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SRT to be separate company brand

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler has officially elevated its in-house performance division – the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team – to a separate company brand that promises to maintain its successful formula to design, engineer and build benchmark American high-performance vehicles for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.

The launch of SRT as the performance brand comes as three additional SRT products are set to rejoin the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8® in the expanding SRT lineup. Making their returns to the product lineup are the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8, 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 and 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

All four new SRT vehicles share a common powerplant – the new 6.4-liter (392 cubic-inch) HEMI V-8 engine that features more horsepower and more torque than ever before across a significantly wider rpm range, while intake and exhaust technologies lead to improved fuel efficiency.

“SRT lives on as the in-house performance team of the Chrysler Group that adheres to our five existing performance hallmarks centered around building the best high-performance vehicles for the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands,” said Ralph Gilles, the newly assigned President and CEO — SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “Being a separate brand will allow our team to expand the dedicated engineering and marketing resources for specific performance vehicles. We will look to delight SRT customers and evolve our business model with the performance enthusiast in mind. The SRT vehicle lineup will continue to make the latest in contemporary luxury features available to our customers, while carefully integrating active and passive safety features. We strive to never lose focus on driver involvement and vehicle character while maintaining each of the vehicle brand’s key design differentiators.”

Every SRT product is developed using five specific performance hallmarks including: Awe-inspiring Powertrains; Outstanding Ride and Handling; Superior Braking; Aggressive and Functional Exterior and a Race-inspired and Functional Interior.

“This is a momentous time in the history of SRT as we expand our product lineup from one vehicle within one brand to four vehicles within all three Chrysler Group brands,” Gilles added. “I honestly can’t wait for our performance customers to get behind the wheel of our new lineup of SRT products – they’re going to be impressed.”

Since 2002, the SRT team has been creating the Chrysler Group’s boldest, most distinctive products that delivered benchmark performance. Original team members were recruited from the established Dodge Viper development team that had already been building the ultimate American supercar for more than 10 years, along with Dodge motorsports’ and the Mopar engineering teams. Don Knott, SRT’s leader back then, credits its early success directly to this “team of die-hard performance enthusiasts leading the engineering efforts.”

The 2003 Dodge Viper SRT10 was the first official SRT product with its all-new, 500 horsepower 8.3 liter V-10 engine. It was followed by the groundbreaking Dodge Neon SRT4 that instantly became the quickest car under $20,000 and made the import tuning crowd take serious notice. (It still ranks as one of the most fun-to-drive cars I have ever had the pleasure to experience.)

In total, there have been ten Chrysler Group nameplates designed and engineered specifically to wear the SRT badge including: Chrysler 300 and 300C SRT8; Chrysler Crossfire SRT6; Dodge Neon SRT4; Dodge Ram SRT10; Dodge Viper SRT10, Viper ACR and Viper ACR-X; Dodge Magnum SRT8; Dodge Charger SRT8; Dodge Caliber SRT4; Dodge Challenger SRT8 and Challenger SRT8 392 and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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