Friday, July 13, 2007

Thanks to

Chrysler: Let the Celebration Begin?

By Christopher A. Sawyer, Executive EditorChristopher's BioWrite Christopher

A recent media drive at Chrysler’s Chelsea, MI, proving ground proved to be something of a love fest between Chrysler employees and their soon to be new owners at Cerberus. Beyond the expected "Thank God we don’t have to deal with speculation about ownership anymore" remarks, there was an easiness that has been missing from recent events that permeated the ranks of all the Chrysler participants. One engineer told me, "I came here 17 years ago because this was the company that put concept cars into production, and had a certain swagger. The past 10 years under the control of our ‘German friends’ hasn’t been so nice. I hope that with Cerberus we can get that swagger back."

Others – especially those on the Jeep side of the house – wondered about rumors that Cerberus is interested in buying Jaguar and Land Rover. "Those brands would give us an upmarket and global reach we don’t have right now," said one engineer, while his Jeep compatriot chimed in with, "And it could work to our advantage to have the two top names in off-roading under one roof and at different ends of the market." I don’t claim to know if their speculation is just hopefulness or folly. At this point, the reaction seems similar to that of a partner after the dissolution of a particularly bad relationship: relief. From that relief springs hope that the new relationship can’t possibly be as bad as the old, especially when the old partner – according to the aggrieved party – was overbearing and domineering.

Asked about the cost of changing the signs from "DaimlerChrysler" to just "Chrysler" one engineer noted that, "It’d take no time with a chain saw, and doing that would not only cost us very little money, the extra space before the Chrysler name would remind everybody of why we don’t ever want to go down that road again." It was enough to give you the impression that, despite Daimler’s nearly 20% share in the new company, the rules of engagement were going to be very different this time around. "Perhaps we can find a one-way street near our headquarters," said the Jeep engineer, "and name it 'Shremp Strasse' on one end and 'Eaton Boulevard' on the other, with the directional signs pointing toward a roundabout in the middle. That would about sum up what this merger has been like."

It was at this point that I decided to make myself scarce for fear that, if the conversation went on much longer, someone in the group was going to grab one of the Sebring convertibles sitting around and re-enact the last scene from the movie Thelma and Louise. I’ll admit it’s nice to see the spring return to the step of the Chrysler folks, but I hope it’s real and not a false dawn for the folks from Auburn Hills.


Friday, July 13, 2007

OSCODA - Think racy sports cars and Earth-friendliness are mutually exclusive?

You haven't met the team that assembled this week at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport. The group, an Orange County Chopper-style mix of money and mechanical genius, hit the runway Thursday to set a land speed record.

Specifically, their Dodge Viper roared to 220 mph starting from a dead stop, ending at one mile, gulping biofuel, not gasoline.

There's the rub. The car ran on a fuel mix called E85 - 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gas.

That's noteworthy because critics decry ethanol as inefficient - incapable of high performance.

''The whole idea today is to push people's perceptions about what's possible,'' said Karl Jacob, a former racer turned California entrepreneur.

''Everybody thinks environmentally friendly cars have to be slow,'' continued Jacob, 39. ''This proves we can build high performance cars that are Earth-conscious.''

''It's a message Jacob and his team hope isn't lost. Not on the public, not on the auto industry, not on policy-makers.

It wasn't lost Thursday on Michigan Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch. Sheltrown, who attended the test runs, has made alternative fuel use one of his key legislative issues. In particular he has pushed for research incentives encouraging biofuel development.

Resistance, he said, is exasperating.

But watching Thursday's ''E85 Viper'' runs, Sheltrown was plainly eager to return to Lansing to spread ethanol's story.

''The question isn't if, it's when do we make a commitment to pursue alternative fuel use,'' he said. ''For me, this today dispels all he myths that ethanol isn't a viable answer. All the nay-sayers in Lansing ... I can't wait to tell them about this.''

Why shouldn't Michigan lead the way in biofuel research, he suggested. The state is not only the nation's car capital; it boasts a huge agricultural economy. Ethanol is made by distilling grain, in particular corn.

''Sure there are obstacles to making ethanol widely available to the public,'' Sheltrown said. ''But the biggest obstacle now is people who say this fuel won't work.

''Well, these are race car drivers,'' he continued. ''Look how excited they are about ethanol.''

For Viper driver Ron Misjak, a career race car builder from Chicago, ethanol's promise lies partly in that it's relatively easy to convert gas-powered cars to ethanol use, he said.

''The big thing to me is that ethanol is in its infancy,'' said Misjak, 41.

''Heck, we've been running cars on gas for a century. But we're only two years into ethanol. There's still so much to learn, so much to perfect with ethanol.''

Thursday's test runs, indeed, reflect two years work for Misjak and team. Their modifications to the Viper include adding a twin turbocharge package, increasing the car's fuel delivery and upgrading the brakes, designers said.

''Remember, though, this isn't a race car,'' Jacob said. ''It's street legal. It's the car I drive to work. ...

''So, do I think ethanol is a front-runner in the movement away from gas?'' he continued. ''Absolutely. Look at the performance and decide for yourself.''





CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION PLAN 2006 Operating Results Euro (Millions) Observations Intense competition in U.S. Gas prices drive shift in consumer preferences from large SUV’s, trucks, minivans to mid/small vehicles CG derives over 70% of its retail sales from the minivan / truck / SUV segments Global commodity and continued material cost headwinds pressure margins Vehicle inventories not aligned with market demand Dealer relations € (1,118) 119 51 (1,164) (124) 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q


PROFIT DETERIORATION FACTORS CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION PLAN Operating Profit FY 2005 Operating Profit FY 2006 1,534 -1,118 - 2,652 Improved efficiency and fixed costs Decrease in shipments reflecting change in customers’ demand Adjustments of production volume Negative net pricing Higher material cost Euro (Millions)


TWO PART PLAN Recovery Short-term progress on profitability Return on sales of 2.5% by 2009 Strategic Transformation Mid-term change of business model Achieve and sustain benchmark performance CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION PLAN


WM1 Product Strategy / Portfolio Management Capital Management WM7 Fixed Cost Management WM2 Structural Changes / Manufacturing WM3 Material Costs Management WM4 Revenue Management WM5 Quality WM6 Chrysler Group Executive Committee Brand Equity / Right New Products Investment Efficiency Rightsizing / Health Care Cost Control Capacity Utilization Global Sourcing Pricing / Mix / Dealer Network WM – Work Module Warranty Cost Reduction CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN IMPLEMENTATION TEAMS


KEY MEASURES CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN Capacity / Productivity Material & Fixed Costs Revenue Management Continue product offensive (8 new and 5 refreshed products in 2007) Improve retail / fleet mix Accelerate global growth Effective marketing / incentive spending Reduce and optimize dealer network to improve dealer profitability


KEY MEASURES CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN Capacity / Productivity Material & Fixed Costs Revenue Management Reduce material costs by up to $1.5b by 2009 Explore sale / outsourcing of non-core operations Select parts distribution processes Transportation services Select support functions Assumptions for successful union negotiations Continue product offensive (8 new and 5 refreshed products in 2007) Improve retail / fleet mix Accelerate global growth Effective marketing / incentive spending Reduce and optimize dealer network to improve dealer profitability


KEY MEASURES CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN Capacity / Productivity Material & Fixed Costs Reduce total assembly capacity by 400,000 Eliminate shifts: Newark & Warren in 2007, St. Louis South in 2008 Idle Newark Assembly plant in 2009 Idle Cleveland parts distribution center in December 2007 Reduce powertrain, stamping and component capacity Revenue Management Reduce material costs by up to $1.5b by 2009 Explore sale / outsourcing of non-core operations Select parts distribution processes Transportation services Select support functions Assumptions for successful union negotiations Continue product offensive (8 new and 5 refreshed products in 2007) Improve retail / fleet mix Accelerate global growth Effective marketing / incentive spending Reduce and optimize dealer network to improve dealer profitability


CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN Special retirement, separation and attrition programs will be announced later EMPLOYEE IMPACT – 13,000 TOTAL Salary Reduce Salaried employment by 2,000 over two years Hourly Reduce Hourly employment by 11,000 over three years (9,000 in U.S. and 2,000 in Canada) 4,000 Assembly Plants 1,000 Powertrain and Stamping 1,000 Other, including potential sale of non-core functions 3,000 Technology, efficiency and productivity 2,000 Canada - Technology, investment efficiency, and productivity 11,000 TOTAL HOURLY


RESTRUCTURING CHARGES AND ADDITIONAL EFFECTS Restructuring Charges (in €/$ bn) 2007 Restructuring Charge Up to € 1.0 ($ 1.3) Cash Effect € 0.8 ($ 1.0) Additional Effects (in €/$ bn) 2007 Inventory Adjustment € 0.2 ($ 0.3) CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY PLAN Total Up to € 1.0 ($ 1.3) € 1.0 ($ 1.3)


ASSUMPTIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS Base Planning Assumptions SAAR (in Mil) Pricing 17.2 17.0 <>


Current Business Model Redesigned Business Model Product-centric Customer and Brand Focus NAFTA-centric Global Balance Internal Resource Driven Alliances and Partnerships Product offensive, mix shift and powertrain investment Dealer network optimization and component / architecture sharing Manufacturing, supply and sales footprints optimized to maximize global growth and profitability Leveraging partnerships for growth & to manage costs Creative and efficient use of alliances to achieve geographic, market segment, and product opportunities CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN STRATEGIC TRANSFORMATION


2006 PRODUCT OFFENSIVE CUSTOMER AND BRAND FOCUS CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN Wrangler 4 dr Patriot Pacifica Freshening Durango Freshening Sebring Sedan Caliber Wrangler 2 dr Nitro Compass New SRT8 Grd Cherokee New New New New New New New New New Chassis Cab Aspen JAN FEB MAY JUN APR JUL AUG MAR OCT DEC NOV SEP


2007 PRODUCT OFFENSIVE (8 NEW, 5 REFRESH) CUSTOMER AND BRAND FOCUS CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN Avenger Grand Cherokee CRD Magnum Freshening Sebring Convertible Liberty Ram 4500/5500 Chassis Cab Dakota Freshening Viper SRT10 Sprinter Town & Country Caravan Caliber SRT4 300 & Charger Freshening JAN FEB MAY JUN APR JUL AUG MAR OCT DEC NOV SEP New New New New New New New New


CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN CUSTOMER AND BRAND FOCUS Product offensive continues (brand equity and differentiation) New versions of minivans, pick-up truck, and select LX vehicles 20 plus all-new vehicles; 13 refreshed All-new commercial segment expansion (Sprinter and Class 4&5) Product mix shift to more fuel efficient vehicles Powertrain revolution $ 3 billion investment plan in new engines, transmissions, and axles BLUETEC diesel engines from MCG / Cummins Dealer network optimization / stronger brand focus


CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN CUSTOMER AND BRAND FOCUS POWERTRAIN PORTFOLIO MEASURES GASOLINE DIESEL HYBRID TRANS / AXLE Action Benefits Increased Fuel Economy Increased Performance Reduced Complexity I-4 families: from 3 to 1 V-6 families: from 4 to 1* * Target I-4 World Engine V-6 Phoenix Engine I-4 MB Engine V-6 MB Engine LD Cummins Diesel Full Hybrid Mild Hybrid Dual Clutch Transmission Common Axle Program




CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN GLOBAL BALANCE Defend and grow Chrysler Group NAFTA strongholds NAFTA nameplate consolidation in selected vehicle segments Add new non-NAFTA vehicle programs crucial to global expansion Leverage 3rd party alliances to cost effectively access regional products and markets $5+ billion additional purchasing to low cost sources – balance supplier footprint


CHRYSLER GROUP TRANSFORMATION PLAN ALLIANCES AND PARTNERSHIPS Partner to accelerate growth and leverage resources Manufacturing Assemble minivans for VW Retail Network Marketing Hyundai in Mexico Small Vehicle Segment Chery in China Focused Alliances GEMA World Engine, Hybrid Strong NAFTA Position Select Regional Expansion


400,000 unit capacity reduction Shift reductions; 1 plant to be idled; 1 parts distribution center to be idled Workforce reductions of 13,000 Global market opportunities with low cost sourcing Strong product pipeline $3 billion powertrain investment leads to a more fuel efficient product line-up Dealer network optimization $4.5 billion targeted savings; including up to $1.5 billion targeted material savings 2.5% return on sales CHRYSLER GROUP RECOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION PLAN SUMMARY KEY MEASURES By 2009

Dodge Caliber SRT4 to reach 285 hp, torque steer addressed

Posted Today 06:00 AM by Mike Floyd

MOTOR TREND BLOG: With the launch of Dodge's long-awaited Caliber SRT4 inching ever closer to its early fall debut, and we've gained a bit of additional intel surrounding its much-anticipated final powertrain details.

Latest word is that horsepower of the turbocharged and intercooled version of Chrysler's 2.4-liter, four cylinder world engine will be pegged to 285, with torque coming in at 265 lb-ft, which puts it in the fight with the upcoming Mitsubishi EVO X and Subaru WRX STi for several thousand less. Pricing will be in the $25,000 range, with a possible stipper model as low as $20,000 to start.

According to our sources, besides dialing back the horsepower from its original target of 300, dramatic measures have been undertaken to counter the torque steer issues that can result from all that power being routed through the SRT4's 19-inch front wheels.

Among the changes: altering the position of the transmission to reduce the angle of the half-shafts, a torque management system for first and second gears and more anti-squat dialed into the suspension geometry.

Dodge has definitely taken its time with the SRT4, likely due in no small part to the torque steer reduction efforts. We'll find out how well they did shortly.

Chrysler introducing hybrid Durango and Aspen in 2009

chrysler introducing hybrid durango and aspen in 2009

Chrysler is introducing hybrid versions of its big SUVs, the Dodge Durango and clone Chrysler Aspen. The vehicles will both use the 5.7 liter hemi V-8, but in conjunction with a two mode hybrid system which uses an electrically operated continuously variable transmission developed in a joint project with BMW and General Motors. The transmission has two electric motors, allowing the hybrid system to use either the electrical energy of those motors or the energy of the gasoline engine or both, as needed. The electric motors are also used to store energy through a regenerative braking system.

The hemi also incorporates the Chrysler “Multi Displacement System” which deactivates cylinders according to the level of demand for torque placed on the engine, thereby increasing fuel mileage. But use of the hybrid system increases the length of time the V-8 can operate in the four cylinder mode.

Chrysler estimates the hybrid version will get 25% better mileage overall, with a 40% mileage increase for city driving, which would be 19 mpg vs. 13 mpg for the non-hybrid version.

Those who have test driven the set-up in prototype vehicles have reported its operation as seamless.

Source: Internal

Consumer: New Sterling/Dodge Ram

Sterling/Dodge Ram

By Jean Pierre Bourdeau

For the first time in its history, heavy truck manufacturer Sterling will offer its North American clients a brand-new line of heavy-duty trucks. Coming this fall, they'll be classified as midrange trucks, targeting only the commercial market.

The Sterling Bullet was created in collaboration with DaimlerChrysler and is based on the well-known Dodge Ram 4500/5500. One distinguishing feature of this vehicle is its imposing grille, normally associated with the Sterling lineup of heavy vehicles.

The chassis for the new 2008 Bullet was designed for use with a variety of truck configurations, including dump, contractor, towing, and box trucks. Powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine, the Bullet will be available in two cab configurations--regular or quad cab--and the choice of two- or four-wheel drive.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

John D. Davis and his wife, Louise Hitchcock Davis, leave New York City in an attempt to make the first transcontinental automobile trip - after numerous mechanical and other problems they abandoned the attempt near Toledo, OH
Charles W. Nash purchases the Thomas B. Jeffery Company following a meeting with company officials in Chicago, IL
Henry Ford II marries Anne McDonnell
Racer Thierry Boutsen is born in Brussels, Belgium
A. P. Buquor, the Martin-Parry Corporation executive who designed the first 6-wheeled truck, dies in Washington, DC at age 77

Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas A. Wick

E.U. clears Cerberus Capital's $1 bln buy of Tower Automotive

E.U. clears Cerberus Capital's $1 bln buy of Tower Automotive

BRUSSELS (MarketWatch) -- The European Commission Friday cleared Cerberus Capital Management's $1 billion purchase of Tower Automotive Inc. (TWRAQ :
tower automotive inc com

Cerberus Capital Management is a private equity company operating through an acquisition vehicle, TA Acquisition Company.
The deal's approval clears the way for Tower Automotive to emerge from more than two years in bankrupcy proceedings. The vehicle component manufacturer filed for Chapter 11 in February 2005, saying lower production volumes, rising steel prices and a complex and a large debt load had made its business unsustainable.
Under the terms of the deal Cerberus will pay a $680 million balance on the company's debtor-in-possession loan and $41 million in other loan obligations. It will also assume Tower Automotive's pension plans, which are said to require around $40 million in funding.
Tower Automotive designs and produces vehicle components for major automotive companies. Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Mangement has yet to reveal its plans for the company but has said it is looking to build a base of companies in the auto industry. It is in the process of buying Chrysler Group from DaimlerChrysler DCX, one of Tower's largest customers.
Tower Automotive has previously said it expects its sale to complete by the end of July.

Motor Trend: Review of the 2007 Dodge Cummins 2500

AMC products on display in Colorado

Category: General
Posted by: Editors
Associated Press AURORA, Colo. - Car owners from as far away as Mexico City, Finland and Sweden gathered in the Denver area this weekend for a show featuring everything from the classic Nash Rambler that outran a Cadillac, at least in song, to the muscle car AMX.

They were all products of the now-extinct American Motors Corp., which was based in Kenosha.

And that's part of the allure for AMC enthusiasts, hundreds of whom gathered for the three-day International American Motors Owners Association show and convention.

"They're different," said Terry Gale, who shows his 600 cars at his "Rambler Ranch" in Elizabeth, southeast of Denver. "Fords and Chevys in the mid-50s are gorgeous cars, but they're everywhere."

He restored his father's 1954 Ambassador that sat behind the house for 18 years.

"I was just basically trying to save a piece of family history," Gale said. "And I thought, `You know, you never see these at car shows.'"

After three years of work, Gale started taking the Ambassador to shows and the response was "overwhelming."

American Motors was formed in 1954 by the merger of Hudson Motors and Nash-Kelvinator. The Nash Rambler was memorialized in the song "Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler)" about a driver of a Cadillac speeding to 120 mph so the much smaller Rambler, which he thought was trying to race him, couldn't pass.

The punch line was the Rambler driver rolled down his window and yelled at the Caddy driver: "Hey, buddy, how can I get this car out of second gear?"

American Motors folded in the late 1980s after attempts by Renault and Chrysler to shore it up. Products of its 34-year run were on display in a lot at an Aurora hotel Saturday. Two 1959 gleaming green and white, two-seater Metropolitans sat side by side. Ramblers, Rebels, Marlins, Javelins, Pacers stretched for rows and rows.

Joe Fougerousse of Indianapolis drove to Colorado in a 1967 Rebel SST convertible that he restored with parts from two other cars. He said he gets more attention than other people at local car shows when he drives his AMCs in.

"Owning an AMC is like owning a diamond; not everyone actually has one," Fougerousse said.

This year's international convention, held for only the second time west of the Mississippi River, drew people from across the country, Canada and Mexico, said Bob Kenworthy, head of the Colorado American Motors Club and the convention organizer.

"I've got people here from Finland, Sweden, Mexico City and a couple from Costa Rico," Kenworthy said.

Like the others, Kenworthy became interested in AMCs in part because they're not as common as other makes. He restored a 1970 "Big Bad Green" and black AMX, one of only 25 made and once clocked at 180 mph. He also displayed his 1967 black Rebel.

Luis Guzman and Carlos Gochicoa left their cars at home. They flew, rather than drove, to Denver from Mexico City.

"I don't know why, but you get it. You don't want to get it, but it's like a disease," said Guzman, explaining his fascination with AMC cars.

Guzman has an AMX and is looking for more cars.

Chrysler eases away from deep incentives

Asking price on minivans lowered

John Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Chrysler, has said the firm has no plans to sell the carmaker.

John Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Chrysler, has said the firm has no plans to sell the carmaker. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group will reduce the sticker prices on its 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans an average of $2,000 while adding features, the company said yesterday.

But two industry analysts said that since current minivans are offered with generous incentives, the 2008 pricing just brings the asking price closer to the actual prices consumers pay now.

The size of the price reduction will vary with options and models when the vans arrive in dealerships this fall, Chrysler said.

For example, the base model Dodge Grand Caravan SE will be priced at $22,470, $1,950 below the current sticker price of $24,420, the company said. A Chrysler Town & Country LX would drop $3,585, from $26,775 to $23,190. The high-end Town & Country Limited would drop $935, from $37,335 to $36,400.

On both the Dodge and Chrysler minivans, the company added all-row side curtain air bags with rollover protection, electronic stability control with brake assist and traction control, as well as other standard features.

Chrysler was able to reduce the prices while adding features largely because its factories have become more efficient at installing safety systems in its new minivans and factory workers have agreed to a team approach to building the vehicles, said Michele Tinson, a Chrysler spokeswoman.

Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for the automotive website, said the company is also getting a boost from declining costs for air bags and other features.

He said the price reductions merely bring the minivans closer to actual sales prices for 2007 models. On the current Grand Caravan, for instance, Dodge is offering an average of $4,400 in incentives, or around 25 percent off the sticker price, Toprak said.

Both General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have withdrawn from the minivan market, so Chrysler sees 2008 as a year to grab more sales, Toprak said. Chrysler's major minivan competitors, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, are not new models, and Chrysler could take sales away from them with its redesigned minivans, he said.

Decision on Daimler name set for October 4 - Good riddence!!

Matthias Krust
Automotive News Europe
July 13, 2007

After selling Chrysler, DaimlerChrysler will hold a special shareholder meeting on October 4 in Berlin to decide on future company strategy and pick its future name, says Automotive News Europe’s sister publication Automobilwoche.

The German automaker had previously announced a fall meeting, but had not set a date.

A senior DaimlerChrysler manager told Automobilwoche at Mercedes' US plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that Berlin was chosen over Stuttgart as the meeting site for organizational reasons and costs. DaimlerChrysler has held annual shareholder meetings at the Berlin Congress Center for several years.

Company management has proposed the name “Daimler AG” to distinguish it from Daimler-Benz used in the past.

Critics have heavily objected to the proposal for not using the names of both company founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz.

DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche wants to accommodate critics by changing the name of all the factories that manufacture Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks from Daimler plants to Mercedes plants.

At the meeting, Zetsche is expected to outline the company's future orientation.

In May, DaimlerChrysler agreed to sell an 80.1-percent stake of the Chrysler group to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, unwinding the 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler that failed to live up to expectations.

Chrysler on track for deal with Cerberus, Zetsche says

Reuters |
July 12, 2007VANCE, Ala. (Reuters) -- Cerberus Capital Management is on track to conclude its $7.4 billion acquisition of Chrysler Group, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said on Wednesday, July 11.

"Everything is on track and it works according to plan," Zetsche told Reuters at the 10th anniversary celebrations of a DaimlerChrysler plant in Vance, Alabama.

His comments echoed remarks earlier on Wednesday, July 11, by Cerberus CEO John Snow who said the company was "confident" it had the financing to close the acquisition.

"There are no 'ifs' in that statement" from Snow, said Zetsche.

Cerberus agreed a deal to buy 80.1 percent of DaimlerChrysler's struggling U.S unit in May, allowing Germany's Daimler to unwind a merger with the No. 3 U.S. automaker under intense pressure from its own shareholders.

DaimlerChrysler shares fell more than 2 percent in European trading on market talk the sale could be running into financing difficulties. Daimler shares pared those losses in trading on the New York Stock Exchange after Snow's remarks.

Zetsche: Alabama plant will play big role in Daimler, Chrysler cooperation

April Wortham
Automotive News
July 12, 2007 - 12:01 am

VANCE, Ala. -- Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama plant will be a “major building block” in the new Daimler organization as it emerges from its sale of Chrysler, DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche said here Wednesday.

Speaking at an event commemorating the 10th production anniversary at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc., Zetsche cited Mercedes' and Chrysler's plan to continue sharing future electrical architectures, SUV chassis components and other technology.

“SUVs are a big share of that, therefore MBUSI is very much involved in this future cooperation,” Zetsche said.

The Alabama plant is the exclusive producer of Mercedes’ family of SUVs for the world market, the M, R and GL classes. Production of the first M Class began in February 1997 with an expected target of 65,000 vehicles per year.

A $600 million expansion completed in 2005 doubled the plant’s size and workforce, making room for production of the R Class and GL Class, which went on sale in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

“Right from the start, Alabama and Mercedes-Benz has been a win-win relationship,” Zetsche said. “We have invested more than $1 billion here and expanded our facilities not once but twice. And that’s not without reason, since the plant produces top quality vehicles that are popular all over the world.”

More than 960,000 units of the three models have been delivered to customers since 1997, making Mercedes the best-selling premium brand in the SUV segment. The Alabama plant produced more than 170,000 SUVs last year, the most in its 10-year history.

“This organization has come a long way, from never having built an automobile just 10 years ago to now building three products that are produced for 135 countries worldwide,” said MBUSI President Bill Taylor. “Today’s event reminds us what this Mercedes-Benz team in Alabama can do.”

To mark the anniversary, Mercedes introduced a special version of the M Class called Edition 10.

The model, which will go on sale this fall, will carry a special badge on its fender and feature 20-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, sportier headlights and special body paint colors.

Dodge-based VW minivan caught on dealer TV - too little, too late?

After teasing fans with a modern interpretation of the classic Type 2 micro-bus a few years ago, Volkswagen decided it wasn't an economically viable project. It ultimately decided to strike a deal with DaimlerChrysler to use the Caravan/Town and Country minivan platform as the basis for a VW van. Unfortunately for VW, the minivan market is shrinking as they finally get their own unit to market.

A poster on the VWVortex forums has reportedly caught the first image of the new Chrysler-based VW van on a VW dealer TV screen and had his camera phone ready. No one should be surprised that from the rear quarter angle it looks like a 2008 Dodge Caravan with Touareg taillights. The question remains whether or not by the time it appears in VW dealerships in the summer of 2008, will anyone still care?

In addition to the new van, the dealer TV system also gave timing for some other new products, most of which we already know about. VW had previously confirmed that the Jetta TDI and Tiguan were coming in the first half of 2008 and the Touareg diesel was coming in the fall of 2008. What hadn't been confirmed previously was the Passat coupe also coming in the fall of 2008.

Thanks for the tip, Matt!

[Source: VW Vortex forums]

Kumho to Supply Tires for Dodge Viper ALMS GT2 Car

Kumho to supply tires for Dodge Viper ALMS GT2 car Kumho Tire U.S.A. will supply tires for the Woodhouse Performance Dodge Viper Competition Coupe in the GT2 class at the American Le Mans Series Acura Sportscar Challenge at Mid-Ohio on July 21. This will be the first appearance in the ALMS GT2 class for both Kumho and Dodge. Kumho currently competes in the ALMS prototype classes, and Dodge last raced in the American Le Mans Series in 2002 with the Viper GTS-R.

The Mid-Ohio race is the only ALMS event the Viper is scheduled to appear in this season. The Woodhouse Performance team is converting one of its SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Vipers to ALMS GT2 specs for the Mid-Ohio race. The car is slated to return to World Challenge GT competition after the Mid-Ohio ALMS race.The Viper will compete on Kumho tires that were developed specifically for the car. “We’ve worked closely the last few years with Dodge Motorsports and the Viper Competition Coupe in SCCA Club Racing,” said Rudy Consolacion, Kumho’s motorsports manager, “and now we’re developing a tire that’s designed specifically for the Viper in the ALMS GT2 class. We’re making great progress with our LMP1 and LMP2 tires, and we’re eager to enter the fray of GT2 competition. We hope to use this as a stepping stone to expand Kumho’s ALMS effort in 2008.”

SCCA drivers Cindi Lux and Stan Wilson will drive the Viper at Mid-Ohio. Lux currently races a Viper in SPEED World Challenge GT competition with NayKid Racing teammate Scotty B. White. She previously raced a Viper in the SCCA’s T1 class, where she won two Divisional Championships, the prestigious June Sprints and finished second at the 2006 Runoffs, all on Kumho tires. This will be her third start in an ALMS race, with a previous best finish of sixth at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 2000.

Wilson currently competes in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series, where he leads the Rookie of the Year standings. He competed in a Viper in the SPEED World Challenge GT series in 2004 and won numerous SCCA divisional championships on Kumho tires.

“Cindi and Stan have had a lot of success on our tires in SCCA competition,” said Consolacion, “and they’ve played a big role in the development of our DOT competition tires. We’re glad we can help them step up to the American Le Mans Series.”

“Returning to the American Le Mans Series with Kumho and Dodge is so comforting,” said Lux. “I’ve worked closely with both companies over the years and know and respect their products. The Viper Competition Coupe is a great car and very competitive in World Challenge trim, so it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against Porsche, Ferrari and Panoz.”

“I’m happy to be part of Kumho’s first GT2 program,” said Wilson. “This is a learning exercise for everyone involved. At the conclusion of this race weekend, we should have enough data to make some decisions about the future.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

H.B. Stubbs Companies Selected To Manage DaimlerChrysler Consumer Auto Show Program

    WARREN, Mich., July 12 /PRNewswire/ -- H.B. Stubbs Companies has been
awarded the Chrysler Group contract for program management in support of
all "A and B" level auto shows across the United States. HBSC was selected
on the basis of creativity, pricing, extraordinary customer service and
extensive experience in consumer auto show support. DaimlerChrysler auto
shows require seamless integration of branding for Dodge, Chrysler and
Jeep; event planning; staging; and project management.
In addition to auto shows, HBSC was awarded three Track Events: Jeep
101 Course and Dodge SRT Washington D.C. and Cleveland, and Jeep 101 Course
in Miami.
"We have strong experience in the automotive arena," said Donald
Mascot, Vice President of Account Development. "We are eager to apply our
experience and continue to work with DaimlerChrysler to develop and
implement innovative and cost effective marketing programs."
H.B. Stubbs Companies is headquartered in Warren, Mich., with
additional design and production facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah. The
company also maintains sales and marketing locations in Chicago; Secaucus,
N.J.; San Francisco; Cleveland; Scottsdale; and London, U.K. For over 60
years clients have come to expect that we are "People You Can Count On."
With an unmatched level of personalized service and creativity, H.B. Stubbs
Companies create event solutions that help clients build brand awareness,
brand preference and increase sales. For more information visit

Chrysler Gives Its Okay To The Imperial [or did they?]

The ultra luxurios Chrysler Imperial will be returning as DaimlerChrysler gives the car its blessing. However, you will have to wait as the car will show up as a 2011 model.

Breakdown Car Compare Cover A venerable name in autodom is being resurrected and it will soon grace the body of a large, rear wheel drive luxury car. After a successful "concept car" debut at a pair of recent auto shows, the Chrysler Imperial will be built and should be in U.S. showrooms in 2010. Yes, it will be a long wait for the Imperial's return but the car must first await additional changes within DaimlerChrysler before it can be built. Read on to learn more about the Imperial's impending return.

Green Flag Breakdown Cover The Chrysler Imperial that has been currently making the rounds at various auto shows has been well received. Visitors have remarked favorably about the car's Bentley like look as well as its cavernous interior and luxury appointments. Currently, the brand has nothing larger or more luxurious to offer buyers who might want to upgrade from the 300C, thus Chrysler has been regularly losing buyers to more luxurious brands, something parent DaimlerChrysler [DCX] wants to stem.

Breakdown Insurance Midlands The Imperial name can be traced all the way back to 1926 when Walter P. Chrysler decided to take on Lincoln and Packard with a luxury model all of its own. From its inception, the Imperial has always represented the top of the line vehicle for Chrysler and it has, at various times, been marketed as its own make. Various versions of the Imperial have shown up over the years, with most of them being ultra luxurious versions of Chrysler's New Yorker model.

Tesco Breakdown Cover The 2011 Chrysler Imperial will be similar in design to the concept car, but without the suicide doors. Chrysler put the special doors on the concept car in order to make it easier for auto show visitors to see inside the vehicle. Still, reports from the company are indicating that the 22 inch wheels, Bentley grille, boxy body, and leather/wood trim would be included. Prices for the Imperial will not be announced for several more years, but it could retail for as high as $60,000 according to some reports. Currently, the top of the line 300C maxes out at around $42,000.

Breakdown Cheap Insurance So, why the hold up? Well, for one thing the Imperial program will be an added expense for DCX. Currently, the company is in the process of making its Mercedes line up more profitable and that involves the expense of updating several models. Based on the Mercedes "R Class" body, the coming Imperial is likely to be built on an updated version of the R Class platform. Both cars would arrive in dealer showrooms at the same time as 2011 models, hence the long lead time.

Breakdown Insurance Quote The Imperial concept sits on a frame with a 123 inch wheelbase. The car measures 214 long, much longer than the 300C. Reports are indicating that the concept car dimensions are likely to be retained.

Breakdown Career In Insurance For Chrysler fans, the Imperial represents further strengthening of the Chrysler-Mercedes relationship. By using a Mercedes platform, the Imperial can be built and will give Chrysler a much needed product. With a standard V8 mated to a five or six speed automatic the car will certainly not be on the fuel efficient side. However, my best guess is that the car will also come optionally equipped with a thrifty Mercedes built turbo diesel, a first for any Chrysler car.

Rac Breakdown Cover Copyright 2006 - Matt Keegan is The Auto Writer covering topics from automotive trends to car insurance information. To find discount autoparts including quality BMW parts and catalytic converters please shop online for the best selection.

Dodge Motorsports

Pennington Motorsports Announces Manufacturer Change
By Beth Lunkenheimer

7 Hooters Energy Drink team has switched from Chevrolet to Dodge for the remainder of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. In an effort to strengthen the Pennington Motorsports program, the team feels by bringing the new ...

The Frontstretch -

Insider news bits from SRTFORUM

gc replaces commander

diesel hybrid is coming

fuel cell concept 08

compact truck concept /jeep/dodge


corsair revised

can phoenix be expanded for v10?

dodge rebel concept possible 09 under review

other 'C' is awaiting for show circuit greenlight

a few want to killoff crossfire w/replace firepower

rebel concept awaiting greenlight

charger coupe is under review

ddc for viper w/bump hp

vct magnum/hemi/phoenix

iso world engine/phoenix

srt review fords tt engines for next gen

mopar crate to 6.9

project x detroit 08

challenger vert folding top review

srt working truck hemi-tt 2010

8-speed a truck hd

hemi gen2 expands line w/1

hid lx/ly/lc

lc23 coming

electronic steering chysler prem coming

electronic braking coming

revise turbo de design - v8

2007 Chrysler PT Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition Photo Gallery

By the Manufacturer
Photography by the Manufacturer

Chrysler kicks off the annual Woodward Dream Cruise today, making a huge splash with the introduction of the new 2007 Chrysler PT Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition -- a special-edition PT Cruiser dedicated to one of the most picturesque driving routes in the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway. Announced in conjunction with Detroit's famed Woodward Dream Cruise, the Pacific Coast Highway Edition will be available later this summer as a limited-production version of the 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

"This Chrysler PT Cruiser Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition celebrates another great American road, a tradition we started with our PT Dream Cruiser series and continued with last year's Route 66 Edition," said David Rooney, Director - Chrysler Marketing and Global Communications. "The Chrysler PT Cruiser is the perfect vehicle for factory customization because it celebrates the journey, as well as the destination. With more than 1 million PT Cruisers sold since its introduction, hundreds of thousands of PT enthusiasts are enjoying the journey with us."