford Interceptor and the Chevy Impala, which has been growing in popularity. Though the main body of results is not yet available, we can provide the acceleration and braking tests: (thanks to "Kerryman Mopar")

Charger 3.5Charger HemiImpalaFord (3.27 ratio)Ford (3.55 ratio)
0-608.96.58.88.98.6
0-8014.610.814.314.414.2
0-10024.616.523.624.123.4
Top Speed135150142130120
Braking 60-0 (est.)130131151143143

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 21 2005, 08 AM)

Last Neon being built today (amended)

The last Neon has been built, and the Belvedere plant is being dismantled and refitted for flexible, team-based production of the Caliber and other vehicles. Chrysler's internal Web site noted that robots, conveyors, and guard rails are being dismantled, and the parts racks are already gone. The plant will be completely gutted and reborn over the next three months, and in December or January, Calibers will start rolling off the line.

The Neon was introduced in Plymouth, Chrysler, and Dodge forms in 1993, with full retail production starting in January 1994. (1995 models were made for nearly two years.) Initially, the Neon was meet with great enthusiasm, and many dealers charged over list price for it. In addition to styling then described as cute and love-it-or-hate-it, the Neon had a base engine with 132 horsepower in a market where most cars (including the outgoing Sundance) had 100 or less; featured 129 lb-ft of torque as well, beating the Civic's peak of 100; matched the largest interior space in its class; out-cornered just about all competitors; and, in a recent first for American automakers, was sold at a hefty profit. The Neon amassed a staggering array of racing wins (some summarized at our Neon page, aided by an ACR package with an adjustable suspension. It was the hot car of 1994.

The Neon was allowed, though, to decline, with Chrysler doing little to address perceptions of poor quality stemming from a poorly designed window mechanism, cost-reduction choice of head gasket, and cheap exhaust donut, as well as more minor issues. While the company noted in 1998 that nearly one third of the Neon had been redesigned, little effort was made to market the quality advances to the buying public, and very little of the Neon's racing success was advertised. The result is that most people did not even know that the Neon was a hot and fast car, and accepted Consumer Reports' dismal rejection of the little sedan and coupe (CR went so far as to call the engine "anemic" though every other publication found it to be quite peppy.) Another problem with sales may have been the three-speed automatic, which hurt gas mileage as well as acceleration.

The second generation, while larger, did not address some interior issues, and had a less sporty appearance; an attempt to make up for the lack of powertrain improvements and addition of weight by changing gear ratios made the Neon noisier at highway speeds and lowered gas mileage considerably. The original gear ratios were later restored, and a better-tuned four-speed automatic replaced the original four-speed automatic and even-more-original three-speed automatic in time.

Losing the Plymouth version did not help; though, thanks to reductions in the Plymouth production line, sales of the brand had been steadily declining for years (initially, Plymouth and Dodge Neons sold at equal rates), when the Plymouth Neon was ended, many buyers simply left the company - as they appeared to do when the Plymouth Voyager was moved to Chrysler.

In the end, many things could have saved the Neon, but it almost seemed as though nobody at Chrysler got the point, and sales declined to about 100-120,000 vehicles per year.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 23 2005, 10 AM)

2006 model year changes for Chrysler Group models

Below is a condensed summary of the list of changes for the 2006 model year for Chrysler Group models as posted by the Chicago Tribune (written by and property of Rick Popely & Jim Mateja and their respective affiliates). See "Full Story" for details.

Reported by Chris H at (September 26 2005, 06 PM)

Zetsche: Chrysler, Mercedes to get closer

According to Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler and Mercedes will be cooperating more. In a recent interview, he implied that part of the problem in past work was the excessive pride of Mercedes employees, who often felt their company could do no wrong - partly because problems were masked by favorable exchange rates. Part of Zetsche's cost-cutting strategy for Mercedes is greater cooperation with Chrysler (though in the past, DCX has been accused of shifting costs for Mercedes features to Chrysler). For example, advanced electronics engineering is being combined. Increased pressure on both companies from competitors is also helping people on both sides of the Atlantic to work together, he said.

Fuel efficiency is one area where increased cooperation is to be pursued, according to Zetsche, with engineering gains on both sides to be shared - in particular, with Chrysler using Mercedes diesels (though the Caliber actually uses Volkswagen diesels in Europe).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 27 2005, 11 AM)

Chrysler sales up slightly for September

Compared against September 2004, last month was not bad for Chrysler, which saw sales rise 4%, with 175,556 units sold. The month was actually quite good considering that GM and Ford saw sales plummet, with GM falling 24% (to 342,814 units) and Ford falling 20% (to 211,846). Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia all saw substantial sales hikes. It is worth noting that Toyota outsold Chrysler by nearly 3,000 vehicles in September 2005.

While large SUV sales fell across all brands, more Dodge Rams were sold in September 2005 than in any month since 1999. The Grand Cherokee and 300 also gained, though minivan and Durango sales fell.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 04 2005, 05 PM)

Ram sold in the UK

The Dodge Ram pickup is now sold in the United Kingdom, with the entry-level model (boasting the 5.7 Hemi as standard equipment) at '30,508. The SRT-10 is a full '44,608. (These prices include 17.5% tax, which is used, among other things, to pay for the national health system). These prices, while they might seem high, are thousands lower than gray-market imports, and come with a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty. Leather seats, front and side airbags, and alarm are included, but right-hand drive is not; the trucks remain left-hand drive.

The Ram joins the Chrysler 300C, Crossfire, Voyager, and PT Cruiser, the Viper, and the Jeep Cherokee (Liberty), Grand Cherokee, and Wrangler. The Stratus/Sebring and Neon are not sold in the UK.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 05 2005, 09 AM)

Dodge Nitro introduced

As expected, the Dodge Nitro has been introduced for production next year. Based on the Jeep Liberty chassis and using the same powertrain, the Nitro uses a front clip similar to that of the Caliber, and bears little outward resemblance to the Jeep. There may also be substantial chassis and interior changes, which may then be transferred back to the Liberty, much as some Pacifica features wound their way back to the Caravan.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 06 2005, 08 AM)

catNET hosts Allpar meet at the Chrysler Museum

See http://www.allpar.com/i/meet.html for details - you are invited to attend an Allpar meet at the Chrysler Museum in late October. This is a rare event at which select Allpar members may stay "after hours" at the museum and hear from experts in the field. It's worth the trip - especially with airfare so low.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 07 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler selling Arizona's proving grounds

The infamous Arizona proving grounds, established in 1958, are being sold to real estate developers for over $400 million. Mary Beth Halprin noted that it was becoming increasingly difficult to conduct tests in secret as the area has been developed. Chrysler will keep using the proving grounds through 2007 as part of a lease deal, after which they could rent another automaker's facilities (less likely) or acquire a more remote property.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 07 2005, 03 PM)

Rumor - GEMA plant starts up; Caliber must be close at hand

With the World Engine plant in Dundee, Michigan, open for business and presumably building engines, it would seem that the Caliber must be close at hand. While the World Engines are to be used by Mitsubishi as well, for the Diamond-Star vehicles, the Belvedere plant is being retooled and revamped around flexible, team-based assembly methods. Observers on the Allpar forums stated that Caliber assembly would begin in January, to be ramped up with a third shift months later.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 07 2005, 05 PM)

New Stratus "SE Package"

With Stratus production ending next May, Dodge marketing has decided to offer a high content option package, for a considerable discount. The new SE package is being introduced this week for the SXT trim level sedan. The package represents a discount of $1,375 and retails for $1,275. Production will be during the month of November only. It should be noted that the SXT spoiler is still available as a free-standing option in four colors - red, black, silver and white.

The "SE Package" includes: Special Edition badges (on the front doors), chrome clad wheels, leather seats, power sun roof with "premium headliner", power driver seat, Satin Silver bezel, and fog lamps.

Special options packages have long been a popular route for automobile companies to take in order to help boost sales of end-of-life models. Chrysler is currently offering a TSi trim on its Sebring Sedan, a package similar to the Stratus' new SE option.

Reported by Chris H at (October 09 2005, 02 PM)

Commander SRT-8??

Edmunds.com's "Insideline" recently suggested in an article on the Chrysler Groups current sales success, that a Commander SRT-8 is due on the market next fall. This rumor is somewhat inconsistent with what Jeep is trying to market the Commander as - a rugged, off-road, burly yet upscale people hauler. However, with the SRT-8 Grand Cherokee having received high praise, it should be noted that these days, anything is a possibility!

The Edmunds.com article did not mention any further details on the Commander SRT-8.

Reported by Chris H at (October 09 2005, 02 PM)

Charger "Top Banana" in showrooms next month

The Charger Daytona R/T "Top Banana" edition will start rolling off the lines in just 7 weeks, on November 21st. Brampton will only be building 4,000 of these custom yellow models. Each unit will be individually numbered. Auto up/down windows will be added and auto headlamps will become standard. The base MSRP will be $32,195. (Thanks oh2o!)

Reported by Chris H at (October 09 2005, 03 PM)

Upgraded CRD for international-market PT

Chrysler is upping the power on the newest PT Cruiser in international markets. Diesel-powered models now come with an upgraded, highly efficient four-cylinder 2.2 CRD engine, fitted with a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) that generates 25 percent more power - 110 kW (150 hp) - than the previous model while keeping fuel consumption constant (6.7 L/100 km, combined cycle). Maximum torque of 300 Nm (221 lb.-ft) is produced from 1600 rpm to 3000 rpm. Matched to a five-speed manual transmission, this engine reduces the 0-to-100 km/h acceleration time from 12.1 seconds in the previous model to 10.8 seconds (estimated). The engine is an advanced common-rail design, which is Euro 4 compliant for exhaust emissions. It is also a refined power unit with reduced high-frequency combustion noise compared with the previous diesel engine.

The international-specification PT Cruiser will be available in four trims and the PT Cruiser Cabrio in two trims. The lineup in international markets offers a range of engines that includes 1.6-litre petrol, 2.4-litre petrol, 2.4-litre High-output Turbo petrol and the upgraded 2.2 CRD.

Reported by Chris H at (October 09 2005, 03 PM)

Launch dates for the Compass, Patriot

According to sources close to Allpar News, production of the 2007 Jeep Compass will begin in May, and be ramped up the following month. The 2007 Jeep Patriot will begin rolling down the production line in early October of 2006, almost exactly one year from now. Expect the Patriot to be in showroom by early November.

Reported by Chris H at (October 09 2005, 03 PM)

Voluntary recall

About 300,000 Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles are being voluntarily recalled because the transmission may not lock up in Park. Drivers are warned to use their parking / emergency brake.

One recall affects 2003-2005 Dodge Ram diesels with automatic transmissions. Another affects some 2005 model year vehicles with a V6 and automatic transmission; this recall includes the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 300, and Dodge Magnum and Dakota, and Durango.

In the case of the Ram, the problem is that the transmission can be shifted close to Park, but not actually in Park, so that it can still roll if the brake is not applied. For the Ram, dealers will install an alarm to warn drivers who try to leave a running vehicle whose transmission is not in Park. For the others, a bracket will be installed to prevent the problem.

Recalls are done at no cost to the owner. Chrysler will try to notify all owners via post-card; if you have moved since buying a vehicle, be sure to notify Chrysler so they can keep you informed.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 10 2005, 10 AM)

No Viper for 2007; ZC for '08

Allpar has learned that the Dodge Viper - the brands halo car, will take a one year hiatus for the 2007 model year, returning for 2008 in a presumably more potent from. The build-out of current Viper models will be next summer. Production of the "ZC" 2008 model will start in January 2007, expected to hit showrooms shortly after.

Reported by Chris H at (October 18 2005, 04 PM)

Charger, Magnum do well in state police tests

The Michigan State Police Department announced preliminary results of its 2006 model year Police Vehicle Evaluation Program, which includes a series of grueling on-road tests that evaluate acceleration, top speed, braking and vehicle dynamics. The test results are viewed by police departments throughout the country before they order new fleet vehicles.
The Dodge Chargers excelled in all performance tests; they start at $26,575 (V6) and $28,805 (Hemi). The similar Magnum performed like the Charger in most tests.
As reported here earlier (but now official), the Charger Hemi had the top speed (over 145 mph), best acceleration (0-100 in 16.24 seconds), and best in vehicle dynamics, followed closely by the Magnum. The best braking was accomplished by the Charger and Magnum V6, both of which stopped from 60 in about 130 feet.
Dodge police vehicles include heavy-duty four-wheel disc brakes and linings, as well as all-speed traction control, electronic stability control with brake assist, and four-wheel antilock brakes. Charger and Magnum squad cars started production in September.

For more details, see our squad pages at http://www.allpar.com/squads/

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 19 2005, 11 AM)

Dodge does well in LA squad-car testing

A summary has been posted along with available Michigan State Police testing at http://www.allpar.com/squads/police-cars/charger.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 20 2005, 01 PM)

New Chrysler Canada head

Steven Landry will be the President and Chief Executive
Officer of Chrysler Canada starting Nov. 1. He will be
responsible for all Chrysler Group sales and marketing activities in Canada. The current CEO, Mark Norman, is resigning.

Among other posts, Mr. Landry has been President of Chrysler-Jeep Europe. Landry, 46, Landry joined Chrysler in 1982 in Canada's Pacific Regional Office and rose through the sales and marketing organization.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 25 2005, 12 PM)

Chrysler joins Hyundai as least trusted automaker

A Strategic Vision poll found that Chrysler Group and Hyundai are the least trusted major automakers. GM, Ford, and Volkswagen are roughly average. The survey is based on a sample of 69,000 vehicle buyers; it asked them to rate companies other than the ones who made their current vehicles.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 26 2005, 10 AM)

New SRT website

Chrysler has quietly launched a brand new website dedicated to the SRT nameplate, http://www.drivesrt.com . The website features product information on all SRT vehicles from Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge, as well has multimedia features.

Drivesrt.com also features a section for SRT related news, and a section explaining the history of the nameplate.

Reported by Chris H at (October 26 2005, 04 PM)

Chrysler US sales remain stable as Ford, GM, Nissan fall (UPDATED)

Chrysler Group sales for October 2005 remained comparable to October 2004, with a 3% absolute sales deficit but a 1% adjusted-for-selling-days sales hike. That leaves Chrysler ahead about 6% for the year (unadjusted). World sales reportedly rose. Chrysler sold 164,814 vehicles in the United States in October 2005, and nearly 2 million year to date.

Mercedes USA was stable as well, with 18,349 vehicles sold for the month - 26 ahead of last year - and about 175,000 sold through the end of October for a 1% loss for the year to date.

UPDATE. Chrysler, like GM and Ford, saw some weakness in larger vehicles, with Dodge trucks falling by 24% overall (all numbers in this section are unadjusted month-to-month figures). However, that was largely offset by surprising gains at the Chrysler and Jeep brands, as well as at Dodge cars. The Charger is selling fairly well so far, with 7,119 sold - not quite the Mustang or Intrepid but it's also not yet reached full production and distribution. The 300, meanwhile, continues to post substantial gains and is outselling the Mustang (an apples to bananas comparison there). While Magnum sales took a major dive (down 38%), they were never particularly strong to begin with, so the absolute numbers are not terrible.

The Sebring posted a hefty increase of 42%, while the identical Stratus rose 40%. That was probably fairly unexpected and may be the result of some buyers moving back to cars from trucks. The Neon fell 29%, however - to be fair it is no longer made.

The PT Cruiser, which may be seen as a more economical SUV, saw a surprising 45% sales hike. The Pacifica decined 43%, making up for it for a net wash. Minivan sales fell - 3% for Chrysler and 9% for Dodge - despite their relative fuel efficiency, perhaps in the face of severe competition.

At Jeep, the news was nearly all bad - the Wrangler fell 18%, the Liberty fell 11%, and the Grand Cherokee, though it posted a sales increase, only went up 2%. The addition of the Commander helped bring about a net gain. The other good news at Jeep was that the more expensive models gained ground.

In trucks, the Dakota fell 33%, the Ram 28%, the Durango 33%. Every Dodge truck aside from the low-volume Springer fell.

Chrysler itself noted that 300 sales remained steady, while over 30,000 Chargers have now been sold; and that the neglected (and soon to be replaced) Stratus set an October sales record. The PT Cruiser recorded a 66% sales increase, helping Chrysler brand sales to rise 12%. Jeep brand sales also rose 8%, with the Grand Cherokee driving the good news.

Meanwhile, GM and Ford sales both fell 23% month-to-month (unadjusted), with SUVs particularly lagging. Some of that, particularly for GM, was due to the employee discount program, which pulled sales forward; the effect on Chrysler may have been smaller because Chrysler had the smallest sales hike from the program, which all of the "former" Big Three used.

Another reason for the fall is a decline in incentives, as automakers lowered prices rather than raising rebates, which may have a temporary lowering effect as expectations slowly change. Average incentives per vehicle were $4,892 for GM, $4,166 for Ford, $3,627 for Chrysler, $2,511 for Toyota, $2,486 at Honda, and $2,020 at Nissan. It is worth noting that these figures are listed in order from the sharpest drop (at GM) to the highest increase (at Nissan); Chrysler and Toyota moved less than 1%, and while the three American groups lowered incentives the three Japanese groups raised them.

Nissan sales, which had been on the rise, also fell 13%, while Toyota, not surprisingly, rose yet again, up 1.3 percent from October 2004 with 173,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in October 2005. Once again, that puts Toyota and Lexus ahead of Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep in sales, though if Mercedes is thrown in, DaimlerChrysler remains ahead of Toyota in US sales.

Ford's F-series pickups dropped in sales by about a third while the Explorer actually declined 59%, with the Expedition falling 51%. Ford was saved in unit sales by the success of the Mustang, which with 11,234 units sold, made up for the decline in Explorer sales.

The Caliber may help Chrysler by introducing what may be seen as an unusually fuel-efficient SUV, if people remain concerned about fuel prices (as gasoline costs continue to decline).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 01 2005, 02 PM)

NHTSA investigating Dakota, Durango

Nearly 500,000 Dodge Durangos/Dakotas are being investigated for a possible loss in steering control due to looseness in the steering shaft, and problems related to loose or missing coupling bolts. Model years include the 2004-05 Durango and 2005 Dakota. There have been no crashes reported.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 02 2005, 09 AM)

Toyota debuts Yaris, sub-7-second RAV4

Toyota has beaten Chrysler to the punch in the mini-SUV market with a V6-equipped RAV4 that delivers both good mileage and 0-60 in under 7 seconds, neatly beating the turbo-five-speed PT - with an automatic. Toyota also debuted the new Yaris, which replaces the Echo (and is Toyota's best selling car in Europe). Both announcements were made at SEMA, an unusual place to introduce new cars (the European Yaris had been brought out in Frankfurt.)

While Chrysler is working on new V6 engines, the Toyota 3.5, with 269 horsepower, will be hard to beat. Chrysler's 3.5 currently produces 250 horsepower, but does not have variable valve timing, and makes power at lower engine speeds.

For details, see http://www.toyoland.com/

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 07 2005, 02 PM)

Howell Automotive wins C&D Sport Compact test with Neon

Last year, Howell Automotive stunned the people at the Car & Driver Sport Compact comparison by bringing in a real American car - not just one with an American label on it, a la Focus, but a true American heavily-modified Neon. This year, with more preparation time, Howell actually won the comparison, coming in first place for the front wheel drive class.

The Neon SRT-4 did a quarter mile in 13.4 seconds (112 mph), and did 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, yet was considered very street-driveable with "hardly detectable" torque steer despite power ratings of about 450 hp and front-wheel drive.

It is worth noting that the Howell car came in at a total cost of $43,153, which, while not inexpensive, was cheaper than, say, the $95,183 Lotus Elise, $50,756 Mini, or $35,184 and $53,200 Civics. (All cars were modified.) The cheapest vehicle entered was a Ford Focus ($25,051) which finished in last place.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 09 2005, 08 AM)

DCX sells MMC stock

The Schremp & Iaccoca dream of World Motors is disappearing quickly, it seems. DCX just sold its remaining 12% stake in Mitsubishi for $588 million. At one time, DCX held 37% of Mitsubishi and about 10% of Hyundai; a considerable amount of those shares and other acquisitions appear to have been made from Chrysler's $8-12 billion capital reserve, which, if not spent, might have given the automaker the ability to continue new vehicle development at full steam from 1998 through the present day.

Chrysler and Mitsubishi will reportedly continue to jointly develop engines and work together on cars and trucks.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 11 2005, 08 AM)

Turbo Stratus?

Hemidakota of Allpar Forums reports that there's the possibility of a 2006 Dodge Stratus Turbo, which could be given the SRT badge.

DealerConnect lists the 2.4L code with a November 21, 2005 build-date.

It should be noted that a Turbo model Stratus has been sold in Mexico for some years now; and this move might be a marketing ploy to clear inventory of the remaining Stratus models in preparation for the 2007 MY vehicles.

Reported by Chris H at (November 12 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler engineer gets award

Frank J. Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President ' Manufacturing, is being honored with the Professional Engineers Gold Medal by the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards program. It recognizes conscientious commitment to public service, technical excellence and outstanding professional leadership. It is the third major manufacturing/engineering award Ewasyshyn has earned this year.

Tom LaSorda, President and CEO, said, "... his expertise in advanced technology has put Chrysler Group manufacturing at the forefront of meaningful innovation in our assembly, powertrain and stamping facilities."

Ewasyshyn was named Executive Vice President ' Manufacturing in May 2004. He is responsible for all of Chrysler Group's assembly, stamping and powertrain manufacturing operations, totaling more than 30 facilities worldwide. Ewasyshyn, born in Windsor, Ontario, joined Chrysler Corporation in 1976 as a maintenance foreman and has worked his way to the top manufacturing post responsible for 60,000 Chrysler Group employees.

Ewasyshyn is charged with implementing a culture change in Chrysler Group's manufacturing operations in which a greater focus is put on assembly line operators, while managers are shifted to a coaching and supportive role.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 17 2005, 02 PM)

New incentives (updated)

Chrysler is offering a new round of incentives which may not sound as "cheap" or desperate as standard rebates: two years of free gasoline, two years of maintenance, and a five year, 60,000 mile warranty. This plan excludes the Viper, LX series, Sprinter, and SRT8. Update: to qualify for the plan, the buyer must give up the regular incentives.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 17 2005, 04 PM)

Chrysler to make VW minivan?

According to a blurb on germancarblog.com, rumors of an imminent VW-badged Chrysler minivan to be sold in North America have been largely confirmed by a Volkswagen spokesman, who said a final decision has not yet been made but is imminent. The van would be produced by Chrysler with production starting in 2007. Volkswagen currently sells rebadged Ford minivans in Europe.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 18 2005, 01 PM)

Dealer meeting; new products shown

Chrysler Group recently held its annual dealers preview meeting, at which it shows its upcoming products to dealer manages and owners. According to insiders, Chrysler showed the 2007 Sebring Sedan and Convertible, Aspen (Durango based SUV), and "...drove the Firepower on stage" At Dodge, the Caliber, Nitro and Avenger were all displayed. And lastly, Jeep had the new compact Patriot and Compass, as well as the updated Wrangler (both two and four door versions) sporting Rescue derived sheet-metal, all shown in near production form.

It should be noted that the Sebring Convertible is rumored to have a retractable hardtop, similar to that on the Pontiac G6 convertible. If indeed true, the Sebring would move slightly up-market from its current position - in both features and price. The exterior design is said to be somewhat consistent with that of the Sebring Sedan, whose styling can be seen in an artists rendering featured on Allpar.

The Chrysler Aspen is said to have heavy 300 cues, creating an imposing stance. The Aspen is intended to compete with upscale SUVs and draw buyers from the import crowd.

Reported by Chris H at (November 20 2005, 10 PM)

2008 Dodge Challenger; current concept

We have large photos and what we believe is exclusive advance news on the 2008 Dodge Challenger. See http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/challenger.html for details.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 22 2005, 09 AM)

Chrysler to invest in Canada with government help

Chrysler will be investing US $640 million in Canada, mainly in the Windsor minivan plant (which is getting a new paint shop, as Allpar forum regulars know), in the former AMC plant at Brampton where LX cars are made, and in a research center. See Full Story for much more detail.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 23 2005, 12 PM)

Dodge Nitro to be built in Toledo

This morning, Chrysler announced that it will build the new 2007 Dodge Nitro at the Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) alongside the Jeep Liberty which it is based on. This will be the first non-Jeep product to be built at Toledo North.

"The employees and management of the Toledo North Assembly Plant have made it one of the most progressive manufacturing facilities in our system," said Byron Green, Vice President, Truck and Activity Vehicle Assembly. "By implementing a process whereby employees work together in small teams and take more control over their daily work, this team has positioned itself to become the home of Chrysler Group's newest model."

Part of the total Dodge Nitro program investment of $600 million is being allocated directly to the plant for upgrades that will ready it to manage the complexity of building two different models on one production line.

Several expansions totaling over 160,000 square feet will be made to the plant. More than 150 new robots will be added in the plant along with new conveyors and new processes that will contribute to the plant's productivity and quality. "The men and women of UAW Local 12 are implementing world-class processes to build world-class vehicles," said Lloyd Mahaffey, Director, UAW Region 2B. "We stand ready to take on the competitive challenges from around the world."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 28 2005, 12 PM)

Chrysler releases 1968 Hemi A-body book

Chrysler has released of its all-new, full-color limited edition book: 1968 Hemi A-Body: Building a SS/AA. Celebrating the 1968 Hemi Dart and Hemi Barracuda, the quickest and fastest accelerating vehicles ever sold through OEM dealers. This is the first comprehensive build-up book ever written on these legendary Super Stock drag racing cars.

In creating this nearly 100-page publication, many engine and chassis builders, race shops and race teams currently building and racing 1968 Hemi Super Stock cars were interviewed. Over 100 color photos along with manufacturer and supplier contact information is included, as well as the most current part numbers available for all recommended Mopar Performance parts.

If you race a 1968 A-Body SS/AA, you may find all the go fast information you need to build a more competitive race car. Additionally, the book offers many performance tips for bracket racers running a Hemi or any other Mopar big block engine, as well as tips on drivetrain, suspension and chassis setups.

The 1968 Hemi A-Body: Building a SS/AA book retails for $30 and can be ordered by logging on to www.techauthority.com.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 28 2005, 12 PM)

Stretch 300 by Accubuilt due out next summer

Lima, Ohio-based Accubuilt Inc. is apparently set to produce a six inch stretch version of the Chrysler 300 by next July. Chrysler Group reportedly is looking to increase its market share of the somewhat competitive livery segment, which has long been dominated by fellow domestics such as the Lincoln Town Car and GM's extended wheelbase Cadillacs. The move to build a longer wheelbase LX is not a surprise, as the 300 has already proved popular as a limo and livery vehicle in many fleets.

The Detroit News reports that about about 1,000 300s - all with 5.7L Hemi engines - will be shipped to Accubuilt from Brampton. The vehicles will later be delivered to Chrysler dealers and distributed through the dealer network.

Reported by Chris H at (December 09 2005, 09 AM)

Aspen set for Detroit debut; Imperial rumored

The Aspen, Chrysler's upscale version of the Dodge Durango, is still reportedly on track for a Detroit debut. According to MPH Magazine, the Aspen is "...a streamlined version of the Dodge Durango..." The styling is said to draw inspiration from the 300 and Pacifica, as Chrysler is hoping to eat some sales from the popular Escalade and other high-end SUVs.

Also rumored as a possibility for a Detroit debut is the Chrysler Imperial. The Imperial would be a LX variant with reworked 300 sheet metal, a longer wheelbase, and an even more cavernous interior. The Imperial name has been trademarked by Chrysler, so it is a highly likely possibility that such a model is indeed one of the rumored "7 LX variations" that Allpar sources have long alluded to.

Reported by Chris H at (December 09 2005, 09 AM)

Chrysler to invest in St. Louis plant for Stow-n-Go

As predicted a year ago by Allpar, Chrysler will be converting its short-wheelbase minivans to Stow-and-Go seating. $113 million will be spent on new tooling; this may include funds for the Volkswagen minivan as well, though Chrysler only said that the plant would add a new robotic line for the revised underbody and tub installation.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 10 2005, 02 PM)

Chrysler invests $1 billion in Missouri plants

Chrysler Group is investing up to $1 billion in its St. Louis North and St. Louis South Assembly Plants to modernize and re-tool the facilities.

The manufacturing plants, located in Fenton, Mo., are home to the Dodge Ram (1500 and 2500) Standard and Quad Cab Pickup (North), and the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans (South).

The investment will be shared between the two plants, giving them state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities, which presumably includes the ability to easily produce fairly different vehicles on the same line, one after the other (as with the Grand Cherokee/Commander line).

Currently, the North and South facilities build the full sized pickups and minivans. Part of this significant capital investment will provide St. Louis South with the capability to manufacture multiple types of vehicles on one line. St. Louis South will be the third Chrysler Group assembly plant to implement a fully robotic body shop, giving it the ability to automatically adjust to build multiple models within cycle time. The investment helps to ensure the future viability of both plants.

Equipment, facility and process changes will begin in 2006 as the plants continue to build vehicles. The investment also is expected to reduce new-model changeover downtime.

Both plants will continue to implement "smart manufacturing" processes, which foster greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor. Smart processes include work teams, self-designed work stations, a framework for flexible job classifications and extensive employee training. All these factors work cohesively to create a better work environment and give increased support to assembly line operators.

The St. Louis South Plant was constructed in 1959 and employs 3,200 people. The St. Louis North Assembly Plant was built in 1966 and employs 2,300 people.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 12 2005, 03 PM)

Hemi tree ornaments

Marc Rozman noted that 1/18th scale Hemi Christmas Tree ornaments are being sold at hobby shops. Made by Liberty Classic, the same company that made the 1/6th scale die cast Hemis, these cost about $14-15 and are carried by the WPC Museum (they were sold out but may come back).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 16 2005, 02 PM)

Juergen Schrempp leaves; Dieter Zetsche takes over.

The mastermind behind the takeover of Chrysler is stepping down as chair of DCX's board of management. Schrempp, who boasted to a journalist that the "merger of equals" was a sham with Mercedes intended to have the upper hand from the start, sent a letter to DCX employees as his step-down date draws closer. In a note sent to Chrysler employees, Schrempp stressed the global nature of DCX, noted the "proud histories" of both Mercedes and Chrysler, and announced the handover of the Board of Management chairmanship to Dieter Zetsche, former head of Chrysler Group under DCX.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 19 2005, 08 AM)

Calibers enter production; full scale in 3 weeks

The Dodge Caliber production line has officially started, making full body pilot vehicles for the first time. These are test vehicles which will be inspected and evaluated; three weeks have been allocated for making test vehicles and working out any glitches in production, after which (in the second week of January) vehicles intended for sale will be made. None of the pilot Calibers will actually be sold.

The Caliber is expected to be introduced on January 8, 9, or 10 at NAIAS. The Belvedere plant can produce four related vehicles at once, which at this point means the Caliber, Jeep Patriot and Compass, and one undefined vehicle, which could be the Dodge Rebel - or not.

Between November 1993 and September 2005, the Belvidere plant built 2.6 million Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler Neons. However, the plant last operated at full capacity in 1999 - the last year of the first-generation Neon.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 22 2005, 08 AM)

Dodge, Jeep vehicles to be recalled

Chrysler will replace or repair emission control components on nearly 1.5 million vehicles from 1996-2001 model years, and will pay $1 million each to the U.S.EPA and CARB to bring to a close the extended negotiations over this issue. DaimlerChrysler also will be
spending $3 million on a Supplemental Environmental Project, involving retrofits of existing diesel engines.The allegations were that the company violated the Clean Air Act by failing to properly disclose defective catalytic converters.

DaimlerChrysler will recall about 494,000 vehicles to reprogram the drivetrain control module and inspect the catalyst, a device installed in the engine's exhaust system to control emissions and reduce pollutants. An additional group of vehicles will have warranties extended, and a third group of vehicles will be checked.

The vehicles covered under the recall include 1996 Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees with 4-liter engines; 1997 Cherokees and Dodge Dakotas with 2.5-liter engines; and 1997 Jeep Wranglers with 2.5-liter engines built after July 1996. Also covered are 1998 Wranglers, Cherokees and Dakotas with 2.5-liter engines.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 22 2005, 01 PM)

300C "Heritage Edition"

Paying homage to the great Chrysler 300s of the late 1950s, Chrysler announced the new 2006 Chrysler 300C "Heritage Edition," debuting January 4 at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Available in dealerships this spring, the limited-production Heritage Edition has the power of the award-winning 5.7L Hemi with the Multiple Displacement System (MDS), high-performance styling cues of the popular SRT line-up, and exclusive features, including the first use of "SmartBeam" headlamp technology in a Chrysler vehicle. To contemporize its illustrious past, the Heritage Edition has a chromed bodyside molding with a distinctive tri- color 300C badge that is modeled after the badge on the 1957 Chrysler 300C, a vehicle described in its day as the "Beautiful Brute."

See "Full Story" for specific model details.

Reported by Chris H at (December 22 2005, 04 PM)


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