Thursday, September 13, 2007

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L, V-6 turbo diesel

2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel

2008 Dodge Ram 3500 diesel
photo © Dodge

Dodge ad campaign seeks broader customer base

The new Dodge ad campaign includes a spot featuring a friendly crash test dummy.

Laura Clark Geist
Automotive News
September 13, 2007 - 3:27 pm EST

DETROIT — Dodge launches an advertising campaign on Sunday, Sept. 16, that is designed to expand the brand’s customer base to include more female and minority consumers.

The campaign features the restyled 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. Its tag line, “Grab Life,” is a shortened version of the current Dodge slogan, “Grab Life by the Horns.”

Dodge executives did not disclose the cost of the campaign. They said nearly two-thirds of the campaign budget is earmarked for TV commercials and another 18 percent for online ads. The campaign features ads aimed at women and black and Hispanic consumers.

At a press event today, Mark Spencer, Dodge’s senior communications manager, said the campaign ads will stress features of the Grand Caravan and other Dodge vehicles.

“This is a product-driven campaign,” Spencer said. “It’s a good balance between piquing consumers’ interest and a story line.”

Dodge dealers complained last year that TV commercials did not tell consumers enough about vehicle attributes. Spencer said Dodge consulted dealers in developing ads for the campaign.

Commercials for the Grand Caravan emphasize its safety features, entertainment system, interior flexibility and storage capabilities. The minivan has a base sticker price of $22,470, including shipping

13 September 2007 Plant Updates


Model Est. Lead Time in Weeks Key Production Holds or Lead Times
300 Series 8 Light Sandstone Metallic Clear Coat (PKG) is on hold until 09/17/07.
Sirius(R) BackSeat TV (RSV) is on hold until 10/08/07.
Clearwater Blue Pearl Coat (PBG) is on hold until 10/08/07.
6.1-Liter SRT HEMI(R) SMPI V8 Engine (ESF) is on hold until 10/05/07.
Sirius(R) BackSeat TV (RSV) is on hold until 10/08/07.
Pacifica 10 Deep Crimson Crystal Pearl Coat (PHF) is on hold until 10/22/07.
PT Cruiser 8 - 10 Deep Water Blue Pearl Coat (PBS) is on hold until 09/24/07.
Melbourne Green Pearl Coat (PPL) is on hold until 02/04/08.
Town & Country 10 AM/FM CD MP3 Nav Radio (RER) is on hold until further notice.
Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat (PXR) is on hold until 09/24/07.
2nd Row Swiveling Bkts w/Boosters (CY4) is on hold until 10/15/07.
2008 DODGE
Model Est. Lead Time in Weeks Key Production Holds or Lead Times
Avenger 6 - 8 None.
Caliber 6 - 8 Seats w/Color-Keyed Insert (V8) with Blue Seat Insert (CXP) is on hold until 09/28/07.
Sport Appearance Interior Group (AJU) with Blue Seat Insert (CXP) is on hold until 09/28/07.
Supplemental Front Seat Side Air Bags (CJ1) is on hold until 10/01/07.
Charger 6 - 8 Light Sandstone Met. Clear Coat (PKG) is on hold until 09/17/07.
Sirius(R) BackSeat TV (RSV) is on hold until 10/08/07.
High Intensity Discharge Headlamps (LMP) on the RT LXDP48 are on hold until 11/01/07.
High Intensity Discharge Headlamps (LMP) on the SRT-8 LXDX48 are on hold until 11/01/07.
6.1-Liter SRT HEMI(R) SMPI V8 Engine (ESF) is on hold until 10/05/07.
Police Group (AHB) is on hold until 10/10/07.
Dakota 6 - 8 Soundbox Group (ATR) is on hold until further notice.
Grand Caravan 10 Cargo Van Group (AVM) is on hold until 10/22/07.
Marathon Blue Pearl Coat (PBD) is on hold until 09/24/07.
AM/FM CD/DVD Full Scrn Nav Radio w/20GB (RER) is on hold until further notice.
Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat (PXR) is on hold until 09/24/07.
Cargo Compartment Floor Mat (CKL) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Exterior Vinyl Window Shading (XGL) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Full Width Cargo Divider (CWC) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Half Width Cargo Divider (CWG) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Solid Window Inserts (XGC) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Wall Liner - Carpeted (CMP) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Wall Liner - Molded (CMF) is on hold until 11/19/07.
Wire Mesh Window Inserts (XGE) is on hold until 11/19/07.
17.0 x 6.5 Aluminum Wheels (WFX) is on hold until further notice.
Sunburst Orange Pearl Coat (PV6) is on hold until 11/19/07.
2nd-Row Swiveling Bucket Seats with Chil (CY4) is on hold until 10/15/07.
Magnum 8 Light Sandstone Met. Clear Coat (PKG) is on hold until 09/17/07.
Sirius(R) BackSeat TV (RSV) is on hold until 10/08/07.
6.1-Liter SRT HEMI(R) SMPI V8 Engine (ESF) is on hold until 10/05/07.
Sirius Satellite Streaming Video (RSV) is on hold until 10/08/07.
Police Group (AHB) is on hold until 10/10/07.
Sprinter 2500 16 None.
Lead time is for passener vans..
Sprinter 3500 20 None.

Inventory numbers by teh "C' Team

Days Days

supply supply

Inventory 1-Aug 1-Jul
Units 2007 2007

29,400 78 63
Crossfire (I)
800 16 20
PT Cruiser
16,500 56 42
22,700 99 52
Chrysler Div. car (D)
68,700 76 53
Chrysler Div. car (I)
800 16 20
Total Chrysler Div. car
69,500 73 51
9,200 100 160
11,800 92 101
Town & Country
15,300 56 71
Total Chrysler Div. trk.
36,400 74 91
Total Chrysler Division
105,900 73 63
15,600 89 37
19,700 89 44
19,300 72 35
4,200 61 39
- 9 124
Total Dodge car
58,800 80 39
18,400 64 72
15,500 109 105
10,000 97 59
27,900 146 136
Ram pickup
114,100 93 104
Sprinter van
3,900 70 62
Total Dodge trk.
190,000 95 97
Total Dodge
248,700 91 76
18,300 73 91
15,500 143 113
Grand Cherokee
34,600 82 90
14,600 54 65
13,000 94 61
14,400 39 39
Total Jeep trk.
110,300 71 72
Chrysler group car (D)
127,500 78 46
Chrysler group car (I)
800 16 20
Total Chrysler group car
128,200 76 45
Total Chrysler group trk.
336,600 83 87
Total Chrysler group
464,900 81 71

Expires Oct. 1. In lieu of rebates, cut-rate financing
is available.

2008 models

Chrysler Pacific $1,500-$2,000 0-4.9%
Sebring convertible $ $1,500 0-7.9%
300C $1,500 –
Aspen, PT Cruiser
(excl. convertible) $1,000 –
300 (excl. SRT8 and C),
PT Cruiser convertible $500 –
Dodge Ram 1500 $3,500 0-7.9%
Durango $2,500 –
Ram 2500/3500 $2,000 –
Dakota $1,500 –
Charger, Magnum $500-$1,500 –
Avenger $500 0-7.9%
Jeep Commander,
Grand Cherokee $1,000-$3,000 –
2007 models
Chrysler Town & Country $3,500-$4,500 0-7.9%
Pacifica $3,500-$4,000 0-4.9%
300 sedan $2,500-$3,500 0-7.9%
Aspen $2,000 0%
PT Cruiser $1,000-$3,000 0-7.9%
Sebring $1,000 0-7.9%
Dodge Ram 1500 $5,000-$6,000 0-4.9%
Durango, Grand Caravan $4,500 0%
Dakota, Ram 2500/3500 $4,000 0-4.9%
Caravan $3,500 0-7.9%
Charger, Magnum $2,000-$3,500 0-7.9%
Nitro $1,000 –
Caliber $500 0-7.9%
Jeep Commander $4,000-$4,500 0%
Grand Cherokee (excl. SRT8),
Liberty $3,500-$4,500 0-4.9%

Expires Oct. 1. 2008
2007 models

Chrysler Sebring convertible 2007 models $500
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Dodge Charger SRT8 Magnum SRT8 $3,000 $3,000 $1,500

Plant Production

North America car and truck production

9/3- Aug. 1/1- 1/1-

9/8/07 total 9/8/07 9/9/06
300 (Can.) 2,417 5,645 83,842 111,710
PT Cruiser (Mex.) 2,059 9,895 73,779 111,199
PT Cruiser convertible (Mex.) 252 1,199 10,974 11,226
Sebring (2006) 0 0 0 34,812
Sebring (2007) 1,201 6,832 58,306 830
Sebring convertible (2006) 0 0 0 17,551
Sebring convertible (2007) 1,078 6,136 26,112 0
Aspen (trk.) 428 2,485 19,590 1,204
Pacifica (Can. trk.) 2,145 11,151 65,167 83,910
Town & Country (trk.) 344 438 20,534 39,621
Town & Country (Can. trk.) 2,603 13,531 62,605 69,746
Total Chrysler Division 12,527 57,312 420,909 481,809
Avenger 2,331 13,260 91,599 0
Caliber 2,939 16,443 123,713 109,619
Charger (Can.) 2,367 5,528 84,176 87,697
Magnum (Can.) 497 1,160 16,647 28,520
Stratus 0 0 0 59,858
Viper 0 0 12 910
Caravan (trk.) 1,965 2,504 84,388 121,132
Caravan (Can. trk.) 1,168 6,072 39,721 51,213
Dakota (trk.) 391 1,988 35,094 64,294
Durango (trk.) 855 4,957 39,630 3,747
Nitro (trk.) 1,753 10,163 86,426 54,128
Ram (trk.) 4,619 23,897 165,203 193,307
Ram (Mex. trk.) 3,095 14,122 117,442 109,488
Sprinter (trk.)* 340 1,960 12,091 17,174
Total Dodge 22,320 102,054 896,142 901,087
Commander (trk.) 1,011 5,864 44,501 105,297
Compass (trk.) 1,490 8,546 56,140 15,775
Grand Cherokee (trk.) 2,387 13,821 91,931 65,506
Liberty (trk.) 1,900 9,701 65,541 123,500
Patriot (trk.) 2,453 14,093 69,413 0
Wrangler (2006, trk.) 0 0 0 33,779
Wrangler (2007, trk.) 1,281 7,416 44,708 354
Wrangler Unlimited 2-door (trk.) 0 0 0 11,958
Wrangler Unlimited 4-door (trk.) 1,927 11,171 66,770 4,684
Total Jeep 12,449 70,612 439,004 360,853
Total Chrysler group 47,296 229,978 1,756,055 1,743,749
Mitsubishi Raider 105 533 4,448 534
Total U.S. car 7,549 42,671 299,742 223,580
Total Canada car 5,281 12,333 184,665 227,927
Total Mexico car 2,311 11,094 84,753 122,425
Total U.S. truck 23,249 119,537 906,408 855,994
Total Canada truck 5,916 30,754 167,493 204,869
Total Mexico truck 3,095 14,122 117,442 109,488
CHRYSLER LLC 47,401 230,511 1,760,503 1,744,283

About 200 Mexican suppliers suspend operations

Stephen Downer
Automotive News
September 13, 2007 - 11:43 am EST

MEXICO CITY -- The head of Mexico’s auto suppliers association said today that 200 of his group’s 1,000 members have suspended production because of a lack of natural gas.

The attack on Monday, Sept. 10, by leftist rebels on crucial fuel pipelines also has caused six auto assembly plants here, including two owned by General Motors, to suspend production. Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and Volkswagen AG also have suspended production for the rest of the week.

The number of suppliers affected by the natural gas cutoff or by customers cutting production has doubled in the past two days. Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp. are among suppliers that have shut down plants.

There have been no reports of parts deliveries being affected outside Mexico.

Ramon Suarez, president of the INA, Mexico’s national auto suppliers association, today urged the Mexican government and state energy monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, to improve the energy infrastructure “so that we don’t have to rely on just one pipeline for our supplies of natural gas.”

“It is a grave situation, both from the point of view of economic losses and the reputation of Mexico,” he told Automotive News, when asked about the impact of the pipeline sabotage. “Two hundred companies have had to stop production.”

Pemex says it plans to resume natural gas deliveries between Sunday evening, Sept. 16, and early Monday, Sept. 17, but Suarez said “I have to investigate how long it will take for normal pressure to be reached.”

In the past five years, direct foreign investment in Mexico’s supplier industry has totaled $6.1 billion, and employment growth during that time has averaged 1.8 percent annually, Suarez said in an interview with Automotive News this summer.

He said in that interview that in 2006, about 1,000 auto suppliers employed 456,103 people. Suarez said the companies produced an unprecedented $26 billion worth of parts and components last year -- 11 percent more than in 2005.

Mike Manley is upbeat about Chrysler's future

Chrysler's Mike Manley is upbeat about Chrysler's future as he talks to Paul W. Smith in Frankfurt, Germany.

Right click here and select "Save Target As..." to download this podcast

Chrysler launches division for electric, hybrid vehicles

Chrysler LLC CEO Bob Nardelli
Richard Truett

Automotive News
September 13, 2007 - 12:03 pm EST

DETROIT - Chrysler LLC is setting up an engineering division to design and build electric and hybrid vehicles.

Called ENVI, the division will be at Chrysler's headquarters in suburban Detroit. It will be headed by Lou Rhodes, a Chrysler veteran who has worked in the company's advanced vehicle engineering organization and product design office.

"The creation of ENVI allows us to focus on the development of a new generation of environmentally responsible Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles," Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said in a statement today.

Chrysler says ENVI will be staffed with specialists in engineering, manufacturing, procurement and supply.

"ENVI will operate as a startup with an entrepreneurial environment," said Chrysler Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda.

Chrysler plans to roll out its first two hybrid vehicles, a Dodge Durango and a Chrysler Aspen, in 2009. Those hybrids will use a transmission developed with General Motors and BMW.

Beyond that, the newly independent Chrysler has not said what it might do in the development of fuel cells.

Before Chrysler became part of DaimlerChrysler a decade ago, the company was developing hybrid technology. It produced a diesel-electric version of the Dodge Ram pickup that was tested by utility companies. But the truck was never offered for sale to consumers.

Chrysler also had an active fuel cell program and built several test vehicles. But that work stopped in 2002 when Chrysler closed its Liberty Technical Center. After that, Daimler engineers in Germany were responsible for the company's fuel cell and hybrid activities.

ENVI's mission will be to design vehicles that use pure electric or hybrid powertrains, not to convert existing vehicles, said Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa. He would not say when Chrysler would display a concept or prototype vehicle.

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4: (Torque) Steer into the Sun

I remember a couple years ago when the SRT folks at Dodge announced that they basically wanted to always offer the highest horsepower vehicle in a given segment. It's an honorable goal, and back in the 426 Hemi's glory days (1966-1971) it was enough to give Mopar owners bragging rights. But I don't think winning the horsepower arms race works in 2008, and recent drives of the new Viper and, now, the Caliber SRT4 confirm my theory.

With 285 turbocharged horsepower from the 2.4-liter engine this Caliber is undeniably powerful. And the 265 poiund-feet that come in at 2,000 rpm make the horespower potentially useful. But like the 600 potentially useful horsepower under the Viper's hood, the SRT4 looks better on paper than it feels on pavement.

I remember when torque steer was the price you paid for driving a high performance front-wheel drive car. I experienced plenty of it personally in my 1987 and 1989 Dodge Shadow CSXs. But that was almost two decades ago -- before the Integra Type R, MazdaSpeed Protege and SVT Focus. Those cars proved front-drive performance and fighting the steering wheel weren't a required couple at the pocket-rocket party.

I think the last car I drove with serious torque steer was the late 90s Saab 9-3 Viggen...until yesterday. The Caliber SRT4 will try to steer itself any time you hit the throttle, but if the pavement is less than glass smooth the torque steer can be downright risky. The first few times it happened I told myelf it was an enigma based on some bizarre road surface issue or random oil spil. About the 12th time it happened I relented and realized that, yes, even in 2008 and you can drive a car with scary torque steer.

This is unfortunate because several other elements of the SRT4 were threatening to slightly upgrade my low opinion of the Caliber model line. The interior panels, for instance, which I find among the lowest quality available in the current market, look considerably better in black than they do in the white and gray plastic I'd seen previously in test cars. The six-speed manual means there's no rubber-band CVT to sap power, as it did in every former Caliber I'd driven. And the heavily bolstered seats were supportive and comfortable in the best pocket-rocket tradition (much better than the stock Caliber units).

But, in addition to the shoulder-dislocating torque steer mentioned above, I found the steering to be far heavier than necessary, and certainly no where near the sublime experience offered by the Civic Si or MazdaSpeed 3. And while those 19-inch, 225/45 tires look good wrapped around polished wheels, they transmit a swell of road noise into the cabin as speeds increase, so be prepared to shout when talking to passengers while traveling above 40 mph (and that's before you hit the loud pedal).

So, from the SRT4 I learned that a standard Caliber is probably not too bad if you get a manual transmission and specify a black interior. But for me the extra forward thrust and extra grippy seats aren't worth the extra torque steer, road noise or cost that comes with the SRT4 trim.


(words only): AKINO

Standard Character claim: Yes

Current Status: A request for the first extension of time to file a statement of use has been granted.

Date of Status: 2007-03-02

Filing Date: 2005-05-27

The Notice of Allowance Date is: 2006-07-18

Transformed into a National Application: No

Registration Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)

Register: Principal

Law Office Assigned: LAW OFFICE 103

Attorney Assigned:
RICHARDS SUSAN ANN Employee Location

Current Location: 700 -Intent To Use Section

Date In Location: 2007-09-11



1000 CHRYSLER DRIVE CIMS 483-02-19
United States
Legal Entity Type: Ltd Liab Co
State or Country Where Organized: Delaware


International Class: 012
Class Status: Active
Basis: 1(b)
First Use in Commerce Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)


Name Portrait Consent: The name(s), portrait(s), and/or signature(s) shown in the mark identifies a living individual, Akino Tsuchiya, whose consent(s) to register is submitted.




2007-08-29 - Automatic Update Of Assignment Of Ownership

J.D. Power study: U.S. dealers give AutoTrader high marks

Ralph Kisiel
Automotive News
September 10, 2007 - 1:14 pm EST

U.S. auto dealers say is the best online provider of new- and used-vehicle leads, according to a J.D. Power and Associates’ dealer satisfaction study released today.

The study ranks independent lead services in new-vehicle and used-vehicle segments.

Within those segments, five factors measure dealer satisfaction: business generation; dealer support and service; fees; transmission of leads and advertising. ranks highest in dealer satisfaction among new-vehicle lead providers and used-vehicle lead providers. Within the new-vehicle segment, performs particularly well in transmission of leads and dealer support and service. made its name during the dot-com boom as a consumer site for used-car shoppers. It added new vehicles in 2001.

Below in the segment rankings and performing above industry average are, and, respectively.

Business generation is the most important driver of dealer satisfaction in both segments, accounting for about half of the overall score.

The study, called the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study, found that dealers typically respond to online leads with an e-mail or phone call within 48 minutes.

The study also shows that 46 percent of dealers say they respond to online leads in 30 minutes or less, while nearly three-fourths of dealers claim to respond in one hour or less.

J.D. Power says the study was based on 4,845 U.S. dealer evaluations of the online buying services they use. The study was conducted in May and June.

For full press release, go to:

You may e-mail Ralph Kisiel at

PRESS RELEASE: J.D. Power and Associates Reports Ranks Highest in Satisfying Dealers with Online Vehicle Buying Services for New- and Used-Vehicle Leads

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 10 September 2007 — ranks highest in satisfying dealers with online buying services for new- and used-vehicle leads, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services StudySM released today.

The study, which measures dealer satisfaction with online buying services, ranks vehicle lead services in two segments: independent new-vehicle and independent used-vehicle. Within those segments, five factors measure overall dealer satisfaction: business generation; dealer support/service; fees; transmission of leads; and advertising, which is not included in the independent new-vehicle lead service segment. The business generation factor is the most important driver of dealer satisfaction in both segments, accounting for approximately one-half of the overall index score. The study also examines dealer satisfaction with new-vehicle leads from auto manufacturer sites and member services such as Costco Auto Program and SAM’S CLUB Auto Buying Program. ranks highest in dealer satisfaction with new-vehicle lead providers as well as used-vehicle lead providers. Within the new-vehicle segment, performs particularly well in dealer support/service and transmission of leads. Following in the segment rankings and performing above industry average are Dealix, AutoUSA and, respectively.

In the used-vehicle segment, performs well in four of the five measures driving satisfaction: business generation, dealer support/service, transmission of leads and advertising. follows in the independent used-vehicle segment rankings and performs particularly well in fees.

“As products and services offered by online lead service providers continue to evolve, so does dealer satisfaction with those services,” said Steve Witten, executive director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, with dealer satisfaction averaging 585 on a 1,000-point scale for the new-vehicle lead segment and 613 for the used-vehicle lead segment, there remains considerable room for improvement in delivering the level of service dealers expect. In particular, the quality of leads is of prime importance to dealers regarding new-vehicle leads, while quantity is emphasized for used-vehicle leads.”

The study finds that dealers typically respond to online leads with a personalized e-mail or phone call within 48 minutes. The study also reveals that 46 percent of dealers report they respond to online leads in 30 minutes or less, while nearly three-fourths of dealers claim to respond in one hour or less.

“Walk-in and call-in shoppers receive responses in a more timely manner at auto dealerships compared with online lead shoppers,” said Witten. “An opportunity exists for dealers to improve on the return on their investment in lead services by paying as much attention to online leads as they would to in-person or phone sales leads and by responding just as quickly.”

The study also finds that when responding to online price inquiries from shoppers, approximately 38 percent of dealers indicate that they provide a price quote in the first e-mail response, while 35 percent provide price information only after asking shoppers for more information. An additional 18 percent of dealers report that they invite shoppers to visit the dealership to discuss pricing.

“Most online leads include price inquiries, so the practice of withholding price information until after shoppers come into the dealership could conceivably deter them from buying at that dealership,” said Witten. “However, dealers who have a policy of postponing price discussions until shoppers come to the dealership report higher sales close rates, on average, than dealers who offer pricing information online before a visit to the dealer. While shoppers increasingly are contacting dealers via e-mail during the vehicle shopping and selection process, personal contact between the shopper and dealership is still very important.”

The 2007 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study is based on 4,845 dealer evaluations of the online buying services they use. The study was fielded from May to June 2007.

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Achille Philion is issued a United States Patent for his “Steam Carriage”
E. R. Thomas of Thomas and Thomas-Detroit dies in Buffalo, NY at age 85
OSCA makes its final Formula 1 appearance in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, with Louis Chiron finishing tenth
The first Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster, a 1962 model, is produced
The Alabama Speedway in Talladega, AL stages its first event, a 401.66 mile NASCAR race won by Ken Rush in a Chevrolet Camaro

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

Bridging the gap between concept and production: Chrysler's Dan Zimmerman has a reputation for producing texturally complex concept car interiors. Now

Dan Zimmerman is a designer in Chrysler's Product Design Office. There's nothing unusual there. What is somewhat out of the ordinary is that the outgoing 30-something male with wavy hair and a ready smile has had a number of temporary titles, the most recent of which is: Dodge Demon Principle Interior Designer, and a portfolio of interior design work extending back through concepts like the 2004 Jeep Rescue, 2005 Jeep Hurricane, and the Jeep used in the movie Tomb Raider II. He also worked on the exterior of the 2008 Jeep Liberty. The assignments have been so many and varied Zimmerman says--only half kidding--"My family has a hard time trying to keep up with the projects I'm working on." Then again, he says, that's because: "Design at Chrysler is run more like it would be at a product design firm. You have your hands in everything, including naming the vehicle. You feel like you've missed something if you're not in the office for even one day."


A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art (, Zimmerman is a Detroit native with a strong, but indirect, connection to cars. "Dad was a chemist, though he did own a Dodge Challenger at one point, but both of my grandfathers had shops and my uncle used to race," he says. "From them I learned to paint, fabricate, lay fiberglass, and do sheetmetal work and welding." And while it would be easy to dismiss this as a background worthy of an advanced shop class graduate, Zimmerman says its true value--other than learning what it takes to build a vehicle--was to give him a strong feel and respect for materials and textures. At this point in history, he says, that is a very important value, indeed.

"Right now, the world is in flux, and everything is an influence on design. That includes sustainability, the way components are made, and all of the underlying features beyond a pretty design," he says intently. "So you have to think about where all of this is coming from, what's driving it, and what new technologies are available." It is a subconscious level of design, he says, that must impart its value to the consumer through tactile, visual, or other clues that lets them know that the vehicle, the way it's put together, and the materials that are used to build it were intelligently chosen. It's also why his interest extends beyond the auto industry. "We keep tabs on the world of product design and technology, and watch the worlds of fashion, materials, shoes, etc.," he says simply. "On concept cars we can pour out that knowledge more quickly, whereas you have to align the organization with materials, costs, durability, recyclability, and a whole host of other concerns before it hits the production line." Often, that concept car interior loses something in translation to production as concerns about sustain-ability, color diffusion, UV stability, and the like overshadow the fact that a particular material looks good. "You don't want that customer coming back in a year complaining that the dash faded or that your new material tore or cracked," says Zimmerman. "Sometimes you have to compromise. The trick is in keeping that compromise as invisible as possible."

Compromise wasn't part of the vocabulary for the Dodge Demon for the simple fact that its debut was scheduled for the 2007 Geneva Auto Show and not Detroit. Launching an elemental sports car concept in the heart of Europe--the spiritual home of this vehicle type--was a move both calculated and chilling. "I spent a lot of time looking at the European product. I looked at Peugeot, Renault, Citroen--you name it. I even looked at Ferrari because it was humbling to be introducing this car in the European arena." It didn't take long before the European automakers looked back. According to Zimmerman, they were especially interested in how the embossed vinyl played off the gloss carbon fiber seat shells and brushed aluminum textures, how this matched with the stitched vinyl covering the outer rim of the steering wheel and the instrument panel, and whether the instrument panel would be traditional or minimalist (It's both).


What he took away from this--and his other concept--projects is the need for a complete understanding of the problem, and a group dedicated to finding the right solution. "You create a vocabulary in your head, a brand philosophy for aesthetics, that you apply to the techniques and technologies you see," he says before ticking off the things necessary to make this happen. "You have to understand the process and what goes on behind the outer surface, and for this you need to work with engineers who can relate to that because you don't want to have to do their jobs, too." Together, they must push the boundaries of what's possible until, "you're told why it can't be done, but what is possible." It is a drive Zimmerman says he can't help but follow, and one he's in the midst of applying to his next project, the interior of the 2011 Dodge Charger. "We've tried to do more with less," he says of Chrysler's current interior offerings, "but now we have management's total buy-in to really hang it out there." And it's the mischievous smile that lets you know he's not kidding as he says: "The gloves are off."

Powering up hybrids

Johnson Controls, partner to supply batteries to Benz

Posted: Sept. 12, 2007

Johnson Controls and its French joint-venture partner will supply hybrid batteries beginning next year for luxury sedans that Mercedes-Benz unveiled this week in Germany.

Saft, based in Paris, announced Wednesday that the company has been named to produce the batteries for the S-class hybrid, one of seven hybrid vehicles that Mercedes executives rolled out at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt.

"I am very pleased that the combining of Saft's and Johnson Controls' know-how has led to a first program of this importance," said John Searle, Saft chairman, in a statement.

The batteries will be made at Saft's factory in Nersac, a town in southwestern France.

Johnson Controls-Saft had announced earlier this year that the joint venture had won a contract with a European automaker, but were barred from announcing the customer until now.

Executives at Daimler AG said the company is committed to building more vehicles that release less carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.

Mercedes announced two versions of the hybrid luxury sedans, the S400 due in 2009 that would run on the battery and gasoline, and an S300 version, planned for 2010, that would be a hybrid diesel. The S400 would get 29.8 miles per gallon, while the hybrid diesel would get 43.6 mpg, according to Mercedes-Benz.

That high fuel economy, Mercedes claims, would mean the S300 would emit 30% less carbon dioxide per mile than any luxury sedan in the world.

The gasoline version of the S400 sedan will be the first hybrid available from a German car-maker. It also is believed to be the first using a lithium ion battery, a lighter and more efficient battery than the kind found in hybrids now on the road.

The auto industry is under increasing pressure to demonstrate its ability to make vehicles that burn less gasoline and reduce emissions, and other automakers have been active at the Frankfurt auto show with announcements of clean-diesel, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles thatthey plan to produce in the coming years.

Also at the show, Johnson Controls is showcasing a concept sport utility vehicle that includes a lithium-ion plug-in hybrid battery integrated into the trunk of the vehicle. The battery was developed by the hybrid battery team based at the company's corporate headquarters in Glendale.

The midsize SUV was designed in response to consumer research by Johnson Controls that found that medium-sized SUVs are generally bought by two main groups - professional couples and older couples whose children have left home. As a result, there was little need for the SUV to have a rear seat to accommodate passengers.

"For this reason we set out to make the design of the second row as flexible as possible, to create additional storage space," said Han Hendriks, vice president of industrial design and marketing. The concept features a slimmer seat as well as a rear seat that unfolds only when needed.

Johnson Controls-Saft is racing with other battery developers to develop battery technology for the next generation of fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicles. Last month, a competitor, A123 Battery Systems, beat out Johnson Controls when it was awarded a development agreement from General Motors Corp. to develop a lithium-ion battery for the highly touted Chevrolet Volt concept car that GM unveiled earlier this year.

At the same time, Daimler's former subsidiary, Chrysler, announced that it would deploy the Johnson Controls-Saft lithium-ion batteries in road tests this fall in California and New York. The batteries will be used on plug-in versions of Dodge Sprinter vans.

Why Toyota's President Won't Be Chrysler's Savior: Doron Levin

By Doron Levin

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler LLC helped itself by hiring Toyota Motor Corp.'s North American president, though the impact of a single executive, even from Toyota, will be limited.

If some regard anything from Toyota as possessing magical power, that's partly because its vehicles are a hit with consumers, and because the company's management techniques are universally admired. So when a top Toyota executive agrees to try and save a sinking ship, the terrified passengers naturally are overjoyed.

Jim Press, a 37-year Toyota veteran, fills a critical leadership void in Chrysler's badly demoralized sales and distribution network. A year ago Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler dealerships were saddled with tens of thousands of unsold vehicles that the automaker had unwisely forced them to accept.

By the time DaimlerChrysler resolved the inventory debacle it had turned toxic, helping lead the automaker's German management to decide to spin off most of its U.S. subsidiary. DaimlerChrysler sold 80.1 percent of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management LP, keeping the rest for itself.

Press, 60, who gives up the post of president of Toyota North America, previously ran the Japanese automaker's U.S. sales network. He takes office as one of two Chrysler presidents on Sept. 17.

Customers First

Toyota made its mark in the U.S. by operating according to the principle that customer demand should dictate how many cars are manufactured. Chrysler and Detroit automakers have done the opposite; to their detriment they often ``push'' cars onto reluctant dealers who then get squeezed when buyers are scarce.

Chrysler dealers resented the pressure from headquarters to sell more cars than they deemed reasonable. Andy Kaplan, who owns Dodge dealerships in Virginia, said ``the company threatened that if we dealers didn't take cars they would remember us down the road.''

Press ``is reputed to be someone who understands dealers, someone with a wonderful resume,'' he said. ``I'm confident we'll be able to work things out.''

Bob Nardelli, Chrysler chief executive and Press's boss, said in an address to the Automotive Press Association on Sept. 7 that the automaker must ``right-size the revenue, and make intelligent decisions about products and brands, we can't have emotional attachments.''

Move Out

Nardelli's words likely will translate into Press's marching orders. He must quickly determine which Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models to cancel and how to streamline distribution, maybe eliminate dealers, and increase cash flow. Chrysler, like most highly leveraged turnarounds owned by private-equity companies, suddenly must give priority to financial stability over size.

Trying to inflate revenue, at the expense of cash and profit, has been one of Detroit automaking's key mistakes. It reflected a Hobson's Choice of how to address the frustrating reality that competitors sell better vehicles that command higher prices.

If Chrysler were manufacturing vehicles that customers found more appealing, the company wouldn't be in the position of beating up its dealers. So Chrysler still might turn around one day if it can duplicate the success of Toyota's Camry or Prius. Sales of those vehicles and others like them made Press's career. Toyota earlier this year elected him the first non- Japanese to serve on its corporate board.

Showing How

But Press didn't design, engineer or manufacture. He only helped translate the automotive tastes of American buyers for Toyota designers and engineers in Japan (and later in the U.S.). In the short term he can subtract; but he can't add to a Chrysler vehicle lineup that's bereft of fuel-efficient small cars and dominated by full-size pickups, sport utilities and minivans whose sales are getting whacked by high gasoline prices.

Press penetrated Toyota's senior ranks because he learned to navigate a culture markedly dissimilar to that found in the U.S. auto industry, which tends to be insular, self-satisfied and suspicious of outsiders. He might find himself lost at Chrysler.

``I know a number of former Toyota people who went into U.S. automaking companies and ended up quitting because they came home frustrated night after night,'' said Jeff Liker, author of ``The Toyota Way'' and a professor at the University of Michigan.

``Jim is so optimistic,'' Liker said. ``He will stay that way as long as he can.'' He'd stand a better chance if he could bring a design like the Camry with him.

If Chrysler, even a smaller Chrysler, generates better financial results than those that preceded its divestiture from DaimlerChrysler, Cerberus will have a company to sell. Nardelli, Press and others will score big from pay packages designed to reward increased equity value.

But the odds of generating the desired financial results aren't better than 50-50. Toyota, the place that taught its tricks to Jim Press, isn't standing still.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Workers demonstrate at Chrysler tech center

Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News

About 300 union-represented white-collar workers walked off the job at Chrysler's technical center in Auburn Hills around 11 a.m. today.

The employees are gathered on a grassy area in front of the compounds main office tower waiting for their union leadership to speak via a bullhorn. The union is passing out hot dogs and boxed lunches.

One worker who didn't wish to be identified for fear of repercussions said the walkout was to protest the pace of contract negotiations and potential outsourcing of jobs held by UAW Local 412 members.

The United Auto Workers contract with automakers expires Friday. Health care costs are at the forefront of negotiations as car companies seek to shift administration of benefits from the employers to the UAW.

161mph land-speed record set on a Panhead Harley

Maybe it is time to pullout the Tomahawk bike!

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September 12, 2007 Female drag racer Valerie Thompson has her eye on a 200mph top speed on Bonneville’s salt flats. She took a major step toward this lofty goal earlier this week when she took her 120-inch Panhead Harley to a new land-speed record of 161.736mph. The former investment banker ran nitrous oxide and a small fairing to chase the record, and can’t wait until she runs a full streamliner in next year’s all-out assault on 200mph, an unprecedented speed for the class.

200mph isn’t a big deal these days – a Suzuki Hayabusa will get within a sniff of that speed straight out of the crate. But to extract that kind of pace from a pre-1965 Harley Davidson takes some serious engineering commitment.

Valerie Thompson says the bike was built by Keith R. Ball/5 Ball Racing Team and was built especially for the Bonneville Speedway’s 4th International Motorcycle Speed Trials in Utah.

“We specifically entered this class and had our "sponsored in part by GoDaddy" bike built, in order to get this record,” Valerie said. “We achieved what we set out to do, and it feels great!”

Her primary sponsor, CEO and Founder Bob Parsons was beaming with pride. “We knew Valerie would set the record. She lives to go fast and has the grit and the competitive determination to be the best in her profession. Her edginess and focus make her an ideal Go Daddy Girl,” said Parsons, who also has a passion for riding motorcycles.

The two-wheeled speedster is a former investment banker, but she’s not new to record-setting speed. Valerie previously held the American Motorcycle Association’s Land Speed Record at 145.647 mph. This new record was set in the same 2000 APS PF class on a 120-inch Panhead motorcycle. However, the Go Daddy bike had a special “partial streamline setup” specifically made for the Salt Flats, instead of an asphalt surface. It also had nitrous oxide as a back-up fuel, which she used during her latest record run.

Bad weather conditions earlier this week also made the Salt Flats soft and unstable for the speed trials, but Valerie shined, anyway. “I had only ridden this bike eight times leading up to this,” Valerie commented. “I was relieved and excited! I felt relief to be able to finish safely and excitement the year’s worth of preparation paid off with the record thanks to all the sponsors.”

Valerie was featured in Go Daddy’s most recent Super Bowl commercial, alongside fellow Go Daddy Girls Candice Michelle and Danica Patrick. All three Go Daddy Girls are enjoying success these days. Candice, who starred in the legendary 2005 Go Daddy Super Bowl ad, is now the reigning WWE women’s wrestling champ. Danica posted her best finish yet in the Indy Racing League’s last race, taking second place at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

The awesome Mercedes-Benz F 700 Research Car

PM's confirmation of previous beginning of the year Mercedes AMG 70, 700, F, S, C series car that will be shared with Chrysler products.


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September 12, 2007 Unveiled yesterday at the Frankfurt Show, the Mercedes-Benz F 700 research car is arguably what a luxury touring sedan might look a few years from now. A small (1.8 litre) new design for the internal combustion engine in the form of the DIESOTTO motor (which combines the best properties of the spark-ignition engine and the diesel engine), a seating design that breaks with tradition to enable a spacious interior and a plethora of innovative technologies designed to create an exceedingly comfortable mode of travel. The technology which really interested us most was the suspension system - the car can anticipatively recognize the condition of the road and level out the uneven spots with its active PRE-SCAN suspension, further improving suspension comfort substantially.

The DIESOTTO drive system introduced in the F 700, a four-cylinder with a displacement of only 1.8 liters, combines the strong points of the low-emission gasoline engine with the consumption benefits of the diesel drive. Its CO2 emissions of a mere 127 grams per kilometer correspond to consumption of only 5.3 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers (44.3 mpg), extremely low for a vehicle of this class.

This is made possible by a forward-looking drive concept, the heart of which is the “DIESOTTO” technology – an advancement of the internal combustion engine thought up by Mercedes-Benz. With its novel controlled auto ignition (CAI), direct fuel injection and turbocharging, it combines the high power of the spark-ignition engine with the exemplary torque and great fuel economy of a diesel. The drive system in the F 700, as four-cylinder featuring two-stage charging, attains the performance level of a current S-Class car with a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 gasoline engine or the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel.

“Our goal is to make the gasoline-powered car just as economical in consumption as the diesel. The new DIESOTTO concept is a major step in that direction, combining the best properties of the spark-ignition engine and the diesel engine,” says Dr. Thomas Weber, Board member of DaimlerChrysler AG responsible for Group Research & Mercedes Car Group Development.

The F 700 also sets standards in regard to road roar, tire vibration and suspension comfort. With two laser scanners the active PRE-SCAN suspension scans the roadway in front of the car. The hydraulically controlled active suspension proactively compensates for detected hindrances, enabling entirely new comfort characteristics –a “flying carpet” feeling.

Equally innovative is the operating concept “SERVO-HMI”. The display is not only particularly gentle on the eyes; the number of controls also has been appreciably reduced and the menu structure has been made strikingly simple and self-explanatory. The driver can “discuss” more complex inputs, such as a destination for navigation purposes, in dialogue with an avatar, a virtual operating assistant.