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2007 News Archives: Chrysler Covered by Allpar

Detroit News article highlights importance of execs

The Detroit News recently ran an article detailing who George W. Bush met with after postponing his meeting with American auto industry executives and Tom LaSorda. Some samples are Taylor Hicks (winner of American Idol, Tom DeLay (booked on conspiracy and money laundering charges), the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the winner of the Indie 500. He also apparently attended a tee-ball game. The CEOs were to meet with Bush on May 18, 2006. The meeting took place on November 14.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 02 2007, 04 PM)

Year-end sales figures: Chrysler plunges, Toyota new #3

The domestic American auto industry lost a considerable amount of market share as truck sales plummeted. Chrysler's 2006 sales of 2.1 million vehicles was 7% lower than in 2005. Toyota had already sold 2.3 million vehicles in November, and has a clear lead over DaimlerChrysler in American sales. (Toyota is expected to be the world's largest automaker in 2007 or 2008).

Ford sales dropped 8% overall from 2005, with a 5% increase in car sales but a 14% truck/MPV sale drop. Ford's light trucks are 62% of its total sales.

We will update this brief when GM and others report in.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 03 2007, 01 PM)

2008 Sales - Allpar analysis

Bill Cawthon has not yet checked in, but here is our take:

The Sebring and Stratus fell dramatically from 2005, largely because they were not available for much of the year, with Chrysler wanting to diminish supplies for a good 2007 model year introduction.

The Neon in its last full year, 2005, sold 113,332 units, a shadow of what it could have been if the cost-cutters had been held at bay. The Caliber came in at 92,224 units for 2006, and it was only made for a partial year; add the Compass (18,579) and it was even more respectable. The only question in our minds relates to the net profit per vehicle; that said, the Caliber seems to be shaping up as a real success story.

The 300 sold in almost the same numbers as last year, but average selling price fell quite a bit, indicating rougher going next year. However, countering that, the Charger sold a whopping 114,201 units on top of the 300's 143,647 and the Magnum's 40,095. Together, the LX series seems to be doing well indeed, and the upcoming Challenger should take off some sales pressure from the current trio, letting them find their natural market sales level without the need for over-discounting to keep the factory running. (Magnum fell by 12,400 units or so, but Charger sold about 70,000 more than its partial-year 2005 level.)

The PT Cruiser had an even better year than 2005, with 138,650 units flying off the shelves, making it one of the corporation's best selling individual models. Therefore, it is slated to be discontinued - or replaced with a vehicle that has nothing in common with it. 2006 sales were about 100,000 more than were predicted during its creation. The PT, having already amortized its engineering expenses, must be tremendously profitable, in addition to having gained all sorts of new customers for the company.

The Aspen, on the market for barely a month, sold under 8,000 units; the jury is still out on whether customers will ignore the reviews and find the little gem. Durango meanwhile plummeted by 39%, from 115M to 71M units.

Minivans can be expected to have been decimated given the popularity of the Honda and Toyota models and increased production of those counterparts; but Chrysler leaned on fleets, which bought over a quarter of production (compared with more than half of GM and Ford minivan production!). Town & Country fell 12% to about 160,000 units, while Dodge fell 7% to around 211,000 units. Chrysler still makes the most popular minivans, and the 2008s will probably knock the socks off many customers, so cautious optimism is called for.

Pacifica also fell, oddly, since the new models answer most of the complaints about the first one (all but gas mileage) with their 4.0 liter V6 and six-speed automatic; it's now down to 78,000 units, down 9% from 2005.

The Wrangler, newly redesigned, showed almost no change from 2005, but demand is strong, and we expect sales to go up; and repeat sales may be higher as well.

Liberty dropped 20% from 2005 but still did fairly well for an SUV in 2006, with 133,557 units sold. The Nitro, Liberty's big brother, sold 17,000 units in its short time on the market.

Grand Cherokee and Commander together fell, but many feel the Commander cushioned the Grand Cherokee's fall, as it dropped 35% from 213,584 to 139,148 units. No, that's not a misprint. the Commander sold 88,497 units in 2006, easily paying itself off - even if half of those were stolen from the Grand Cherokee, since the Commander sells at a higher price and presumably did not cost much (in new-car terms) to engineer. It also helped to move Chrysler along in its flexible-manufacturing system.

Dakota dropped 27% to 76,098 units, Durango 39% to 70,606 units, both victims of their gas mileage and the rising fuel prices. The Ram, likewise, dropped 9%, from over 400,000 units to 364,177 - still the group's best seller, albeit not if you add up the two minivans, and especially not if you split out the 1500 from the 2500/3500 and add the Pacifica to the minivans.

Overall, Chrysler brand fell 7%; Jeep 3%; and Dodge 9%, with the entire group falling 7% on average. On the lighter side, the Stratus and Sebring are finally being replaced soon, the Nitro may be a real success if initial interest bears out, and new minivans are on their way. Signs point to a good 2008 and hopefully a good 2007.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 03 2007, 04 PM)

Bill Cawthon on end-of-the-year sales

The numbers are all in and it’s official: The Big Three are now GM, Ford and Toyota. Chrysler Group came in fourth for December and the 2006 sales year.

Based on manufacturers’ numbers, Toyota edged Chrysler out by 77,585 sales. Chrysler sold far more light trucks, but Toyota sold almost two-and-one-half times as many cars. Toyota’s car sales also left Ford in the dust.

Chrysler came in with 2,142,505 sales for 2006, down 7% from 2005. The company gave up 0.65 points of market share. But the news isn’t all bad; the Caliber is still selling strongly and the new Sebring looks to be off to a good start. Apparently the buzz that there’s a pretty good car underneath that styling is working on carbuyers because it was in the top twenty cars by sales for December. In fact, there were four Chrysler cars in that group: the 300 came in at #7, the Sebring at #13, the Charger at #16 and the Caliber at #19. Chrysler had as many cars in the top twenty as GM and more than Toyota or Ford. In fact, cars counted for more than a quarter of Chrysler’s total sales in December, which is good news because Chrysler’s product mix has been the source of its troubles for much of the year.

In December, Chrysler actually beat its 2005 numbers, both by daily sales rate (DSR) and by volume. It was up 0.51% in actual units sold and up 4.38%, based on DSR. It was the only Detroit automaker to achieve this feat: GM dropped 14.36% in sales volume which was softened to an 11.06% shortfall by the shortened month in December. Ford came out a little better; sales were down about 13.34% which adjusted to about 10%. Ford’s domestic brand woes can be traced to declining sales of its flagship F-series and the Taurus and minivans reaching the end of the line.

Though the Caravan was beaten by both the Sienna and Odyssey in December, it managed to retain its crown for 2006. However, the Town & Country dropped to fourth behind the Toyota and Honda vans. With Ford leaving the market and GM likely to follow suit, Chrysler needs to focus on making its next minivan generation truly compelling to capture the sales that will be up for grabs.

Considering the state of the traditional SUV market, Jeep is doing well. The new Wrangler Unlimited (which is a blast to drive) is so popular they are adding extra production to keep up with demand. The Commander did a great job of keeping total large vehicle sales ahead of 2005. Not only did it cover the drop in Grand Cherokee sales (which might have gone to competitive vehicles with more seating), it brought in some conquest sales.

Dodge took the big hit, mostly due to its dependence on light truck sales but even here there was good news. The Nitro hit its stride in December; almost equaling its sales from October and November combined. Charger sales were still strong and the Ram pickup was the only major full-size pickup to post an improvement over its 2005 numbers. Sales of the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan were all down by double digits.

Industrywide, sales volumes were down in December and for the year. The major Automakers reported 1,425,560 cars and light trucks sold in December. Adjusted for the shorter sales month, the 3.51% volume shortfall in December magically became a slight 0.20% improvement. Sales for the full year came up about 2% short of 2005 with a total of 16,547,012 cars and light trucks leaving dealer lots.

The Detroit automakers gave up another 3.36 points of market share and were able to claim only 53.71% of the market. In 2003 they took over 60% of the sales.

2006 was the year of the car and the car-based crossover. Passenger cars gained nearly 2% of the total market, coming in with their largest piece of the pie since 2002. Traditional SUVs continued to lose ground to smaller models and the new generation of crossovers. December’s best-selling SUV was the Honda CR-V which came in third for the year. Though sales of all SUVs and crossovers dipped slightly, pickups were the biggest losers. Pickups, previously one of the most reliable segments, gave up over 1.5 points of market share in 2006. This is especially tough on Dodge, Ford and GM, which rely on their large pickups for a lot of their profits.

While it’s still in a lot of trouble, Ford managed to pick up some bragging rights in 2006. First and foremost, the F-Series pickup completed a quarter-century as America’s best-selling vehicle, a feat that is unmatched in American automotive history. After a one-year loss to the bow tie, the Explorer was once again the most popular SUV and it looks like the blue oval returned as America’s favorite brand in 2006. Based on the full-year numbers reported yesterday, Chevy came in No. 2 and Toyota was third.

The Toyota Camry locked up a fifth year as the best-selling car and the Ford Econoline racked up another notch as the best-selling full-size van, outselling the combined totals of the Chevy Express, GMC Savanna and Dodge Sprinter.

Even though it was not the best sales year, 2006 did see a lot of records: Audi had its best sales month ever in December and celebrated a record year. Subaru and Lexus did the same. Mercedes had a record year and its second-best sales month ever (last December was the all-time record sales month). Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki and Toyota set new yearly sales records.

2007 is shaping up to be a very interesting year. Some industry analysts are predicting a weak year for the industry and some are even saying this will be the year Toyota overtakes Ford in the U.S. market and GM worldwide. Fuel prices are rising again which could put even more pressure on light truck sales meaning more costly incentives to move the metal. However, it looks like Chrysler is putting itself in a better position to deal with these challenges with some good products. Who knows? The gap between sales at Ford and Chrysler have been pretty slim the past couple of months, so perhaps it’s possible Toyota might not be the only one to overtake Ford.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 04 2007, 10 AM)

Free Hemis and videos?

According to Detroit News, Chrysler Group is planning to throw in the Hemi V8 on a number of trucks in March; the Hemi is normally a $1,700 option. In April, DVD systems would be thrown in on every 2007 minivan to keep them moving with the 2008s looming. Some news sources reported that the Hemi was actually cheaper to produce than the 4.7 liter V8, though its associated equipment (beefier brakes, suspension. etc) may increase the overall cost of using the engine. Dealers were quoted as questioning the decision, suggesting that sales of non-Hemi models would plummet.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 04 2007, 01 PM)

Inventory update

Chrysler Group finished the month with 538,438 units of dealer inventory, or a 74-day supply. That figure is 58,568 units and 11-days fewer than December 2005, but does not include the "sales bank" of vehicles not ordered by dealers, estimated at 100,000 vehicles.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 04 2007, 03 PM)

Sales bank almost gone?

A Detroit News article mentioned almost in passing that Tom LaSorda claimed the sales bank is down from 500,000 to 10,000 vehicles. We're not quite sure how Chrylser managed that in one month, while decreasing dealer inventory, but that's what he said.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 06 2007, 09 AM)

Auto show coverage: introductions, interviews

We have closed Detroit show coverage at our 2007 NAIAS page. We have photos, the results of interviews, personal impressions, and notes on attending the show, which is now open to the public.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 08 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler takes 3 of 12 Readers Choice awards at NAIAS

The buzz in the pressroom was that Chrysler had stolen the show; nary a mention of the Camaro convertible was to be overheard. In the Readers Choice awards, the Camaro came out in top place, but three of the twelve awards went to Chrysler - Best Family Hauler (Town & Country), Most Innovative (Jeep Trailhawk), and Most Awesome Off-Road (Wrangler Rubicon). GM also got Most Earth-Friendly with the Chevrolet Volt, and Toyota got Grooviest Wheels with the FT-HS concept. Ford got two awards, Best Value (Fusion) and Best Curves (MKR); if you count Jaguar, they got three (Sexiest Vehicle, XKR).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 13 2007, 09 AM)

Dick Landy, noted Mopar drag racer, dies

Dick Landy, the popular racer who was part of Dodge factory efforts in Funny Car, Pro Stock, and other classes, died on January 11 of kidney failure at the age of 69. Landy acquired a national reputation as both a driver and an engine builder; he was also a noted wheelstander. He began racing in 1956, just after entering high school. He studied mechanical engineering at San Fernando Valley Jr. College.

In 1961, Dick Landy started a tuning shop, Automotive Research. He switched from Ford to Chrysler when Chrysler entered drag racing, starting with a Plymouth and switching to Dodge. In 1965, Landy's popularity in cars with radically altered wheelbases (for better traction) and nitromethane power, with speeds in the low nines at more than 140 mph, led him to make a career of match racing across the country, though he had to close Automotive Research to do it. Landy dropped into eight seconds with a wilder Dodge Dart, then hit 180 mph with a supercharged version. In 1967, Chrysler dropped funny car support in favor of travelling drag racing clinics led by Dick Landy and Sox & Martin. He kept racing until 1981.

Dick Landy created Dick Landy Industries (DLI) in 1970, which did research and development for Chrysler and worked on vehicles for other customers as well. He was often present as a speaker at the larger Mopar shows.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 13 2007, 09 AM)

Dodge Ram Spelunker

The 2007 Dodge Ram pickup equipped with the 5.9L Cummins diesel engine is the only OEM pickup that can be used for underground mining applications. The Ram comes with a derated 175 horsepower in-line six-cylinder engine that is approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for underground mine usage. With this derated engine, emissions are significantly reduced, which translates to a huge savings for mine operations in terms of lowering mine ventilation costs. Some aftermarket modifications are required for specific vehicle uses, but these Dodge Rams all have the Cummins 5-year/100,000 mile factory engine warranty. (Thanks, Stratuscaster.)

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 13 2007, 09 AM)

Job cuts at Mack plant?

According to the Detroit News, 250 jobs will be cut next week from the plant that makes the 4.7 liter V8 engines (Mack I). Full cuts are to be presented in mid-February. Part of the reason is lower sales of the vehicles that use the 4.7 as a standard engine, but part is due to the popularity of the Hemi, which some claim is cheaper to build.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 16 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler rewards a hero

Chrysler gave a Jeep Patriot to Wesley Autrey, who saved a man from a onrushing train, risking his own life, last week. The event was shown on the Ellen DeGeneres Show; Ellen said on-air, "The Jeep Patriot is the top-rated SUV. It’s compact, which is good for the city. And also, it handles great, gets excellent mileage. You’re going to love it. And Chrysler’s going to pay for a full year of parking in the city, which is a really cool thing. If anything goes on in subways, somebody else is going to have to help people, because you're done with subways for a while."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 17 2007, 11 AM)

DC Show: Diesels ahead of schedule

The Ram 2500 and 3500 will be getting a new Cummins 6.7 liter turbodiesel engine that meets EPA standards for 2010 - and it will be available in March, 2007, alongside a new Grand Cherokee Limited powered by a diesel that meets 2010 standards as well. Tom LaSorda made the announcement this morning at the DC Auto Show, accompanied by a representative from the EPA and the head of Cummins. For details, see our Grand Cherokee and Ram pages.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 23 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler increases Mexican sales

2006 was Chrysler's best year for Mexico; all brands gained market share. Over the past 3 years, Chrysler Mexico has gained over 2 full share points, despite several new competitors. Tom LaSorda's challenge to gain a 20% core Dodge truck market share was achieved with a 20.5% share for the year (24.3% for December.)

Looking at just Chrysler Group vehicles (excluding Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Mercedes), Mexican sales rose 5% to 95,307 units (Hyundais came in with 33,139 units). Chrysler Group sales in Latin America rose 37% - with the largest gain in Brazil (103.5% increase) and double-digit increases in Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, and the rest of Latin America as a whole. Together, though, Latin American sales represented only 28,267 units - 16,367 of which were in Venezuela. Chrysler's market share, excluding Hyundai, stands at 8.1% in Mexico, above Toyota and Honda but behind GM, Nissan, Ford, and Volkswagen. (GM is largest witih 21%).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 25 2007, 03 PM)

300 takes lead in Money Magazine's full-size car comparison

The Chrysler 300 took first place in Money Magazine's recent comparison of full-sized cars, beating the Toyota Avalon, Acura RL, Cadillac DTS, and Buick Lacerne.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 29 2007, 09 AM)

It's almost official: more downsizing

A Detroit News article refers to the February 14 Chrysler restructuring as a major downsizing, suggesting that at least two engine plants will be closed, production will be slowed, and many jobs will be cut. This appears to invalidate prior rumors of an independent (on paper albeit not in reality) Chrysler, and falls into the "negative"

Reported by DaveAdmin at (January 30 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler has good January (amended)

Chrysler reported its best January sales in six years, with strong increases in Jeep sales (19% higher than in January 2006). Overall, Chrysler saw a 1% increase in sales over January 2006.

Ford sold 165,877 light vehicles (55,842 cars, down 32%, and 110,035 trucks, down 10%), with an overall 19% drop from January 2006, due largely to cutbacks in sales to rental companies (by 65%).

Toyota sales rose by a predictable 10%, taking the #2 spot; analysts predict it will hold that spot for the full year. Chrysler Group appears to have beaten the traditional Ford triumvirate of Ford-Lincoln-Mercury in sales this month.

The Town & Country was the only Chryselr brand vehicle to post a sales gain, leaping ahead 16% with heavy publicity of the 2008s. Sebring, 300, Crossfire, and PT were all down by 27-33%, Pacifica - despite its redesign - down 24%. Chrysler brand was down overall by 15%.

At Jeep, the Wrangler doubled sales over last year and then some, with nearly 9,000 sales. Liberty and Grand Cherokee were both down 23%; Commander was up 30%. Overall, thanks to Wrangler, Jeep was up 19%.

Dodge was mixed. Caliber sold over double what Neon did last January, but the Stratus' 10,000 sales were gone, wtih Avenger barely registering due to availability. Charger was down 7%, Magnum 39%. Dakota and Durango were both off, 17% and 26% respectively; but Nitro sold fairly well, making up for lost Liberty sales and then some. The bright spots were the Ram, increasing in sales by 12% (the Ford F-series fell this month), or about 2,500 units; and the Caravan sold well, up 14%, or about 2,300 units. The pair (plus Nitro and Caliber) pushed Dodge sales up into black ink, a 3% net hike, and moved Chrysler Group up 1% overall. But Chrysler is even more truck-heavy now, with car sales down 25% and truck sales up 11%; minivans, SUVs, and trucks are now 71% of Chrysler's sales. The sudden drop in LX series sales must be worrying, though some are probably gratified that the PT, slated for demolition, has finally faltered.

Another analysis will follow.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 01 2007, 11 AM)

Sales overview (by Bill Cawthon)

In January, America’s favorite brand was Chevrolet, but number two wasn't Ford; it was Toyota, which finished just 2,657 sales behind the bow tie.

There was more bad news for the folks in Dearborn. They were fourth overall in sales. Though some reporting agencies (like Ward’s) will say Ford was third, that involves adding Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo to Ford while excluding Mercedes from DaimlerChrysler. In fact, whether you compare Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep sales to those of Ford’s domestic brands, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, or compare the totals including the international brands, Chrysler comes out ahead.

While Toyota Motor Sales did outpace DaimlerChrysler as a whole, Chrysler Group’s three brands outsold Toyota Division (including Scion) in January. Total for Chrysler was 156,308; Toyota and Scion came up with 153,732.

Although an extra selling day last month put Chrysler in the red by about 3% based on daily sales rate (DSR), actual sales volume was up 0.54%, to 156,308 units. That was good for an extra three-quarters-point of market share. Chrysler was the only one of the Detroit automakers to gain share in January.

Chrysler passenger car sales dropped across the board last month with most models posting double-digit shortfalls. While it may appear to be a concern, the fact is that Chrysler, like Ford and GM, is cutting back on rental fleet sales. It may look bad for short-term numbers, but it hopefully will lead to better financials in the months to come. In addition, Chrysler cut back on incentive spending. They’re still the highest in the industry, but Chrysler’s average financial inducement was down $367 from December 2006 and $338 from a year ago.

Another factor was the huge drop in sales of the discontinued Stratus. That alone accounted for 9,870 units of the 11,376-car shortfall. The Avenger is just barely out of the gate, so it will take a few months for it to start showing its true potential.

Fortunately for Chrysler, sales of light trucks picked up a lot of the slack. Ram pickup sales were up 7% based on DSR, 12% on volume. That compares to drops of 3.3% for the Chevy Silverado and almost 18.3% for the Ford F-Series.

Minivan sales were also improved as the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country grabbed the two top spots in the segment.

Dodge’s Caliber and Nitro continue to enjoy healthy numbers and, combined with the Ram and Caravan gave the brand a 3% improvement in volume though January’s extra selling day dropped it back in the red by one percent.

The real winner was Jeep where sales of the Commander and Wrangler pushed the brand to a 14% improvement with actual sales volume up 19%. By the way, that success is very understandable; the time I spent with a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon was some of the most fun I have had behind the wheel in a long time.

Compare Chrysler’s results with those of its Motor City neighbors. GM’s adjusted sales were down nearly 20.5% and Ford’s were off over 23.5%.

January is typically a light month for light truck sales, but this year was a little different. The balance between car and truck sale changed only slightly from December, typically a good month for trucks, to January. While some of this, no doubt, is due to the fact the gasoline prices did not rise in January due to a warmer-than-usual winter, a lot can be attributed to the line-blurring crossovers, which continue to attract buyers who want to get out of a traditional SUV but don’t want to go back to a sedan.

Based on the numbers reported by the major automakers, 1,087,001 cars and light trucks left dealer lots last month. That’s a volume decline of almost 4.9 percent. Adjusting for the extra selling day, the actual deficit was over 8.5 percent. Those numbers yield a seasonally adjusted sales rate of 16.73 million light vehicles, off just slightly from December 2006 but down sharply from the 17.54 million pace of last January. Most industry watchers are looking for the industry to have a so-so year in 2007.

The Detroit automakers claimed just barely over half the market, another historic low. While it’s early and there are lots of things that could change, this may be the year the import brands claim up the majority of light vehicle sales in the U.S. Chrysler, Ford and GM are all trying to wean themselves from the big rental fleet sales that have propped up their numbers for so many years and the adjustment may prove painful to both pride and profits. But it may prove to be healthy in the long run as the U.S. market comes to reflect its truly international mix.

Since BMW did not report its by-model sales numbers, I can’t do the segment-by-segment breakdown of the light vehicle market this month.

Most of the overall sales leaders by segment held no major surprises. The Ford F-Series held onto its place at the top, followed by Chevy’s Silverado. The Camry was the best-selling car coming in comfortably ahead of the Accord, which just barely edged the Corolla for second. The Dodge Ram fell to No. 8 overall, outsold by both the Chevrolet Impala and Nissan Altima. It was followed by the Caravan at No. 9. Top compact pickup was the Toyota Tacoma.

There were some changes in the pecking order among the SUVs. Top-seller was the Honda CR-V with the Toyota RAV4 capturing the second spot. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling American SUV or crossover and the Wrangler managed to outsell the Ford Explorer.

There weren't any all-time sales records set last month, but there were several ’best-ever’ January totals. New records were set by Audi, Honda, Kia, Lexus, Suzuki and Toyota. Mazda had its best January in thirteen years and Chrysler had its best start to the new year in six years.

January was an interesting month but it’s not the best month for predicting the year’s trends. We’ll see how things start shaping up in February.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 02 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler restructuring: advance news

This Detroit News article confirms rumors of the restructuring plan and adds details. As expected, there will be large layoffs, closings, and increased parts sourcing in China and other Asian countries. However, also coming is far more in the way of jointly engineered vehicles shared by Chrysler and Mercedes. In addition to the M-Class and Grand Cherokee (and next-generation Durango), a new small car - which has been rumored to be under development for some time - engineered largely in Auburn Hills will be sold by both Chrysler and Mercedes, made in both Belvidere and Germany.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 05 2007, 08 AM)

Jeep Patriot review includes off-roading

RockCrawler.com has posted a favorable Jeep Patriot review, after taking their Patriot off-roading and highway-driving.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 06 2007, 10 AM)

ZF builds a more efficient automatic

ZF, the first company to sell a six-speed automatic, has developed a new, far more efficient transmission that can outperform seven and eight speed automatics in gas mileage and "driving dynamics," according to an article in Automotive News. The company locks the torque converter clutch more quickly and has better hydraulics and software controls, so that shifts are twice as fast and gas mileage is 3% better overall (6% better for diesels). The new transmission will be sold in new BMW vehicles.

ZF has also developed dual-clutch seven-speed automatics, which are automatically shifted manual transmissions; it can handle higher revving engines than the six-speed automatic. ZF has customers but this transmission will apparently be reserved for pricier sports cars. Getrag and Borg-Warner also have dual clutch automatics on the way, BorgWarner's being sold in some Volkswagens. Chrysler's own automatically shifted manual was initially engineered some years ago.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 06 2007, 01 PM)

Avenger starts up

The Dodge Avenger officially started production yesterday, February 6, 2007.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 07 2007, 03 PM)

Demon concept shown

The Dodge Demon concept, due to be shown at Geneva, is now available at allpar, thanks to Modern Mopars.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 12 2007, 09 AM)

Diesel minivans at last?

Having sold diesel-powered minivans in Europe for many years, Chrysler may finally be bringing a more fuel-efficient mini to the United States in 2010. Automotive News spoke to Jason Vines regarding the possibility of using a Mercedes 2.2 liter, four cylinder engine in American minivans. In Europe, Chrysler has used existing VM Motori diesels; the switch to a Mercedes diesel could add to the cost, particularly since the engines would be made in Germany. A diesel powered minivan could give Chrysler a substantial edge in gas mileage. Currently, the 2.8 liter VM/Detroit Diesel engine with an automatic in UK Voyagers get 33.6 mpg, combined cycle (UK gallons), while the 2.4 liter - even with a manual transmission - gets only 28.5 mpg, and has slightly lower performance.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 13 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler cuts another 13,000 jobs

Chrysler Group is eliminating 13,000 North American jobs, closing one assembly plant, and eliminating shifts at two plants, and the DCX supervisory board may choose to sell Chrysler or merge it with another company. 9,000 hourly jobs in America and 2,000 hourly jobs in Canada will be cut, with another 2,000 salaried jobs leaving, with about half of the jobs cut over the next year and the rest over the next three years. Retirement and attrition programs will also be used to reduce head-count. While Toyota builds new plants in a frenzy, Chrylser is seeking to cut production by 400,000 vehicles per year. The Newark plant will be closed completely in 2009, while Warren and St. Louis will lose shifts. The cost of the cuts will be $1.3 billion, while reducing dealer inventories will cost another $300 million.

Daimler-Benz acquired Chrysler Corporation in 1998; Chrysler at that time was one of the world's most profitable automakers, with a popular, critically acclaimed product line of cars, minivans, and trucks. Since acquiring Chrysler, Daimler-Benz has cut over 40,000 jobs; eliminated the company's entry-level car; removed Chrysler Financial from Chrysler Group's books; dropped the Plymouth division; chose several local CEOs who lasted only a brief time; boasted that they had lied about the acquisition being a merger; delayed the introduction of numerous vehicles; and saw the former company's market share plummet.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 14 2007, 10 AM)

GM-Chrysler buyout rumors

Reuters reported that GM was considering purchasing buying Chrysler. Several respected analysts believe that this was based on a misunderstanding of potential upcoming partnerships between the two companies, which have been working together in specified areas for decades. Some expect a frenzy of buyout rumors and articles to appear as speculation is mistaken for rumor.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 16 2007, 03 PM)

CAW-negotiated terms

The CAW and DaimlerChrysler Canada, Inc. finalized an agreement on ways to reduce the number of hourly workers in the Windsor Assembly Plant, Brampton Assembly Plant, and Etobicoke Casting Plant. Production will be maintained at these plants.

The incentives, which follow the pattern established earlier at Ford of Canada, include $70,000 in enhanced retirement allowance for eligible production workers, or $85,000 for eligible skilled trades workers; a $30,000 voucher toward the purchase of a Chrysler vehicle registered in either the employee’s or their
spouse’s name; and an additional $40,000 for those who decline all non-pension post-retirement benefits.

Separation of Employment offers for those not eligible to retire are $50,000 with one to five years service; $75,000 with five to eight years service, and $100,000 for eight or more years of service. The total number of separation packages will be determined from location to location.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 19 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler sale rumors gain credibility

Though current plans have Chrylser V6 engines powering Mercedes vehicles and considerable architecture sharing between the two brands, the London Times reported that J.P. Morgan is sending around a buyout offer for Chrysler Group - starting at 7 billion pounds - and that General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner met with Dieter Zetsche in December to discuss terms of sale. For GM, Chrysler would be a bargain buy - three established brands, the world's most popular minivans, Jeep, the Hemi engine, possibly the Chrysler-developed automated manual transmission, a more effective MDS, and other assets, all for about the price of creating one or two carlines. GM might be able to eliminate much of Chrysler's support staff, and might be able to leverage even greater economies of scale in areas where one company or the other has relatively small production.

The Times article, as appears to be required, suggested that only Daimler would benefit by being rid of Chrysler, ignoring the revenue stream reportedly coming via back-door methods (e.g. royalties and consulting fees). They also referred to Dodge as a premium brand, while Chrysler was called a mass production brand.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 19 2007, 02 PM)

Buyout talks continuing?

Other news sources have come forward to claim that DCX is planning to sell Chrysler Group with a minimum asking price of $13 billion. While many still believe that the hiring of J.P. Morgan and other steps are a way to assuage German investors and cow American unions, others believe that DCX may be serious about splitting off its once-profitmaking American division. Not known is whether the sale would include the CTC and its equipment, how future Mercedes whose engineering has already involved Auburn Hills would be affected, and whether Chrysler Group would be sold as one piece, or minus, for example, the Jeep brand.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 20 2007, 05 PM)

DCX responses to rumors, speculation

Regarding the China car, current rumors have this vehicle being designed by Chrysler, and built by Chery in China, possibly using a basic Chery set of dimensions and some shared components. According to Chrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff, as quoted in the Automotive News, "We don't even have a signed contract with Chery yet. Product-specific announcements are still out in the future."

Regarding rumors of Chrysler being sold to another company, Tom LaSorda sent out a message essentially saying that he could not comment, but that employees should continue to work hard even though the future was unclear.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 22 2007, 01 PM)

600 horsepower Corvette readied

In the wake of a Viper power boost to 600 hp, Chevrolet is readying a 2009 model-year Corvette SS, also to have 600 horsepower but possibly to be faster in acceleration. Photos of the car have been posted on sites such as Jalopnik and Autoblog but have been taken down at the request of GM.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 23 2007, 08 AM)

More buyers for Chrysler

According to this Detroit News article, private equity firms including Apollo Management, the Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management were given information and an invitation to purchase Chrysler before DCX made its announcement that the American division was on the block. The article notes that DCX is still giving out financial information to interested potential buyers.

Carlyle Group is headed by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner and deals in many industries including auto, aerospace, and defense; they own Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. 65% of their investment capital comes from the US. Carlyle has been aided by politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) with conflicts of interest.

Apollo Management recently bought Harrah's and GE Advanced Materials. They also own retail outlets such as General Nutrition Centers.

Blackstone Group has taken a number of companies private; it has holdings in Houghton Mifflin, American Axle, and other outfits, but has been largely active in real estate and hotels lately.

Cerebrus normally invests in companies near bankruptcy; it owns a variety of businesses includingn Alberton's, and already bought about half of DCX's aircraft-leasing business and Blue Bird (buses). They own the National and Alamo car rental agencies and 51% of GMAC. Their spokesman is Dan Quayle, who also runs an international unit, and they are chaired by former Secretary of the Treasury (under G.W. Bush) John W. Snow.

Chrysler had an estimated $8 billion in cash before the acquisition by Daimler-Benz. Had all current losses been sustained at equal levels, an independent Chrysler would still have cash on hand.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 23 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler going private in March?

According to the Detroit News, Chrysler Group's financials will be sent to a number of private equity firms and other potential buyers next week, with offers to follow rapidly. The rumor mill has not mentioned any conditions to the sale, e.g. not splitting up the company and selling off the parts, which could be bad news if the wrong organization should buy it. Chrysler does have the potential for large, long-term profits, given a history of clear profits from 1993-1999, though that might in the current climate be contingent on the inclusion of the former Chrysler Credit in the deal.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 24 2007, 09 AM)

Phoenix engines to get new factory

Chrysler appears to be set on creating a new factory to builds its next generation V6 engines, dubbed Phoenix, rather than using an existing plant. The new engines will replace the current 2.7, 3.5, 3.8, and 4.0 liter motors. Detroit News noted that Chrysler appears to be interested in Van Buren Township in southeast Michigan as a location, but has looked at six sites in Michigan in total, based on permit applications.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 24 2007, 09 AM)

Ford diesel supplier halts production

Navistar International has stopped building the diesel engines used in Ford Super Duty pickups due to a contract dispute, claiming that Ford has not honored its agreement. Ford has accused Navistar of not living up to warranty cost sharing arrangements, and of raising prices without justification.

If the production cut dragged on and interfered with production, the lack of Super Duty diesels could bolster General Motors and Dodge diesel pickup sales. GM sells an engine co-engineered with Isuzu, while Dodge buys engines from Cummins.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 26 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler offers Petty partnership to performance customers

The Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE) will deliver the SRT Track Experience professional driving instruction program beginning this year. The program will expand beyond Chrysler Group vehicles to include owners of all brands of vehicles.

Started in 2005, the SRT Track Experience has day-long sessions of on-track driving and classroom instruction designed to maximize participants’ driving skills on the street and on the track. Drivers are exposed to the full range of SRT vehicles, including the Dodge Viper SRT10 Coupe and Roadster, Dodge Charger SRT8, Dodge Magnum SRT8, Chrysler 300C SRT8 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

Seven-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Richard Petty said, ’We operated over 1,200 event days and ran close to two million miles on track last year through Richard Petty Driving Experience, so we are geared to manage and operate this program.

’I think the folks who get behind the wheel of an SRT and go through one of these programs will come away with a whole new appreciation for the performance of the vehicle and their own abilities as a driver. I personally drive an SRT vehicle, and I'm excited that we will be helping highlight SRT performance for Chrysler.’

More than 60 events are planned for 2007, many at well-known tracks across the country including Daytona International Speedway, Road America in Wisconsin, Watkins Glen in New York and Phoenix International Raceway. This season’s first program is a three-day stop at the Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth beginning February 23. Interested enthusiasts can visit www.driveSRT.com (Track Experience) to view the entire 2007 schedule and register for the track and date of choice.

SRT owners receive a one-day session as part of the purchase of their new SRT vehicle. Automotive enthusiasts not currently owning a SRT car or truck are invited to participate for a $500 fee.

Programs consist of a combination of four driving modules tailored to each facility, including Autocross, Full Throttle Challenge, Advanced Car Control, Viper Performance, Performance Drive and Drifting. At the end of each day, the participants have the opportunity to ride shot gun and take a ’hot lap’ around the track with a Richard Petty Driving Experience professional driver. The program is aimed at improving throttle control, braking, handling and reaction time.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 26 2007, 03 PM)

Outsourcing begins

One of the planks of the "recovery plan" for Chrysler Group is more offshore automaking, and the "China car" may be the first step in a larger process. The Supervisory Board has officially approved a joint venture with Chery of China, which will build small cars engineered by Chrysler and Chery. The deal must be approved by China's government, but Chery will build vehicles to be distributed by Dodge and possibly Chrysler or Jeep in North America and Europe.

Chrysler has not built a car in this class since the Omni, which was largely engineered by the company's European holdings (formerly Rootes Group and SIMCA). However, the Neon, sold under all three Chrysler Corporation car brands starting in 1994, was notable for being the only profitable American car in its class, as well as being a consistent winner in SCCA stock-car racing.

Chrysler has remained largely noncommunicative regarding the engineering of the China-car, but some have said it would be based on an existing Chery, with many shared components but a Chrysler engine, automatic transmission, and "top hat" (interior and exterior styling).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 27 2007, 09 AM)

Magna emerges as likely Chrysler buyer

Magna International, an auto supplier that has been rumored to be aspiring to becoming a full automaker, may be the most serious potential buyer for Chrysler Group. The chairman of Magna, Frank Stonach, has met twice with CAW president Buzz Hargrove, and has had KeyBanc Capital do due diligence on the automaker. Magna also met with the UAW but with a more confrontational outcome.

Magna had revenues of $24 billion in 2006. The company is based in Canada.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 27 2007, 09 AM)

DCX economizes at top levels

According to DCX's annual report, the total spent on salaries for the management board fell from $46 million to $27 million from 2005 to 2006. CEO Dieter Zetsche, who currently runs both DaimlerChrysler AG and the Mercedes-Benz unit, received $6.7 million in 2006, while Tom LaSorda, CEO of Chrysler Group, was paid $3.16 million. The average Standard & Poor's 500 (largest 500 American firms) CEO was paid an average of $13.5 million. European CEOs tend to be paid less than American CEOs.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (February 27 2007, 02 PM)

Navistar must sell to Ford, court says

A circuit court judge has ordered Navistar to build its diesel engines and ship them to Ford, even though the company said Ford was not living up to its end of the contract. The engines are needed for the new "Super Duty" pickups.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 01 2007, 08 AM)

DCX, BMW do a hybrid without GM

DCX's German engineers and BMW will work together to develop a new mild hybrid for rear wheel drive luxury cars, to be sold in about three years. This system will be based on the American design created by GM, DCX's American engineers, and BMW.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 01 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler reports 8% sales decline, Mercedes steady

Chrysler's February 2007 sales dropped 8% from 2006, despite high rebates. Total sales for February 2007 were 174,506 vehicles; year to date the drop is 4%, with 330,814 vehicles sold. Mercedes stayed roughly even with 2006, with dealer incentives at $15,000 for some vehicles.

Ford sales were down by over 13%, with 211,150 vehicles sold - considerably higher than Chrysler. Ford sales to rental fleets were down 30% in a planned withdrawal.

GM sales actually increased, with 311,763 units sold, despite a deliberate 18% decline in fleet sales.

We will have more details later in the day.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 01 2007, 12 PM)

Hemis are now free on some models

The Hemi engine, reputedly cheaper to build than the 4.7 liter V8 (but requiring heavier-duty ancillary components), will be free on the Ram 1500 and Durango, at least in March. The engine is normally a $1,700 option.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 01 2007, 03 PM)

Toyota #4 in US again, for February

Despite sales declines by all of the "Big Three," Toyota ended up as the #4 automaker in February 2007, at 187,330 sales to DCX's 191,810. Toyota Division cleared 164,812 vehicles, fewer than Chrysler Group's 174,506. However, Toyota remains highly profitable, and is building a new factory in Mississippi to make Highlanders, while Chrysler retrenches and plans to cut production by 400,000 vehicles per year.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 01 2007, 03 PM)

U.S. February Sales Recap

Good news and bad news for Chrysler in February. Sales were down, but there were also some positive signs, like reduced inventories and good showings from Avenger, Caliber and Wrangler.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (March 02 2007, 01 AM)

Wolfgang Bernhard to return?

The Financial Times reported that "several" private equity firms have met with Wolfgang Bernhard, considering using him as an adviser as they bid on Chrysler Group. He was the chief operating officer of Chrysler, sent by Daimler's Stuttgart leaders, and was to head Mercedes' car unit.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 02 2007, 08 PM)

Avenger to get ad blitz soon

The Dodge Avenger will soon cast off its semi-secret aura and be advertised - and, unlike most Dodge vehicles, it will actually have its unique and strong points emphasized in the ads, according to company reps.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 03 2007, 01 PM)

Driverless car shown

CNN Money reported on a "driverless" cruise control system - one which requires no driver input for stop and go traffic aside from steering. The story notes that the system used by Mercedes was developed by Continental Teves; presumably it could be used by any automaker willing to pay the price.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 05 2007, 09 AM)

2.2 supercharger to return?

The original manufacturer of the Mopar Performance 2.2 liter engine supercharger - for carbureted 2.2s - was recently purchased by Atkins Rotary, which is considering reissuing the component if they can get 15 buyers. Serious buyers should contact Andy at 253-588-2350.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 07 2007, 04 PM)

Suitors wined and dined

According to a Detroit News article, potential buyers of Chrysler, including private equity firms, are being wined and dined with views of upcoming vehicles in the Design Dome, talks by Trevor Creed and others, and meals in the Chrysler Museum, together with a view of Chrysler's books that UAW officials and government accountants can probably only dream of. Dieter Zetsche has said that the sale of Chrysler Group will not be an auction, but that DCX is being selective about potential bidders and may choose to retain Chrysler Group after all.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 08 2007, 09 AM)

Detroit Autorama under way; strong Mopar presence

CEMA's Marc Rozman reported on the Detroit Autorama show: "I haven't ventured off to far during the set up but it's looking like another great show this year! Be sure to stop by and say hi. The Super Stock Challenger is due to show up this morning at the Mopar Display so be sure to check that out, were not far from that. I'm right across from Chip Foose's Hemisfear car, how cool is that?"

This is Marc in front of his pristine Charger:

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 09 2007, 08 AM)

Liberty, Durango, Avenger recalled

Around 500,000 Jeep Libertys and Durangos from are being recalled to replace the vent fan, which can sometimes catch fires. There have been 72 fires so far, affecting the Liberty (2006 and 2007 model years) and Durango (2004-2006 model years). In addition, 11,000 Avengers are being recalled to fix door latches. There have been no crashes or injuries reported in connection with either recall.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 12 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler creates new interior design studio

Tim Annes is overseeing around 25 designers who will create new Chrysler Group interiors, showing up starting around 2011, according to an article in Automotive News. The group was created last October.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 12 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler selloff creaks along, with offers due in March

According to the Wall Street Journal, DaimlerChrysler AG has asked potential buyers of Chrysler Group to make their offers by the end of the month so they could have a short list by their general meeting on April 4.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 13 2007, 09 AM)

Dodge engineers lost in Spanish accident

Chrysler engineers Mary Shams and Yaritza Bell were killed last week in a two-car accident while testing an Avenger in spain in preparation for its European launch. No reason for the accident (including which car was at fault) has been released yet.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 14 2007, 11 AM)

First China-car: a hatchback

According to a Wall Street Journal article, the first Chery car made for Chrysler Group will be a hatchback, based on the A1. The A1 has exterior styling by Bertone, and interior styling courtesy of a British company; but these would likely be jettisoned in favor of a new Chrysler-engineered "top hat." According to previous reports, Chrysler will be re-engineering much of the A1 to increase quality and suitability for American audiences.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 15 2007, 10 AM)

Jeep to set new high-altitude record?

Matthias Jeschke from Germany will try to break the high altitude world record for cars, which he himself set in 2005. The current record is 20,860 feet above sea level. Jeschke will be using a Jeep Wrangler in his attempt. More details are at Mike's Jeep News.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 16 2007, 10 AM)

LX reliability rating: transmission or methods at fault?

Recent, Consumer Reports (CR) made headlines by posting a list of recommended vehicles that were mainly Asian in origin. Michael Karesh of TrueDelta has been running a similar survey with somewhat more statistical analysis applied, and noted that there were a number of oddities in the CR findings. This included substantial differences between largely-identical vehicles with different body styles, and vehicles with the same body style but different engines. The full article is at TrueDelta, but there are clear implications that the CR reliability data is suspect at best.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 23 2007, 03 PM)

GM's bid for Chrysler

According to the Detroit News, GM's initial offer, which sparked a bidding war, was to pay $1 billion and under 10% of GM's stock for Chrysler. GM's capitalization is currently $12-14 billion, making the total proposal worth about $2 billion, an offer that was rejected for being too low; indeed, it was about half of Magna's offer for just a portion of Chrysler Group.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 26 2007, 08 AM)

Contrasts at GM, Delphi

General Motors provided restricted stock bonuses to its executives, but did not give cash bonuses as the automaker did not make a profit last year.

Delphi, which started out as GM's parts divisions, has gone to the courts to demand that all labor contracts be voided. While paying $37 million in bonuses to executives and over $150 million in legal fees related to fighting its employees, Delphi has demanded that workers take $10-12 per hour, more than a 60% cut. Delphi recently made another wage offer which a UAW vice president called "pathetic," especially in light of management and lawyer compensation.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 28 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler gets first crack at streaming video (updated)

Chrysler will be the first company to feature rear-seat streaming video, featuring television from three cable networks provided by Sirius satellite systems. The system, designed jointly by the two companies (Chrysler working on integration into the vehicle and Sirius on the basic technology), will appear in the 2008 minivans.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (March 29 2007, 03 PM)

2008 Grand Cherokee revealed

Autoblog was kind enough to break the Grand Cherokee embargo, and we follow with a new, slightly more comprehensive 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee page.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 01 2007, 07 PM)

EPA must consider regulating carbon dioxide, Supreme Court says

In a surprising, close decision, the Supreme Court ordered the federal government to start considering greenhouse gas emissions from cars, though the Bush Administration had argued that the EPA does not have that ability.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 02 2007, 11 AM)

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited sets new world record for altitude

Seventy years after the first man climbed the world’s highest volcano, Ojos del Salado in Chile, two Jeep’ Wrangler Unlimited vehicles set a new world record by climbing 6,646 meters (21,804 feet) to the volcano’s rim. The achievement was certified by Guinness World Records’.

It is the second highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere (6,892 meters / 22,597 feet). Over five days in March, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vehicles carried a team from Extrem Events (Germany), led by Mattias Jeschke, from the base of the inhospitable volcano in the Chilean Andes to the highest point that a four-wheeled vehicle has traveled.

’This was exactly the challenge to separate the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from all other 4x4 vehicles. A climb like this in not just off-road, but extreme conditions, is a testament to the performance of the vehicle’s powertrain, suspension and overall quality. We are very proud that Wrangler Unlimited was the first vehicle to be able to complete such a rigorous challenge, and believe that it really does set the vehicle apart from its competition,’ said George Murphy, Chrysler Group Senior Vice President of Global Marketing.

During the trip, the team endured hurricane-strength winds, temperatures that reached minus 30 degrees Centigrade (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and the thin air of high altitudes, as it maneuvered over malicious glaciers, fissured rock cliffs and volcanic sand. The last stretch of the climb was the most grueling. Both Wrangler Unlimited vehicles had to cross a glacier, parts of which were so smooth that any travel by foot required spiked shoes. At the far end was the glacier field, a fissured ice area strewn with razor sharp snow penitents. It was here that the vehicle’s 3.8L V-6 engine and Goodyear’s MT/R tires proved their true capability, and made the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited the first vehicle to ever cross the Ojos del Salado glacier.

After reaching the initial goal, to surpass 6,500 meters, just beyond the glacier, the team continued to drive on and pushed forward until there was nowhere left to drive. ’Unbelievable, tremendous, phenomenal,’ was the description from team leader, Jeschke, after reaching the plateau at the end of the summit. ’The Wranglers are unbeatable.’

The two Wrangler Unlimited vehicles that completed this challenge were standard equipment Rubicon models. In addition to the standard equipment, both vehicles were fitted with Goodyear MT/R tires, electronic altitude measuring technology and winches.

Not mentioned in Jeep's reporting was whether these vehicles were equipped with the turbodiesels common in Europe, or the 3.8 liter gas engine. A turbodiesel would be better able to deal with the thin air, due to its built in turbocharger, which compresses air before it enters the engine.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 03 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler sales fall 5% for March

A small number of auto sales reports are in. Chrylser dropped 5% from March 2006, but posted large gains in the Nitro and Wrangler, both of which had their best months with about 7,500 Nitros and 13,400 Wranglers.

Ford sales were down 9% from March 2006, with truck and SUV falls partly compensated for with strong Fusion, Milan, Edge, and MKX sales.

Mazda had a 48% gain thanks in large part to the Mazda3 and Tribute. Mitsubishi saw a 22% hike, Audi 15%, Mercedes 1% (enough for a sales record). Volvo fell about 4%.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 03 2007, 02 PM)

CEMA show

Chrysler Employee Motorsport Association will hold its 18th Annual Charity Car Show on June 9th, 2007, on the grounds of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Although all brands, makes, and models of automobiles and motorcycles are welcomed, Chrysler Employee Motorsport Association, (CEMA), has maintained a long standing tradition of singling out for special recognition, a particular brand and/or model which falls under the umbrella of Chrysler's rich and storied history.

And this year we are pleased to announce that our featured marquis is the JEEP!

Our show, a family oriented event, produced for the benefit of the Children's Leukemia Foundation Of Michigan, features numerous vehicle class awards, food, music, a children's model car constructor's contest, and, brand new for this year, our first ever car corral! In addition all participants and guests will be treated to free admission to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on that day. Spectator parking is free and free shuttle buses to and from the museum grounds and show field will be furnished between the hours of 9AM and 3PM for your convenience, along with easy and ready access to Michigan Interstate 75.

For the convenience and enjoyment of our out of town guests, CEMA maintains relationships with a number of local area hotels which may provide you with pre-negotiated, discounted accommodations. In addition to the truly world class Walter P. Chrysler Museum, the metropolitan Detroit area is home to a wide array of special attractions as well as other major automotive museums.

Please visit their website at www.cemaclub.org for all of the details concerning vehicle registration, as well our FAQ's, frequently asked questions, and photo galleries which chronicle previous shows and events.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 03 2007, 02 PM)

March Industry Sales

Chrysler's March could have been better...

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (April 04 2007, 05 AM)

NYC Show, 2008 Liberty and Grand Cherokee

Jeep has introduced the 2008 Liberty and 2008 Grand Cherokee, featuring better off-roading, better mileage, and, for the Grand Cherokee, much more power with the 4.7 liter engine. We also have ongoing coverage of the New York Auto Show. Jeep has not yet formally brought out the new vehicles, and we should have a near-live update at around 2 pm to cover these.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 04 2007, 11 AM)

Insurance industry starts rear-seat crash tests

Insurance industry spokesmen said that back-seat passengers' neck injuries alone cost over $8 billion per year, while releasing the results for about 75 vehicles tested in simulated rear crashes. These crashes were held at 20 mph, a reasonably low speed, but many rear head restraints failed to protect the occupants. The lowest score, poor, went to vehicles as diverse as the BMW 5 Series, Acura TSX, Cadillac CTS, STS, and DTS, Chevy Aveo, Honda Accord and Fit, Toyota Avalon and Corolla, Infiniti M35, and Jaguar X. The best vehicles included the Audi A4 and A6, Chevy Cobalt, Ford 500, and Subaru Impreza. Toyota and GM criticized the tests' setup. More can be seen at the insurance industry site, http://www.iihs.org.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 05 2007, 08 AM)

DCX name change fails dismally

As predicted by allpar, the name-change resolution that would drop "Chrysler" from DaimlerChrylser failed, along with all other shareholder measures. The name change resolution achieved about 1.6% of votes. A full list of the shareholder proposals is at allpar.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 05 2007, 08 AM)

Kerkorian bids for Chrysler

Kirk Kerkorian will, according to the Detroit News, bid $4.5 billion. Kerkorian, whose prior attempt to buy Chrysler in 1995 drove Robert Eaton to give the company to Daimler-Benz, included in his offer a "substantial portion of equity" to the UAW as part a way to cut health-care costs. Kekrorian has also offered DaimlerChrysler $100 million for exclusive negotiating rights, a quarter of which would be kept by DCX if the deal did not work out.

Jerry York, who works for Kerkorian's company Tracinda, said the company could ignore short-term results for up to the seven years it would take to rebuild Chrysler.

Kerkorian's long-term plan could help him to win over the more short-term Cerebrus and Blackstone bids.

Kerkorian was Chrysler's largest shareholder in the 1990s. His wealth grew through casinos, hotels, and movies. His prior move would have put Lee Iaccoca back in charge.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 05 2007, 01 PM)

Canadian sales up for Chrysler

Chrysler had a 9% sales hike in Canada compared to March 2006, with 21,011 vehicles sold in March, including 4,779 cars and 16,232 trucks. Year-to-date sales through March are up 3.5% over 2006.

March compact car and SUV sales were up 154% March-to-March.

Dodge Ram and Dodge Dakota were up 22% and 26% respectively. Year-to-date, Dodge Ram was up 20%. Jeep brand sales were up 133%.

Chrysler is the second best selling car group in Canada.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 06 2007, 09 AM)

Energy companies' think tank says gas gouging bill would be expensive

A study from the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) claims that the oil-price anti-gouging bill being considered by Congress would cost nearly $2 billion to the economy. While the Associated Press (and Detroit News) have described the information with a straight face, it is worth noting that the ACCF is a neoconservative, oil-industry funded group without a reputation for scientific credibility.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 10 2007, 12 PM)

Dodge returning to Japan

The Dodge brand will be returning to Japan after a four year absence, selling five vehicles including the Caliber, Avenger Nitro, and Charger. Chrysler vehicles are already sold in Japan, albeit in small numbers - fewer than 1,000 in Q1 2007 - and Dodges are sold by small importers. Diesel versions are planned, since these are already built for European sale. While imported vehicles account for about half the American market, only 4% of vehicles sold in Japan are imported.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 12 2007, 09 AM)

Wrangler-based expedition vehicle: new photos

Earthroamer has released new photos of their Wrangler-based expedition vehicle, the XV-JP, due for release this year at a cost of roughly $100,000. That includes a high-tech refrigerator, LoftTop for camper space, toilet, shower, sink, hot water heater, water reserve, and other helpful items for off-road journeys - and a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 13 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler announces new plants, upgrades, investments

Chrysler has sited the new $730 million Phoenix V6 engine plant in Trenton, near the existing engine plant, which may be closed once the Phoenix engine is in full production. The new plant is due to start producing engines in 2009, with an annual capacity of 440,000 V6 motors of various displacements and technologies.

The current Detroit Axle plant is being replaced by a new, $700 million factory in Marysville, Michigan. The new axles will, according to Chrysler, allow for better gas mileage; and will have more common design features for better economies of scale.

The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant will receive $300 million to retool the paint shop for substantial benefits in just about every part of the coatings process, with additional flexibility as well. It will be able to paint any front wheel drive vehicle made by Chrysler. This will also be done in 2009.

$50 million is being allocated for upgrading and retooling the Warren Truck Assembly and Warren Stamping plants to improve quality, productivity, and worker ergonomics. This construction is already under way. More flexibility is also being built into this renovation.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 18 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler employee buyout proposed

The Employee Buyout Committee, consisting of about 25 hourly employees, have proposed that DCX sell 70% of Chrysler to its employees, keeping a 30% stake, which would effectively keep control over Chrysler Group at DCX while making the company North-American owned. Chrysler still has 50,000 UAW workers. The proposal is being considered by the UAW's lawyers, and was mentioned at the shareholder meeting on April 4, according to a Detroit News article.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 20 2007, 08 AM)

Centerline, MI Mopar show, April 29

North Oakland Mopar Muscle's tenth annual All-Mopar Swap Meet and Car Show will be held at the Centerline Parts Depot on 26311 Lawrence Avenue in Centerline, Michigan (just north of 10 Mile Road and west of Van Dyke Avenue), April 29, 8 am - 3 pm. Swap spaces are $20/spot, with vehicle to park the transport vehicle; show car entries are $10/car (must be there before 10 am); no prepayment or pre-registration is needed. Prizes and trophies will be awarded in at least 8 classes. The admission fee is $5 per adult, children under 16 are free; proceeds benefit charity. Free parking is available. Call North Oakland Mopar Muscle at (248) 975-NOMM for details.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 24 2007, 11 AM)

Unions: Only Magna can take over Chrysler

On Tuesday, UAW and CAW leaders met with Dieter Zetsche and the leaders of the German IG Metall union. The three unions' leaders reportedly told Zetsche that the only company they would not object to taking over Chrysler would be Magna (of Canada), but that at least the American union leaders would prefer for Chrysler to remain with Daimler. Zetsche reportedly did not respond to their position.

Not mentioned by the union leaders is the plan by some workers to lead an employee buyout; Kirk Kerkorian has reportedly met with this group.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 25 2007, 08 AM)

DCX announced $5 billion 2006 profit

Following International Financial Reporting Standards, DaimlerChrysler AG reported a 2006 profit of $5 billion. The loss at Chrysler was more than compensated for by profit from DaimlerChrylser Financial, which is dominated by the former Chrysler Financial. Earnings had previously been calculated as $4.25 billion under the American Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but DCX switched to the IFRS system due to a European Union directive.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 26 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler Aspen to get Hemi hybrid

The 2008 Chrysler Aspen will, like the Dodge Durango, be equipped with a hybrid-electric powerplant, developed along with GM and BMW. The system, which will also incorporate the standard Hemi multiple-displacement system, will boost gas mileage by about 25% - and a full 40% in the city, where the Hemi needs it the most. The full-size hybrid SUVs will include an electrically variable transmission with two electric motors, two full hybrid modes of operation, and four fixed mechanical gear ratios.

The Durango and Aspen will be powered either by the electric motors or by the Hemi, or a combination of both. The electric motors are used for regenerative braking, greatly increasing city mileage, as well as power boosts.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (April 30 2007, 09 AM)

Prototype Dodge Challenger spy photos appear

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 01 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler to give Sebring to 2-3-4-5-6-7 baby (born 2:03:04 am on May 6, 2007)

Chrysler will award a Sebring to the parents of a baby born at exactly 2:03:04 a.m. on May 6, 2007. The 2-3-4-5-6-7 time-date sequence won't come again for a hundred years. Parents can visit www.ChryslerSebringBundleofJoy.com for the complete rules. If more than one set of parents applies, the winner will be selected in a drawing in June.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 01 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler posts mild sales increase, Ford and Toyota drop (UPDATED)

Despite rumors that Chrysler will soon be sold, sales of Chrysler Group vehicles rose slightly over April 2006, with a 2% increase. At the same time, Ford sales dropped 13% from April 2006, Nissan 18%, and Toyota 4%, its first month-to-month decline in two years. GM is expected to post a fall as well. Chrysler's gain was largely due to a 29% increase in Jeep sales, which itself was largely due to the 75% increase in Wrangler sales and to the introduction of the Patriot. Minivan sales rose 10% amidst new publicity surrounding the 2008 models, which have not yet been introduced, and high rebates. Dodge brand sales reportedly fell, and both Dodge and Chrysler brands have a high proportion of fleet, as opposed to retail, sales.

Year to date, Chrysler Group sales remain down by 3%, at 730,353 (down from January-April 2006 at 752,339).

Allpar quick look. The 300 has been declining rapidly in sales, with the Charger taking up a little of the slack but by no means compensating for a 29% fall (especially as Magnum has also fallen 37%). The Sebring and Avenger are mixed blessings, with the Sebring posting a very mild increase of 4% over April 2006, but the Avenger falling behind the old Stratus - by 2,700 units, far more than the Sebring's 300-unit gain. And, while the Neon was pretty much gone in April 2006, the Caliber has not been beating typical Neon monthly sales. On the lighter side, the Caliber is only one of three triplets, and while Compass is cool, the Patriot is getting rave reviews and may be a big seller once production ramps up.

The PT Cruiser has not been doing well since the makeover, with interior cost-cutting presumably taking its toll; sales are down 29% year to year now that the excitement of the refreshing has faded. No doubt Chrysler has mixed feelings about this - lower sales mean less profits, but also a greater excuse for dropping the model entirely, which is likely to happen.

The Grand Cherokee and Commander did fairly well given their class, with Commander dropping 2% and Grand Cherokee falling 9%. Liberty fell 4%, but the new model is due very soon.

Minivans benefited greatly from the publicity given to the new models at NAIAS, where they were the real headliners of the show. The Ram pickup also gained, only 2% but that's 700 vehicles at a time when other domestics (and Toyota) don't seem to be doing as well in pickups. Durango also fell, but not if you throw Aspens into the mix - nearly 2,000 Aspens were sold in April, and the deficit in Durangos was under 600 units. The hybrids may give new publicity to the Aspen, which would probably help sales as well.

Overall, Chrysler brand fell 1%, Jeep brand rose 29%, and Dodge brand fell 5%, all on a straight-volume basis. Cars fell in sales by 20%, trucks went up 11%, exacerbating the company's reliance on trucks but still yielding a surprising net gain.

Inventories are down by 18%, or over 100,000 units, with parking lots of unsold cars slowly clearing out.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 01 2007, 01 PM)

April U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

Chrysler blossoms in April

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (May 02 2007, 10 AM)

International sales continue to grow

Chrysler Group sales outside North America rose 17% on April 2007, compared with April 2006, for the 23rd consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. Sales outside North America for the month reached 18,289 units, the best April in ten years. Year-to-date, sales grew 14% over the same period in 2006, and total sales through April were 70,859 units.

In the Middle East / Northern Africa region, sales jumped 97 percent (1,871 units) when compared to April 2006, and were up 62 percent year-to-date (5,816 units). Sales in Russia also grew at a significant pace as April sales climbed 95 percent over the same month last year, and year-to-date sales were up 93 percent.

“In both Western and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East, Dodge vehicles have been the top-selling Chrysler Group products, telling us that there is increasing demand around the world for this distinctly American-styled brand,” said Thomas Hausch, Vice President – Chrysler Group International Sales. “We have also seen strong sales for new Chrysler and Jeep vehicles that have been developed from the ground up for global customers, and they are helping to boost sales and profitability.”

The Dodge Caliber has been the highest volume Chrysler Group vehicle outside North America in 2007.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 03 2007, 03 PM)

Early Sprinter review

acarplace.com has reviewed the so-called Dodge Sprinter, finding it fairly economical and surprisingly quick.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 04 2007, 03 PM)

Jeep Compass drawing new customers

This Detroit News article describes how the Jeep Compass has been drawing in new customers, including long-time import buyers - not unlike the PT Cruiser when it was new. According to the article, in the first quarter more than 84% of Compass buyers were drawn from other brands, compared with 70% of other Jeep buyers; in particular, the Compass has been drawing Honda owners.

Some Chrysler-watchers have been critical of the Compass, despite Allpar's generally favorable review.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 07 2007, 09 AM)

Magna likely to buy Chrysler, the resell it

According to Automobilwoche of Germany, the only bidder being seriously considered by DCX is Magna, which, with a private equity firm, would buy just a portion of Chrysler Group, work with DCX on yet another restructuring, and then sell the remains. Other private-equity firms are still negotiating, but are apparently mainly window dressing. One advantage of Magna's offer is Daimler's ability to continue using Chrysler's resources and making sure its cars use the same parts as Mercedes, providing quantity discounts for Mercedes (albeit at Chrysler's expense). This arrangement would probably also allow for continued royalties to Mercedes for use of Mercedes designs and continued use of DaimlerChrysler Financial, whose Chrysler-driven profits have far outweighed any reported losses at the American car group.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 07 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler sets new ad campaign message

Chrysler has started a new ad slogan, "Engineered Beautifully," launching with the Sebring convertible. Simultaneously, according to Detroit News, a Chrysler Group campaign titled "It's the way our vehicles come together that sets us apart" is to be spread across television, print, and various promotions.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 07 2007, 03 PM)

Magna announces higher profits

Magna International posted first-quarter profits of $218 million, up from $212 million for the first quarter 2006. Revenue was also up, by $400 million, to $6.4 billion. Magna's annual shareholder meeting will be held today starting at 10 am in Toronto, and will be the first public forum for shareholders to comment on the possible Chrysler deal, where private-equity firm Onex would own the majority and Magna and DaimlerChrysler would own minority shares. Onex is also based on Toronto, and is the largest employer in Canada; its strategy is to buy "undervalued and mismanaged" companies and then sell them at a profit. Some of the first companies acquired by Onex were Beatrice Foods Canada, Purolator Courier, and Sky Chefs. Some acquisitions have been held for the long term, albeit with Onex taking 20% of the profit, according to this article. Unlike the American private-equity firms originally in the lead to buy Chrysler, Onex does not appear to have been involved in any government-contract scandals.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 10 2007, 09 AM)

Russians to buy stake in Magna

Russian conglomerate Basic Element is planning to buy $1.5 billion of Magna stock, which Magna may be issuing either to buy a stake in Chrysler or to raise money to build facilities within Russia.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 10 2007, 10 AM)

Employee-ownership proponents move forward

The UAW workers who want to make Chrysler employee-owned have formed a company, Employee Owned Co. LLC, and hired Morpheus Capital Advisors to get financing. The group is being advised by Rich Caires, president of ITSS Expos (the largest American producer of trade shows). Morpheus has already contacted DCX's investment bank, JPMorgan Chase. The American unions have not encouraged the movement, but the group - consisting of dozens of UAW Jeep employees in Toledo - pointed out that employee ownership would let employees share in any wealth created by a well-managed Chrysler Corporation. Other Chrysler employees appear to be very interested in the proposal, even if DCX, the CAW, and the UAW are not.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 10 2007, 12 PM)

Cerebrus now seen as leader for Chrysler

Cerebrus, the sometimes controversial firm whose bid for Chrysler is spearheaded by cost-and-job-slasher Wolfgang Bernhard, is now the most likely firm to buy Chrysler, according to the Detroit News.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 12 2007, 09 AM)

Magna makes formal bid for Chrysler

Magna and Onex (see prior news for background on Onex) have now made a formal bid to buy Chrysler Group, which would be Canada's largest company. Stronach, in introducing the bid, emphasized that he would cooperate with the UAW and CAW, and would even open all current Magna factories to unionization. Magna has $2 billion in cash reserves, and would not go into debt to buy Chrysler, which would cost up to $10 billion (and has $17 billion in health care liabilities). The only other definite public offer whose magnitude is known, other than GM's low-ball stock trade, is Kerkorian's $4.5 billion offer. Magna would leave partial ownership with DCX.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 13 2007, 10 AM)

Detroit News: Chrysler has been sold, perhaps down the river

Cerberus Capital Management will buy Chrysler, according to the Detroit News, in a deal to be announced next week. Tom LaSorda is expected to remain as CEO, and Wolfgang Bernhard, the cost-and-job slasher, will probably be on the board of the new organization.

Run by 45 year old Steven Feinberg, Cerebrus has profited from its ties to key Republicans, fostered through actions such as appointing Dan Quayle to run European operations, appointing John Snow, former Secretary of the Treasury, to the chair position, and making heavy contributions to Congressman Jerry Lewis (a $110,000 donation was almost instantly rewarded with the renewal of a controversial $1 billion contract). Cerebrus' political contacts may have helped get US Attorney Carol Lam fired, as she was investigating Lewis' contributors (including Cerebrus).

Cerebrus currently owns $24 billion in holdings, including more than half of GMAC, all of Formica, Blue Bird, Remington Arms, and a number of other organizations.

UPDATE: The Associated Press has now printed a similar story.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 13 2007, 06 PM)

Chrysler Sold

Confirms Cerberus Management will take 80.1%

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (May 14 2007, 07 AM)

Chrysler purchased by Cerebrus: it's official

An affiliate of Cerebrus will own 80.1% of the equity in Chrysler Holding LLC, while DCX will keep 19.9%. The Chrysler companies will keep their pensions and healthcare costs; Cerebrus will pay $7.4 billion for the stake, and will also receive “related financial services business.” DaimlerChrysler will change its name to Daimler AG after a shareholder’s meeting. Chrysler Holding LLC will include Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler Financial Services LLC. $5 billion of the Cerebrus money will go to Chrysler Corporation LLC and $1.05 billion into financial services; DCX will get the remaining $1.35 billion, but will loan back $400 million of that. DCX will provide the assets of Chrysler Group with no debt, thus costing DCX a net $650 million plus prepayment compensation of $878 million and transaction costs. Chrysler’s pension fund is currently substantially overfunded. Closing of the deal is expected in the third quarter of 2007.

Existing projects with the Mercedes Car Group will be continued, for example in the development of conventional and alternative drive systems, purchasing, and sales and financial services outside the NAFTA region. Furthermore, a Joint Automotive Council will be established in which representatives of both sides will assess and decide on the potential of new and current projects. The Council will be led by board-level members from each company.
Zetsche: "We very much look forward to our continued cooperation as business partners, as we want to continue to reap the mutual benefits of working together. That's one of the reasons why we're retaining a 19.9% equity position in Chrysler."

The Daimler Board of Management will be reduced to six members. Tom LaSorda, Eric Ridenour and Tom Sidlik will leave the Board of Management with the Group's sincere thanks. There will no longer be a separate board position for procurement in the new Daimler AG. In the future, all procurement activities will be directly coordinated between the divisions. Within the Board of Management, Bodo Uebber will additionally assume overall responsibility for procurement. The leadership teams of the Mercedes Car Group, the Truck Group and Financial Services will remain unchanged, as will the teams in the vans and buses businesses.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 14 2007, 08 AM)

Tom LaSorda's letter on the sale

Dear Colleagues,

We are very pleased about the news today that DaimlerChrysler has signed
a definitive agreement to sell Chrysler Group, including Chrysler
Financial, to Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. I would like to take
this opportunity to discuss this exciting news and what it means for the
future of the Chrysler family.

We are confident that this transaction will create a stand-alone
Chrysler that is financially stronger, with a winning combination of
people, industry know-how, operational expertise and spirit of
innovation that will accelerate the company’s recovery and help us
regain our position as a competitive industry leader.

As you know, DaimlerChrysler looked long and hard for the right partner
for Chrysler in a competitive marketplace. We are confident that
Cerberus is the right strategic buyer for Chrysler, with a long-term
commitment to our growth and success. Cerberus has expressed great
confidence in and respect for the people of Chrysler and our leadership
team, and is committed to working constructively with both union
leadership and Chrysler’s management team to help us realize our full
potential.

As a private (non-public) company, we will be better positioned to
concentrate on our long-term plan for recovery, rather than on
short-term results. With the financial strength and additional
operational expertise brought by our investment partner Cerberus,
Chrysler will renew its focus on what has always made us special: the
passion, creativity and commitment of our employees, suppliers and
dealers to delivering exciting Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles and
quality Mopar parts to our customers.

The finance arm –- DaimlerChrysler Financial Services Americas -– also
is affected by this decision. The most important piece of information
is that Chrysler Financial will continue to support us and our dealers.
However, the framework for DCFS will change. The company will be split
up into two legal entities with Chrysler Financial as one company and
Mercedes-Benz and DaimlerChrysler Truck Financial as another.

Our future success will be supported by our continued relationship with
Daimler. We will continue to work together on technologies to bring even
better products to our customers. In particular, we will continue to
collaborate on technologies for clean diesel engines, two-mode hybrids,
fuel cells and other alternative powertrains that are especially
important in this climate of rising consumer demand for more
fuel-efficient vehicles. Other ongoing joint projects with
Mercedes-Benz also will continue.

Attached to this message is a letter from Dieter Zetsche that I
encourage you all to read. He remains a passionate supporter of
Chrysler, and he truly believes -– as I do –- that the new company
structure will offer us even greater prospects for success.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Cerberus, it is one of the
leading private investment firms in the world, with approximately $23.5
billion under management in funds and accounts. Currently, Cerberus has
significant investments in more than 50 companies that, in aggregate,
generate more than $60 billion in annual revenues worldwide, including
Air Canada and GMAC. Cerberus is highly respected for its long-term
investment horizon and focus on value creation. In addition, Cerberus
has a team of experienced operational professionals that includes
industry veterans with management backgrounds in the automotive
industry.

You should know that there are no new plans –- other than those
previously announced –- to reduce headcount. There are no additional
job cuts planned in connection with the transaction announced today.
This announcement also will not impact the provisions of the early
retirement and buyout packages previously announced.

Additionally, we do not foresee any impact on current union contracts;
all of the collective bargaining agreements remain in place, and the
upcoming negotiations will take place as scheduled. Cerberus has worked
together with unions in the past, and recognizes the important role they
play for Chrysler.

The transaction is expected to close this summer. In the meantime, we
will continue to operate under the vision established by the Recovery
and Transformation Plan (RTP), which will return us to profitability in
2008 and will deliver 2.5 percent return on sales by 2009. There are
several forward-looking elements in the RTP that take into account the
realities needed to succeed in the global marketplace. We must grow our
brands with strong, customer-focused products. We must defend our areas
of strength in the North American markets, while growing
internationally. And we must continue to build with alliances,
partnerships and innovative approaches to our business challenges.

Also attached to this message is a Q&A document with answers to other
questions you may have today. In addition, you should expect frequent
communication from the leadership team as this process moves forward.

As a stand-alone company, with strong backing from Cerberus, we must
demonstrate once and for all that we can win in this global marketplace.
It is ours to win. And we have it in our DNA to do just that.

On a personal level, as a fourth-generation Chrysler employee, this is a
dream come true for me to be given an opportunity to work with you to
restore Chrysler back to greatness. It will take hard work, but I know
that I can count on you to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Sincerely,

Tom

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 14 2007, 09 AM)

CAW president gets assurances from Cerberus

Buzz Hargrove, the president of the Canadian Auto Workers, has been given a letter from Cerberus assuring that no additional CAW jobs would be cut before September 2008, and said that he was more confident in Cerberus' intentions towards Chrysler - that the company would not simply be sliced up and sold off for a quick profit.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 15 2007, 02 PM)

Fewer strings attached? LaSorda says Daimler will have no say

Tom LaSorda, in a candid moment with the Detroit News, said that Daimler AG won't be able to control the day-to-day operations of Chrysler, despite its hefty minority stake. LaSorda noted that the brands will remain in one package (Jeep will not be sold), and that once Chrysler finishes its current 13,000 job cuts, further cuts are not expected; LaSorda said that he would lead negotiations with the UAW, as well.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 15 2007, 05 PM)

Relief and hope at Chrysler; Pentastar returns

According to a source at Chrysler Group, Tom LaSorda, Dieter Zetsche, and Cerberus managers (including CEO Steve Feinberg) met with senior management last night to clarify the future. The name of the company will be Chrysler Holdings; the Pentastar will be the corporate logo again, saving a considerable glazing fee for the Chrysler Technical Center. Tom LaSorda seemed very excited to be free from Daimler; Dieter on the other hand was bittersweet, saying that his years at Chrysler were the best years of his career and his life. He said he realized that the differences between Mercedes and Chrysler made real integration impossible, and that both had to do what they did best. The two companies will continue to share items like diesel engines, 4x4 components, hybrids and fuel cells, and electronics.

Steve Feinberg called his company a blue-collar capital investment firm that stresses long term growth, calling Chrysler a once in a lifetime opportunity and saying he wanted Cerberus to have the legacy of helping Chrysler to flourish. He did not provide a clear role for Wolfgang Bernhard, who was present, and said he would quickly trade in his Chevy pickup for a Ram. He did not see any vertical integration with Cerberus suppliers. He also noted that naming the company after the dog-guard of Hell was a huge mistake.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 16 2007, 03 PM)

CEMA car show, June 9

The Chrysler Employees Motorsports Association will be holding their annual car show on June 9 at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, within walking distance of the Chrysler Technical Center. The show is open to the public and features cars owned by Chrysler employees, who have used their expertise to restore and modify vehicles from the far and recent past.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 18 2007, 10 AM)

Cerberus gets another $62 billion to help Chrysler

Cerberus Capital Management has arranged for $62 billion in commitments from various banks. $50 billion will be used to refinance debt at Chrysler Financial, and $12 billion is reserved for restructuring.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 19 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler appoints new design VPs

David McKinnon and Thomas Tremont, VPs of product design, will be retiring this summer, and will be replaced by Brandon Faurote and Joseph Dehner.

Faurote will become vice president of advanced exterior and interior design on July 1; Dehner will become vice president of small, premium and family vehicle design on June 1.

McKinnon joined Chrysler in 1968 and worked on the Chrysler 300, minivans, and the Chrysler Crossfire. Tremont joined in 1972, helped establish the Pacifica studio, and worked on the Plymouth Prowler.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 19 2007, 12 PM)

2009 Ram revealed

Allpar has spy shots of the 2009 Ram to accompany its powertrain predictions at http://www.allpar.com/model/ram/2009-ram.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 21 2007, 09 AM)

Procurement chief replaced

Chrysler's head of procurement, 49-year-old Peter Rosenfeld, will leave and will be replaced by Simon Boag, finalizing a 25-year career with Chrysler. Boag had spent over a year running Mercedes Car Group's production planning, before which he was Chrysler's vice president of assembly and stamping; however, he has only been at Chrysler since 2005, coming in from General Motors.

Rosenfeld, who gained his current post in 2003 after climbing up from an analyst role, will help Boag with the transition.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 21 2007, 12 PM)

NYC going hybrid

Republican New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the entire New York City taxi fleet would be switching to hybrid-electric power. By October 2008, 1,000 of New York's 13,000 yellow cabs will be a hybrid; by 2012, all cabs will be. Starting in October 2009, all new cabs must get 30 miles per gallon and be hybrid-powered.

The rationale for using hybrids is that New York City cabs tend to spend most of their time waiting at traffic lights, or in traffic, or in queues. A diesel engine would have good highway mileage, but would continue to run while standing, while a hybrid would shut down completely. In addition, diesels emit more particulates, an issue in the densely populated city.

The current standard cb, the Crown Victoria, gets about 14 mpg, while a larger Ford Escape hybrid taxi (a Mazda platform with Toyota hybrid technology) gets 36 mpg.

Using hybrid vehicles should save taxi operators over $10,000 per year on fuel.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 22 2007, 11 AM)

Autoblog giving away a Dodge Nitro

Autoblog is celebrating their new site design by giving away a new Dodge Nitro via sweepstakes, at http://www.autoblog.com/2007/05/23/the-autoblog-relaunch-celebration-sweepstakes-featuring-the-all/. People can register every day for a chance to win.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 25 2007, 11 AM)

UAW making inroads on Toyota?

The UAW has started to make progress on organizing its first Southern import-car assembly plant, according to a Detroit News article. While Toyota's first American plant was organized under the UAW, succeeding plants have generally been nonunion, albeit until recently matching UAW wages. However, Toyota has been lowering starting salaries at new plants, with Toyota reps saying that the lower salaries are part of an effort to remain competitive with plants in low-salary regions.

While employees have generally been happy with Toyota's salaries, there have been reported problems with outsourcing of jobs (as with American factories as well) to low-wage, nonunion labor, and with reactions to employees who are injured on the job.

The Georgetown plant currently targeted by the UAW makes the Camry and related Avalon and Solara, building its own engines and most of its own components.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 28 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler marketing to change?

George Murphy, who was named Senior Vice President of Global Marketing in February 2001 (shortly after the full Daimler takeover), will be leaving Chrysler soon to "pursue other opportunities." The company has not yet named a replacement.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 29 2007, 12 PM)

Executives' salaries posted

As analysts debate the fate of Chrysler, many have come to the conclusion that UAW employees cause Detroit automakers to be uncompetitive. Automotive News' May 28 issue, listing salaries of "captains of industry," shows another side to the story. John Barth, CEO of Johnson Controls, brought in $27 million in total compensation in 2006, for example, while a starting UAW employee earns between $24 and $28 per hour and gets around $11,000 in health-care compensation as well as retirement benefits. A high-side estimate for UAW employees can bring roughly $100,000 in total compensation per year, including deferred compensation. Using that estimate, Alan Mulally's (Ford) 2006 compensation equalled that of over 208 UAW employees; Tom LaSorda's, 30 employees; Rick Wagoner's, 20 employees; and Dieter Zetsche's, 64 employees. Bob Lutz pulled in a mere 16 employees, Bill Ford 72, and Magna's Frank Stronach, 277. Of note are the high salaries for executives of some struggling suppliers.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 29 2007, 02 PM)

Axle factory in Marysville on track for 2010

Bucking a trend towards outsourcing components, Chrysler will finish building a new axle factory in Marysville, to replace the current Detroit axle plant. The cost is about $700 million, and it will supply both Chrysler and Mercedes with new, more energy efficient axles that use precision engineering to reduce fuel usage by up to 3%. The new plant will use 500 fewer employees than the current factory, and will operate under new labor rules. Total production is projected at 1.2 million axles per year.

While there is no shortage of axle manufacturing capability in the United States, Chrysler has reportedly had problems with both Dana and American Axle; this may have been a factor in the decision along with the expected labor savings and potential revenue of selling axles to Mercedes.

The news is a mixed blessing to the UAW, since it may result in the closure of a unionized ZF plant in Alabama that supplies the Mercedes vehicles built there.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 29 2007, 02 PM)

Golden Commandos reunion, June 9

The Golden Commandos will have a reunion in the Walter P. Chrysler Museum Theater in Auburn Hills, MI at 11 AM Sat. June 9, 2007 as part of the Chrysler Employee Motorsport Association car show. Eight of the original Golden Commandos lead by Ray Kobe will show slides and describe the highlights of their successes in the ‘60’s as Plymouth’s drag racing team. Admission to the car show, the Museum and the Golden Commandos presentation is free for the event’s day. The car show which benefits Children’s Leukemia is expected to draw registrations ($15/car) of over 200 vehicles of all makes from the surrounding states. The entire event is a one day rain or shine event. A summary of the Golden Commandos follows.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 29 2007, 04 PM)

Stylists reshuffled

Car Design News reported that Joseph Dehner (Sebring, Stratus, Firepower) and Brandon Faurote (2001 Caravan, 1999-present Jeeps) will become vice presidents, replacing the retiring Thomas Tremont (Prowler) and David McKinnon (Crossfire, 300).

Joseph Dehner will become Vice President for Small, Premium and Family Vehicle Design on June 1, 2007, moving up from directing truck interior and exterior design. Dehner joined Chrysler in 1988 and has a BA in industrial design; he was responsible for the 2007 Sebring sedan and convertible (inside and out), the 2001 Sebring/Stratus exteriors, the 1999 Dodge Charger concept, and other vehicles.

Brandon Faurote will be in charge of the concept, design and refinement of Chrysler Group Premium, Small and Family Vehicle designs. He had directed a design studio, and joined Chrysler in 1993.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (May 31 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler announces second new engine plant

Those wondering how Chrysler would produce enough of its new Phoenix V6 engines to power its fleet have been answered with the announcement of a new $570 million factory in Saltillo, Mexico, near the Ram plant. It will start pumping out the sophisticated new engines in 2009, using 485 workers to make 440,000 engines per year.

While the UAW has not organized existing Saltillo plants, they are represented by the DaimlerChrysler Mexico Worker's Union. Chrysler is Mexico's second-largest employer, with over 7,000 workers building PTs, Rams, and Hemi engines.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 01 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler, GM, Japanese sales up; Ford down

Fueled largely by the Jeep Patriot and Wrangler, Chrysler Group sales gained 4% over May 2006. The Jeep brand rose 20%, Dodge 3%, Chrysler cars 22%. Retail sales were higher, fleet sales were lower. Inventory is down by 19% (110,000 units) from May 2006.

May was good for General Motors, whose sales shot up 10% compared with May 2006, but it was even better for Toyota, which saw a 14% rise that kept it above Ford in US sales - especially as Ford's sales fell 7%. Ford rental-car sales fell 24% in May, with fleet sales falling 14% and retail sales falling 3%. Nissan gained 7% based largely on its smaller cars, and Honda rose 2.5% with high Civic and CR-V sales. Hyundai rose 3%.

More to come...

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 01 2007, 02 PM)

May U.S. light vehicle sales

Cars, Jeep, boost Chrysler in May

April’s shortened sales month turned a volume loss into a small gain. Last month’s extra day, compared to May 2006, turned a nice increase in volume into just a minor advance. However, that wasn't enough to keep Chrysler from reporting gains in both volume and daily sales rate (DSR).

For the month, Chrysler sales volume was up 4.25% which translated into a 0.24% improvement once the field had been leveled. Once again, it took the highest average incentives in the industry to get the job done, but the Auburn Hills gang managed to boost retail sales, trim fleet sales and reduce inventory by over 100,000 units.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (June 02 2007, 07 AM)

Chrysler opens Spanish-language call center

Chrysler has opened its first call center for Spanish-speaking customers in North American seeking information on auto loans. The center, built in Monterrey, Mexico, cost $6.5 million and will help to tap Mexico, one of the fastest-growing markets, currently responsible for about 2.6% of DCX Financial's loans.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 04 2007, 12 PM)

Tom Gale hired by Cerberus

Tom Gale, noted Chrysler stylist and Plymouth supporter, has been hired by Cerberus, along with Wolfgang Bernhard. Both work for David Thursfield, formerly of Ford. Gale started working at Chrysler in 1967 and became design chief in 1985.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 05 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler international sales rose in May

According to DCX, Chrysler Group sales outside North America rose 24% from May 2006 to May 2007 (month to month); 20,553 vehicles were sold outside North America, around 8% of global sales. Year to date, over 90,000 vehicles were sold outside the US by Chrysler, up 16% over 2006 year-to-date. Profitability of export sales was not released.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 06 2007, 01 PM)

catNET to show turbine racing kart at Carlisle

catNET Solutions has scheduled the first appearance of its new turbine-powered racing kart at the Chryslers at Carlisle show in Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 7. The show runs from July 6-8, and is expected to feature hundreds of Mopars from 1924 to 2007 (with AMC and associated brands also represented). Allpar will have a tent, and Chrysler will most likely be showing the Challenger and other concept cars and offering rides in their new cars.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 07 2007, 01 PM)

27th Mopar Expo, June 16, New Britain, CT

Papa's Dodge/Jeep and the local IGA stores are presenting the 27th annual Mopar Expo and Swap Meet at Papa's in New Britain, Connecticut. Open to all Chrysler Corporation and AMC vehicles up to 1990, the swap meet and car corral will be open from 8 am to 4 pm and the open house/cruise night from 6 pm to 10 pm. New Britain is close to Hartford. For details, see their web site.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 12 2007, 09 AM)

Thomas Sidlik to retire

Thomas Sidlik, currently 57 years old, was one of only two Chrysler people to survive on DCX's management board, joining in 1998 and running global procurement and supply since 2003. However, Daimler will be eliminating that position on the board, and the new Chrysler owners do not seem to desire Sidlik's services in that role.

Sidlik started with Chrysler in 1980, as a manager of car product financial analysis; he quickly advanced through analysis and control positions through the 1980s, with some key positions including Director of Engineering Operations (1987-89), Group Controller, Product Development and Procurement (1990-91), Vice President for Customer Satisfaction and Vehicle Quality (1992-94), and finally Vice President and Chairman of Chrysler Financial and General Manager - Small Car Operations in 1996. In 1998, he switched to General Manager - Jeep Operations as well as joining the Board of Management and running procurement and supply for Chrysler.

It is worth noting that relations with suppliers deteriorated from among the best in the industry, including the SCORE program, which saved the company billions of dollars, to below average.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 12 2007, 11 AM)

Buried 1957 Plymouth time capsule to be opened June 15

The buried 1957 Plymouth time capsule will be opened on June 15, and the Plymouth Belvidere will be hauled out to see the sunlight for the first time in 50 years. Allpar will have a reporter on the spot - watch this space. For details, see Allpar's article or buriedcar.com.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 12 2007, 04 PM)

Third Phoenix V6 plant sited in Kenosha

The site for the third Phoenix V6 engine plant will be the existing 1.9 million square foot engine plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A formal unveiling is set for June 13 at 9 am. All existing Chrysler V6 engines - as well as Mercedes V6 engines - are to be replaced by members of the new Phoenix family, currently in development and testing.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 12 2007, 04 PM)

Rooting for the underdog in new ads

A Detroit News article describes Chrysler's forthcoming newspaper-and-Web campaign as pushing the company's new "underdog attitude," showing the battles Chrysler has fought and its determination to survive again.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 13 2007, 11 AM)

Plymouth time capsule partly unearthed in Tulsa

After fifty years, a 1957 Plymouth Belvidere and other period items have been partly uncovered, as crews discovered that the entire time capsule had been flooded in several feet of water. This eventuality was anticipated to a degree, as the Plymouth was well greased and wrapped in plastic and canvas, but it seems unlikely that the organizers made it completely water-tight. Hazardous material crews have been called to the site to analyze the dark brown water.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 13 2007, 05 PM)

WPC Museum sponsors cruise nights

Cruise Nights return to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, from 6 – 9 p.m. Thursdays, June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26 and Aug. 9 and 23. Cruisers with vehicles of all makes and models — and enthusiasts who simply enjoy the chrome and steel landscape — can join, and see an array of spectacular Chrysler Group concept vehicles.

Cruise Nights at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum will celebrate car culture – rain or shine – with music, free Museum tours, and food concessions. A variety of Chrysler Group’s most popular concept vehicles will be thematically displayed in the Museum’s front circular drive each evening:

* Dodge Challenger Night, June 14: Dodge Challenger, ACR Viper, Mopar SS Drag and Chrysler Nassau
* Classic Cruiser Night, June 28: Chrysler 300 Hemi® C, Chrysler Imperial, Chrysler Phaeton, Dodge Super Hemi
* Extreme Performance Night, July 12: Dodge Demon, Chrysler Firepower, Chrysler ME Four-Twelve and Dodge Tomahawk
* Radical Night, July 26: Chrysler Akino, Plymouth Expresso, Dodge Sling Shot and Jeep Treo
* Jeep® Night, Aug. 9: Jeep® Gladiator, Jeep Hurricane, Jeep Jeepster, Jeep Rescue and Jeep Trailhawk
* Hot Truck Night, Aug. 23: Jeep Gladiator, Dodge M80, Dodge Power Wagon and Dodge Rampage

Product specialists will be on hand to answer questions about each Chrysler Group concept.

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum will award plaques each Cruise Night to participants with outstanding vehicles in three categories: Museum Choice, Best Wheels for Wooing, and Best Challenger, Best Classic Cruiser, Best Performance Vehicle, Most Radical Ride, Best Jeep® and Hottest Truck, in keeping with Cruise Night themes.

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum is located at the corner of Featherstone and Squirrel Rds. on the DaimlerChrysler complex in Auburn Hills. From I-75, take exit 78 (Chrysler Dr.) and follow the Museum signs. For more information, visit http://www.chryslerheritage.com or call 248-944-0450.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 14 2007, 03 PM)

1957 Plymouth Belvidere rises again after 50 years!

The Tulsarama organizers of 1957 had a dream and that dream is now water logged. The 1957 Plymouth Belvidere was pulled out of the vault after water - four feet deep - was discovered in the vault. There was evidence that the car was submerged for many years. The car was loaded onto a flatbed trailer and taken to the Convention Center where it was unveiled for all to see. The baggie was removed and inside was rust and mud and the contents that were inside were pretty much gone. The beer cans were located along with the 10 gallons of gasoline and oil cans in the trunk, but they too were in pretty bad shape. The keys were in the ignition but were rusted tight. The engine was rusted tight. The tires took air and you can still see the signatures on the white walls from all the 1957 organizers. The car is brown and red from all of the mud and rust attaching itself to the cosmoline, a greasy like metal preservative that was sprayed over the entire car. They cleaned a portion of the front bumper and to much surprise shiny chrome! Maybe the entire car can be cleaned and shined after the cosmoline is removed, however the car itself will probably never run again unless it is completely restored. The time capsule that was next to the car in the vault was in perfect shape when it was opened! An American Flag, letters from Tulsa officials and the original postcard guesses from the individuals who guessed the population of Tulsa in 2007. Someone will get this beauty and I say beauty because this car is a classic piece of American Dreams. Looking at the front I swear I could see tears coming from the headlights, well it was actually water and mud dripping! The poor girl never made it the way we had hoped, but she will always be remembered as a perfect 1957 Plymouth Belvidere...Robert Lauer, Las Vegas, NV []Full Story With Photos]

Reported by BobLauer at (June 15 2007, 10 PM)

Getrag/Chrysler transmission plant sited

A $530 million joint-venture transmission plant, designed to build Chrysler's long-awaited dual-clutch automated manual transmission, has been announced. It will be built in Indiana, and will employee 1,250 workers. While Chrysler has a number of key patents in this technology, Getrag has experience actually building these transmissions; the two companies have worked together on many transmissions since the 1980s, both in engineering and in production.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 18 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler looking for overseas dealers

According to a Detroit News article, Chrysler is seeking one hundred new dealerships across the world, to be added over two years, to accompany sales growth outside North America. Investors from 19 countries, including Russia and Japan, are being courted. While Jeep has been a popular model offshore, the best seller is currently the Dodge Caliber.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 20 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler to announce major powertrain item today

Chrysler will reportedly announce a major powertrain item today, which we believe is likely to involve either the automated manual transmission to be built with Getrag, or the Phoenix engines, or both.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 21 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler announces steps towards better gas mileage

Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President – Product Development, announced a barrage of new initiatives targeted solely at improving the fuel efficiency of future Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles. This includes new engines, a V6 with cylinder deactivation, the automated manual ("dual-clutch") transmission, and another diesel, among other steps. Chrysler also announced that it is considering the creation of a brand new, in-house four cylinder diesel and greater use of the Bosch V6 diesels made by Mercedes.

A mild hybrid will be used in the next few years, allowing the vehicle to shut off its engine at stops without losing accessories, and also providing regenerative braking. This technology provides much of the benefit of a standard hybrid but with less weight. This is in addition to the two-mode hybrid transaxle developed with GM and BMW, which will start out in the Aspen and Durango (with Hemi), but will spread beyond those vehicles.

The 2009 Grand Cherokee will use a 50-state clean-diesel Cummins turbodiesel, rather than the Bosch/Mercedes V6. The Ram 1500 will also get a V6 diesel. Along with generous power and low-end torque, the new engine will provide up to 30-percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 20-percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to an equivalent gasoline engine.

The new Phoenix of V-6 engines will (as predicted by Allpar's oh20 and redriderbob) feature cylinder deactivation (MDS). Specifically, this means the engine will operate efficiently on three cylinders when less power is needed, and in V-6 mode when more power is needed. This optimizes fuel economy when V-6 power is not required – without sacrificing vehicle performance or capability.

The new family of V-6 engines will feature an aluminum die cast block, dual variable valve timing (VVT) and a two-stage oil pump, among other technologies. The end result is an expected across-the-board V-6 fuel efficiency improvement of six to eight percent – in addition to new levels of V-6 power, performance and refinement.

For 2009, Chrysler Group will deliver a significantly upgraded version of its renowned 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, resulting in notable gains in fuel efficiency, refinement, power and torque.

The new 4.7-liter V-8 offers up to five percent better fuel economy than the previous 4.7-liter engine.

At the same time, this E85 flex-fuel engine delivers increased performance and improved refinement. These improvements come from the 4.7-lter V-8’s two spark plugs per cylinder (the only Chrysler Group engine to do so, other than the 5.7-liter HEMI®), increased compression ratio, improved cylinder-head port flow and new combustion system.

In addition to improved fuel economy, the result is a 30-percent increase in horsepower and a 10-percent increase in torque (up to 75 additional horsepower and 35 more lb.-ft. of torque, depending on application) compared with the previous 4.7-liter V-8 engine.

A new automated manual (dual-clutch) transmission – developed in partnership with Getrag (based on many Chrysler patents) – will be used in significant volumes in 2010 model-year vehicles. The transmission is expected to deliver a fuel economy improvement of up to six percent, based on preliminary testing.

The new transmission is equipped with two independent lay-shaft style gear sets with separate clutches, using manual transmission-based components. During shifts, the next gear is anticipated and pre-selected. Then one clutch is opened while the other is closed, allowing shifting without torque interruption. The result is quicker acceleration and refined shift quality.

New common axle technology will result in fuel-economy and axle-efficiency gains, while providing weight savings, cost reduction, increased refinement and less complexity. New advanced materials increase overall axle strength and reduce package size. Already featured in the Chrysler 300C SRT8, this axle will soon move to other Chrysler Group vehicles.

Chrysler Group announced today that a new set of initiatives are in place to improve fuel efficiency across its vehicle lineup by at least five percent. These initiatives include weight reduction, aerodynamic drag improvements, reduced rolling resistance and brake drag, optimized accessory loads, and minimized drivetrain losses. Aerodynamic work on the new minivans allow them to maintain the same gas mileage despite added weight.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 21 2007, 11 AM)

Senate passes new gas-mileage law

The Senate has passed a new law that would raise gas mileage 40% by the year 2020, to a combined car-truck standard of 35 mpg. This would eliminate much of the incentive to make vehicles so they can be classified as trucks or MPVs, as was done with the PT Cruiser and Chevy SSR. The Bush administration had argued for adding more levels, so that, for example, the Ford F-250 and F-150 would be in different weight classes and would have different gas mileage goals. However, the House of Representatives has not yet passed similar legislation, and lobbyists may still prevail in adding loopholes and escape clauses, and lowering the mileage goal (or removing penalties) before a final law is sent to the White House.

The Senate will be considering measures on tax incentives for automakers to reuse closed plants for high-efficiency vehicles next week. The proponents of the higher fuel economy rules have talked about ways to make it easier for Detroit to conform to them.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (June 22 2007, 03 PM)

1957 Plymouth Winner Located!

1957 Plymouth Winner Located!

Reported by BobLauer at (June 24 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler dealers to hold independence party

In keeping with the spirit of July 4, Chrysler is sending out banners and decorations to each of its 3,700 dealers to celebrate its new independence from Daimler (albeit a new dependence on Cerberus). Chrysler Corporation, LLC will also have TV, radio, and print ads, at a total cost of "tens of millions of dollars."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 03 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler US sales fall a little

In one of its last months as part of DaimlerChrysler, Chrysler Group's American sales fell 1% compared with the previous year - June 2007 compared with June 2006. On the lighter side, car sales actually increased 55%, while Jeep sales rose once more by 19%. This was counterbalanced by reduced multipurpose vehicle (including truck) sales. More details will be posted when they become available.

Mercedes sales dropped 6% in the same period despite large jumps in the C-Class and CL-Class.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 03 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler Nationals at Carlisle, PA this weekend

The Cars at Carlisle people in Carlisle, PA - near Harrisburg - are holding their All-Chrysler event this weekend, starting Thursday night. Numerous Chrysler engineers and famous racing names will be present along with concepts and a large show field.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 03 2007, 02 PM)

Carlisle update

We have posted a map to help you find the Allpar tent at the show. Be there before 10 am to register your car for the Allpar competition - this year there will be five trophies and several certificates. Whether you have a K-car, a truck, a minivan, or just about any other Chrysler Corporation or adopted vehicle, you could win.

Giving brief, informal talks will be engineer Bob Sheaves of catNET, demonstrating his turbine kart; mechanic and turbo-slant-six man Mike Holler; and skilled DIY-er Bob O'Neill.

We will be collecting donations for "Stratuscaster" from the Allpar forums, whose apartment recently was destroyed in a fire, as well.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 04 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler cutting minivan prices, raising features

According to Bloomberg News, Chrysler will cut prices of its minivans by up to $3,585, while adding flex-fuel capability to the base engine, electronic stability control, and tire pressure monitoring. The Caravan will start at $22,470, the T&C at $23,190; the Caravan SXT will start at $27,535, while the Town & Country Touring will start at $28,430 with the Limited at $36,400. Price cuts are $1,950 for Caravan and $970 for SXT; $3,585 for Town & Country LX, $850 for Touring, and $935 for Limited.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 12 2007, 09 AM)

Vipers starting production

The Viper plant has started pilot production of the 600 horsepower 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10. Five new colors are being added - a bright green, a new red, Viper Violet, Viper Orange, and a bright blue. Racing stripes are optional with some paint schemes.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 14 2007, 04 PM)

Tulsa Belvidere to move to Maryland for cleaning

The 1957 Plymouth Belvidere buried in 1957 and unearthed last month, was awarded to Bowling Green resident Catherine Johnson, who is the closest relative to Ray Humbertson, who predicted the city's population most accurately. Ms. Johnson's nephew, Robert Carney, will receive the car on her behalf, in Tulsa, on September 14. He plans to bring it to his home in Frederick, Maryland, and work with New Jersey-based rust-removal company Ultra One Corp. to remove all possible rust.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 18 2007, 06 PM)

SPEEDtv SRT-4 racing vehicles stolen

The SPEEDtv team's transporter, with both the team's SRT-4 racing cars, were stolen last week in greater Detroit; the transporter was later found, burned to cover the thieves' tracks. Individual parts that might turn up for sale from the theft include aluminum 3R suspension pieces, World Challenge-stamped engine controllers, Ron Davis custom oil cooler/radiators, Exhaust Depot Beast intercoolers, Stoptech front big brakes (including one set of gold calipers without logos), and sealed engines from Dodge. The chassis included VIN numbers 1B3ES66S64D595917 and 1B3ES66S44D561328. Reports should go to Sheriff's Deputy Mike Preadmore at 734-240-7719.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 19 2007, 12 PM)

Dodge Crew (JC49) spotted without front camouflage

The JC49 crossover (Dodge Crew) has finally been spotted without protective gear covering the grille. This is the Sebring-based crossover Dodge hopes will revive its fortunes and attract the short-wheelbase minivan (and PT Cruiser) buyers.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 19 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler to release new LX models in 2010

Chrysler has now announced that new versions of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and Dodge Charger will appear in 2010, and will be made exclusively in Brampton, including models for sale in Europe, which are now made in Graz, Austria by Magna Corp. One million LX models have been made, with the one millionth being a 300. The LX line was launched in January 2004.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 20 2007, 08 AM)

UAW looking to investment banks?

According to the Wall Street Journal (as quoted in the Detroit News, the UAW is working with investment bank Lazard Fréres to come up with a plan for restructuring retirees' health care plans. Lazard, which worked with the UAW on its 2005 concessions, has a reputation for being the "gentleman's investment bank" and has maintained offices in Rockefeller Center, far from the fray of Wall Street; the company's offices seem more relaxed than other investment banks, with a less aggressive attitude. Automakers are now starting to bargain with the UAW for the next contracts, to take effect in mid-September.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 20 2007, 09 AM)

SRT-4 figures leaked?

Caliberforums.com claims to have seen an official Dodge spec sheet that lists the Caliber SRT-4 as doing 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.6 seconds, 285 horsepower, and 93 octane required for the production model. It is still front wheel drive, manual transmission only. Performance is somewhat lower than in the Neon-based SRT-4, but there’s more weight - and more safety equipment. Cornering and braking have not yet been discussed. Torque comes in at 260 lb-ft from 2000 to 5600 rpm. Peak horsepower is from 6,000 - 6,400 rpm. Top speed is listed as 157 mph. Various rims are available, colors are black, orange, silver, and red, MyGIG is not available, and the interior is "dark slate gray" (black). Generally, the Caliber SRT-4 underperforms its lighter Neon counterpart.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 24 2007, 08 AM)

Change of the guard coming; signs changing

According to a UPI story, while the final contract signing and celebration of Cerberus' purchase of Chrysler are due on August 1, the signs are already changing, including the removal of "Daimler" from a granite sign at the massive Chrysler Technical Center. Signs at the numerous manufacturing plants and other facilities will be changed over time, according to EVP Frank Ewasyshyn, due to the expense involved.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 24 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler deal with Chery finalized

Chrysler has signed a deal with Chery, the Chinese automaker, to produce cars for export to the United States. The first cars will be sent within one year to Latin America and/or Eastern Europe, with vehicles arriving in the US within 30 months, according to Tom LaSorda. The first vehicle to be sold will be based on the Chery A1, a sedan, and will be sold as a Dodge. Future models would be co-engineered by the two companies.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 25 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep to have unlimited powertrain warranties

In an unprecedented step, Chrysler announced that it will offer a nontransferable lifetime powertrain warranty on all new vehicles, as of July 26, 2007. This warranty is good for 2007 and 2008 model year vehicles, and covers parts and labor for the engine, transmission, and drivetrain.

The typical car buyer trades in their vehicle after five years; the powertrain warranty does not cover any but the first registered owner (on sale of the car, the warranty is switched to a standard three year, 36,000 mile plan). The longer warranty may help to attract those who have lingering doubts, particularly about transmissions and the 2.7 liter engines.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 26 2007, 01 PM)

Bernhard to take post above LaSorda?

According to a German magazine quoted by Automotive News, though Tom LaSorda will remain president of Chrysler once it moves to Cerberus, he will still be reporting to a German: Wolfgang Bernhard, sent by Mercedes to be COO of Chrysler under Dieter Zetsche, before leaving DCX for a post as Volkswagen's brand chief. The personnel decisions have yet to be confirmed by Cerberus or Chrysler.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 26 2007, 01 PM)

Lifetime warranty details

At the expiration of the 3 year/36,000 mile Basic Limited Warranty, the original purchaser or retail lessee of each 2006 model year, 2007 model year and 2008 model year Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicle sold and delivered on or after July 26, 2007 will get a limited powertrain warranty for the lifetime of that original purchaser or retail lessee. Subsequent owners or lessees, even if they are within the same family or business, are not covered. Successor business entities or persons to whom the vehicle is transferred by operation of law are also not covered.

The Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair a covered powertrain component that is defective in workmanship and materials. There is no coverage for towing.

SRT vehicles, Sprinters, diesel vehicles, Ram Cab/Chassis trucks, rental vehicles, and government vehicles are not covered. Vehicles used as a police vehicle, taxi, limousine, postal delivery vehicle or ambulance are not covered.

To maintain the Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty, the person or entity covered by this Powertrain Limited Warranty must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized dealer once every 5 years. This inspection will be performed at no charge. The inspection must be made within sixty days of each 5 year anniversary of the in-service date of the vehicle.

Covered parts include:

(Gas engine) cylinder block and all internal parts; cylinder head assemblies; timing case, timing chain, timing belt, gears and sprockets; vibration damper; oil pump; water pump and housing; intake and exhaust manifolds; flywheel with starter ring gear; core plugs; valve covers; oil pan; turbocharger housing and internal parts; turbocharger wastegate actuator; supercharger; serpentine belt tensioner; seals and gaskets for listed components only.

Transmission: transmission case and all internal parts; torque converter; drive/flex plate; transmission range switch; transmission control module; bell housing; oil pan; seals and gaskets for listed components only. Manual transmission clutch parts are NEVER covered.

Front Wheel Drive: transaxle case and all internal parts; axle shaft assemblies; constant velocity joints and boots; differential cover; oil pan; transaxle speed sensors; transaxle solenoid assembly; PRNDL position switch; transaxle electronic controller; torque converter; seals and gaskets for listed components only. Again, manual transmission clutch parts are NOT covered.

All Wheel Drive (AWD): power transfer unit and all internal parts; viscous coupler; axle housing and all internal parts; constant velocity joints and boots; driveshaft and axle shaft assemblies; differential carrier assembly and all internal parts; output ball bearing; output flange; end cover; overrunning clutch; vacuum motor; torque tube; pinion spacer and shim, seals and gaskets for listed components only.

Rear Wheel Drive: rear axle housing and all internal parts; axle shafts; axle shaft bearings; drive shaft assemblies; drive shaft center bearings; universal joints and yokes; seals and gaskets for listed components only.

Four-Wheel Drive (4X4): transfer case and all internal parts; transfer case control module and shift mode motor assembly; axle housing and all internal parts; axle shafts; axle shaft bearings; drive shafts assemblies (front and rear); drive shaft center bearings; universal joints and yokes; disconnect housing assembly; seals and gaskets for the listed components only.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 27 2007, 02 PM)

Dodge Caliber SRT-4 confirmed for 2008

Allpar can now confirm that the production SRT-4 will have 285 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, a massive increase over the original SRT-4 (though with greater weight, the new version will most likely be slower). That’s coming out of the 2.4 liter World Engine, with a six-speed Getrag manual transmission. Features include a center stack mounted short-throw shifter; unique hood with functional scoop, front fascia with brake ducts, and SRT rear fascia and liftgate spoiler; performance seats; 19” cast aluminum wheels and W-rated tires; lowered tuned suspension; SRT-tuned ABS and electronic stability program; low restriction exhaust system with 4“ bright tip; turbo boost gauge; and the most horsepower for the money of any FWD sport compact.

We will be adding photos to our Caliber SRT-4 page tomorrow or Monday.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (July 28 2007, 02 PM)

The first Chinese "Dodges" are arriving in Mexico

According to Forbes, China Motor Corporation will export at least four thousand vans to Mexico in 2008, using the Dodge brand name. Two hundred vans have already been shipped to Chrysler of Mexico, with orders for 2,400 more by the end of the year. Mexico currently imports 400,000 cars per year, nearly one quarter of the cars sold. China Motor said it might supply other vehicles to be sold as Dodges. Forbes quoted an official as saying that China Motor also will export around 3,500 Mitsubishi-branded cars to the Middle East and South America.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 01 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler July Sales

Chrysler, which is in the process of being taken over by Cerberus Capital Management, reported an 8% slide to 137,728 vehicles, even as passenger car sales surged 32% thanks to strong demand for the Sebring sedan.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold more vehicles than Ford Motor Co. in July, but the Japanese automaker's U.S. sales still were down 7.4 percent after record-setting sales a year ago. Toyota's truck sales were flat thanks in part to heavy incentives, but its car sales fell 11.8 percent. For the year to date, Ford still held a lead of 11,561 vehicles over Toyota.

Overall, Ford sales dropped 19% and GM dropped 22%. One year ago, however, both companies had launched major incentive plans; this year, incentives from both companies are lighter.

In July 2007, Chrysler sold 137,728 vehicles, compared with 150,349 in July 2006. Year to date, Chrysler sales dropped by 2%, from 1.28 million to 1.25 million.

Details will follow later today.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 01 2007, 11 AM)

Name change coming soon?

As of today, Chrysler employees can drop the "daimler" from their e-mail address; and numerous signs appear to have been prepared for a changeover, indicating that the final papers may be signed as early as this week. Each Chrysler facility has, according to various media, been preparing to celebrate the change in its own way. Many trucks have had the DaimlerChrysler logo removed in preparation. The media.chrysler.com domain still goes to media.daimlerchrysler.com, but http://chryslercorporation.com/ is currently pointing at the Chrysler Group section of daimlerchrysler.com (it had been showing a test page).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 01 2007, 03 PM)

July U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

Chrysler holds onto share in tough market.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 02 2007, 07 AM)

Changes in international sales positions

Chrysler has made several personnel changes in its international sales organization. Judith K. Wheeler has been appointed Director – International Marketing and Communications, based in its Auburn Hills, to replace Stephane Labous, who will take over as Chrysler Managing Director – France.

In her new position, Wheeler will report to Michael Manley (Executive Vice President - International Sales, Marketing and Business Development) and will be responsible for the International Marketing and Communications strategies and plans.

Wheeler joined Chrysler Corporation in 1984 and has held positions in Sales and Service, Dealer Network Development, and Dodge Marketing and Product Planning, and was also the Managing Director for Chrysler operations in Australia. Most recently she served as Vice-President – Marketing in Canada. Wheeler holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin, and a master’s degree in management from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota.

Labous will be responsible for the sales, marketing and aftersales activities for the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge brands in France and will report to Jacques Bousquet, Director – International Chrysler Sales, Western Europe Region.

Labous joined Chrysler in France in 1991 and has held several positions within the Chrysler International Sales, Marketing and Business Development organization since then. Most recently he served as Director – International Marketing and Communications, based in Auburn Hills. Labous holds a National Diploma in Marketing and Communication from ESCAE BREST, a Graduate School for Business and Management in France.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 02 2007, 06 PM)

Chrysler Name Change

New month; new name. It's now Chrysler LLC.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 02 2007, 06 PM)

More Chinese vans going to Mexico?

In addition to the Chinese (or Mitsubishi) designed vans hitting the Mexican market under the Dodge name, established contributor "Mr. Source" wrote: “Chrysler Voyager minivans made in China will be in Mexican showrooms very soon as 2008 models; they will be short-wheelbase vans, with the same price as 2007 model but with less standard equipment, for example no more DVD as standard equipment, or if you will want it, dealers will install it, but not for free."

Another source said that the existence of these short-wheelbase, previous generation models has been confirmed, but not their production plant; China does seem likely.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 02 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler to leave DCX today?

According to many sources, Chrysler will be officially leaving DaimlerChrysler today, with celebrations scheduled for Monday. A banner has already been test-unfurled from the top of the Chrysler Technical Center, saying only "GET READY."

Normally, the transfer of a company from one owner to another does not bring about this level of optimistic anticipation and celebration. However, the acquisition of Chrysler was exceptional in the vehemence with which the new owners took over the organization, going so far as to rename each local company and even the CTC building (to DaimlerChrysler Technical Center), while no Mercedes facilities appear to have been renamed. As soon as the deal was announced, journalists almost unanimously concluded that the takeover had been a disaster for the former Chrysler Corporation, which has seen its market share and once-formidable profitability diminish.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 03 2007, 10 AM)

Rumor: Jeep pickup truck getting closer

As Jeep engineers continue to build concept trucks, the likelihood of seeing a Wrangler-based pickup, the much-rumored Scrambler, is getting higher, especially if such a vehicle could be built somewhere other than Kenosha, which is already flooded with orders for Wrangler Unlimiteds. An article at Mike's Jeep News describes the various hints and options.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 03 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler Group officially sold to Cerberus Capital Management

Today, after nine years, in which Chrysler went from being one of the world's most profitable automakers to a declining source of losses, DaimlerChrysler sold Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management for $7.4 billion, retaining a 19.9% stake in the new company. DaimlerChrysler is financing an additional $2 billion of Chrysler's $20 billion in debt, due to the tight credit markets.

According to a recent letter sent out by Chrysler, the new name of the company will not be Chrysler Corporation, LLC, but the more accurate Chrysler LLC. DaimlerChrysler itself will host a shareholders' meeting on October 4 to change their name to Daimler AG.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 03 2007, 12 PM)

New company, new web site

The new Chrysler LLC web-site, http://www.chryslerllc.com/, has been created and is now on-line. Loading far faster than the DaimlerChrysler site, the site asks people to look forward to the next hundred years, and emphasizes the new owners' long-term approach.

The http://www.chryslercorporation.com/ site redirects to a section on the daimlerchrysler.com site, which redirects people to the new Chrysler LLC site. DaimlerChrysler's corporate site has replaced the "Chrysler Group" menu item on the left of each page with a "(Chrysler LLC)" item.

The media site, media.daimlerchrysler.com, which used to redirect people through a rather clunky process to Chrysler Group's own media site, now contains a reference to Chrysler LLC's media site, which remains cgmedia.daimlerchrysler.com. With only months to prepare a new domain, the Chrysler media people have unfortunately not been able to keep up.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 04 2007, 12 PM)

Dodge to stay in NASCAR

(Quotes are courtesy of NASCAR.com):

Mike Delahanty, senior manager of the Dodge Motorsports program, confirmed Dodge's long-term intent to remain in the series; four teams will run ten cars in the next season. In addition, the Petty Enterprises team will be given an extended contract: "We'd had an on-and-off relationship with the Pettys for a number of years, and we realized that the whole Petty organization, and Richard Petty, is Dodge and Chrysler," Delahanty said. "He's the greatest icon in the sport and we wanted to make sure that we maintained a relationship with him." The Evernham team, to save Dodge costs, might switch sponsorship from the UAW and Dodge dealers, but remain with Dodge.

Opinion: Allpar would like to see Cerberus demand from Brian France a winning season in exchange for the cost of staying in NASCAR, the professional wrestling of motorsports.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 05 2007, 01 PM)

Ex-Home Depot CEO named to be CEO of Chrysler, Ridenour leaves

Despite having no automotive experience, well-connected Republican Party fundraiser Robert Nardelli has been appointed CEO of Chrysler, replacing Tom LaSorda, who will remain president. Nardelli, who is also Chair of Chrysler LLC, was forced out of Home Depot (with a $210 million retirement package); he had been receiving massive salaries despite drops in the company's stock, on the basis of large hikes in sales and profits. At Chrysler, he will be paid $1 per year at first.

Nardelli has a reputation for being aggressive, tough, and divisive. He started at GE, moved to Wisconsin-based Case, then returned in 1991 to GE, running their appliance business; he then moved to GE Transportation. At Home Depot Nardelli replaced full time people with part-timers to gain temporary profit increases, but the company also plummeted in customer satisfaction. Politically, he has strong ties to the Republican Party, as do many of Cerberus' executive; in 2004 he hosted a single fundraiser that raised over $3 million for G.W. Bush, and he has been on G.W. Bush's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Wolfgang Berhnard reportedly turned down the position as chair of Chrysler LLC.

Eric Ridenour, currently Chief Operating Officer of Chrysler, is leaving the company. Ridenour started his career with General Motors in 1981, but moved to Chrysler Corporation in 1986 as a program analyst; he moved up through product strategy positions, was appointed manager of fuel economy and energy planning in 1992, and then moved through powertrain planning, advanced vehicle engineering, and product planning before taking over large car platform engineering in 2001. In 2003 he was made executive vice president of product development and quality.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 06 2007, 08 AM)

CEO to address press; signs changed

Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli and President Tom LaSorda will be having a press conference shortly. The main gate at the Chrysler Technical Center has already been changed to Chrysler. Employee celebrations are to start at 12:30, local time. For ongoing details as they happen, check the Detroit News.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 06 2007, 11 AM)

Lifetime warranty in Mexico

Chrysler's lifetime powertrain warranty in Mexico appears to have different terms. Effective from August 6, 2007, the warranty is, as in the US (except for New York), applied only to the first owner. It requires that the entire recommended service schedule be followed; if one service is missed the warranty is voided. This means that a preventive service is required every 7,500 miles for life to keep the warranty in effect.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 06 2007, 01 PM)

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan at dealers, reviewed

Some isolated reports of dealers getting their first 2008 minivans have been coming in; meanwhile, the ever-fair Jeff James at about.com has turned in a 2008 Grand Caravan review.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 07 2007, 03 PM)

2008 Liberty price cuts

A base 2008 Jeep Liberty 4x2 will cost $20,990 including destination, over $1,200 less than the popular 2007 model, while the 4x4 will start at $22,600 and the Limited will start at $25,175 for the 4x2 and $26,785 for the 4x4. Powertrains continue unchanged, but the industry-first Sky Slider full-length open canvas roof will be available for $1,200.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 07 2007, 06 PM)

Chrysler Vehicles named to "Greatest Cars" list

Dodge Charger, Jeep make the final cut

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 08 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler still trails in reliability

Jeep has improved but Chrysler brands still lag in reliability, according to the latest J.D. Power & Associates 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study. The study, released today, surveyed 53,000 owners of 2004 model cars and light trucks. Owners of all three Chrysler brands reported a higher than average number of problems.

Buick and Lexus tied for the top spots in the survey with 145 problems per 100 vehicles. Average for the industry was 216 problems. Jeep was just above the industry average with 219 problems reported. Dodge owners reported 236 problems, putting Dodge ahead of Chrysler’s 249.

Jeep came in ahead of Pontiac, Scion, Ford and Chevrolet and such premium brands as Audi and Volvo. Dodge edged out Hummer, which was named the most improved brand, but Chrysler lagged its competitors in the near-premium category.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 09 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler to expand global engineering facilities

Chrysler announced it will open engineering centers in China, Poland and India and is exploring expanding relationships with Hyundai and Mitsubishi now that it is once again an independent company.

Speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City on Thursday, Chrysler LLC product chief Frank Klegon said the company will add an engineering facility in China to bolster its collaboration with Chery and open an engineering facility in Warsaw, Poland, to help develop the growing Eastern European market. There are also plans to expand Chrysler’s engineering presence in India to support local suppliers.
Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 10 2007, 05 AM)

Edmunds makes math error in July incentives report

Edmunds Inc. has announced it recently miscalculated its True Cost of Incentives for the Toyota Tundra. Edmunds had reported July incentives for the American-built pickup totaled $6,861, more than any other full-size pickup, but yesterday lowered that figure to $4,625, putting the Tundra in third place behind the Dodge Ram and Nissan Titan.

Speaking for Edmunds, Dr. Jane Liu, Vice President of Data Analysis, said “Incentives analysis has many components and complicated national and regional considerations. Unfortunately in this case our team misapplied a piece of data that had widespread repercussions in our report. We deeply regret the error and have taken steps to ensure that such a mistake does not happen again.”

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 10 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler to offer diesel option in light-duty trucks

Chrysler LLC will offer a diesel-powered light-duty pickup after 2009 in an effort to reduce fuel consumption in more of its large vehicles. Until now, diesels were options only for heavy-duty models. Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s EVP of product development, said an all-new Cummins turbo-diesel engine will deliver a 30% increase in fuel efficiency and will reduce carbon emissions up to 20% compared to a conventional engine.

General Motors and Ford also plan diesel-powered versions of their light-duty pickups.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 10 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler to show limited-run vehicle Tuesday

Chrysler today announced it will kick off the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in style by revealing a new limited-production vehicle at a media breakfast on Tuesday, August 14.

Larry Lyons, V-P FWD Product Team, and David Rooney, Director of Chrysler Brand Marketing, will be on hand for the unveil which takes place at Duggan's Irish Pub, located at 31501 Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak, Michigan. Duggan's is on the west side of Woodward between 13 and 14 Mile roads.

The event starts at 8:30 AM EDT. If you're not an accredited journalist, you'll probably have to catch your breakfast elsewhere, but you might get to be one of the first to see the new vehicle if you "happen" to be in the area. :wink:

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 13 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler gets a C+ in Consumer Satisfaction Index

Dodge gained ground, but Chrysler and Jeep still have problems keeping their customers happy, according to the University of Michigan's latest Consumer Satisfaction Index. All three Chrysler brands scored below average, although Dodge’s rating was up 2.6% from last year. Chrysler fell behind Ford and Jeep came in last among all brands surveyed.

Overall, Americans were happier with their vehicles. On average, carmakers received 82 out of 100 possible points, a new record and the fourth consecutive annual increase recorded by U of M researchers. Grades ranged from Lexus’ 87 points to Jeep’s 75 points. Buick, BMW, Cadillac and Lincoln/Mercury were all just behind Lexus with 86 points each, while Toyota and Honda dropped into a tie for third at 84 points.

Dodge fared the best of the Chrysler brands, earning a “B-” with 80 points. It tied with Nissan, Pontiac, Ford and Volkswagen. Chrysler and Jeep each received a “C” with 79 and 75 points, respectively, giving Chrysler LLC an average of 78.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 14 2007, 08 AM)

PT Cruiser Sunset Blvd. Edition debuts

To celebrate the 2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, Chrysler today rolled out its eleventh limited-edition PT Cruiser, the Sunset Boulevard Edition.

Finished in Sunset Pearl paint and wearing 16-inch wheels and extra brightwork, the Sunset Edition honors Los Angeles's famous Sunset Boulevard. Chrysler will produce a limited run of 500 of the latest customized Cruiser which will be available late this summer. The MSRP for the Sunset Boulevard Edition will be $16,650 for the manual version and $17,475 for the automatic. Both prices include a $640 destination charge.

Other special features include a power moonroof, deep-tint glass, chrome body-side moldings and chrome lock knobs. The Sunset Boulevard PT Cruiser wears a unique “Street Cruiser” badge, complete with Sunset Crystal accents on the rear liftgate which is complemented by “Sunset Boulevard” Edition badges. Among the special interior features are bright sill scuff pads, bright accent ring cup holders and chrome PRNDL bezel on vehicles equipped with an automatic. Cluster bezels and the passenger air bag door are Sunset Crystal to match the exterior body color.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 14 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler joins Ford, GM in CAFE rallies

Chrysler, Ford and General Motors will hold rallies they hope will build grassroots support for an alternative Corporate Average Fuel Economy proposal.

The rallies will be held in Chicago and St. Louis with the first scheduled for tomorrow at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago.

Hoping to derail a Senate proposal that would raise CAFE standards to 35 mpg for cars and trucks combined by 2020, the Detroit automakers want to build popular support for a less-demanding bill sponsored by U.S. Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Lee Terry, R-Neb. The Hill-Terry measure would hike CAFE mandates to 35 mpg for passenger cars by 2022 and at least 32 mpg for light trucks by 2022.

The automakers hope the grassroots effort will help beat back a proposal passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this year that would raise corporate average fuel economy mandates 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks combined by 2020.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 15 2007, 07 AM)

Chrysler names Meyer as new V-P and CMO

Chrysler announced that Deborah Wahl Meyer will join the company as Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. She will start her new job on August 28.

The 44-year-old Detroit native will be responsible for global marketing and advertising initiatives for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep(R) brands. She will also oversee all sales promotions and brand events and provide strategic direction for the company's worldwide marketing efforts.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 15 2007, 05 PM)

Dealers celebrate the New Chrysler on Premier Night

Allpar members, potential customers and people just wanting a look at the newest vehicles descended on Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers across the nation Wednesday night. This year’s Premier Night was special as it marked the first for Chrysler LLC under the ownership of Cerberus Capital Management LP.

Though some attendees reported their local dealers didn't seem to be participating (one Allpar member reported his local dealer wasn't even open), most dealers got into the spirit of the event, offering light refreshments, showcasing the new models and providing entertainment that ranged from an Elvis impersonator at a Southfield, Michigan dealership to a trio of musicians in Albuquerque.

While most dealers had a positive view of Chrysler's future, some had reservations about Nardelli who left Home Depot earlier this year amid an outcry over his $210 million severance package. During his tenure with the home improvement giant, sales and profits increased but the company's shares lost value and staff changes caused widespread customer dissatisfaction.

Dealers are hoping to get an idea of Nardelli’s plans when the Chrysler dealer council meets him this week in Auburn Hills.
Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 16 2007, 11 AM)

Dodge plans Challenger display for Dream Cruise

For the 13th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise and to celebrate the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger to be unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6, 2008, Dodge plans to paint the town HEMI Orange with a special Challenger display. On hand will be the Dodge Challenger concept car, classic Dodge Challengers from the Walter P. Chrysler collection and privately owned Challengers from car clubs.

The cars will be on display from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturday, August 18, at the Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge display located on the southwest corner of Woodward and 13 Mile Road.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world's largest one-day celebration of the automobile. It attracts an estimated one million visitors and more than 40,000 muscle, custom and specialty cars from the United States and abroad.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 16 2007, 12 PM)

Nardelli rules out capital spending cuts

While joining in a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the Plymouth Prowler, new Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli told reporters the company will not reduce capital spending.

There had been speculation that such reductions might be required because the growing problems in the subprime mortgage market put a damper on the demand for bonds. As a result, Cerberus Capital Management LP's banks were unable to place all the debt Chrysler required to finance its operations. A $2 billion loan from DaimlerChrysler made it possible to complete the necessary funding.

"Cerberus was able to finance everything that we needed in the deal,” said Nardelli. “So from a capital point, a liquidity standpoint, we're in very good shape."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 17 2007, 07 AM)

Grube, Becht and Walker to join Chrysler boards

Dr. Rüdiger Grube, who helped create the marriage of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merger nine years ago and then aided in facilitating the recent divorce, will become a member of the five-person board of Chrysler Holding LLC. He will represent Daimler AG's 19.9% piece of the newly independent Chrysler.

Grube is also a member of Daimler’s board of management. He oversees corporate strategy and development, including mergers and acquisitions, and worldwide information technology.

He will be joined by Gerd Becht, head of Daimler's legal department, who will join the Chrysler LLC board headed by Robert Nardelli, Chrysler’s new CEO. Jürgen Walker, head of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services AG, will sit on the board of Chrysler Financial Services LLC.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 18 2007, 10 AM)

Vines zaps Lutz over "real deal" remark

Chrysler’s Jason Vines is firing back at Bob Lutz over remarks the GM car czar made when comparing the new SS version of the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser’s Sunset Boulevard Special Edition.

While the SS may be the PT Cruiser SRT we’ve always wanted to see, Lutz’s description of the HHR as “the real deal” is comparing apples to, well, “plums” might be more appropriate than “oranges” considering the Sunset Boulevard’s “Sunset Crystal” paint. The Sunset Boulevard is the eleventh specially priced color-and-trim customized Cruiser. The SS is Chevrolet’s latest effort to make the HHR more popular than the PT Cruiser, a vehicle that is seven model years old but is still in the top 15% of American light vehicles by current year-to-date (YTD) sales. It was in the top 11% in 2006.

Perhaps, as Vines suggests, Lutz is feeling the heat. Even though he hired Bryan Nesbitt, the Cruiser’s designer, to work on the HHR, he hasn’t been able to make the magic work at GM. From August 2005, its first month on the market, the HHR has lagged the PT Cruiser in every sales month except two: August 2006 and July 2007.

Chevrolet has sold 210,576 HHRs since the trucklet was introduced. 2007 YTD sales total 59,267.

During the same period, Chrysler has sold 256,980 PT Cruisers, including 60,305 in the first seven months of 2007. It’s currently just ahead of the HHR in the sales rankings.

Granted, the HHR may finally overtake the PT Cruiser this year, especially considering the support Chrysler management has given the Cruiser. But there’s no question about which is the real deal and which is the knockoff.

Source: Manufacturer’s reported sales August 2005-July 2007.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 19 2007, 05 AM)

2008 Charger makes new C&D Top Ten List

The 2008 Dodge Charger is among the cars on a new Car & Driver Top Ten List to be announced today.

It’s one of the Ten Safe New Vehicles for Less Than $25,000 and it’s one of only two cars from any American automaker to make the list.

"This list will help guide car buyers to safe vehicles at a very reasonable price, and it clearly shows how safety technology has moved to the mainstream. It's not just for the luxury car buyer anymore," said Mike Dushane, executive editor, CARandDRIVER.com.
Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 20 2007, 09 AM)

New Biodiesel refinery announced for Pacific Northwest

Imperium Biodiesel has begun work on a new biodiesel fuel production facility that promises to be one of the nation’s largest when it is completed.

The plant will be able to produce up to 100 million gallons of biodiesel per year. This may be a lot, considering the relatively small number of diesel-engined light vehicles on U.S. roads, but the company recently announced an agreement to supply Royal Caribbean Cruises 15-18 million gallons for its cruise ships. In addition, the growth in commercial availability of biodiesel could bolster adoption of modern diesel engines like those planned for various Chrysler light vehicles. Diesel offers a number of advantages over other alternative power systems, including hybrid technology, but has been hampered by poor public perception and engine designs in the past.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 20 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler kicks off new minivan production at Windsor

Chrysler today celebrated the manufacturing launch of the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans at its Windsor Assembly Plant.

Speaking about the event, Chrysler president Tom LaSorda said, "Ever since the first minivan rolled off the assembly line here in Windsor 24 years ago, this vehicle has embodied the spirit of innovation that is part of Chrysler's DNA. A decade later, the home of the minivan has become one of our first plants to implement an enhanced flexible manufacturing strategy and added a Smart Manufacturing workplace model promoting greater innovation and creativity on the plant floor."

Chrysler made a $511 million investment in 2005 to upgrade the manufacturing and paint operations so Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans could be built on the same assembly line as the Chrysler Pacifica.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 21 2007, 03 PM)

Caliber named a top car for college students

The Dodge Caliber has been named one of the top cars for college students. The list was prepared by CarMax, America’s largest retailer of used cars, and Driver's Edge, a national nonprofit organization providing youth driver education. The Caliber was one of only two domestic brand vehicles selected.

"It's pretty tough to come up with a list of cars that will satisfy both parents and students," said Steve Tepper, COO of Driver's Edge. "Issues of looks, cost, safety, and performance don't always line up, but there are some great cars out there that fit the bill safety-wise while still being a cool car to drive."

For more details, including the complete list and criteria for selection, see the Fll Story...

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 21 2007, 03 PM)

More 2009 spy shots and information

More spy shots of the 2009 Dodge Ram have been posted to Allpar's 2009 Ram page. At the same time, more powertrain information has surfaced - though no word yet on transmissions.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 21 2007, 04 PM)

LaSorda affirms Chrysler turnaround plan

Chrysler President Tom LaSorda said the automaker won't consider changing in its turnaround plan unless economic conditions make it necessary. LaSorda was at Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly plant for the manufacturing kickoff of the new Caravan and Town & Country minivans.

"The plan is robust, but we'll have to wait and see what happens in the economy," LaSorda said during a press conference.

LaSorda indicated Chrysler could make deeper cuts or speed up the restructuring if required to keep the automaker on track to return to profitability in 2008. The plan currently calls for cutting 13,000 jobs and closing a factory. Chrysler lost $860 million last year and another $2 billion in the first quarter of 2007.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 21 2007, 05 PM)

California cop car show to benefit family of fallen officer

The Police Departments of Menlo Park and Ripon, California are sponsoring an Emergency and Military Vehicle Show and Law Enforcement Recruiting Fair on Saturday, September 22, 2007, at the Ripon Community Center and Park.

The show benefits the family of Robert Winget, a Ripon police officer who died in the line of duty on April 10, 2007.

The show is open to any current or restored emergency or military vehicle, including police, fire, military, and ambulances. The show is designed to be a very enjoyable family experience with the opportunity for positive interaction with public safety agencies and professionals.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 22 2007, 10 AM)

Analyst predicts sales slump will continue into 2008

U.S. light vehicle sales are likely to continue to decline for the rest of this year and are unlikely to recover until late next year. That’s the industry forecast according to CSM Worldwide, a Northfield, Michigan-based automotive market forecasting firm.

Citing the downturn in the housing market and record levels of consumer debt, CSM says sales in 2007 will come in at about 16.2 million, the lowest sales volume since 1998. The firm’s analysts also expect North American light vehicle production to drop to 15.1 million this year compared to just over 15.3 million a year ago.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 23 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler's ex has name problem

Chrysler’s former corporate spouse ran into a small snag on its way to a new name: the name "Daimler" is owned by Ford.

Though it is derived from Gottlieb Daimler, founder of one of the companies that became Daimler-Benz in 1926, the Daimler name as an automotive trademark has been owned by an English builder of luxury and sports cars since early in the 20th Century. Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960 and continued to use it, especially on limousines and vehicles built for the English royal family. The name became Ford property in 1990 when it paid $2.5 billion for Jaguar.

Fortunately for the folks in Stuttgart, Ford, which is now in the process of unloading Jaguar, was amenable to an agreement regarding the name and it looks like smooth sailing for Daimler AG to be new name approved by shareholders in October.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 23 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler presents new minivan to family of slain teller

Area Chrysler and Dodge dealers today surrounded the family of Tramaine Gibson as they received the first all-new 2008 Dodge Caravan in metro Chicago. The new van was donated by Chrysler LLC and the Chicago Dodge Dealer Ad Association.

Tramaine Gibson was working as a teller at Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan when he was killed during a robbery on May 22. He was also a student at Westwood College majoring in criminal justice. He is survived by a wife and two small children. Federal agents have charged three Chicago-area men in connection with the robbery.

Chrysler learned about the Gibsons through When Daddy Goes To Heaven, a local non-profit organization that sponsors families who have lost a parent, providing assistance to the surviving family members.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 23 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler to preview new Journey at Frankfurt IAA

Getting a jump on the American events, Dodge will display its new Journey crossover at the upcoming Internationale Automobil-Austellung (International Automobile Show) in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Journey is another milestone on Chrysler’s quest to establish Dodge as a global brand. While it will be sold first in the U.S. in early 2008, it will be available in Europe and Asia by the end of next year. All Journeys will be built in Toluca, Mexico.

The Journey shares its D-segment platform with the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger but has a wheelbase that is 4.9 inches longer than the sedans. It’s also 1.7 inches longer and significantly taller allow more headroom for passengers in the 5+2 seating option’s third row.

The Journey will come in SE, SXT and R/T versions and will offer three powertrains. A diesel will be an additional option outside of North America. R/T models will also offer optional all-wheel-drive.

Pricing has not been announced but is expected to start around $25,000 to be competitive with other vehicles in the segment.

For more details and photos, click here.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 27 2007, 02 AM)

Jeep Patriot recommended for back-to-school

If the back-to-school supply list for your student includes a new set of wheels, the Jeep Patriot Sport is among the top ten new vehicles recommended by the editors at kbb.com, Kelley Blue Book’s online service.

Kelley Blue Book has provided buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information since 1926. The company's top-rated Web site, kbb.com, is rated the No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings and the most visited auto site by J.D. Power and Associates eight years in a row.

The editors at kbb.com say Jeep’s newest vehicle is “(B)oth a perfectly sensible commuter car and a terrific camping companion, offering a unique balance of economy, comfort and capability.” With a manual transmission, the Patriot Sport stickers at $16,035, about the same price you can expect to pay.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 28 2007, 07 AM)

Schell named to Chrysler restructuring post

Chrysler named Andreas Schell, 38, to take charge of the automaker's restructuring plan. This is the latest management change since Chrysler was sold to Cerberus. Schell, who has been with Chrysler since 2002, will occupy a new executive position handling the day-to-day responsibilities of the three-year plan. He will report to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and President Tom LaSorda.

Schell was previously senior manager of the office of the chairman and had worked with LaSorda on the turnaround prior to his promotion.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 29 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler wants to dump Mopar

Chrysler wants to spin off Mopar, its legendary aftermarket specialty auto parts unit.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal online edition, Chrysler has made the divestiture of Mopar and Chrysler Transport, its internal logistics operation, part of its proposal to the UAW. The two companies employ nearly 1,300 people.

Chrysler, like Ford and GM, is looking to shedding non-core assets in an effort to reduce costs and direct employee headcount. As such divestitures have often had disastrous results for the affected employees, it’s likely Chrysler’s proposal will face significant resistance from the union.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 29 2007, 03 PM)

Nardelli stresses quality to Chrysler management

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli said Wednesday the company must focus on improving the quality of its vehicles. Speaking to a group of 300 senior Chrysler executives, Nardelli delivered what was described as a rousing speech designed to ensure Chrysler’s top managers “were on the same page,” as one source described it.

Nardelli also outlined other areas needing improvement as Chrysler implements its three-year recovery plan.

Both Nardelli and Chrysler president Tom LaSorda gave presentations on the plan, called Recovery and Transformation. They also discussed possibly accelerating the company's restructuring goals, something most industry observers have been expecting since Cerberus surprised the industry by naming Nardelli to the top spot at Chrysler.

Nardelli's emphasis on quality is likely to be repeated when he addresses the Automotive Press Association for the first time on September 7.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 30 2007, 04 AM)

Zetsche says Daimler will keep Chrysler share

The Company Formerly Known As DaimlerChrysler plans to hang on to its 19.9% stake in the new Chrysler LLC.

"We have no intention whatsoever of divesting this stake," CEO Dieter Zetsche said during a Wednesday teleconference discussing second-quarter financials. He said the newly-divorced German automaker has two reasons for retaining a stake in Chrysler: first, to express confidence in the new privately owned automaker and, second, to maintain continuing joint projects.

Best of all, he noted, is that Chrysler’s unsettling ups and downs, that often alarmed investors, no longer threaten the bottom line in Stuttgart.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 30 2007, 04 AM)

Edmunds: Chrysler will report 163,000 August sales

Edmunds.com predicts Chrysler will post August sales of 163,000 light vehicles. That would be a drop of 9.2% compared to August 2006, but an 18.1% improvement over last month’s disappointing results. Chrysler’s predicted market share is 11.5%, down from 12.1% last year but well ahead of the 10.6% share of the abysmal July market and enough to keep it ahead of Honda in the rankings.

Total new vehicle sales are expected to come in around 1.42 million units, a shortfall of 4.5% from August 2006 and an 8.7% gain over July 2007.

"Early in August, sales were dismal. To generate showroom traffic, most automakers introduced incentives programs midway through the month," observed Jesse Toprak, Executive Director of Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. "That effort was relatively successful, but the uncertainty in the housing market is likely to continue suppressing consumer demand for new vehicles for some time."

Once again, the domestic brands are predicted to be in the minority, with Chrysler, Ford and GM sharing a 49.6% piece of the pie. That would be slightly larger than their 49.4% slice in July but significantly lower than the 53.5% portion they claimed in August of last year.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 30 2007, 05 AM)

Allpar opens Spanish-language site

Allpar.com, the largest web site specializing in Chrysler vehicles (based on number of static pages), has opened a new Spanish-language Chrysler-oriented site. Though initially this site is limited in scope, it is growing rapidly and Allpar plans to eventually cover every major Chrysler Corporation vehicle sold in South America, Mexico, and Spain.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (August 30 2007, 10 AM)

Jeep offers free Tim McGraw song download today

On Thursday, Aug 30, Jeep will offer an exclusive download of McGraw's song, "Louisiana," on the brand's site at www.jeep.comcampjeep for free to the first 10,000 downloads. After that, the song will continue to stream on the site. McGraw, who is from Start, La., has only performed the song once - during his 2006 TV special "Reflected" recorded at his home outside of Nashville, Tenn. The song, a tribute to McGraw's roots, has never been released.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 30 2007, 11 AM)

Faulty part forces truck plant shutdowns

A faulty engine part forced Chrysler to shut down production and send workers home at plants in Michigan, Delaware and Missouri on Thursday. An unidentified outside supplier provided the part which is used in 4.7-liter V-8 engines built in Chrysler’s Mack Avenue complex in Detroit. These engines are installed in Dodge Ram pickups and three SUV models, the Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The announcement of the shutdown comes just one day after CEO Bob Nardelli spoke to top Chrysler executives about the need for an increased focus on quality.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 31 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler challenges dealers to create warranty ads

Chrysler is challenging its dealers to come up with new TV spots. A new competition running through September 21, 2007 will be used to identify the best dealer-produced, 30-second commercial highlighting Chrysler's Lifetime Powertrain Warranty.

The company calls it a grassroots initiative and hopes to draw on dealers’ creativity and knowledge of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles.

"Along with our dealer partners, this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the new 'best-in-industry' Lifetime Powertrain Warranty for our customers," said Darryl Jackson, VP of U.S. Sales.

Commercials will be judged not just on their originality, content and positioning but their effectiveness in capturing viewers' attention and communicating the benefits and uniqueness of new warranty.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (August 31 2007, 06 AM)

Allpar contributor writes book

Allpar contributor John Brennan has written a new book called Ghosts of Newport: Spirits, Scoundrels, Legends. It's an interesting read and has gotten good reviews, but is most interesting to anyone planning on visiting Newport, Rhode Island (or, presumably, buying a Chrysler Newport).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 03 2007, 01 PM)

Chrysler estimated to lead in August incentives

Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers were once again the places for big financial incentives. In August, Edmunds.com reports the folks in Auburn Hills spent an average of $3,758 on every vehicle they sold. That’s up from the $2,909 they spent last August, but down sharply from the $4,372 paid out in July 2007.

Edmunds.com estimates the average manufacturer new vehicle incentive was $2,362 in August 2007. That is down $159, or 6.3 percent, from July 2007, but up $51, or 2.2 percent, from August 2006.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 04 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler, Toyota sales down, GM up (preliminary)

Chrysler's overall sales were down 6% in August 2007 compared with August 2006, though retail sales were reportedly up. The Dodge brand rose 13%, while Jeep fell just 1%. Demand was reported as "strong" for the Sebring sedan and convertible.

GM gained 5% in sales, boosting market share to 26%, thanks largely to its full size pickups and its crossover SUVs.

Toyota and Ford both lost sales compared to last year; Toyota said sales were down 3%, while Ford said sales were down 14% (with rental car sales down 44%). Lexus, however, reported a 4% increase in sales.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 04 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler sales down 6%, retail sales increase

Chrysler LLC reported U.S. sales for August 2007 of 168,203 units; down 6 percent compared to August 2006 with 179,165 units sold.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 04 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler down in 6% August but up 22% from July

In its first solo month of reporting, Chrysler LLC recorded sales of 168,203 cars and light trucks. That’s down 6.12% from August 2006, but up better than 22% from July 2007’s dismal totals. Plus, it was enough to keep the newly independent Chrysler ahead of American Honda, including Acura.

More positive news was the improved fleet-to-retail sales ratio and further reductions in inventory. According to Darryl Jackson, VP of U.S. Sales, though fleet sales were down 20% in August; Chrysler and Dodge brand passenger car sales were up 18% for the month.

The Chrysler Aspen and Jeep Patriot had their best sales months ever and sales of the Dodge Caliber were nearly 4,000 units ahead of July and 5% ahead of August 2006. The Dodge Nitro posted its second-best finish for the year and its third-best numbers since its introduction. Jeep Wrangler sales continue to be robust, though the Grand Cherokee claimed Jeep Division’s top spot this month with its highest sales since last December. Dodge Ram pickup sales, though down 5% from August 2006, hit their second-highest total of 2007.

On the downside, the PT Cruiser was finally overtaken by the Chevrolet HHR in both monthly and YTD sales. The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are still well off their sales paces from earlier this year, even though fuel prices have moderated in most parts of the country. In fairness, large American cars are having a tough time pretty much across the board. Edmunds.com estimated the incentives on large cars are second only to those on large trucks as a percentage of sticker price.

Sales of the Pacifica barely rebounded from their July low and were down 48% compared to August 2006.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 04 2007, 09 PM)

Chrysler puts new incentives on select 2007 models

Chrysler has rolled out 72-month, 0% interest financing for buyers of 2007 Chrysler Aspens, Dodge Durangos, Dodge Dakotas, Jeep Commanders, and long-wheelbase versions of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. Buyers of the Jeep Liberty, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge 1500 Regular or Quad-Cab Pickup will still be able to get the five-year financing program that has been in place since May.

Buyers will also be offered the option of selecting a cash rebate or favorable leasing program. A company spokesperson said the new program runs through October first.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 06 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler names new CIO

Chrysler has appointed Jan A. Bertsch to be the company's new chief information officer. She will also serve as vice president of the company's information technology management organization.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 06 2007, 06 AM)

Prices announced for 2008 Smart

Onetime Speaker of the House Trent Lott called it “The Purple People Eater” in a speech defending gas-guzzling SUVs. you've seen it in the Pink Panther, Legally Blonde II and most anywhere else Hollywood wanted a quirky-looking car. And now we know how much it will cost to buy in the U.S. when it goes on sale early next year. Penske Group-owned Smart USA today announced pricing on the Smart Fortwo.

The base “Pure” trim level will start at $11,950 (about $2,000 less than a base 2008 Dodge Caliber SE). For $13,590, you can upgrade to “Passion” or you can go all the way and get the “Passion Cabrio” for $16,590. All models are equipped with a 1-liter, 3-cylinder, 71-horsepower engine.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 06 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler continues Toyota raid: Jim Press new president

Tom LaSorda, who was to continue as CEO until just after Chrysler was officially taken over by Cerberus, will now be joined by James Press, former CEO of Toyota North America. Jim Press will be responsible for North American sales, international sales, global marketing, product strategy, and service and parts for Chrysler LLC, and will share Tom LaSorda's titles as Vice Chairman and President.

LaSorda’s responsibilities will continue to include manufacturing, procurement and supply, employee relations, and global business development and alliances.

Press said, “Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body. This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler.”

Press spent 37 years with Toyota, where he most recently served as the first non-Japanese President of Toyota Motor North America Inc., responsible for sales, engineering and the company’s 15 manufacturing plants with 41,000 employees in North America. He was also the first non-Japanese executive selected to the Board of Directors of Toyota Motor Corporation.

During his tenure at Toyota, the company grew from an upstart new company selling 100,000 vehicles per year to the second largest auto company in the United States.

Press becomes a member of the Chrysler LLC Board of Directors and the Board of Managers of Cerberus Operations and Advisory Co. (COAC), LLC. Press joins LaSorda as Vice Chairman of COAC.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 06 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler Names James E. Press Vice Chairman and President

Chairman and CEO Robert L. Nardelli teams former Toyota chief with Vice Chairman and President Thomas W. LaSorda

- "World-class supply and demand leaders"

- Joins Nardelli and LaSorda in new Office of the Chairman and on Board of Directors of Chrysler LLC

- Press to run North American Sales, International Sales, Global Marketing, Product Strategy, and Service and Parts

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 06 2007, 09 AM)

Focus: HOPE raffle offers chance to win two Chargers

Imagine yourself driving a vintage 1968 Dodge Charger this fall and a brand new Charger come winter.

WCSX-FM Radio friends and listeners have generously restored a beautiful 1968 Dodge Charger and now they are raffling it off, along with a free two-year lease of a 2007 Dodge Charger, to benefit the Focus: HOPE Success Scholarship Program.

Raffle tickets are $25 each and can be ordered online at www.focushope.edu under news and events. The raffle is limited to 10,000 tickets and all proceeds go to benefit Focus: HOPE!

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 06 2007, 04 PM)

Nardelli to outline key initiatives for Chrysler today

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli will introduce his vision for the automaker today in a speech to the Automotive Press Association. It’s expected Nardelli’s theme will be drawn from the presentation he and Chrysler president Tom LaSorda delivered to key Chrysler executives at a recent corporate retreat.

According to sources inside the company, the speech will focus on what Nardelli called “the five initiatives" designed to improve the new Chrysler’s image and operations.

The initiatives are "Customer First," "Quality Period," "Going Global," "Be Green" and "Powered by Great People." During the executive meeting, Nardelli made it clear he wants these to become an integral part of Chrysler’s top-to-bottom culture.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 07 2007, 03 AM)

Dealers pleased by hiring of Jim Press

While they are still looking for steak to go with the sizzle, Chrysler dealers were generally upbeat after Thursday’s announcement that Cerberus had hired Jim Press away from Toyota.

The addition of Press to the top management team is likely to address dealer concerns over Cerberus’ decision to go outside the auto industry and bring in Bob Nardelli to fill the top spot at the newly independent Chrysler. Press, whose career with Toyota spanned 37 years, is highly regarded in the industry for his for skills in sales and marketing.

Dealers in various parts of the country responded positively to the announcement. A dealer in the suburban Detroit said Press’ hiring could be the “best thing to ever happen” to Chrysler.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 07 2007, 05 AM)

Philip Murtaugh new CEO for Chrysler Asia

Chrysler LLC today named Philip Murtaugh as CEO – Asia Operations. In this role, Murtaugh will be responsible for all of Chrysler's Asian operations, including China and India. He will report to Michael Manley, Executive Vice President-International Sales.

Murtaugh was executive vice president of Chinese automaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC). SAIC is China's largest automotive company with sales of 1.3 million vehicles per year. SAIC has over 70 subsidiary companies in the automotive business, including well-known joint ventures with General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen.

Before joining SAIC, Murtaugh served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors China Group from June 2000 until April 2005. Based in Shanghai, he was responsible for the overall coordination of GM's extensive operations in mainland China and Taiwan. He also was a member of GM's Asia Pacific Strategy Board.

Murtaugh earlier served as Executive Vice President of Shanghai General Motors and General Manager of GM China's Shanghai representative office. He was part of the negotiating team and played a key role in the launch of Shanghai General Motors, GM's largest venture in China.

Since joining GM in 1973 as a General Motors Institute (GMI) student with Fisher Body, Murtaugh held several positions in production, manufacturing, die and metal stamping, and product planning in the United States, Japan and China. These include Director of manufacturing for GM Overseas Corporation-Japan, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of product planning at Isuzu Motors and President of IBC in Luton, England.

In addition to a bachelor's degree from GMI (now Kettering University), Murtaugh holds a master's degree in industrial management from Stanford University. A U.S. citizen, Murtaugh is married with four children.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 07 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler reports international sales up 26% in August

Chrysler international sales grew 26% last month, marking the best August in 10 years

* Record 27 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth

* Year-to-date sales increased 19 percent over 2006

* Sales for the Asia-Pacific region jumped 52 percent

* Latin American sales increased 36 percent

* All three Chrysler brands supported international sales growth in August

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 07 2007, 07 PM)

Nardelli: Brands will stay, but some models may go

Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep are here to stay, but some lines may be headed for the chopping block. That’s the word, according to Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, who spoke to the Automotive Press Association today. Nardelli declined to identify specific models that might be under review.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 07 2007, 09 PM) zzz

Nardelli says new team will be able to work together

Fresh from a month of raiding competing companies for high-profile talent, checking out products, visiting company facilities, and meeting with key groups, including employees, union leaders, dealers and suppliers, Bob Nardelli, Chrysler’s new CEO, made his first major public address yesterday.

In addition to the initiatives and goals reported earlier, one of the major issues Nardelli addressed on Friday was doubts that have been raised about his new team’s ability to work together. In just the past week, Chrysler scored a pair of major coups by hiring Jim Press away from Toyota and Phil Murtaugh from SAIC, China’s largest automaker. Reactions to the new hires were generally positive, but some worry so many industry all-stars could prove risky.

"I couldn't be surrounded by better leaders," Nardelli said following an Automotive Press Association luncheon. Chrysler’s head honcho believes the desire to achieve goals will override any potential ego clashes.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 08 2007, 07 AM)

Gettelfinger welcomes Ex-Toyota CEO to the family

On Friday, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger welcomed ex-Toyota CEO Jim Press to Chrysler, though it was a greeting Press might have been happy to forego.

Gettelfinger has spent years trying to bring workers at plants owned by foreign automakers into the UAW.

During a question-and-answer session with the Detroit Economic Club at the Masonic Temple, he had a chance to comment on Chrysler’s high-profile new hire.

"I think it's a great move on Chrysler's part. I certainly want to welcome Mr. Press to the Chrysler family and to the UAW," he said, smiling broadly and bringing laughs from the crowd.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 08 2007, 07 AM)

UAW's Gettelfinger leaves DCAG board

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has left his seat on DaimlerChrysler’s supervisory board. His departure was effective September first. Gettelfinger’s departure was expected after the DaimlerChrysler sold the majority of its interest in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management last month.

While on the board, the equivalent of a board of directors in a U.S. company, Gettelfinger represented the company's workers and labor groups. During his term, Gettelfinger declined any compensation in accordance with union ethics rules. He would have been eligible for about $37,000 per year.

IG Metall, a key German labor group, has nominated Valter Sanches to replace Gettelfinger. Sanches, a Brazilian, was a most recently a member of the DaimlerChrysler’s World Employee Council.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 10 2007, 10 AM)

Ghosn: Chrysler sale will increase competition

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance, says the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management will make the U.S. auto market more competitive.

"With talent and money and know-how a lot of things can happen," Ghosn said, referring to Cerberus’ willingness to spend the money to attract top managers.

He said he still favored having a North American partner for Renault-Nissan but last year’s failed attempt to persuade GM to join the alliance showed him the timing was not right.

Ghosn’s remarks came during a news conference at the IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. The show opens to the press tomorrow.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 10 2007, 01 PM)

Arizona Mopar show scheduled for October 13

Mopars Unlimited of Arizona is hosting its second show of the year, Phoenix in the Fall, on Saturday October 13, 2007 on the upper deck of the garage at Bill Luke at I-17 and Camelback Road in Phoenix. Preregistration is $25, and any Mopars that are Mopar-powered or any Mopar-branded vehicles that are powered by an engine that was sold in them new are allowed. The show also accepts vehicles from the companies that were bought by Chrysler, including AMC, Nash, Hudson, and Dodge Brothers. The benefit charity is the Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 10 2007, 07 PM)

Toyota's Watanabe sad to see Press go

Interviewed at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt, Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe commented on the departure of former Toyota America president Jim Press, who left a 37-year career with the Japanese automaker to join Bob Nardelli and Tom LaSorda at Chrysler.

Speaking through a translator, Watanabe said he was saddened by Press’ move but he believed Chrysler was assembling a strong management team which would benefit the U.S. industry.

"Press-san joined Toyota more than 30 years ago and understood and shared our philosophy. In that context, he was scouted by another company," said Watanabe.

Speaking about the new Chrysler, Watanabe went on to say "the more aggressive they become, the better. The ownership has changed, there's a new management team, they're more aggressive and they're becoming stronger. We welcome this change. This is a beneficial trend."

He added that he did not think Press' departure would have a big effect on Toyota. "We have many talented people in the United States," Watanabe noted, adding the company is grooming new managers.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 11 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler Frankfurt introductions

Chrysler debuted the export Grand Voyager and restyled 300C today in Frankfurt.

The new Chrysler Grand Voyager features both the Swivel ’n Go™ seating system that enables a new level of family or business communications in the second and third rows, and a one-touch power folding third-row seat – both unique features.

Swivel ’n Go offers second-row seats that swivel 180 degrees to face the third row and a removable table that installs between the two rows, covered storage bins in the floor of the second row, third-row uncovered storage and fold-in-the-floor third-row seating. The industry-exclusive Stow ’n Go™ seating and storage system is standard, and the power folding third-row seat is available with either second-row seat system.

Available comfort and convenience features include a new, removable sliding front console that is large enough to store a purse; heated first- and second-row leather or cloth seats; rear-view interior conversation mirror; YES Essentials stain-resistant, odour-resistant, anti-static cloth fabric; a removable flashlight in the rear quarter panel; first- and second-row power windows; second- and third-row retractable sun shades; power sliding doors; power liftgate with power button on the key fob and rear pillar; ambient halo lighting; movable, pinpoint LED reading lamps; map lights and a tri-zone heating and cooling system.

Debuting for the first time is the six-speed automatic transaxle that will be available in markets outside North America with both the 3.8-litre V-6 petrol and the 2.8-litre turbo diesel engines.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager will be available in LX, Touring and Limited models, and will arrive in Europe and other markets outside North America starting in the first quarter of 2008.

The restyled Chrysler 300C Sedan and Touring make their first European appearance today at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. The dramatic exterior design of the 300C has been refreshed with minor changes to the rear fascias and taillamps. The 300C Sedan and Touring now feature a rear deck lid with an SRT-inspired integrated spoiler and high-mounted stop light.
The interior design of the Chrysler 300C has been enhanced with a new instrument panel and centre console; soft touch surfaces on armrests and door panels; LED lit front cupholders and map pockets; optional hard drive music system; and optional Boston Acoustics eight-speaker 5.1 matrix surround sound stereo. Seat mounted air bags have been added to the front and rear side-curtain air bags for increased driver and passenger safety.

The Chrysler 300C Sedan and Touring continue to be available with four engines: the 2.7-litre V-6, 3.5-litre V-6, 5.7-litre HEMI® V-8 and 3.0-litre V-6 turbo diesel. The 300C Sedan and Touring are the only vehicles in Europe’s E-segment to offer a fuel-saving Multi-Displacement System (MDS) as standard on a V-8 engine.

The newest Chrysler 300C SRT8 models have also gained a fresh new exterior and richer interior. The 300C SRT8 models still feature a 6.1-litre HEMI V-8 engine.

The restyled Chrysler 300C family will be available in Europe and other markets outside North America starting at the end of 2007.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 11 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler vehicles make cheap-to-repair list

The Car Book priced out nine items likely to need repairs in the first 100,000 miles and used those prices to build an index. All five of the lowest repair cost vehicles are Chrysler LLC vehicles: Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Ram Pickup and Chrysler PT Cruiser. The five most expensive to repair are all foreign-made and include the Chrysler Crossfire and Toyota Avalon. The largest difference was between the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes M-Class; replacing all nine items would cost $1,584 on the Jeepp and $4,011 on the Mercedes.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 11 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler to host MSP tests this Saturday

On Saturday, September 15, the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG) will host the 2008 Michigan State Police Vehicle Evaluation. The MSP program will highlight the opening of CPG’s newly renovated high-speed oval test track.

The annual MSP evaluations test police and special-service packages in a variety of areas, including acceleration, braking, top speed and “officer-friendly” ergonomics. They are among the most influential industry benchmarks and are used in law enforcement agency purchasing decisions from coast-to coast.

This year’s test program includes twenty different vehicles, including cars and light trucks made by Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and motorcycles from BMW and Harley-Davidson. The evaluations are conducted by members of the Michigan State Police Vehicle Test Team.

The MSP tests are designed to measure the suitability of each reviewed vehicle for specific duties, like general patrol and pursuit. The MSP does not offer awards or make specific recommendations but it does compare results of like vehicles. The 2008 Dodge Charger will be defending its performance marks and its results will be a key part of its adoption by more agencies.

More than 200 observers from various municipal, county and state police agencies will be on hand for the program which runs from 2 to 4 PM. The trials will be followed by the official opening of the CPG high speed oval at 4:00 PM.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 12 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler workers stage walkout for solidarity

Nearly a thousand Chrysler union designers and engineers walked out during their lunch hour yesterday to oppose job cuts that could come with the new contracts that are now being negotiated.

Jeff Hagler, president of UAW Local 412, said the salaried workers from Chrysler's technical center gathered in front of the main office building in a show of union solidarity and to let the automakers know union workers have had "enough of job cuts." The action was not intended to disrupt Chrysler operations.

"We're getting closer to deadline and we want to make sure that our membership knows where our position stands," Hagler said.

Chrysler wants to outsource maintenance positions, a move that would leave up to 300 members out of work, Hagler said, adding the local was notified about the possible losses two months ago.

Local 412 represents about five thousand salaried and skilled trades workers and outsourcing is a hot topic for the UAW because it often means a loss of union jobs.

Chrysler officials could not be reached for comment.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 13 2007, 08 AM)

2008 minivans start up at St. Louis plant

The St. Louis plant has now joined Windsor, Ontario in making the 2008 minivans.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 13 2007, 09 AM)

Cerberus looks to add Ford luxury brands

Chrysler could be trading a German stablemate for a pair of Brits, if Cerberus has its way.

Cerberus Capital Management LLC, Chrysler’s new owner, is one of the groups vying to buy Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company. Ford’s last British brands are on the block and the Dearborn-based automaker doesn’t plan to retain any ownership in either. This is in contrast to the agreement between Cerberus and DaimlerChrysler where Stuttgart retained a minority position in Chrysler.

"We're selling the business because we need the money and we need the focus," said Lewis Booth, head of Ford’s European operations. "So, we're not going out there with the intention of keeping an equity stake."

During an address to European analysts at the Frankfurt International Auto Show, Booth said Ford has asked prospective buyers to submit their final proposals by the end of the month and hopes to complete the sales by the end of the year.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 13 2007, 09 AM)

New Dodge ads reach out to women and minorities

Dodge will reach out to women and minorities in its new brand marketing campaign. The new media programs were introduced yesterday, along with the new 2008 Caravan.

Shifting away from its traditionally male-oriented promotion, Dodge is replacing “Grab Life by the Horns” with a simpler, more inclusive “Grab Life” theme. The campaign will focus on people and how they “Make the most of every mile” in their Dodge cars and trucks.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 14 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler off hot seat as UAW targets GM

Chrysler got an indefinite extension on its four-year contract with the UAW as the union selected General Motors to be the lead company in creating a new agreement. Sources say GM was picked because it is in better financial shape than Chrysler or Ford. Lower-level negotiations will continue at Chrysler and Ford, but the major issues facing the union and automakers will be ironed out at GM and set a pattern for agreements at the other two.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 14 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler recalls SUVs, Avengers, Sebrings

Chrysler is recalling nearly 300,000 SUVs because of reported braking problems while driving uphill. The recall includes more than 156,000 2006-2007 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees and Commanders, more than 90,000 2007 Jeep Wranglers and nearly 50,000 2007 Dodge Nitros.

Max Gates, a company spokesman, said Chrysler had received about twenty complaints of drivers experiencing a delay in braking when they tried to stop their vehicles after coasting uphill. There has been one crash associated with the problem, but no injuries have been reported. Under the recall, Chrysler will reprogram the antilock brake system’s computer. Owners of vehicles affected will be notified by mail beginning later this month.

Chrysler will also recall 72,333 of its 2008 Dodge Avenger sedans and Chrysler Sebring convertibles because of issues with the front door latches and locks. Gates said the company discovered the problems through its own internal monitoring program. No accidents or injuries have been reported and Chrysler will notify owners about what they need to do to obtain any necessary repairs next month.

Owners of the recalled vehicles can get more information by calling Chrysler toll-free at (800) 853-1403.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 14 2007, 11 PM)

Dodge auctioning first Challengers

The first two all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger vehicles off the Brampton (Ontario) Assembly Plant production line will be auctioned, with proceeds benefiting local charities. The Dodge Challenger will make its worldwide debut at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6, 2008.

The vehicles to be auctioned for charity will all be SRT-8 models. Each will feature a HEMI® Orange exterior, hood stripes, a 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 engine, and a five-speed automatic transmission with Autostick®.

Proceeds from Dodge Challenger No. 1 will benefit notMYkid, an organization dedicated to facilitating improved understanding about youth behavioral health issues including suicide, drug abuse, eating disorders and depression. Dodge Challenger No. 1 will be auctioned at the 37th annual Barret-Jackson Collector Car Auction Event in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jan. 12-20, 2008.

Proceeds from Dodge Challenger No. 2 will benefit the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, through a private auction for Dodge dealers. The auction begins Sept. 26.

Information about the third Challenger to be auctioned via eBay.com will be announced at a later date.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 17 2007, 09 AM)

2008 Town & Country reviewed

Allpar has posted an initial review of the 2008 Town & Country with swivel seats, based on their three-day test; the review will be updated after the van has been tested for a full seven days. The URL is http://www.allpar.com/reviews/2008/minivans.html

Reported by DaveAdmin at (September 17 2007, 12 PM)

Lick your way to a Liberty!

Jeep has announced a sweet way to win a new 2008 Jeep Liberty: Lick your way through a chocolate-covered Jeep. On October 18, seven lucky chocoholics will each make their way through one of seven new Jeeps specially coated for the event. The two contestants who finish first will then head for a new Jeep Liberty filled with wrapped candies and the race will be on to see who will be the first to find the keys buried in the confections.

Individuals interested in celebrating Sweetest Day the Jeep Way can register for a chance to participate online at www.SweetestDayTheJeepWay.com, beginning today and continuing until Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. (EDT). All participants must be 18 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license and must be legal residents of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 18 2007, 02 PM)

Kerkorian loses again; court rejects appeal

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian lost another round in his long-running lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler AG. On Tuesday, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision from 2005 that found Daimler-Benz did not misrepresent its 1998 takeover of Chrysler Corporation as a "merger of equals."

In a case one attorney characterized as “doomed from the start,” Kerkorian, who was at one time Chrysler’s largest shareholder, has been suing DCAG to recover about $3 billion in share value he claimed was lost through misleading statements made by the company, especially those made following the transaction by DCAG’s then-CEO Jürgen Schrempp.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 19 2007, 06 AM)

Stone Souper Charger drawing is tonight!

If you bought your ticket for the WCSX/Focus: Hope Stone Souper Charger raffle, tonight’s the night!

WCSX 94.7 FM morning show personalities JJ and Lynne will be drawing the name of the winner at the end of a celebration to be held at One Radio Plaza in Ferndale, Michigan, from 6-8 this evening.

The winner will receive the completely restored 1968 Dodge “Stone Souper” Charger and a two-year lease on a new 2007 Charger.

WCSX and Focus:Hope invite you to bring your own classic ride to the event. Bring your checkbook, too, for a last chance to pick up one of the remaining raffle tickets or pick up one of the Stone Souper Charger tee shirts. All proceeds benefit the Focus: HOPE Scholarship Fund. Cut-off time for ticket purchases is 7:45 PM.

You can also meet JJ and Lynne, listen to some classic rock and enjoy on free hot dogs and beverages. The ladies from Hooters will be there along with free Hooter wings.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 20 2007, 03 PM)

Jim Press goes on the air: first public comments

Chrysler’s new marketing and sales boss was on the air in Detroit yesterday. In an interview on local radio station WJR-AM, vice chairman and president Jim Press made his first public comments since his surprise departure from Toyota Motor Corporation two weeks ago.

Wednesday was his first official day on the job and Press, who is 60, noted it was time for a major career move.

"This is a chance to not sit by the window and watch things happen but be part of making history, making things happen," Press told WJR's Paul Smith. "The timing couldn't be better. The U.S. auto market is going to come back and come back strong."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 21 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler recalls Jeeps for brake problem

Chrysler is recalled 28,755 Jeep Commanders and Grand Cherokees built from May 17 to July 13. The company needs to replace front brake calipers that may have been made with the wrong type of metal.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall includes both 2007 and 2008 models.

Chrysler says some brake calipers installed during the period covered by the recall may have been made with gray iron instead of ductile iron. Gray iron could fracture, increasing stopping distance and possibly causing an accident. A Chrysler spokesman says the company has not received any reports of accidents involving the components.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 21 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler pays extra to keep vendors afloat

Chrysler is helping suppliers stay in business. Simon Boag, the company’s new purchasing chief, said Chrysler is paying higher prices for some of its parts to keep their manufacturers out of bankruptcy.

Boag wouldn’t identify specific companies or components, but many companies that supply the Detroit automakers are caught between higher materials costs and declining revenues as sales volumes dwindle. There have been a number of high-profile bankruptcies and even liquidations in the past few years as cash-strapped vendors have lost the battle to remain financially viable.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 22 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler pays extra to keep vendors afloat

Chrysler is helping suppliers stay in business. Simon Boag, the company’s new purchasing chief, said Chrysler is paying higher prices for some of its parts to keep their manufacturers out of bankruptcy.

Boag wouldn’t identify specific companies or components, but many companies that supply the Detroit automakers are caught between higher materials costs and declining revenues as sales volumes dwindle. There have been a number of high-profile bankruptcies and even liquidations in the past few years as cash-strapped vendors have lost the battle to remain financially viable.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 22 2007, 10 AM)

Stech named to lead Chrysler Russia

Chrysler has named John Stech as the head of Chrysler Russia LLC. Beginning November 1, 2007, Stech will be in charge of operations including sales, marketing, aftersales and finance at Chrysler’s new Russian operation. He will report to Jon Holcomb, Director of Chrysler Group Africa, Asia, Middle East and Central/Eastern Europe.

Since 2006 Stech has been CEO of DaimlerChrysler Egypt where he manages the sales, marketing and aftersales of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge light vehicles and Mercedes-Benz passenger car brands. He is also a member of the board of the Arab American Vehicles CKD production facility outside Cairo which builds Jeeps for the Egyptian military. Prior to his posting in Egypt, Stech held a number of senior management positions with Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz. Stech earned a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and German at Bucknell University and received an MBA from the University of New Hampshire.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 24 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler offers biodiesel incentive to NBB members.

Chrysler is teaming with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) to promote the use of diesel-powered vehicles and renewable biodiesel fuel.

Chrysler is offering a special discount program to NBB members in the U.S who buy or lease a new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge product. There is a special emphasis on the new diesel Dodge Ram heavy duty pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Chrysler diesel-powered vehicles are approved to use B5 (5% biodiesel fuel) and the automaker has approved the use of B20 by fleet customers who follow Chrysler fuel quality specifications.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 24 2007, 11 AM)

UAW goes on strike

Members of the United Auto Workers walked off the job at GM plants Monday as the union launched a nationwide strike.

A GM spokesman says the company has enough parts to continue production for a short time.

Workers at Chrysler and Ford facilities are not affected, as the union continued their contracts indefinitely while negotiating an agreement with General Motors that would serve as a pattern for the other two U.S. automakers.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 24 2007, 12 PM)

White House, DOT lobby against California law

The major automakers have been spending millions on lobbying and other efforts to prevent implementation of California’s newly-enacted tailpipe emissions standards. Now it appears they have been getting some help from the Bush administration.

According to a letter from U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), the White House and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters engineered a lobbying effort to persuade members of Congress to oppose the Golden State’s request to set its own limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The White House approved a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort to block California from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles," Waxman wrote to the White House yesterday. "I'm writing to ask you to repudiate these efforts."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 25 2007, 03 PM)

Mopar names Top Eliminator winners

Mopar Performance Parts and the editors of Mopar Muscle, Mopar Action and Mopar Collector's Guide have selected the final four 2007 Top Eliminator award winners. Mopar developed the year-long program to recognize the most passionate and skilled Mopar enthusiasts and their restored or modified cars.

"These four Top Eliminator award winners, as well as the three winners we chose at Chryslers at Carlisle, Mopars at the Strip and Detroit AutoRama, did an outstanding job modifying or restoring their vehicles," said David Hakim, Program Manager of Mopar Performance Parts. Hakim added, "The work done by all seven Top Eliminator award winners attending this year's SEMA Show shows the passion that represents our Mopar brand."

The seven winners and their vehicles will attend this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas on Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2007.

Top Eliminator Award Winners:

Mopar Performance Parts Winner: Mike Ege of Cornelius, N.C. and his 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340

Mopar Muscle Winner: Mark Halbach of Janesville, Iowa and the 1970 Plymouth HEMI 340 'Cuda he transformed into a HEMICudzter.

Mopar Collector's Guide Winner: George Sergakis of Grand Island, NY's restored rare 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda 440-6BBL.

Mopar Action Winner: Robert Motz of Holland, Ohio for his restored 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 26 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler a wild card in union talks

Chrysler is an unknown factor in the remaining contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers.

The new contract terms hammered out by General Motors and the UAW would typically serve as the pattern for new agreements at Chrysler and Ford, but Chrysler’s new status as a privately-owned company controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, which is a private investment firm focused on generating value for its portfolio, could break the traditional mold.

"The problem with Chrysler is it will depend on what Cerberus wants," according to Gary Chaison, a labor professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Chaison added. "I don't know if Cerberus wants to invest long term in a VEBA. They're really a wild card."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (September 27 2007, 01 PM)

Pundits predict September sales shortfall

The September numbers aren't due until tomorrow, but industry prognosticators are already saying the news won’t be good.

While nobody thinks the two-day GM strike will have any real impact, rising fuel prices, the weak housing market and tightening of credit for new car purchases will continue to depress the market. Some analysts now say 2007 could be the weakest year for U.S. light vehicle sales since 1998.

Himanshu Patel with JPMorgan says sales will be off 4% compared to last year. Jesse Toprak, chief economist for Edmunds.com, thinks the number will be closer to 4.5%, but notes that percentage will adjust to a 0.7% Daily Sales Rate (DSR) decline because September 2007 had one less selling day than September 2006.

Toprak predicts a Chrysler will see a volume decline of 10.3%, which will adjust to 6.7%. He believes Chrysler will report 152,000 sales for September, giving it an 11.8% market share for the month. That’s down from its 12.5% share in September 2006 but up slightly from 11.4% in August 2007. Patel doesn’t assign a number but also expects Chrysler sales to be down.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 01 2007, 08 AM)

Karmann cutting jobs

Facing the loss of some major contracts, Karmann, the German bodymaker that builds the Chrysler Crossfire convertible, has announced it will cut about a quarter of its workforce. Karmann says the cuts will affect 1,770 employees out of a total workforce of 7,000 people.

The cuts announced Monday will include 870 positions at the company's main plant in Osnabrueck. Another 900 workers will be let go next year at Karmann’s facility in Rheine when Audi AG moves production of its A4 Cabriolet in-house. That’s 90% of the entire staff at the Rheine plant.

Karmann will lose the Crossfire in 2008 and the Mercedes CLK a year later. Karmann's other customers include Porsche, Renault and Nissan.

The company warns another 2,000 jobs may be lost at its bodyworks in Osnabrueck if it can’t sign new major contracts by next year.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 01 2007, 09 AM)

Jeep gets Army contract

Chrysler International Corp. was awarded a $38 million contract for commercial Wrangler long wheelbase Jeeps, diesel engines, transmissions, and transfer cases by the U.S. Army Tank - Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Michigan. The contract was initiated in June 2006, and delivery is due by February 2008.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 02 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler LLC September 2007 U.S. Sales Down 5 Percent

As with GM and Ford, Chrysler has deliberately cut fleet sales. For September 2007, though, retail sales have increased over the prior year; with fleet sales included, sales fell by about 5%. Jeep Wrangler continued to turn in stellar performance, and dealer inventories fell 15% vs September 2006.

Chrysler LLC reported U.S. sales for September 2007 of 159,799 units.

"With the overall industry down versus September 2006, Chrysler retail sales remain strong," said Darryl Jackson, Vice President - U.S. Sales. "Our fleet sales continue to trend down more than 20 percent driving the overall sales decrease for the month. This is directly in line with our plan to reduce daily rental fleet during the second half of the year."

Chrysler brand car sales were led by Sebring Sedan which posted sales of 4,418 units and Sebring Convertible which finished the month with sales of 1,639 units.

Jeep(R) brand sales were down 11 percent year-over-year with retail sales up and fleet down driven by planned fleet reductions, while Wrangler posted gains. Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited posted sales of 8,605 units, up 71 percent versus September 2006.

Dodge brand sales increased 5 percent over last year led by Dodge Ram which posted a gain of 20 percent. The all-new Dodge Nitro was up 2 percent over August 2007.
"Our sell down on 2007 models is going very well and in October we will continue to offer aggressive lease and retail payments for our customers," said Michael Keegan, Vice President - Volume Planning and Sales Operations. "We will extend the 0% APR offering for 60 months on more 2007 models through the end of the month."

Chrysler finished the month with 450,733 units of inventory, or a 71-day supply. Inventory is down by 15 percent compared to September 2006 when it was at 533,220 units.

       Chrysler LLC U.S. Sales Summary Thru September 2007

Month Sales DR % Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change Change

Sebring 6,057 1,664 279% 264%
300 9,231 10,632 -10% -13%
Crossfire 501 1,431 -64% -65%
PT Cruiser 6,140 10,675 -40% -42%
Aspen 3,875 734 449% 428%
Pacifica 4,183 7,446 -42% -44%
Town & Country 8,681 14,629 -38% -41%
CHRYSLER BRAND 38,668 47,211 -15% -18%
Compass 2,852 3,680 -19% -23%
Patriot 4,245 0 0% 0%
Wrangler 8,605 5,032 78% 71%
Liberty 6,830 12,367 -43% -45%
Grand Cherokee 10,419 11,034 -2% -6%
Commander 4,509 9,780 -52% -54%
JEEP BRAND 37,460 41,893 -7% -11%
Caliber 6,348 8,243 -20% -23%
Avenger 8,318 0 0% 0%
Charger 9,265 10,228 -6% -9%
Viper 24 110 -77% -78%
Magnum 3,628 3,668 3% -1%
Dakota 4,188 4,617 -6% -9%
Ram P/U 30,100 25,081 25% 20%
Caravan 10,417 18,493 -41% -44%
Durango 2,850 5,652 -48% -50%
Nitro 7,044 966 658% 629%
Sprinter 1,489 2,288 -32% -35%
DODGE BRAND 83,671 79,784 9% 5%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 159,799 168,888 -2% -5%

TOTAL CAR 40,053 33,716 24% 19%
TOTAL TRUCK 119,746 135,172 -8% -11%
Selling Days 25 26

Sales CYTD DR % Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change Change

Sebring 68,277 46,726 46% 46%
300 90,251 106,107 -15% -15%
Crossfire 8,290 7,381 12% 12%
PT Cruiser 77,383 106,114 -27% -27%
Aspen 22,468 734 2961% 2961%
Pacifica 42,874 60,885 -30% -30%
Town & Country 99,134 127,053 -22% -22%
CHRYSLER BRAND 408,677 455,000 -10% -10%
Compass 31,273 6,448 385% 385%
Patriot 27,612 0 0% 0%
Wrangler 92,549 54,234 71% 71%
Liberty 68,865 103,214 -33% -33%
Grand Cherokee 93,246 109,158 -15% -15%
Commander 50,124 64,829 -23% -23%
JEEP BRAND 363,669 337,883 8% 8%
Caliber 80,352 68,001 18% 18%
Avenger 59,148 0 0% 0%
Charger 89,490 87,768 2% 2%
Viper 348 1,113 -69% -69%
Magnum 22,342 32,646 -32% -32%
Dakota 41,376 61,473 -33% -33%
Ram P/U 276,978 275,225 1% 1%
Caravan 130,472 170,351 -23% -23%
Durango 37,511 53,417 -30% -30%
Nitro 55,789 966 5675% 5675%
Sprinter 11,193 16,777 -33% -33%
DODGE BRAND 806,477 835,065 -3% -3%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 1,578,823 1,627,948 -3% -3%

TOTAL CAR 407,534 394,407 3% 3%
TOTAL TRUCK 1,171,289 1,233,541 -5% -5%
Selling Days 230 230
Source: Chrysler LLC

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 02 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler down in September, but beats predictions

Put in the perspective of market expectations, Chrysler’s September sales weren't bad. Not as good as might be hoped; Chrysler did finish in the red compared to September 2006, but the shortfall was about half the ten-percent-plus deficit one analyst had predicted and sales were 7,000 units higher than he had expected. Adjusted for daily sales rate (DSR), Chrysler was only 1.6% behind its mark from last year.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 03 2007, 01 AM)

New Plymouth-Dodge stock car racing book

TOP SPEED: Dodge and Plymouth Stock Car Racing, by Frank Moriarty, begins with the corporation's first sales and earliest laps and covers the years through the NASCAR "Car of Tomorrow." This new book notes the machines that have made Chrysler's racing efforts successful, along with the men behind the wheel, including conversations with Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, and crew chief Harry Hyde. The book will be available at www.ironfistleadfoot.com .

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 03 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler to close Belvidere, Dundee plants for 2 weeks

Chrysler will close the Belvidere assembly plant in Illinois for two weeks beginning October 8. Chrysler’s Michele Tinson cited declining sales as the cause. The Belvidere factory builds the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot and employs 3,815 workers. Chrysler’s Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance joint venture in Dundee, Mich., which supplies engines to Belvidere, will shut down, as well, idling 380 workers, according to Dave Elshoff, a Chrysler spokesman.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 03 2007, 07 PM)

DaimlerChrysler is no more

After nine years, the company that was DaimlerChrysler is no more. After paying Ford Motor Company an undisclosed sum for the limited right to use the Daimler name, and in spite of protests over the dropping of the Benz name, DaimlerChrysler AG shareholders voted to change the name of the company to Daimler AG on Tuesday. The final tally was almost 99% in favor of the change, which was described by CEO Dieter Zetsche as a “new start.”

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 05 2007, 03 AM)

Chrysler idles more workers as light truck demand softens

To compensate for reduced demand of some light truck models, Chrysler plans temporary factorywide shutdowns at its Jefferson North, Warren Truck and Toledo North Assembly Plants, idling an undisclosed number of workers. Six other factories do not have any overtime scheduled for next week, including Conner Avenue, Sterling Heights, Newark, and St. Louis South in the U.S. and the Saltillo and Toluca plants in Mexico.

According to Michele Tinson, a manufacturing spokeswoman for Chrysler, Jefferson North, which builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander, and Warren Truck, which produces Dodge Ram and Dakota pickups, will be shut down for one week. A furlough is also scheduled at the Toledo North Assembly Plant, which has been cranking out new Jeep Libertys.

The latest closures come on top of recently announced shutdowns at the Belvidere Assembly Plant, where the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot are built, and the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant, which makes four-cylinder engines

"The closures reflect market conditions and a shift in demand," Tinson said. Jim Press, CEO for marketing and sales, has already said Chrysler is reevaluating its product line.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 05 2007, 04 AM)

Daimler name change extends to Freightliner, others

Just a day after the name change from DaimlerChrysler to just plain Daimler was approved, the German corporation announced to its employees that Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, and Thomas Built Buses - all acquired by Daimler - are now divisions of the past. The various truck divisions are being combined to form Daimler Trucks North America LLC.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 05 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler likely to be next in UAW contract talks

Chrysler is likely to be next up in the ongoing UAW contract negotiations. Even though the new contract union negotiators had worked out with GM has yet to be ratified by the rank-and-file, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger has already joined the ongoing discussions in Auburn Hills. The UAW represents about 49,000 Chrysler employees.

Both Chrysler and Ford had received indefinite extensions of their existing agreements while the bargaining sessions at GM progressed, but the GM contract is less likely to serve as the pattern for all three automakers that was previously the case. Both Chrysler and Ford have different goals than General Motors, which needed to address its obligations to its large number of retirees. Chrysler wants to reduce labor costs and Ford may not be financially able to meet the funding standards set by the GM contract.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 06 2007, 07 AM)

UAW sets Wednesday deadline for Chrysler talks

UAW leaders have given Chrysler an 11:00 AM Wednesday deadline to reach agreement on new contract. The notice, which is required by contract rules, came after the two sides made progress in their negotiations over the weekend.

The union wants a new Chrysler contract to be similar to the one recently crafted with General Motors, but Chrysler is likely going to be more reluctant to provide similar job guarantees. The company is going through its second restructuring since 2000 and recently announced temporary closures at several U.S. plants.

Chrysler definitely will be pushing for wage concessions. The company says it pays its 49,000 UAW workers an average of $75.86 per hour in wages and benefits. That is slightly more than comparable GM and Ford pay and more than $25 above what a U.S. worker receives from the leading Japanese automakers.

Healthcare funding may also be a stumbling block. Chrysler is already pushing for the same retiree healthcare concessions the UAW granted to Ford and GM in 2005 and may be unwilling to fund a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) at the same level as General Motors. One analyst notes how Chrysler handles this issue may be an indication of Cerberus’ future plans.

"Private equity firms are always interested in cash flow. They're not interested in big expenditures for a long-term gain. They're interested in making big expenditures for short-term benefit so they can get their investment back," said Global Insight's Aaron Bragman.

Neither Chrysler nor UAW spokespersons would comment on the negotiations other than to say talks were continuing.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 08 2007, 07 AM)

Chrysler sales up 10% outside U.S.

Chrysler reported a 10% increase in third-quarter sales outside the U.S. In a statement, the company said it sold 149,800 cars and light trucks between July 1 and September 30.

Canadian sales were up 2.8%, Mexican sales increased 5.5% and sales outside of North America jumped 20% driven by demand for Dodge and Jeep vehicles. Jeep Wrangler sales were almost double those from the same period in 2006.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 08 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler planning more white-collar job cuts

While it is negotiating a new contract with the United Auto Workers, Chrysler is also looking for savings by thinning its white-collar ranks.

The company is looking at cutting an additional 500 salaried positions, over and above the 2,000 non-union jobs included in the turnaround plan announced in February. In addition, Chrysler would chop about 1,100 contract positions, or one in three such jobs.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 09 2007, 04 AM)

Chrysler to kill VPA program

Chrysler will announce the end of its Volume Performance Allowance (VPA) program on Wednesday. The program rewards dealers who meet monthly sales volume goals with incentives of as much as $500 per vehicle sold. The announcement, which has been confirmed by a company spokesperson, is expected to be made at the Chrysler dealer meeting in Las Vegas.

Automotive News reports the VPA program is expected to be replaced on January 1, 2008, by a new program that pays dealers a flat $400 per vehicle, regardless of volume. This new incentive may be intended to replace not only the VPA itself, but earlier dealer incentives that were superseded by the VPA program.

The VPA program has been the subject of controversy with critics claiming dealers would try to meet the target by selling cars and trucks at a loss, especially at the end of the month. Conversely, dealers who did not believe they could meet the goal would focus their efforts on the following month’s target. This could cause late-month sales to be delayed in order to count against the new month’s quota. A study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University criticized the VPA, noting the program’s requirements were an unintended factor in Chrysler’s often uneven sales performance.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 09 2007, 10 PM)

UAW workers go on strike against Chrysler

Thousands of union employees headed for the picket lines as the United Auto Workers went out on strike against Chrysler. The strike was called after an 11:00 AM deadline passed without the two sides being able to reach an accord on a new contract.

Chrysler president Tom LaSorda and UAW president Ron Gettelfinger were personally heading up their negotiating teams in all-night talks, but several key issues remain to be resolved.

The UAW stopped short of declaring a general strike. Some plants that were already scheduled for temporary shutdowns, including Jefferson North, Connor Avenue, Belvidere, Warren and Newark, were excluded.

Chrysler had a 71-day supply of cars and trucks at the end of September, according to a recent company release, leading analysts to believe a short strike would have minimal impact on the company. However, production of key new vehicles, like the Chrysler minivans, would be interrupted and supplies of some vehicles could dry up in the event of a longer strike. The extremely popular Jeep Wrangler averages only 23 days on a dealer’s lot before it is sold. Paul Taylor, chief economist with the National Automobile Dealers Association, says if the strike lasts a month or more it would start to cut into Chrysler sales.

This is the second strike against a U.S. automaker this year. The union staged a 2-day strike against General Motors late last month. The last time the UAW called a strike against Chrysler during contract talks was in 1985.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 10 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler reaches tentative settlement with UAW

According to Chrysler president Tom LaSorda, Chrysler LLC and the UAW have reached a tentative agreement on a new national labor contract, covering approximately 45,000 represented employees. The agreement is subject to UAW member ratification.
The tentative agreement includes a memorandum of understanding to establish an independent retiree health care trust, as well as other changes to the national agreement. Following ratification, implementation of the memorandum of understanding is subject to approval by the courts and satisfactory review of accounting treatment with the Securities Exchange Commission.
The national agreement is consistent with the economic pattern, and balances the needs of our employees and company by providing a framework to improve our long-term manufacturing competitiveness. At this time, we cannot discuss specifics of the agreement pending a ratification vote - an internal UAW process.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 10 2007, 06 PM)

Chrysler announces more Q4 production cuts

Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press said the automaker will make cut 82,000 vehicles out of its fourth quarter production and that parent company Cerberus Capital Management will invest $3 billion in new product development. The production cuts will mean a loss of $1 billion in revenue but should trim inventory by 100,000 vehicles by the fall of 2008.

In his Wednesday comments, Press said Chrysler has been building vehicles people don’t want and described plans to broaden the company’s product line to add new vehicles while eliminating overlapping lines.

"We're still going through the process of studying the long-term strategic vision of what the company's product portfolio should look like in five, six, 10 years," he said. "We have a lot of products customers want that we can't build. We need to match these two things up."

Press singled out Jeep, describing it as a “bullet-proof brand” and said, "You have to be relentless in trying to stay not with but ahead of the competition." He went on to say that a car company must be "paranoid" to be successful. "It never stops."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 11 2007, 05 AM)

Stike ends as Chrysler, UAW reach tentative agreement

Just six hours after it began, the UAW’s strike against Chrysler was called off Wednesday afternoon. News of a tentative agreement was announced by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger shortly after 5:00 PM Eastern Time.

According to reliable sources, the quick end to the strike was due to the fact that much of the new agreement had already been ironed out when the strike began and the remaining issues were resolved in a few hours of additional negotiations.

Though details of the accord were not released, Chrysler President Tom LaSorda said the agreement "is consistent with the economic pattern" that was set in the GM pact. The means the company will fund a voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA) and granted certain job guarantees in exchange for wage and work classification concessions from the union. In addition, the company may have won the same healthcare concessions the UAW gave to Ford and GM in 2005.

Those close to the talks say Chrysler concessions on job security were not as generous as those offered by GM. Most of the guarantees are said to cover only current products and none will extend past 2011, when the UAW contract comes up for renewal.

Bloomberg News reported the Chrysler will fund up to $11 billion in the new VEBA, a concession that came as a surprise to industry analysts who were expecting resistance to such a large investment from Cerberus, a company they believe is looking for a short-term strategy to make Chrysler profitable in order to sell it, possibly to another automaker.

The new contract must now be presented to UAW members who can vote to accept or reject it.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 11 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler schedules board meeting for November

Chrysler LLC will hold a board meeting next month, according to Steve Landry, executive v-p of North American sales. The meeting, the automaker’s first as a private company, will address 2008 capital expenditures, among other issues. Cerberus Capital Management, owner of 80.1% of Chrysler, has said it plans to budget more than $3 billion for these expenses.

As a private company, Chrysler is not required to identify members of its board, but known members include CEO and chairman Bob Nardelli, vice chairmen Jim Press and Tom LaSorda and Gerd Becht, head of Daimler AG’s legal department, who was appointed to Chrysler's board in August

According to John Snow, Cerberus’ Chairman, there also will be outsiders on the Chrysler board, but company spokespersons have not mentioned any names.

A separate board will govern Chrysler Financial. A third entity, Chrysler Holding LLC, oversees Chrysler LLC and Chrysler Financial.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 15 2007, 05 AM)

Dodge Viper end-of-lifed?

The Dodge Viper appears to finally be reaching the end of its life, long after its original projected lifespan. According to the current UAW agreement, Chrysler will be closing the Connor Avenue facility during the contract's life - that is, through 2011. Competition in the supercar realm has become fierce, with both Ford and Chevrolet entering the Viper's performance envelope, and both Chevrolet and Dodge reportedly turning to McLaren for engine tuning. Sources have told us that the Viper used to turn a profit, but is now a cost center, with low marketing / image returns. It is still possible that the Viper will be made elsewhere or under contract.

Other plants to be closed include Jefferson North, which currently makes Grand Cherokees and Commanders; Newark Assembly, which makes the Durango and Aspen; and Detroit Axle, to be replaced by a Marysville plant.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 15 2007, 04 PM)

UAW leaders okay Chrysler contract: Members vote next

United Auto Workers leaders gave their approval to a tentative four-year contract with Chrysler at a closed-door meeting on Monday. The next step is presenting the agreement to the automaker’s 45,000 union employees for final ratification. UAW leaders hope the voting can be completed by Sunday, but concede it may be delayed by recent temporary shutdowns at some Chrysler facilities.

The majority of local presidents were in favor of the deal, but the voice vote was not unanimous. One source estimated as many as one-third of those voting rejected the contract.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 16 2007, 04 AM)

Mercedes diesel certified for California

In a move that could pave the way for future Chrysler diesel-powered vehicles, Mercedes-Benz USA began leasing E320 sedans equipped with its Bluetec diesel to a limited number of customers in California. The E320 is the first modern diesel-powered car to receive approval from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 16 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler contract vote may be delayed

Though some locals will begin casting ballots as early as today, a vote on the proposed new Chrysler contract with the United Auto Workers won’t be completed until next week.

Union President Ron Gettelfinger had expressed hopes the agreement would be ratified by Sunday, but shutdowns at some Chrysler facilities have complicated the process. This means some locals won’t be able to vote until as late as next Wednesday. It took two weeks for GM workers to approve their new contract, so the delay at Chrysler is not seen as a problem.

Despite some dissention, UAW leaders are confident the new package will be approved by the union’s rank-and-file membership.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 18 2007, 09 AM)

St. Louis North rejects new Chrysler contract

UAW members at Chrysler’s third-largest plant have rejected the proposed four-year contract with the automaker. Local 136, which represents workers at the St. Louis North Assembly plant, turned down the agreement by an 81% margin with two-thirds of the members voting.

Union leaders promoting acceptance of the new pact did score a victory as union members at the Kenosha Engine plant approved the deal by an 82% margin.

Opposition to the new contract has been fierce with one of the union’s key negotiators campaigning for its rejection. Bill Parker, president of Local 1700, has gone to the Internet to reach UAW members, saying, “This is a devastating break from the pattern.”

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and other union leaders are promoting acceptance of the new agreement. They are making phone calls and writing letters to local presidents, explaining the positive achievements of the negotiations.

Voting is not expected to be complete until sometime next week.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 19 2007, 07 AM)

Ram Chassis Cab rides to surprising success

According to R.L. Polk, the Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab has taken first place in retail registrations, in both July and August 2007, beating the usual favorite, Ford, as well as traditional #2 Chevrolet in the Class 2C-3 conventional chassis-cab market. In August 2007, 1,037 Dodges were sold vs. 984 Fords.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 20 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler contract may be in trouble

Hopes for a quick ratification of the new contract between the United Auto Workers have now been replaced by concerns that it will be ratified at all.

Workers at key Chrysler plants, including St. Louis North and Jefferson North, have voted to reject the Chrysler proposal, citing the lack of job guarantees and the new two-tier wage structure for new hires in non-assembly jobs.

As of this morning, despite heavy lobbying by union leadership, including UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, 11,000 Chrysler workers have voted against the agreement and only about 6,000 have voted for it. It has been 25 years since the UAW last rejected a contract. That one was a 1982 proposed agreement with Chrysler.

Voting at various Chrysler plants will continue through this week. If the agreement is defeated, the UAW has several options: it can call a strike against Chrysler; resume negotiations to see if the current agreement can be adjusted to make it more palatable; or it can put Chrysler on the back burner and reopen talks with Ford.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 22 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler contract narrowly ahead; ratification still uncertain

While the new Chrysler-UAW contract is facing heavy going at the automaker’s larger plants, enough members at smaller locals have voted in favor of the pact to put the current tally slightly in the black. Officials estimate that about 48.7% of the union’s total Chrysler membership has voted and just over 50% of the votes have been in favor of the agreement.

Ratification is not a done deal, by any means. Workers at two of the three remaining large plants, Belvidere Assembly, Sterling Heights and Warren Truck, must approve the contract to ensure passage and Bill Parker, president of Local 1700 at Sterling Assembly, has been one of the contract’s leading opponents. Employees at Belvidere Assembly Local 1268, whose president, Tom Littlejohn, is also opposed to the agreement, are expected to reject the contract when they vote on Friday. The members of Belvidere’s Local 1268 have been on furlough and will be the last group to cast their ballots.

Should the contract be turned down by a narrow margin, a strike is not automatic. Chrysler LLC management may consider a close vote a union issue and ask for a revote. The union can agree or explore other options, including tabling the Chrysler agreement and reopening negotiations with Ford.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 23 2007, 08 AM)

Kokomo clobbers Chrysler contract

Leaders of the United Auto Workers have taken another hit in their efforts to get a new 4-year contract with Chrysler ratified. Members of both union locals in Kokomo, Indiana, including the largest Chrysler local in the U.S., have voted against acceptance of the proposed contract.

Local 685, representing 4,500 workers at three Kokomo, Indiana transmission plants, gave a thumbs-down to the agreement today. A reported 72% of the 3,150 members who voted opposed the pact.

The margin of defeat was even higher, 78 percent, at Local 1166. Its 800 members work at Kokomo Casting and 751 voted.

As of today, the proposed contract has been turned down by nine Chrysler locals, representing a total of almost 16,400 members. It’s been okayed by seventeen locals, with a combined membership of roughly 11,500 members. However, since the final results are based on total voting of Chrysler’s 45,000 UAW employees, the actual vote tallies are currently almost evenly split.

The contract’s fate could be determined as early as tomorrow as members of four Detroit-area locals make their decisions. The voting continues through Friday, when members of Local 1268 at Belvidere Assembly cast their ballots.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 23 2007, 11 PM)

Chrysler contract wins key approvals

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger can breathe a sigh of relief. He and other union leaders won a key victory on Wednesday as members at Warren Truck Assembly, Warren Stamping, Sterling Heights Assembly and Sterling Heights Stamping approved the proposed new contract with Chrysler. The four locals voting yesterday represent about 9,000 of Chrysler 45,000 union employees.

After Tuesday’s losses at Chrysler locals in Kokomo, Indiana, the fate of the new pact was in doubt with some saying the total votes were almost evenly split. Wednesday’s results make ratification of the contract more likely, thought it’s unlikely the Chrysler deal will receive the same 66% approval the UAW gave its new contract with GM.

Despite outspoken opposition by local president Bill Parker, 65% of the members of Sterling Heights Assembly Local 1700 voted in favor of the new agreement. The margin was even higher at Local 140, which represents workers at the Warren Truck plant, as 78% of the voting members cast their ballots for ratification. Officials at Local 869 estimated about 75% of Warren Stamping’s union workers approved the contract.

The results at Local 1264 were overwhelming. Early results showed 87% of the ballots cast were positive. Local 1264 represents approximately 1800 workers at the Sterling Heights Stamping plant.

The new contract’s next major challenge comes tomorrow when workers at the Belivdere Assembly Plant vote on the deal. Getting approval from Local 1268 could be difficult because the membership includes many temporary workers who were not addressed in the new agreement.

Since ratification requires a majority of all votes cast, final results will probably not be known until the weekend.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 25 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler name Douglas Betts as new customer advocate

Chrysler has appointed Douglas D. Betts as Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. The new position will be responsible for corporate quality and will report directly to Jim Press, Chrysler Vice Chairman and President. Betts' appointment, announced today, is effective immediately.

The new position replaces VP of Corporate Quality. Stephen M. Walukas, who had held that position, will assume a new executive role in Chrysler’s Procurement and Supply organization.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 26 2007, 12 PM)

Chrysler K-Car Club to host second meet in Van Nuys

The second Chrysler K Car Show is in 15 days, at the Fall Fling 2007 Mopar show in Van Nuys, CA. For more information, log onto http://www.chryslerkcar.com/upcoming_events.htm.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 26 2007, 07 PM)

UAW narrowly approves Chrysler contract

The United Auto Workers have ratified a new four-year contract with Chrysler by a slim margin. According to union officials, 56% of production and 51% of skilled trades employees voted in favor of the agreement. The pact received more votes among office and clerical workers, who approved the new deal by a 94% margin, and union engineers, 79% of who voted for approval.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 27 2007, 02 PM)

Jalopnik catches SEMA Mopars ahead of schedule

Jalopnik caught the 392-powered, Prowler-like roadster on its way to SEMA, where it will be one of several Chrysler exhibits. This roadster was built by Chrysler's Mopar Underground SEMA design team and Quality Metalcraft, which owns AEV, makers of Jeep conversion kits.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 29 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler adds new M&A executive

Chrysler added another industry outsider to another new executive position on Monday. L. John Cataldo is the new Vice President of Business Development and Mergers & Acquisitions reporting to Tom LaSorda.

Cataldo is a 13-year veteran of General Electric, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli’s old stomping grounds, where he was general manager in charge of strategy and marketing for one of the company’s business units.

In his new job, Cataldo will be responsible for leading all major worldwide business development activities. These would include strategic alliances, partnerships, joint ventures and what Chrysler described as “key multi-region, product-related programs.” Cataldo’s job will likely also entail exploring possible sale or merger opportunities with another automaker, which analysts believe is a key goal of Cerberus Capital Management, majority owner of Chrysler.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 30 2007, 02 AM)

Chrysler board expected to axe three models

Chrysler’s board is expected to lower the boom on at least three slow-moving models when it has its first meeting under new CEO Bob Nardelli today.

While company officials will not confirm the agenda of today’s meeting, members of the board will likely kill the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Dodge Magnum and may vote to end production of the Jeep Commander, which has seen its sales drop by 23% this year. These moves have been widely expected.

The actions are the first to be taken as part of a major reevaluation of Chrysler’s product line and product mix begun after Cerberus hired Nardelli as Chrysler’s CEO. The program was speeded up with the addition of Jim Press as a Chrysler vice chairman and company president.

Nardelli is not wasting any time in trimming what he sees are unproductive lines, even though it might be fair to say the company is terminating the PT Cruiser because it has no idea how to produce a viable successor. The Pacifica and Magnum, on the other hand, have never lived up to Chrysler’s expectations for them and the Commander was introduced just as the market for full-size traditional SUVs began to implode.

Chrysler’s future product line will reflect Nardelli’s focus on global growth. Although Chrysler has retained its domestic market share better than either Ford or General Motors, it is the weakest of the three in the international market. Industry watchers expect Nardelli to seek out foreign suppliers and manufacturing sources as a way to reduce costs and increase worldwide light vehicle sales.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 30 2007, 03 AM)

Chrysler board cuts jobs and car lines

At their first meeting since the sale of Chrysler became final, the company’s board reportedly approved new job cuts and axed four vehicle lines at its meeting on Tuesday. The board also gave approval to factory shift reductions to reduce inventories and realign production with market demand.

The personnel cuts are expected to include at least a thousand salaried workers and would be in addition to the two thousand jobs previously announced as part of the company’s turnaround plan. Chrysler management also wants to cut more contract employees and is considering additional reductions in its number of hourly manufacturing jobs. Eleven thousand manufacturing jobs are already on the chopping block.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Chrysler board voted to drop the Chrysler Crossfire Coupe, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible, and Dodge Magnum. The Jeep Commander, which had been mentioned as an additional candidate for termination, was apparently spared. There was no word on when the lines would be discontinued.

Confirmation of the board’s actions is expected later today.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 31 2007, 05 AM)

Chrysler's SEMA cars

Allpar now has photos and information on the cars and trucks displayed by Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep at SEMA. We should have more from our correspondent on the scene later.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 31 2007, 01 PM)

Lyons to appear on streaming video, TV

Larry Lyons, the vice president of front-wheel-drive products at Chrysler, will be appearing on the television show Autoline Detroit this Sunday. Topics covered include the styling, sales and production of Chrysler's new minivans, a bit about the VW version of this van, and the future of Chrysler's midsize cars.

The show will air nationally on Speed Channel, Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 7 AM EST. It will be re-broadcast on Wednesday, November 7 at 10:30 AM EST, and streamed on www.AutolineDetroit.tv so anyone can watch it online.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (October 31 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler cuts commence one day after board meeting

Hundreds of Chrysler contract workers were let go today. The terminations represented about a third of the 1,100 contract positions the company plans to eliminate by the end of the year. The balance of the cuts will take place in November and December.

These were the first cuts following a Tuesday meeting of the Chrysler board where members approved plans to trim white-collar and contract positions and drop a reported four car lines. Company management believes the reductions are necessary to bring headcount and production in line with actual consumer demand for Chrysler products.

The plan also includes elimination of some shifts at Chrysler plants. The Toledo North Assembly Plant, which builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, is said to be one of the facilities likely to lose a shift.

Company spokespersons have still not confirmed the reported decision to drop the Chrysler Crossfire, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Dodge Magnum.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 31 2007, 06 PM)

Chrysler trimmed incentives in October

Chrysler no longer tops the big spenders list. According to Edmunds.com’s Estimated True Cost of Incentives, Chrysler spent an average of $3,171 per vehicle sold in October; $37.00 less than Ford and $53.00 more than General Motors.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (October 31 2007, 09 PM)

Chrysler announces new plans

Chrysler LLC today announced that it would make volume-related reductions at several of its North American assembly and powertrain plants, and eliminate four products from its line-up.

Shifts will be eliminated at five North American assembly plants which, combined with other volume-related manufacturing actions, will lead to a reduction of 8,500-10,000 additional hourly jobs through 2008.

Additional actions include reductions of salaried employment by 1,000 and supplemental (contract) employment by 37 percent. The Company also plans to eliminate hourly and salaried overtime and reduce purchased services due to reduction in volume.

The volume-related actions are in addition to 13,000 jobs eliminated by the three-year Recovery and Transformation Plan (RTP) announced in February. The objectives of the RTP remain the same.

"The market situation has changed dramatically in the eight months since Chrysler established the Recovery and Transformation Plan as its blueprint," said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Annual industry volume (U.S. market) then was running at a 17.2 million clip. Now, we expect a seasonally adjusted annual volume for 2007 to be significantly lower and carry over into 2008."

"We have to move now to adjust the way our company looks and acts to reflect a smaller market," added Tom LaSorda, Vice Chairman and President. "That means a cost base that is right-sized and an appropriate level of plant utilization."

LaSorda added that third-shift operations at assembly plants usually reflect a high demand after a product is launched. Three of the five plants affected by this action are the result of elimination of third shifts" in Belvidere, Illinois; Toledo, Ohio, and Brampton, Ontario.

In contract negotiations just concluded with the United Auto Workers, Chrysler committed to spending more than $15 billion on products, plants and engineering during the life of the contract through 2011.

The company announced that it will eliminate four models through 2008, including Dodge Magnum, the convertible version (only) of Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Crossfire. In the same time frame, Chrysler will add two all-new products to its portfolio: the Dodge Journey and Dodge Challenger, along with two new hybrid models, the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.

"These actions reflect our new customer-driven philosophy and allow us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products," added Jim Press, Vice Chairman and President. "Further, these product actions are all in response to dealer requests."

Manufacturing Actions

Chrysler will eliminate shifts at five assembly plants, and take further volume-related actions at several other facilities. It will:

Drop third-shift operations at Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. Belvidere builds the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.

Drop second-shift operations at its Jefferson North (Detroit, Mich.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. It's expected that the plant will return to two shifts in first quarter 2010 with the introduction of the next generation of sport-utility vehicles. The addition of a third shift will remain an option, depending on market demand. Jefferson North builds the Jeep® Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander.

Drop third-shift operations at the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. Toledo North builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro.

Drop third-shift operations at Brampton (Ontario) Assembly Plant in first quarter 2008. Brampton will build the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. The Dodge Magnum will be discontinued.

Drop second shift operations at Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant in first quarter 2008. Sterling Heights builds the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring sedans and Chrysler Sebring Convertible.

In addition, Mack Avenue (Detroit) Engine Plant II will return to a traditional two-shift / two-crew operation in the first quarter 2008 after operating on a three-crew, two-shift, 120-hour-per-week (3/2/120) schedule. Mack II builds the 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

"I'm confident that we have the right team in place and a business plan that doesn't need to be re-written," concluded Nardelli. "Like all good plans, the RTP has built-in flexibility that allows us to stay one step ahead of market change. And that is the way to long-term sustained profitability."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 01 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler kicks off Christmas on Nov. 17

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn Hills, will don its holiday finest for Cars, Trees & Traditions, a special exhibition featuring authentically decorated vintage trees, nostalgic ads, seasonal photos of Detroit over the decades and written narrative highlighting American holiday customs, Nov. 17 - Dec. 30, 2007.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 01 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler October sales down 9 percent

Chrysler LLC Announces Overall October 2007 U.S. Sales Down 9 Percent as Industry Sales Continue Below Trend Levels

* Chrysler brand car sales rise 7 percent over October 2006; led by Sebring Sedan and Convertible

* Chrysler Town & Country up 26 percent on the success of the new model

* Jeep(R) brand sales down 21 percent year-over-year, driven by planned fleet reductions

* Jeep Wrangler sales increase 8 percent versus last year

* Dodge brand car sales up 18 percent from the same period last year

* Dealer inventory down 8 percent or 469,426 units versus October 2006

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC reported U.S. sales for October 2007 of 145,316 units; down 9 percent compared to October 2006 with 159,586 units sold. All sales figures are reported as unadjusted.


"Growing concerns about the housing slump are showing up in consumers' expectations about future economic conditions as auto sales for the month of October continue below trend levels," said Darryl Jackson, Vice President - U.S. Sales. "Today's company announcement on product changes reflects our customer-driven philosophy and current market conditions."


Chrysler brand car sales were led by Sebring Sedan which posted sales of 5,015 units, up 86 percent versus 2006 and Sebring Convertible which finished the month with sales of 1,856 units, up 837 percent versus October 2006. Chrysler Town & Country sales rose 26 percent to 12,177 units versus October 2006 with 9,668 units.


Jeep(R) brand sales were down 21 percent year-over-year, driven by planned fleet reductions. Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited posted sales of 9,354 units, up 8 percent versus October 2006.


Dodge brand car sales increased 18 percent over last year aided by steady sales of the Dodge Avenger with 6,268 units delivered.


"Given the competitive market, our approach is to provide substantial value to our consumers by offering consumer cash and lease cash on the majority of our 2008 models in November," said Michael Keegan, Vice President - Volume Planning and Sales Operations. "We will also introduce 0% APR for 36 months on 2008 models through the end of the month."


Chrysler finished the month with 469,426 units of inventory, or an 84-day supply. Inventory is down by 8 percent compared to October 2006 when it was at 508,724 units.


Chrysler LLC U.S. Sales Summary Thru October 2007


Month Sales Vol % Sales CYTD Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change Curr Yr Pr Yr Change

Sebring 6,871 2,892 138% 75,148 49,618 51%
300 8,923 10,518 -15% 99,174 116,625 -15%
Crossfire 111 763 -85% 8,401 8,144 3%
PT Cruiser 5,695 10,692 -47% 83,078 116,806 -29%
Aspen 1,783 1,524 17% 24,251 2,258 974%
Pacifica 4,880 5,578 -13% 47,754 66,463 -28%
Town & Country 12,177 9,668 26% 111,311 136,721 -19%
CHRYSLER BRAND 40,440 41,635 -3% 449,117 496,635 -10%
Compass 2,240 3,342 -33% 33,513 9,790 242%
Patriot 3,636 0 0% 31,248 0 0%
Wrangler 9,354 8,679 8% 101,903 62,913 62%
Liberty 6,486 11,004 -41% 75,351 114,218 -34%
Grand Cherokee 7,449 9,193 -19% 100,695 118,351 -15%
Commander 2,691 8,079 -67% 52,815 72,908 -28%
JEEP BRAND 31,856 40,297 -21% 395,525 378,180 5%
Caliber 5,563 7,790 -29% 85,915 75,791 13%
Avenger 6,268 0 0% 65,416 0 0%
Charger 8,343 8,619 -3% 97,833 96,387 2%
Viper 36 198 -82% 384 1,311 -71%
Magnum 3,219 2,576 25% 25,561 35,222 -27%
Dakota 3,196 4,943 -35% 44,572 66,416 -33%
Ram P/U 24,711 28,251 -13% 301,689 303,476 -1%
Caravan 11,005 12,454 -12% 141,477 182,805 -23%
Durango 2,322 6,932 -67% 39,833 60,349 -34%
Nitro 5,891 3,044 94% 61,680 4,010 1438%
Sprinter 2,466 2,289 8% 13,659 19,066 -28%
DODGE BRAND 73,020 77,654 -6% 879,497 912,719 -4%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 145,316 159,586 -9% 1,724,139 1,787,534 -4%

TOTAL CAR 36,403 32,369 12% 443,937 426,776 4%
TOTAL TRUCK 108,913 127,217 -14% 1,280,202 1,360,758 -6%
Selling Days 26 25 256 255

Source: Chrysler LLC

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 01 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler sales slide in October

Chrysler took a hit in October. In a month when light vehicle volume actually increased by 1.16%, Chrysler sales volume was down 8.94 percent. The decline was magnified by the fact there was an extra selling day last month, compared to October 2006, leaving Chrysler with a 12.44% deficit based on daily sales rate (DSR). The sales drop also cost Chrysler 1.31 points of market share. Year-to-date (YTD) sales are now 3.55% behind the first ten months of 2006.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 02 2007, 07 AM)

Super Stock Challengers at Dodge dealerships?

TripleJackinGA wrote: 2008 factory built Super Stock Challengers will be for sale at Chrysler dealerships, according to a statement made during the unveiling of the Class 8 Baja trucks at the Mopar booth at SEMA 2007. They said these Super Stock Challengers will be very limited in number, and are not street legal, and you should get on the list now if you want one. They sandwiched this info between talking a lot about new block and head castings for old and newer HEMIs, and unveiling the Baja trucks. They also talked about some kind of HEMI block that was made of "Compacted Carbon", which would be in the Mopar parts range.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 06 2007, 10 AM)

Vines critical of Clinton's Model T comparison

Jason Vines, Chrysler’s very outspoken chief spokesman, took on remarks made by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton comparing the fuel economy of the Ford Model T to a modern sports-utility vehicle.

Addressing a group in Cedar rapids on Monday, Clinton said, "Henry Ford would be dumbfounded until he opened the hood. Because he would recognize the internal combustion engine underneath. It is the same basic concept that he put in to the Model T almost a century ago. In fact, that Model T got better gas mileage than your typical SUV does today. We can't continue this. It's time for a change."

Vines was quick to respond, pointing out the Model T, while great for its time, lacked many of the features of a modern vehicle, "A number of members of Congress have also perpetuated this myth. We join with those in Congress who are in favor of higher fuel economy standards. But comparing the Model T with today's vehicles is like comparing the Wright Brothers glider with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. You don't hear people complaining that the Dreamliner doesn't get as good fuel economy as a glider. There's a reason the Model T weighed 1,200 pounds, less than half the weight of most vehicles sold today. The Model T didn't have safety features like dual airbags, reinforced safety cage, anti-lock brakes and traction control. The Model T didn't have electric windows, interior lights, air conditioning, a radio and CD player."

Mr. Vines failed to note the original Model T also lacked more basic modern features like an electric starter (optional in 1920) and a heater.

Vines steered clear of mentioning the New York Senator by name and moderated his response, a stark contrast to his remarks after former Senator John Edwards he would encourage Americans to give up SUVs.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 07 2007, 10 AM)

Allpar review hits Chrysler internal news

Chrysler's internal news system has quoted extensively from allpar's review of the Dodge Ram 5500, albeit while inexplicably attributing it to David Zot rather than David Zatz. They noted that "The Dodge brand’s Class 4 and 5 commercial trucks received some positive press recently from Dave Zot in his review of the big rigs online at allpar.com" before taking out key quotes.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 07 2007, 02 PM)

Dodge launches Challenger Drag Racing 'Package' Car Program

Mopar Launches the Dodge Challenger Drag Racing 'Package' Car Program at the 2007 SEMA Show

The package car from Mopar is equipped with competition-bred versions of the third-generation HEMI engine

Next year is the 40th anniversary of the famous 1968 HEMI Dart and HEMI Barracuda 'package' cars. These purpose-built vehicles allowed drag racers to be competitive at the track with a factory-built Dodge or Plymouth drag car. Mopar, Chrysler LLC's original equipment manufacturer, launched a new 'package' car program based on the 2009 Dodge Challenger at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show.

The annual showcase of technology, trends and products representing the $36.7 billion automotive parts and accessories industry, SEMA will be held Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2007, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The package cars will be equipped with competition-bred versions of the venerable third-generation HEMI engine. A limited number of these HEMI-powered Dodge Challenger Drag Racing packages will be available.

The '68 package cars present a significant part of Mopar's history. A watershed moment in drag racing history, they represented a major milestone in the evolution of the second-generation HEMI powerplant. Mopar's popular HEMI Challenge racing series that is operated in conjunction with the NHRA features these 1968 cars. Modern-day super stock competitors are still building new, 'clone' versions of the 1968-specification car that led to the creation of what we know as NHRA pro stock today.

The race-only, off-road-use-only parts packages will be sold at Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealerships.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 09 2007, 11 AM)

Study: Cellphones a major problem

According to the Department of Transportation, distracted driving is responsible for 4,000 to 8,000 accidents per day in the United States. A University of Utah study found that cell phone conversation, even with hands-free units, brings the same level of impairment as having a 0.08% blood-alcohol level (the legal limit); the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that using a cell phone while driving, even a hands-free one, quadruples chances of being in a serious accident (using information from Australia) (from a report by Autos.com as reprinted in Chrysler's internal information system).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 12 2007, 10 AM)

NBC, CNBC to broadcast live from Warren Truck, Tuesday Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. (EST)

Brian Williams will anchor the "NBC Nightly News" live from Warren (Mich.) Truck Assembly Plant on Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. (EST). The broadcast will feature an interview with Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President Jim Press and members of the production team. The segment will highlight the recent migration of executives from Japanese automakers to American manufacturers, including Press and Deborah Meyer, Chrysler Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, both from Toyota. In addition, the CNBC program "Street Signs" will broadcast live from the plant the same day from 2-3 p.m. (EST). Host Erin Burnett will examine the state of the auto industry and the challenges facing Michigan's economy. Burnett will interview a number of prominent industry leaders during that hour. (Thanks, oh2o).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 13 2007, 08 AM)

Mopar driver Jerry Coons wins USAC Midget Series championship

Jerry Coons Jr. clinched his second consecutive United States Auto Club (USAC) National Midget Series championship on Thursday at Phoenix International Raceway. Coons won five times during the 2007 USAC National Midget Series to end up fourth in the competition's final standings. In the USAC National Sprint Car Series Western World Championships, Coons finished ninth in the final series standings.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 13 2007, 09 AM)

Town & Country, Caravan named "Best of What's New"

The editors of Popular Science Magazine have named the 2008 Chrysler Town Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan as the "Best of What's New" for 2008 award recipients.

"For 20 years, Popular Science's Best of What's New awards have honored the innovations that make a positive impact on life today and change our views of the future," said Mark Jannot, Popular Science’s Editor in Chief. "PopSci's editors evaluate thousands of products each year to develop this thoughtful list. There's no higher accolade Popular Science can give," added Jannot.

The new Chrysler Town Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are the fifth generation of the industry’s leading minivans. They are designed to be "family rooms on wheels," with each offering new ideas in safety, fuel economy, functionality and design.

"We are very honored that Popular Science chose the Chrysler Town Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan as award winners for 2008," said Deborah Meyer, Chrysler Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer. "The Chrysler Town Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are leaders in the minivan marketplace because of what they offer. Innovation, functionality, value, safety and useful features are what set the Dodge and Chrysler minivans apart from the others."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 13 2007, 01 PM)

Viper ACR debuts

The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10® ACR—short for American Club Racer—with its "fanged" front splitter, adjustable rear wing and optimized front dive planes, will slither onto the Dodge display at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show. The latest addition to the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) family of performance vehicles, the 600 horsepower Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR is a street-legal Viper engineered to dominate on the race track. Because it is street legal, die-hard Viper and track enthusiasts can drive their car to the race track, run it at top speed on the track and then drive it home—obeying the speed limit, of course.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 13 2007, 04 PM)

Durango, Aspen hybrids announced

The Hemi-powered Aspen and Durango hybrids benefit from both more power (385 horsepower) and increased gas mileage (25% overall, 40% in the city). Towing is rated at 6,000 pounds with an electrically variable automatic transmission. The two-mode hybrid system provides assistance from electric motors allowing the HEMI V-8 to remain in four-cylinder mode more often than without a hybrid powertrain, improving overall fuel economy.

Built at Newark, Delaware, the pair will enter for the 2009 model year in mid-2008.

As a result of low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is defined as a “two-mode hybrid.” In addition, the fuel-saving system incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two ECVT modes, the system can use the electric motors for acceleration, improving fuel economy, or for regenerative braking to utilize energy that would normally be lost during braking or deceleration. The energy is stored in the batteries for later use.

In the first mode — at low speed and with light loads — the vehicle can operate as pure electric, pure gas, or both.

The second mode is used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to electric assist, the second mode provides full power from the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 when conditions demand it, such as when passing, pulling a trailer or climbing a steep grade.

Input from the controller determines the necessary torque for the driving conditions and sends a corresponding command to the engine and electric motors. The engine and electric motors transfer torque to a series of gears in the transmission, which multiply torque similar to a conventional automatic transmission to propel the vehicle. Unlike conventional continuously variable transmissions, however, the two-mode full hybrid’s electrically controlled system uses no mechanical belts or bands. Shifts between the two modes are synchronous — meaning no engine speed changes are necessary for the mode shift to occur — resulting in seamless accelerations.

The 300-volt battery pack provides electric power for the system, and is designed to fit in the vehicle without compromising passenger space. A rectifier located under the vehicle’s hood converts AC to DC, to power conventional 12-volt accessories, such as interior lighting, climate control and the audio system. The vehicle’s internal-combustion engine efficiently maintains the battery pack.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 14 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler's GEM celebrates 10 years with special models

Global Electric MotorCars, a Chrysler company, marked its 10th anniversary with the unveiling of two special edition models, the two-passenger e2 and four-passenger e4, at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

GEM is the nation's leading manufacturer of street-legal, zero-emission, all-electric passenger vehicles, with more than 35,000 units sold throughout the United States and worldwide, driving a combined 200 million emission-free miles. The Fargo, N.D.-based company underscored the 10-year milestone with a "Ten-for-Ten Free Energy Tribute," awarding free electricity to power the GEMs of 10 owners for the next 10 years.

"GEM has been leading the way in clean, street-legal, battery-electric driving for more than 10 years," GEM President and CEO Rick Kasper said. "Our next 10 years figure to be an exciting era in the automotive industry. GEMs will only rise in prominence as consumers continue to discover the exceptional green transportation option we have available for them."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 15 2007, 04 PM)

"Cars, Trees & Traditions" opens Saturday

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum will don its holiday finest for the third annual "Cars, Trees & Traditions" exhibit opening this weekend in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

The exhibition kicks off with seasonal family fun on Nov. 17 with a free-admission grand opening from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The grand opening offers, along with informal tours of the exhibition, visiting with Santa in a vintage Dodge truck; creating keepsakes with Michael's, the arts and crafts store; discovering wrapping traditions and tips for beautiful packages with Lisa Gleeson of Lisa's Gift Wrappers; perfecting yo-yo tricks with Zeemo, The Yo-Yo Man; accessorizing with airbrush face painting; indulging in holiday treats; and shopping for 10 percent discounts with free gift wrapping in the museum store.

This displays feature authentically decorated vintage trees, nostalgic ads, seasonal photos of Detroit over the decades and written narratives highlighting American holiday customs. It also includes a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Visitors are invited to come with new, unused, unwrapped toys to fill a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

"Cars, Trees & Traditions" will be on display from Nov. 17 through Dec. 30. For more information, including museum hours and days of operation, visit www.chryslerheritage.com or call (888) 456-1924.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 15 2007, 04 PM)

Court tosses out new truck fuel economy standards

Chrysler, Ford and GM took a shot across the bow as a federal appeals court tossed out the Bush administration’s industry-friendly light truck fuel economy standards.

In April 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new rules requiring manufacturers to increase the mileage requirement for pickups, SUVs and minivans, from 22.2 miles per gallon to 24 mpg by 2011. The NHTSA did not change the 27.5 mpg average for passenger cars. The new standards had been challenged by eleven states and four environmental groups who sued the federal government, saying the new standards didn't go far enough.

In a 90-page ruling released yesterday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the new standards didn't take into account the impact of auto emissions on the environment. In addition, the court said the NHTSA did not justify the lower mileage standards for light trucks compared with passenger cars and failed to set standards for heavier commercial trucks and vans that were previously exempt.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 16 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler may reorganize brands, drop dealers

The Wall Street Journal online edition reports Chrysler is considering completely reorganizing its brands in a move that management hopes will hasten the company’s return to profitability.

According to three dealers familiar with the proposal, all passenger cars would be badged as Chryslers and sold only through Chrysler dealers. Dodge would become a purely truck brand with its dealers selling pickups and commercial vehicles and Jeep dealers would sell Jeeps and sport-utility vehicles. This would have the benefit of allowing Chrysler to trim its product line and eliminate overlap.

The changes being discussed would also allow Chrysler to drop as many as a thousand underperforming dealerships that are carrying excess inventory and relying on profit-sapping incentives for sales.

One of the dealers, who declined to be identified, said, "This is just one of the plans they are studying. At the end of this year, they hope to have a plan for the future."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 17 2007, 05 AM)

Wrigley joins Texaco/Havoline as Co-Primary Sponsors of No. 42 Dodge Charger

CONCORD, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (NYSE:WWY), the world’s number one maker of chewing gum and its iconic Wrigley’s Brands– Big Red®, Juicy Fruit®, Winterfresh®, Doublemint® and Spearmint® – will join with 21-year NASCAR sponsor Texaco/Havoline as co-primary sponsors of Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 Dodge Charger for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS).

“I am extremely excited about bringing together worldwide brands like Wrigley and Texaco/Havoline,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “We have had the great fortune to have relationships with some great sponsors over the years and I can honestly say that I am proud our organization is associated with these two companies. I think their brands fit perfectly with Juan’s global appeal.”

Together, the two companies will combine to be on the car every time Montoya takes to the track in the No. 42 Dodge in 2008. For every race that Texaco/Havoline is the primary sponsor, Wrigley’s will be the associate sponsor on the car and vice versa when Wrigley’s is the primary sponsor. The global brands will each hold the primary role in 18 races next season. In addition, Texaco/Havoline and Wrigley’s will look to combine forces wherever possible in order to better promote their associations with Montoya, the No. 42 team and CGRFS.

“After a successful first season as a team and driver sponsor, we are pleased to continue Wrigley’s relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, excited by the team’s commitment to excellence and impressed by Juan Pablo’s on-track performance during his rookie year in NASCAR,” said Paul Chibe, Wrigley’s Vice President of U.S. Marketing. “We recognize Juan’s potential in NASCAR and this increased role creates more opportunities for fans to interact with some of America’s favorite chewing gums brands.”

Texaco/Havoline has a rich heritage in the NASCAR industry as they return for their 22nd season in 2008. This season Montoya returned Texaco/Havoline to victory lane in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series as he won races in Mexico City (Busch) and at Infineon Raceway (Cup). Texaco/Havoline, who has sponsored the No. 42 CGRFS car since 2003, will continue its history in the sport when Montoya drives the black Dodge Charger with the Texaco star next season.

“Juan Pablo’s strong international appeal, joined with the deeply rooted tradition of the Texaco and Havoline global brands, gives us a winning combination,” said Danny Roden, vice president of North America Marketing for Chevron. “We have already had success in working side-by-side with Wrigley’s in 2007, and this experience greatly influenced our decision to share our sponsorship. We anticipate that this new arrangement will only further complement our collective racing program.”

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 18 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler says WSJ report is "speculation"

The Wall Street Journal report that Chrysler LLC is considering branding changes that would streamline its product offerings and eliminate hundreds of dealers is speculation, according to Chrysler spokesperson Rick Deneau. The paper reported that Chrysler dealers would sell all of the automaker's passenger cars under the Chrysler name; Dodge dealers would sell only pickup and commercial trucks, and Jeep dealers would sell only Jeep and sport-utility vehicles. "There are no immediate plans to do this," Deneau said.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 19 2007, 10 AM)

Wrangler wins Middle Eastern award

The Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited has beaten contenders like the Mercedes G-Class and Toyota FJ Cruiser to win the top spot in Car Middle East magazine’s 2007 Awards in the off-road SUV category. Car Middle East is the one of the Persian Gulf region’s premier motoring magazines, directly affiliated to Car magazine in the UK. The inaugural Car Middle East awards coincided with the ninth Middle East International Motor Show held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 20 2007, 02 PM)

Three new concepts revealed

The first NAIAS cars have been revealed well in advance of the show, by Chrysler itself. We are covering them here at Allpar. The Jeep Renegrade concept uses a hybrid-electric powerplant incorporating a small diesel engine to get triple-digit gas mileage. The four-door ecoVoyager has a total range of more than 300 miles and its only emission is water vapor, and the ZEO was called "a muscle car for the 21st century." Powered by a 200-kilowatt electric motor, the vehicle can go 0-60 miles per hour in less than six seconds. The electric-only 2+2 sport wagon will have a range of 250 miles.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 20 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler bankers fail in second attempt to sell debt

For the second time since Cerberus Capital Management engineered its acquisition of Chrysler, its bankers have been unable to sell loans that backed the purchase.

Though company officials would not comment, investors briefed Tuesday by JPMorgan Chase & Co. said an effort to sell $4 billion in loans at 97.5 cents on the dollar was ended after it failed to attract buyers.

Lenders were left holding $10 billion of loans when they could not find additional investment to help finance the August acquisition of 80.1% percent of Chrysler from Daimler AG. Chrysler agreed to repay $3 billion of the financing and the banks planned to hold $3 billion on their books, but unloading the remaining $4 billion has proven difficult because of the challenging market.

According to London-based Markit Group Ltd., the LCDX Series 9 index which measures the U.S. high-yield, high-risk loan market by tracking investor confidence, has dropped 2.8% since the end of October, and now stands at 95.70.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 21 2007, 07 AM)

January Mopar break in Florida

(by Gene Yetter)



Wintry weather is on the march, north of the subtropics of Florida and the Gulf Coast. Soon, many classic Mopar owners will be garaging their cars for the duration - but there is hope for a cruise and car show before Spring 2008? In Brevard County, Florida, a growing club of Mopar owners holds a Winter event every year. The Club, Mopars of Brevard (aka "the MOB"), will hold its 9th Annual Super Swap Meet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008, in Melbourne. That's the Atlantic Coast, off Interstate 95 (Exit 191) about 25 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. The accompanying pictures are from recent years at the show.

The Brevard meet is not on the same scale as some regional gatherings, but it's friendly, featuring some non-car offerings like a scale-model show and contest and a bake sale, in addition to the collector cars, customs and hotrods that always seem to come out of the woodwork in Florida on show dates.

The MOB event is open to non-members who would like to show their cars, or to enthusiasts who want to stroll the grounds of the site, the Wickham Park Pavilion, to see the vehicles that show up. It's also open to vendors and to vehicle owners with cars or trucks to sell. The MOB web site presents travel and registration information and a downloadable vendor/show registration form.

Last year there were over 150 cars and trucks, including about 30 non-Mopar vehicles. About 100 vendors attended in 2007 and space for 150 is being reserved for vendors this year. The park site still has more open space available for expansion.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 21 2007, 12 PM)

2009 Dodge Challenger to feature Hill Start Assist

(Allpar exclusive information). Manual transmission versions of the 2009 Challenger R/T and SRT models will offer a feature that has previously only been available on the Dodge Ram, Jeep Commander, Grand Cherokee and the Liberty, according to reliable sources. The HSA feature assists the driver when starting a vehicle from a stop on a hill by maintaining the same level of brake pressure the driver applied for a short period of time after the foot has been removed from the brake pedal. The system will release the brake pedal in proportion to the amount of throttle applied. If the throttle is not applied within a short period of time after the foot has been removed from the brake pedal, Hill Start Assist will release brake pressure.

Please don’t just take the text from this page and post it elsewhere; please give credit to allpar.com and, preferably, paste in this link - http://allpar.com/news/index.php?action=fullnews&id=1086

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 25 2007, 05 PM)

New Town & Country, Caravan, make strong start

In their first full month on the market, the new Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan showed two things: First, the minivan is still far from dead and, second, Chrysler isn’t about to give up its traditional leadership in the segment without a fight.

The new Chrysler minivans are receiving positive responses from both buyers and dealers. Total minivan sales were up 4.8% last month, compared to October 2006. The Town & Country led the growth; sales were up 26% and it outsold the Caravan by 1,172 vehicles. Sales of the Dodge minivan dipped 11.6% in part because the less expensive Caravan model has been dropped from the lineup, cutting out those in the market for an lower-priced or entry-level van. The only other minivan to show improved sales was the Honda Odyssey, which passed the Caravan’s year-to-date (YTD) sales in October and currently holds the top spot in U.S. minivan segment by a slim 3,241 sales. The Toyota Sienna currently holds the No. 3 spot.

Although the minivan segment has been shrinking for several years, the 16.53% contraction in YTD sales compared to those for the first ten months of 2006 is due in part to the departure of Ford and GM from the segment. Ford had not had a competitive minivan since the introduction of the Freestar and General Motors’ minivan program had never been able to meet management expectations. Factoring out the Ford and GM vehicles, total January-October 2007 minivan sales are down about 9.18%.

Industry analysts say Chrysler has two primary opportunities for conquest sales: the first is potential buyers of large SUVs who actually need 7-passenger seating and who may find the more fuel-efficient minivan an attractive alternative as fuel prices march higher. Second, current owners of Ford and GM minivans who want to stay in a minivan and want an American brand.

Dealers are especially enthusiastic about the new Town & Country and Caravan, noting they are selling well even without big incentives. Industry watchers caution the real test will come in the spring and summer of 2008, as people plan for family vacations, but they generally believe Chrysler has come up with a good combination of features to attract new buyers to the brand.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 25 2007, 11 PM)

Ram 3500 leads in Class 2C-3 Chassis-Cabs

The Chrysler Scoop reports the Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab increased its monthly U.S. retail registrations in September, putting it ahead of the Ford F-350 Chassis Cab in the Class 2C-3 conventional chassis cab market. Registrations for the Dodge truck totaled 994 or 34 percent of the market versus the F-350 with 916 or 31 percent of the market. The Dodge big rig also has topped the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Chassis Cab in retail registrations since April of this year.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 26 2007, 06 PM)

Jerry Flint: keep PT, bring back Plymouth, more

Jerry Flint's latest commentary in Forbes covers Chrysler issues ranging from how to regain a lead in minivans to fixing the dealer issue to sensible branding.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 27 2007, 10 AM)

Edmunds predicts decline in Chrysler November sales

Edmunds.com estimates Chrysler will report sales of 146,000 cars and light trucks for November 2007, an 0.6% improvement from October 2007 but an 11.2% decline from November 2006. Based on Edmunds’ predictions, Chrysler’s market share would be 12.2% for November 2007, off from the 13.8% it claimed last November but up from October 2007’s 11.8 percent.

November’s total light vehicle sales are expected to be 1.2 million units, almost the same as last year and down 2.5% from October 2007.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 27 2007, 05 PM)

Hundreds to leave Chrysler on Friday

There probably won’t be a run on gold watches, but hundreds of Chrysler employees will be retiring this Friday. They are the first to accept the one of buyout packages offered under Chrysler’s latest downsizing plan. A second group of employees will receive offers this week and will leave before the end of the year. The exact numbers of those departing aren't yet known, but Chrysler hopes to cut 1,000 salaried positions by the end of December and company spokesman Mike Aberlich said the company is confident it will come close to its goal.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 28 2007, 04 AM)

Chrysler will build new VW minivan in Windsor

It’s official: Chrysler will produce a new Volkswagen minivan designed for the North American market. The as-yet-unnamed minivan will share Chrysler’s new minivan platform and be built alongside the Town & Country and Caravan at the Windsor plant, but it will have its own front and rear styling and a different interior appearance.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 28 2007, 05 AM)

2008 Challenger SRT8 pricing revealed

Autoblog has posted pricing for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT-8, noting that orders will be taken starting on Monday and that both automatic and manual transmissions are available. This is far earlier than most people thought these details would be revealed. Pricing for the other vehicles in the Challenger line will be revealed later and should be considerably less than the high end SRT model.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 29 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler execs in talks with Russian automaker

Chrysler President Tom LaSorda and other top company executives will meet today with Leonid Dolgov, the president of Russian automaker GAZ, to discuss a deal to build Chrysler vehicles, possibly including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, in Russia.

A deal would benefit both Chrysler and GAZ. Russia is already one of Chrysler’s best growth markets and an agreement would mean the company, which needs to grow its overseas sales, could have further expansion into the Russian market without a large infrastructure investment. GAZ would benefit by gaining more access to Western automotive technology and experience.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 29 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler joins fuel cell partnership

Chrysler has become the 34th and newest member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership. The public-private partnership includes automakers, energy providers, fuel cell technology companies and government agencies cooperating to promote the commercialization of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.

"Of the fuel sources on the table for long-term future use in transportation, hydrogen holds the greatest promise," according to Mark Chernoby, Chrysler V-P of Advance Vehicle Engineering. "Collaborations such as the California Fuel Cell Partnership will help engineers develop solutions for this technology at an accelerated rate."

Since its founding in 1999, the partnership has put a combined total of 188 fuel cell passenger vehicles and transit buses on California roads and members have built 27 hydrogen stations forming the largest hydrogen infrastructure in the world. Eleven more stations are planned.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 29 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler's Pizzuti to present at AutoWeek Design Forum

Aaron Pizzuti, Chrysler design manager, will join Jesse James, the owner of West Coast Choppers, Paul Kolada, founder and principal, Priority Designs, Troy Trepanier, president, Rad Rides by Troy, Franz von Holzhausen, director of design, Mazda North American Operations and Carl Zipfel, director of exterior design for GM’s Hummer at the at the 15th annual AutoWeek Design Forum, “Designed for Fun,” scheduled to run from 8 AM to 9 PM on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, in the Riverview Ballroom of Cobo Center in Detroit.

Pizzuti, who describes himself as "Raised in a puddle of gasoline" in the family garage, earned patents for the Dodge Durango and Jeep Hurricane, which also picked up an IDEA silver award. In addition, the Hurricane received an AutoWeek Editors’ Choice Award in the Most Fun Category and Popular Science selected the Hurricane for their “Best of What’s New” list.

James will be the keynote dinner speaker for the event which event features individual morning presentations, afternoon tours of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and a dinner program.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (November 30 2007, 08 AM)

Charger to continue in NASCAR

Dodge Motorsports confirmed yesterday that it will race the Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and beyond. Following a decisionby NASCAR to race only one car next year, Dodge Motorsports consulted with its Dodge dealers around the country who overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the Charger nameplate. The 2008 Dodge Charger lineup will feature five teams with 12 drivers who are a mixture of seasoned veterans, experienced young talent and champions from other racing series who are newcomers to NASCAR. (Source: Chrysler)

Reported by DaveAdmin at (November 30 2007, 08 AM)

Chrysler sales down 2% for November

Chrysler reported U.S. sales for November 2007 of 161,088 units, down 2% from November 2006, as Ford and Toyota stayed steady (with slight increases), Honda gained 5%, and General Motors dropped a stunning 11%, led by truck and fleet sales.

Successes for include an increase of 9% in Chrysler-brand car sales, led by the Sebring convertible, and an increase in Dodge sales of 6% led by the Avenger, Charger, and Nitro.

Town & Country rose 10%, but the once-dominant Caravan dropped 6%, bringing the pair closer and possibly allowing Honda to again claim a best-seller (for individual nameplates). In November 2006, the pair reached 25,747 units; in November 2007, they hit 25,976 units, for a net increase of 232 minivans.

Jeep sales were down 2% for the month, with Wrangler dropping 5%, Liberty dropping 7%, and sales shifting from the Commander (dropping 45%) back to the Grand Cherokee (rising 7% for a net loss). Compass and Caliber sales were both down markedly - 28% and 10% respectively - though the new Patriot more than made up for the shortfall.

The soon to be discontinued Magnum sold 2,417 units, and the Dodge Charger had a very good month with a 43% year to year increase and monthly sales of 10,341, edging out the Avenger, which reached 10,242.

Bill Cawthon will be reporting later with a more in-depth analysis. Click on More News for the exact figures.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 03 2007, 03 PM)

More Challenger prices, options?

Allpar's oh2o has provided us with an advance on the features and options of the 2008.75 Dodge Challenger SRT-8, posted at our Dodge Challenger page.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 03 2007, 07 PM)

Chrysler sales down in November, exec predicts "tough year" ahead

Chrysler reported sales of 161,088 cars and light trucks for last month. That’s down 2.11% from November 2006 but up 10.85% from October 2007. November had the same number of selling days in 2007 and 2007, so there is no adjustment for daily sales rate.

Once again, Chrysler outperformed the pundits at Edmunds.com. They had predicted sales of just 146,000 units in November 2007 and a market share of just 12.2%. Chrysler’s actual share came in at 13.7%, down just 0.07% compared to November 2006 and vastly improved over October’s 11.81% share.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 04 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler kicks off "Journey of a Lifetime" contest

Wedding plans in your future? Interested in letting someone else foot the bill? Then Chrysler has a deal for you: enter the “Journey of a Lifetime” contest that opens today.

One lucky couple will be selected to exchange vows on Valentine’s Day at the Chicago Auto Show. They will receive an all-expense-paid Dodge-themed winter wedding, including a dream wedding dress, wedding cake, band, a reception and more. Since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Auto Show, you'll be able to invite up to 100 of your relatives and closest friends to the occasion. To top it all off, Chrysler will present a new 2009 Dodge Journey crossover to the new bride and groom.

To have a chance at this bridal bonanza, residents of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky can register online at www.DodgeJourneyOfALifetime.com beginning Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 12:01 a.m. (ET) until Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. (ET). To enter, potential contestants will be asked to answer the question, "Why should Dodge select you to start your 'Journey' of a lifetime together at the Chicago Auto Show on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2008?" and submit a photo of themselves as a couple. All participants must be 18 years or older and hold a valid driver's license at the time of entry.

The finalist couples will be announced during the week of Jan. 21. The winning couple will be selected that week and married on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 04 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler Mexico sales figures

As reported by Automotive News, Chrysler saw a small decline of fewer than 200 vehicles in October 2007, compared with October 2006; year to date figures are around 400 vehicles off from last year's 100,617 sales. Chrysler remains a large player in Mexico, where the biggest players are GM with 184,209 sales year-to-date, followed closely by Nissan and then by Ford, Volkswagen, and Chrysler. Through October of this year, 875,712 vehicles have been sold in Mexico, though 1.8 million have been produced there.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 04 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler sales up in Canada for November

Chrysler saw a surprising 7% hike in Canadian sales in November 2007, compared with November 2006, reaching 18,419 vehicles sold for the month. In contrast, GM sank 10% and Ford dropped 8%; Toyota dropped 8%, Honda 6%, and Volkswagen 4%. The Big Three automakers in Canada were GM with 27,761 sales for November, Chrysler with 18,419, and Ford in third place with 15,909 sales. Overall, Canadian sales fell 5%, with a 9% decline in cars and 1% in trucks; Canadian sales were more evenly balanced than American sales, with a roughly 50/50 car/light truck ratio.

Chrysler Canada has a year to date sales increase of 6%, partly due to its relatively fast reaction to the decline of the U.S. dollar and the strength of the Canadian dollar. This caused sharp reductions in price; for example, the Charger dropped by C$4,000. Minivans rose 29% in November; Ram and Dakota both increased; and the Caliber triplets rose 81% with the introduction of the Patriot. Grand Cherokee sales rose 34%, with 60% of Grand Cherokees sold in Canada being equipped with the diesel engine.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 04 2007, 03 PM)

Briefs: last Austrian mini, Sebring award

The last Chrysler Voyager minivan has been built at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, which started making the vans starting with the second generation in 1991. Vans for European sale are now made in North America.

Meanwhile, the New England Motor Press Association named the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible as its "Favorite Affordable Convertible."

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 05 2007, 01 PM)

Strong pre-orders reported for Challenger SRT8

Though it’s still months to the official unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show, interest in the new limited-edition Challenger SRT8, with its 6.1-liter HEMI, carbon-fibre hood stripes and numbered dash plaque, is running high. On the first day of orders, 4,300 people placed deposits on the new 2008 Challenger SRT8. As of today, more than 6,000 deposits have been received.

“This is unprecedented,” according to Mark Mallie, Challenger Brand Manager. “Customers were actually coming to us and pushing us, so we thought this was a good time to take pre-sale orders.”

Since pricing was announced on November 29, traffic to the Dodge website has increased 23 percent.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 05 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler expects to lose $1.6 billion in 2007

Chrysler will lose $1.6 billion this year. That’s the figure CEO Bob Nardelli reportedly gave a group of Chrysler engineers and designers yesterday. Although a Chrysler spokesman would not confirm the figures, they tally with those cited in remarks made in Canada last week by Steven Landry, Executive V-P of North American Sales. Both said they expected revenues of about $63 billion and costs exceeding $64 billion. Making a slightly more pessimistic forecast than Landry, Nardelli said revenues might fall short of the $63 billion expectation. Both Nardelli and Landry said they expect the company to break even in 2008.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 06 2007, 04 AM)

Dodge Challenger photos released

Dodge released new Dodge Challenger production-car photos; they are currently posted at the Allpar Dodge Challenger page.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 06 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler retail sales down 16.5% in November

Chrysler retail sales actually fell 16.5% in November, according to an internal e-mail sent to select dealers, and Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines said "next year looks pretty tough, looks very tough."

Vines went on to say 2008 could be especially challenging in markets in southeastern Michigan, Florida, California and Nevada.

Increased fleet sales helped bring Chrysler’s numbers up to the 2% shortfall reported this week.

Reacting to continued softness in sales of light trucks, Chrysler will temporarily close three pickup truck plants next month. A source familiar with production schedules says Warren Truck will be idled for five weeks; St. Louis North for three weeks; and a plant in Mexico will shut down for two weeks.

Sales of the Dodge Ram pickup fell 12% last month and are now down 1.55% for the year. By comparison, sales of the segment-leading Ford F-Series pickup are down 12.40% for the first eleven months of 2007 and sales of the Chevrolet Silverado are off 3.25% over the same period. GM plans to cut production by 11% in the first quarter of 2008 and Ford plans to trim 7.4% from its output.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 07 2007, 08 AM)

Five stars for seven Chrysler vehicles

Seven Chrysler products earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest rating for frontal- and side-impact protection. The NHTSA awarded five stars to the 2008 Jeep Liberty, 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2008 Dodge Nitro, 2008 Dodge Caliber, 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, 2008 Chrysler Pacifica and the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country.

Commenting on the results, Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President -- Product Development, Chrysler, said, "Through a broad range of engineering technologies, Chrysler is offering its customers the safety they expect and deserve. Both passive and active safety systems enhance the inherent stability and safety we design into all of our Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 07 2007, 08 AM)

J.D. Power: Chrysler customer retention subpar

Fewer than one in three buyers of a Chrysler-brand vehicles is a repeat customer. That’s according to the fifth annual J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Customer Retention Study(SM) released Thursday which said only 31.9% of Chrysler buyers buy another Chrysler car or light truck.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 07 2007, 09 AM)

2009 Dodge Ram revealed?

Numerous people have written in to tell us about this photo, taken from the Mopar site, which they believe to be a 2009 Dodge Ram. We suspect it might merely be a heavily customized 2007 model, but it might also be a 2009. The aerodynamics look interesting, but without engineering software or a wind tunnel and accurate model, we cannot tell if it is slippery.  (Thanks, sbrittain, Mark Dayman, Michael Hare, and others!)

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 09 2007, 09 PM)

What would Santa drive?

The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt concept car is one of five collector vehicles Santa might choose when it’s time to park the sleigh and let Rudolph, Blitzen, and the rest get back to their reindeer games.

RM Auctions of Blenheim, Ontario, has compiled a list of five classic vehicles it thinks would make Santa’s short list. They say the Alex Tremulis-designed Thunderbolt might be just the thing for the Santa who wants a unique ride with some modern touches like concealed headlights, hydraulically operated windows and a retractable metal hardtop. The red RM Auctions car is a 100-point restoration of one of the five Thunderbolts built by LeBaron on a Chrysler Crown Imperial frame. It was a winner at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1997 and it’s expected to bring somewhere between $1.5 million and $2 million when it goes on the block at RM Auctions' "Vintage Motor Cars in Arizona" event in January 2008.

Other cars on the RM Auctions list include a fully restored 1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton. It’s one of America's most elegant automobiles and it has the added advantage of being almost as spacious as Santa's sleigh. There’s also a 1959 Ferrari 250GT California Spyder, a 1922 American LaFrance Type 48 Triple Combination Pumper (after all, how many fire engines has Santa delivered over the years?) and a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.

Of course, we at Allpar know Santa’s a smart guy. Up at the North Pole, he needs to have something that can handle all sorts of conditions so, no matter what he selects from the list above, we’re pretty sure his garage already houses a Flame Red 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with a block heater.
:wink:

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 10 2007, 08 AM)

Jason Vines, Mike Aberlich resign

Chrysler LLC today announced that Jason H. Vines, its Vice President-Communications has elected to resign, and that the Corporate Communications Department will be re-aligned. Vines had created a communications-area blog called the Firehouse, in which he blasted individual journalists whom he felt had slighted the company, and made more general announcements. Vines will be staying through to the end of December; he started at Chrysler in 1983, left for Nissan in 1998, moved to Ford in 2000, and returned in 2003.

Corporate communications is now reporting to Nancy Rae, Senior Vice President-Human Resources. David Barnas, who has been in the corporate communications department for six years, will be responsible for internal and corporate communications, which includes dealing with the news media.

Mike Aberlich, who has served the company as Director, Corporate and Internal Communications, also announced last week that he has decided to retire at the end of this year.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 10 2007, 09 AM)

2001-2002 trucks recalled

Chrysler LLC will voluntarily recall an estimated 576,417 MY2001-2002 vehicles to replace the gearshift blocker and bracket assembly. This action will affect the 2001 Dodge Dakota, Durango and Ram Van models and the 2002 Dodge Dakota, Durango, Ram Van and Ram pickups built before February 2002. In a limited number of cases, long-term wear on the shift assembly can erode the height of the shift blocker, creating the potential that the vehicle could shift out of park without the key in the ignition. Nine incidents involving injuries have been identified in connection with this issue. No fatalities have been reported. Owners will be notified beginning in January 2008. In the interim, owners are advised to use the parking brake at all times when the vehicle is not in use.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 10 2007, 01 PM)

2009 Dodge Ram photo authenticated

Three people have now written in to say that this 2009 Dodge Ram, taken from the Mopar site, is "for real." We had earlier gotten word that the hood would have this new sleek look, but the aerodynamic engineers must have worked overtime to get the sporty 1960s "hunched-over" grille shape to work. The photo is apparently of a Laramie, and there are versions with very little chrome as well. See our full story with more photos and details including the higher-power Hemis.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 10 2007, 03 PM)

Chrysler communication changes worry some

Industry watchers are already reacting to the new that Jason Vines, Chrysler’s vice president of communications, is leaving the company.

Vines, a onetime standup comedian who was named Communicator of the Year in 2005 by the Detroit chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, announced his resignation at a Monday morning meeting. The functions of his department are being realigned under Nancy Rae, senior vice president for human resources. David Barnas, who will report to Rae, will handle internal and corporate communications.

When Vines won the award, Theodore G. Coutilish, 2005-2006 IABC/Detroit President, said "Jason Vines exemplifies the very best in a professional communicator. His honest, open approach gets positive results from the media and his team. His integrity is impeccable and his credibility outstanding."

Now, the departure of Vines and the elimination of his executive-level position suggest to some Chrysler will be less communicative in the future.

"Private equity works very hard to be opaque and they probably won't miss a PR person who helped put things into black and white," said Gerald Meyers, the former AMC chairman who is now a business professor at the University of Michigan,

Richard Cole, chairman of the Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing Department at Michigan State University, said, "If their view of public relations is just a group to deal with, and prevent problems with the media, then that's very narrow and not cost effective."

However, it is possible that Vines departure was simply tied to Chrysler’s ongoing cost-cutting. As recently as November 1, Vines had acknowledged his 50-person department would be affected by the latest round of corporate downsizing. When he announced the changes, Bob Nardelli, Chrysler CEO, seemed to reinforce this view, "Now that Chrysler is an independent company again, we are taking every opportunity to realign functions in a more holistic manner that allows us to more effectively drive company strategy.”

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 11 2007, 06 AM)

Dealer invoice surfaces for Dodge Challenger

Allpar.com has posted a dealer invoice for the Dodge Challenger, showing dealer pricing on this new model.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 11 2007, 03 PM)

International sales rise

Year-to-date vehicle sales for Chrysler LLC outside North America are now higher than last year's total sales, with one month left in 2007. This year's 11-month total is 216,214 units, versus 206,925 units sold in 2006. Sales in all regions grew, with the Middle East/Northern Africa region making the greatest improvement. One reason is a larger range of vehicles available, with Dodge added to the mix in many countries (in addition to Chrysler and Jeep).

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 11 2007, 07 PM)

Jefferson North, Windsor Assembly to be idled in January

Thousands of Chrysler workers will get an unwanted winter vacation as the company plans to idle two plants for much of January to bring production in line with reduced consumer demands.

Beginning on January 14, Jefferson North will be closed for three weeks and Windsor Assembly will be closed for two weeks. The closings have been confirmed by union officials.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 12 2007, 06 AM)

Belvidere workers hope to set new record

According to the Rockford (IL) Star, employees at the Belvidere Assembly Plant are poised to set new production record this month. Through November, workers built 313,487 Calibers, Compasses and Patriots and they need to build just 21,812 more to break a record that dates back to 1986 when 335,298 Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons left the plant. Unless a production cut or other event interferes, chances look good for the new record; Belvidere employees have build more than the needed total every month this year except October.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 12 2007, 02 PM)

Overdue auto loans could mean trouble for Cerberus

More financial trouble could lie ahead for Cerberus Capital Management as auto loan delinquencies rise. Cerberus owns Chrysler Financial and a majority stake in GMAC.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the number of loans 30 or more days in arrears is at the highest level seen in some time and the problems involve both consumers with excellent credit as well as those with a spotty credit history.

Delinquencies on loans to buyers with top-rated credit rose to 4.5% as of the end of September. That was a 1.6% jump from August’s 2.9 percent. Over the same period, 12% of loans to higher-risk customers were 30 or more days behind, up 0.9% from 11.1% and the highest level seen in five years.

In 2007’s second quarter, 2.77% of all auto loans made by non-bank lenders like Chrysler Financial and GMAC were at least 30 days past due, the highest percentage on record since 1991.

Mortgages are cited as one of the causes of the rise in delinquencies and, while most analysts don’t expect a similar meltdown in the auto loan business, there is concern the problems could spread to other parts of the credit industry.

Problems for Cerberus could come from reduced business as credit standards are tightened and interest rates rise, forcing consumers with marginal credit out of the market, as well as a reduced loan volume because of declining sales of new Chrysler and GM vehicles. Since consumer auto loans are often bundled and sold to investors just like mortgages, a continued increase in delinquencies could make the packages less attractive and more difficult to place.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 13 2007, 07 AM)

Big Daddy shows new Mopar Dragster

Rack up another first for Don “Big Daddy” Don Garlits: he has supercharged a new Mopar 392 Hemi Crate Engine with a vintage 6-71 blower to power his historic Swamp Rat XII dragster. The new car, christened the Mopar Wynn's Charger dragster, commemorates his long association with both Chrysler and Wynn's.

In building the new dragster, Garlits started with the historic Swamp Rat 12-A, a front-engine fuel dragster he ran in the '60s. Mopar provided the engine and, with Wynn's sponsorship, Garlits restored the chassis and hand-built the special parts to adapt an engine that had never before seen a load of nitro. It will run on an 80% mix. The result is a 392 Hemi Crate Engine like none seen before: a modern Hemi with all the nostalgia parts and pieces that turn it into a fire breathing, ear-splitting terror.

"We are in exciting new territory with this engine," says Garlits. "We will creep up on it -- run cacklefests for now, then get into burnouts later."

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 13 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler works with Purdue on trees to clean toxic waste

Chrysler LLC is partnering with Purdue University to test the powers of poplar trees to clean up environmental spills and create ethanol, a renewable biofuel. In the first instance, Chrysler is collaborating with the university in planting hybrid poplar trees at an environmental cleanup being conducted by the company at a site in rural central Indiana called Peter's Pond. University research has shown that these hybrid trees have a much greater ability to absorb contaminants out of the soil and ground water and do it faster than normal poplar trees. Research also shows that these fast-growing hybrid trees can be harvested and processed more quickly and cheaply for the production of ethanol to be used in environmentally friendly, renewable biofuels like E85. "This project supports our most important environmental principles at Chrysler: respect for the environment, returning our former sites to productive use and promoting the use of clean, renewable, American-made biofuels, such as ethanol, in our vehicles," Deb Morrissett, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs, said. (Courtesy Chrysler, LLC)

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 13 2007, 10 AM)

Chrysler, Nissan talk cooperation on pickups, small cars

Chrysler and Nissan are talking about working together to develop new vehicles. Though spokespersons at both companies declined to comment, insiders who asked not to be identified say the discussions began soon after the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management last summer and are focused on technical cooperation. The talks cover a range of products from pickups to small cars and engines. Nissan wants Chrysler's large truck expertise and Chrysler needs major help with small cars.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 14 2007, 06 AM)

Chrysler Foundation helps Marine deliver holiday cheer

Thousands of children will have a happier holiday season thanks to the generosity of The Chrysler Foundation. Today Frank Fountain, Chrysler Senior VP of External Affairs and Public Policy will present a $100,000 check to and enough toys to fill five Chrysler and Dodge minivans to Lt. Gen. Matthew T. Cooper (Ret), President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. After the check presentation, Leonard Slatkin, the new director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), will conduct the DSO in his first public appearance. Slatkin is the former director of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. The Toys for Tots donation will help parents who don't have the funds to buy holiday gifts for their children. Chrysler and its manufacturing plants have supported Toys for Tots for more than 10 years.

The presentation will take place today from 11:45 a.m. to Noon at the Chrysler Technology Center located at 800 Chrysler Drive in Auburn Hills, Michigan

Allpar readers wishing to donate to Toys for Tots can get more information at the organization’s website: http://www.toysfortots.org/

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 14 2007, 10 AM)

Senate passes new gas-mileage bill

The U.S. Senate yesterday approved a national energy bill that increases fuel efficiency requirements to a qualified 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (actual fleet averages are expected to be lower because producing cars capable of running on ethanol or biodiesel can be exchanged for some gas-mileage credit). When introduced, the bill had included the removal of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the oil industry, requirements for higher use of renewable energy by utilities, and a requirement that the NHTSA and EPA set consistent regulations to make conforming easier for automakers; but the White House and Senate Republicans demanded and received the more focused bill that passed by an overwhelming vote of 86-8. President Bush said he would sign the bill, which should be a boon to the ethanol and possibly the biodiesel industry. The law continues the separation of car and truck/van/MPV standards, but no longer exempts certain light vehicles with high gross vehicle weights.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 14 2007, 03 PM)

Scott Kunselman to be new leader of body-on-frame products

Chrysler LLC has named Scott Kunselman to Vice President—Body-on-Frame Product Team and Core Team Leader. Kunselman will be responsible for all Body-on-Frame vehicles, which include the Dakota, Durango, Ram, Aspen and Wrangler.

Kunselman joined Chrysler in 1985 as a member of the Chrysler Institute of Engineering (CIE) program and risen through product development. Most recently, he served as Chief Engineer—Dodge Ram Truck Programs. Kunselman’s appointment took effect Nov. 8, and he reports to Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President—Product Development.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 17 2007, 02 PM)

Chrysler statement on Energy Bill

Statement from Robert Nardelli, Chairman and CEO, Chrysler LLC, Regarding New, Nationwide U.S. Fuel Economy Standards:

“We commend the Congress for passing an energy bill today and we fully support it being signed into law. Chrysler is committed to meeting the fuel economy standards of the bill and doing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our country’s reliance on foreign oil. We continue to devote significant resources to develop quality, fuel efficient products that our customers expect. This year alone, we offer six vehicles that get 28 miles per gallon or better, and more are on the way.”

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 18 2007, 02 PM)

Jim Press says Chrysler and Cerberus will support new standards

Jim Press, Chrysler’s Vice Chairman and President, says the automaker supports the new energy bill that is expected to be signed into law by President Bush today and that Cerberus has agreed to invest billions in improving the efficiency of Chrysler vehicles.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve a bill requiring automakers to improve fuel efficiency to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 while preserving billions in tax breaks for the five leading oil companies. The vote was 314-100. The bill also contains perks for farmers and the large agricultural companies by calling for an increase in the use of biofuels like corn-based ethanol to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022, even though economists say the shift in crop production is already causing significant increases in food prices.

Speaking with the Detroit News, Press said Cerberus Capital Management has "brought to us a new and much more progressive perspective on not just being an American company, but being a good American company contributing to society."

Press said Chrysler will be introducing two-mode gasoline-electric hybrid versions of the Aspen and Durango in 2008 and already has six models that get at least 28 mpg with more in the pipeline. He added that achieving the new standards will mean the development of new, smaller engines but adds engines can still be made sufficiently powerful through the use of technologies like turbocharging and cylinder deactivation that are already in use.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 19 2007, 08 AM)

Chery links with Israel Corporation

According to Bloomberg News, and quoted by Detroit News, Israel Corporation will be creating a joint-venture automaker in partnership with Chery, at a cost of $225 million for a 45% stake. Chery is currently working with Chrysler, and is owned by the government of Wuhu, China; the company also has agreements with companies in Argentina, Bangladesh, Iran, and Malaysia.

Chrysler has not had a substantial presence in Israel since the 1970s, when the A-bodies were popular; in the 1950s and 1960s, Chrysler Corporation taxis powered by Perkins diesels were popular. Israeli generals were issued Valiants, and Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister, had a Polara.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 19 2007, 11 AM)

Chrysler to cut 200 UAW workers today

Two hundred UAW-represented salaried employees, most working in design and engineering departments at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills headquarters, will be laid off today. The layoffs are part of the staff reduction program announced in November but have been advanced because of production cuts caused by slow sales of Chrysler vehicles.

According to a source, today’s pink slips will be the first to go to union staffers. The affected workers are members of UAW Local 412. The source was unsure whether or not the employees would be offered buyout packages. Local 412 represents salaried UAW workers at Chrysler's headquarters and other company facilities in the metropolitan Detroit area.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 20 2007, 08 AM)

Grand Caravan scores well in low-speed crash tests

The Dodge Grand Caravan was second only to the Honda Odyssey in low-speed crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In a series of four tests simulating collisions at three to six miles per hour, the Grand Caravan required a total of $5,495 in repairs, just $237 more than the Odyssey. In a rear corner impact test, the Caravan came out on top, needing just $483 in repairs.

The IIHS tested six minivans including the Honda Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest and the discontinued Chevrolet Uplander.

The Nissan came in with the poorest showing with a total of $8,102 in required repairs. The Quest and Toyota Sienna required replacement of the rear liftgate in the full-width bumper test.

IIHS Test Results by total cost of repairs.
Honda Odyssey: $5,258
Dodge Grand Caravan: $5,495
Toyota Sienna: $5,726
Chevrolet Uplander: $5,799
Kia Sedona: $6,525
Nissan Quest: $8,102

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 20 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler Christmas party for the press

Autoblog covered interesting angles of the Chrysler Christmas party in this article.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 20 2007, 05 PM)

Chrysler cancels Christmas HQ layoffs

Two hundred Chrysler white-collar workers scheduled to be laid off got an early Christmas present: they get to keep their jobs for now.

The employees, mostly in the design and engineering departments at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, are represented by UAW Local 412. After news of the impending layoffs reached the media, national union leaders negotiated with management to preserve the positions. Chrysler officials say the company had no firm plans to make the cuts at this time.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 21 2007, 10 AM)

Dodge Journey pricing announced

The Dodge Journey crossover's pricing has been announced. It will include standard multi-stage front driver and passenger air bags, standard front-seat-mounted side air bags and standard three-row side-curtain air bags. The base price will be $19,985, including destination charge.

Flexible seating and storage combinations include standard five- passenger seating with spacious cargo room and available third-row seating for carrying up to seven passengers. Spacious storage bins, hidden in the floor and available under the front passenger seat cushion, combined with the standard Chill Zone™ for beverage storage and a choice of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder World Engine on the SE model or 3.5-liter V- 6 engine with six-speed Auto Stick and dual exhaust on the SXT and R/T models, make Dodge Journey flexible and functional. The 2.7 liter engine appears to have been dropped.

Standard safety features include four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), Panic Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Electronic Roll Mitigation, and Trailer Sway Damping. A back-up camera is optional.

The 2009 Dodge Journey will be available in U.S. dealerships in the first quarter of 2008 and in global volume markets outside North America in both left-hand and right-hand drive, starting in mid-2008.

Journey SXT and R/T models also are available with a state-of-the-art all- wheel-drive (AWD) system that comes with 19-inch wheels and tires and a performance suspension. Journey's AWD system starts at a $25,530.

2009 Dodge Journey Pricing
(All prices include $625 destination)

Dodge Journey SE -- $19,985
Dodge Journey SXT -- $22,985
Dodge Journey SXT AWD -- $25,530 (includes 19-inch aluminum wheels and
tires, fog lamps, performance suspension)
Dodge Journey R/T -- $26,545
Dodge Journey R/T AWD -- $28,295

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 21 2007, 04 PM)

Chrysler nets Canadian sales gain in slumping market

Though car and light-truck sales fell 5% overall in Canada, Chrysler managed to post a 7.1% increase, with Chrysler gaining by 19%, Jeep by 41%, and Dodge falling by 6%. Year to date, Chrysler has gained 9% in Canada, while Ford fell 9% and GM fell 2%. Chrysler actually beat Ford in November (though not for the first 11 months of 2007), by nearly 2,000 units.

The main origin of Chrysler's gain was in Jeeps and minivans, with Jeep sales rising by 1,300 - far more than Chrysler's 500-unit gain. Dodge fell by 600 units, most likely reflecting a move from Caravans to Town & Countrys.

Toyota fell for November but has gained for the first 11 months of 2007, moving ahead by around 2,600 vehicles. Toyota was Canada's #4 automaker in December, behind (in November 2007 sales order) GM, Chrysler, Ford, and Honda, though for 2007 as a whole, Toyota is certain to beat Honda by a good margin to come in at #3.

Reported by DaveAdmin at (December 26 2007, 09 AM)

Chrysler greenlights crash overhaul of mid-size interiors

Automotive News reports Chrysler has begun a crash overhaul of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger. The program, called “Project D,” is designed to correct problems with the new mid-size cars.

To help staff the Project D team Chrysler is bringing back some senior managers and other personnel who recently took early retirement packages. They will work on contract until Project D is complete sometime in 2008.

The Sebring and Avenger have achieved only limited success in one of the most hotly-contested segments of the passenger car market. Both have come under fire for inferior interiors that detract from the quality of the customer experience.

Project D will focus on interiors but insiders say that is not the end of changes planned for the Sebring and Avenger. Each of the cars will receive an early total makeover, including refreshed exterior styling.

Reported by Bill_Cawthon at (December 26 2007, 05 PM)


Jeep to try again Down Under

Back to the Chrysler 100

Kidde fire-extinguisher recall and Ram RVs

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