Thursday, October 11, 2007


Crude prices edge up further after surprise drop in crude inventories. More soon.

Industry Examines SUVS and Side Crashes

Associated Press

Some sport utility vehicles don't provide the protection in a side crash that one might expect from such large vehicles, according to tests released Thursday by the insurance industry.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave marginal scores in side-impact tests of 2008 versions of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and two SUVs built by Nissan Motor Co. (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people ) - the Pathfinder and Xterra without optional side air bags.

In similar side testing, the Toyota (nyse: TM - news - people ) 4Runner and Pathfinder and Xterra models equipped with side air bags received top marks of good in the side testing. The Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer received the second-highest rating of acceptable.

"The performance of some of these models in the side test was surprising," said David Zuby, the institute's senior vice president. "SUVS should have an advantage in side crashes because the driver and passengers ride higher up than in cars."

"People often think they're safer in one of these vehicles, but many cars hold up better than some of these midsize SUVs in this test," he said.

In the institute's side test, vehicles are struck with a barrier moving at 31 mph to reflect the force of a pickup or sport utility vehicle hitting the vehicle.

The TrailBlazer and Grand Cherokee, built by General Motors Corp. (nyse: GM - news - people ) and Chrysler LLC, respectively, lack air bags that protect the chests and abdomens of front-seat occupants. The combination of weak side structures and the lack of chest protection led to high forces on the driver dummies' chests and abdomens, Zuby said.

Company officials noted the TrailBlazer, Grand Cherokee and the Nissan SUVs received top scores in the government's side crash tests.

In frontal testing, all of the SUVs received the top score of good except the TrailBlazer, which improved to receive the second-highest rating of acceptable. Previous versions of the SUV had been rated marginal.

Ratings for the TrailBlazer also apply to the GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X.

In rear crash testing, only the Grand Cherokee received the top rating of good. The Nissan Pathfinder was rated marginal while the remaining SUVs received the lowest score of poor.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said the TrailBlazer "meets or exceeds all federal motor vehicle safety standards and was the first midsize SUV to offer rollover-capable head curtain air bags." The air bags are standard on the 2008 TrailBlazer.

Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said the Grand Cherokee has performed well in internal and external testing and "no single test can determine a vehicle's overall safety performance."

Nissan said in a statement that "while air bag systems, including side-curtain air bags which are either standard or optional on many of our vehicles, have been shown to mitigate the risk of injury, Nissan believes that seat belts and vehicle structure help provide the primary protection in crashes."

Chrysler sees its U.S. retail sales stabilizing

Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:42pm EDT

[-] Text [+]

LAS VEGAS, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC is targeting a U.S. retail market share of 11 percent this year as it reduces its inventory of unsold vehicles, executives said on Wednesday.

Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press, who joined the No. 3 U.S. automaker in August, said Chrysler's efforts to weed out an overlap in similar models should be evident by next year.

Chrysler's sales have fallen 3 percent in the year to September, in line with a slump in the broad market.

Chrysler's North American sales chief Steve Landry said the company had maintained a retail market share of 10.7 percent on a year-to-date basis and expected to see that reach 11 percent in the fourth quarter.

Landry said Chrysler would reduce its inventory by 100,000 vehicles on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter. Press said he wanted to see further reductions in 2008.

Both executives were speaking at an event for Chrysler dealers in Las Vegas on the same day that the automaker clinched a new labor deal with its major union.

Chrysler's shift in strategy accelerates

By Bernard Simon in Las Vegas
Updated: 3:11 a.m. PT Oct 11, 2007

Several non-US carmakers have approached Chrysler to possibly co-operate in the development of new vehicles, a senior Chrysler executive said on Wednesday night.

Steven Landry, head of the Detroit carmaker's North American sales, said these approaches, which remain at an early stage, have come since Cerberus Capital Management, the New York private-equity group, bought control of Chrysler in August from Germany's Daimler.

The proposals seek to marry the unnamed foreign carmakers' expertise in vehicle platforms with Chrysler's success in "top hats", or the more visible parts of a vehicle.Chrysler's senior management, including Bob Nardelli, the former chief executive of Home Depot who moved to Detroit in August, are in Las Vegas this week to rally 3,000 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers as part of Cerberus's drive to reinvigorate the struggling carmaker.

Jim Press, vice-chairman and president, said Chrysler needed to become more focused on its customers by, among other things, adjusting its product lineup and improving relations with dealers.

Mr Press, who was hired from Toyota last month, said "we've got to look at the products through the eyes of the customers. It used to be that you had trade-offs. For the future, you've got to have customers satisfied."

For instance, he indicated that Chrysler is likely to pull back from its recent strategy of attempting to give the Jeep brand a softer, more urban image.

Several Jeep models that have taken this approach have sold poorly.

Recent moves to cull dealers and combine Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands under a single roof are likely to accelerate.

Several Chrysler executives, past and present, said Cerberus's arrival had markedly sped up decision-making at the carmaker. Mr Press cited a decision to reduce fourth-quarter production by 82,000 units which was taken on the basis of a seven-minute conference call.

He said Chrysler's distribution system was over-loaded with products that customers didn't want, while it couldn't turn out enough of the models that are in demand.

He predicted that macro-economic trends increasingly favoured US carmakers over their foreign rivals. He cited the weakening US dollar, escalating costs outside the US and ground-breaking labour contracts between the Detroit-based carmakers and the United Auto Workers union.

Chrysler and the UAW on Wednesday night reached a tentative deal on a new four-year labour contract, that includes transferring its retiree healthcare liabilities to an independent trust. Full details of the agreement have yet to be disclosed.

1997 Dodge Ram Pickup SST 1/4 mile Drag Racing trap speed 0-60

1/4 Mile ET: 8.090
1/4 Mile MPH: 172.000
1/8 Mile ET: 5.190
1/8 Mile MPH: 136.000
0-60 Foot ET: 1.210
Temperature F: 0.0
Timeslip Scan:
Car Make: Dodge
Car Model: Ram Pickup
Car Type: SST
Car Year: 1997
Driver: Chris Cadotto
E-Mail: Click HERE
Videos: Click HERE for a Video
Web Site:

1997 Dodge Ram Pickup SST

Click HERE for a Video

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Arthur G. Phelps of General Motors is born in Chicago, IL
Racer Nello Pagani is born in Milan, Italy
Richard Hale Leet of the Amoco Corporation is born in Maryville, MO
The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation produces its 300,000th car
The first Jeep CJ-5 is produced

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

2009 Dodge Ram Caught in the Desert

Now that GM and Toyota have brought out their biggest and best half-ton trucks, it's time for the rest of the segment to catch up. The 2009 Dodge Ram will attempt to narrow the gap when it goes on sale late next year, and our latest spy video gives you a hint at what it will look like.

There's all the usual camouflage, of course, but you can still see that this Dodge Ram will lose some of its big-rig styling in favor of a more streamlined front end. The hood blends with the front quarter panels more smoothly than before and the headlight clusters look as though they'll get slimmed down a bit, too.

Body style choices won't change much for 2009. Although this test group only included Quad Cabs and Mega Cabs, it's safe to assume Dodge will continue with two-door regular cabs as well. The dimensions of these test mules don't indicate a substantial size increase over the current models, so either these test mules are using current sheet metal in back or the changes aren't that big on the next-generation model.

Since you can't introduce a new full-size truck without more power, this Ram is expected to get a few upgrades under the hood as well. The base V6 engine will most likely go from 3.7 to 4.0 liters, which will add roughly 40 horsepower and 20 pound-feet of torque. Midgrade models get the carryover 4.7-liter V8, as this engine is new for '08. According to officials at Dodge, the top-of-the-line 5.7-liter Hemi V8 will get several revisions that will improve efficiency while boosting horsepower and torque.

A year or so after the Ram's launch, a small-displacement diesel is expected to join the lineup as well. Most of the Ram's competitors are expected to introduce similar engines around the same time. A Dodge Ram hybrid will follow the diesel, giving the big truck two fuel-efficient engine options. It will use the dual-mode transmission codeveloped with GM and BMW.

Expect to see an official debut early next year, with sales beginning in the fall of 2008.

2009 Dodge Ram

(Enlarge photo)
You can't see much through the camouflage, but this Ram looks as though it might be losing some of its big-rig styling this time around. (Photo by KGP Photography)

2009 Dodge Ram - Rear

(Enlarge photo)
We expect extended-cab models to retain their front-hinged rear doors, but this prototype appears so similar to the current model that we think this is carryover sheet metal being used for testing. (Photo by KGP Photography)

2009 Dodge Ram - Profile View

(Enlarge photo)
Judging by the size of these brake rotors, this may be a special performance edition of the Ram. (Photo by KGP Photography)

Chrysler to reduce bloated inventories in 4Q

Automotive News
October 10, 2007 - 9:36 pm ETLAS VEGAS – Chrysler LLC is taking 82,000 units out of its fourth-quarter production plan to get rid of excess inventory, Co-President Jim Press said late Wednesday.

Press said it was the right move, but it will cost the No. 3 U.S. automaker “over a billion dollars of cash flow.”

Cutting the bloated inventories that have plagued Chrysler is a key priority, he said. Speaking at a press event here, he said the decision to idle several plants last week was made “in a seven-minute conference call” by CEO Bob Nardelli in consultation with owner Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The move illustrated a theme Press hit repeatedly in his remarks to a dealer meeting here – that private ownership of Chrysler will allow the company to move quickly.

“One of the things that we have with our new ownership, our management structure, is velocity,” he said. “We can do things very quickly – we can do things that will affect the product next year.”

Press also said Cerberus has approved a $3 billion capital expenditure budget for powertrain research.

Press reiterated recent statements that management has been studying the product plan to eliminate overlapping vehicles and develop a strategy for the next decade. He said more than 200 engineering changes have been requested already, some affecting current vehicles.

Press would not give specifics about what models might be cut. But he did suggest that the Jeep brand will return to its rugged off-road focus after experimenting with the Compass crossover.

“If you want a crossover SUV that’s really a SUV, that’s a Jeep,” Press said. “If you want a crossover SUV that you’re not going to take out of the garage because it’s raining, that’s not going to be a Jeep.”

Press, meanwhile, declined to answer questions about Chrysler’s surprise contract agreement with the UAW late this afternoon after a brief six-hour strike by the rank-and-file.

UAW, Chrysler reach tentative agreement

Daniel Mears / The Detroit News

Workers file out of the employee entrance Wednesday at the Chrysler Trenton Engine Plant. Later Wednesday, the United Auto Workers announced a tentative deal with Chrysler LLC, ending the brief strike.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

The United Auto Workers has announced a tentative agreement with Chrysler LLC, ending a brief strike against the Auburn Hills automaker.

Terms of the new contract, which still must be ratified by rank-and-file union members, were not immediately available. The automaker said the deal includes a memorandum of understanding to transfer responsibility for retiree health care to a union-managed trust fund.

The settlement was announced by the union just before 5:30 p.m., ending a strike that began at 11 a.m. after a UAW-imposed deadline passed without a deal.

"This agreement was made possible because UAW workers made it clear to Chrysler that we needed an agreement that rewards the contributions they have made to the success of this company," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

Chrysler President Tom LaSorda confirmed the deal shortly after the UAW announcement.

"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," he said.

If ratified and approved by the courts and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the deal will cover some 45,000 UAW members employed by Chrysler.

"I think that's excellent," said Deanna Rhineheart, 38, who works in shipping and receiving at the Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills.

"We all need our jobs, whether it's UAW and management," she offered, guessing as to why the deal was reached so quickly.

"It's a beautiful thing," said the mother of two from Farmington Hills.

General Holiefield, who heads the UAW's national Chrysler division, said the union was able to achieve its most important goals.

"Once again, teamwork in the leadership and solidarity in the ranks has produced an agreement that protects jobs for our communities and also protects wages, pensions, and health care for our active and retired members," he said.

Workers will be notified by Chrysler to report for duty at their next scheduled shift, the UAW said.

I-75 exits near Chrysler HQ to reopen soon

Catherine Jun / The Detroit News

Auburn Hills police confirmed that they plan to reopen blockaded the north- and southbound expressway ramps to Chrysler Drive -- the exits nearest Chrysler LLC's headquarters compound.

Police said at one point this afternoon as many as 800 striking UAW members congregated at the main entrance to the automaker's facility, prompting the shutdown at Exit 78 of Interstate 75.

However, as numerous striking workers head home and others take up their assigned picket duties, police are preparing to reopen the expressway ramps.

At about 2 p.m., in a chilly wind under overcast skies, about 100 workers continued to picket the main entrance from Chrysler Drive, shouting "No contract, no work!"

Bundled up against the crisp fall weather, Bill Rostek, 49, of Harper Woods, said he feared that unlike the GM strike this one could last for weeks.

"Cerberus is here to play hardball," said Rostek, a stock handler for Chrysler's Viper SRT group that works about half a mile a way. "They are talking about getting rid of us."

He believes that Chrysler is in a better financial situation than GM was and that excess inventory could carry the automaker through a prolonged strike.

Deanna Rhineheart of Farmington Hills said she tried not to think about any financial difficulties she'd face in an extended strike. "I can't worry about anything I don't have control over," said the mother of two, who works in shipping and receiving at Chrysler. "But I'm going to stand up for my rights as a UAW member."

Earlier, dozens of pickets marched across access roads to parking areas and other parts of the Chrysler compound.

Marchers brandished signs reading "UAW on Strike" and hollered at foreign cars attempting to enter.

"No Hondas!" screamed one picket, and the group compelled the driver to turn around and drive away from the property.

Syed Rahman, 60, of Commerce Township, said he walked out of his office at 11 a.m. in of a show of support for striking workers.

"Everybody wants job security," said the engineer. "Everybody's at risk."

City police officers have been stationed at each entrance as a precaution.

Officer Scott McGraw said his instructions were to "keep people out of the road, make sure people can get in an out, and make sure nobody gets hit or hurt." McGraw said he was told that officers would be manning the Chrysler property until the strike ends.

Chrysler says 9,646 employees work at the Auburn Hills facility, including 2,931 represented by the UAW.

The United Auto Workers called a strike against numerous of the automaker's plants at 11 a.m. today when bargaining over a labor contract with Chrysler failed to make adequate progress. Workers throughout Metro Detroit are picketing Chrysler factories.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Car is Stolen in the United States Every 26.4 Seconds

Crime is an issue throughout the United States. The headlines might be grabbed by acts of violence such as murder, rape, shootings, and kidnapping but they aren't as common as another crime. The frequency of vehicle theft may amaze many of you. Despite the fact that car thefts dropped for the third consecutive year, a car is stolen in the United States every 26.4 seconds. This fact was revealed in a recent press release by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

There were 1,192,809 motor vehicles stolen last year. This was 42,417 vehicles fewer than the amount stolen in 2005 though, and marked the third annual decrease in a row. The FBI estimates the average value of a stolen vehicle at $6,649, which when multiplied by the number of stolen vehicles comes to a grand total of $7.9 billion dollars of lost vehicles in 2006. Despite the high value of the loss, the trend is good news for car owners.

"The decrease in vehicle thefts is certainly welcome news to law enforcement, the insurance industry and vehicle owners nationwide," said Robert M. Bryant, who is the National Insurance Crime Bureau's President and CEO. "At NICB, we have been providing the latest technology in auto theft detection and recovery equipment to law enforcement agencies from California to Florida.", continued Bryant.

Out of the ten most stolen vehicles, only one of them is from the twenty first century. That car is the 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup truck, and is the fifth most stolen automotive vehicle. The most popular vehicle that thieves seek is the 1995 Honda Civic, with the second most popular being the 1991 Honda. Another import comes in at the number three spot in the form of the 1989 Toyota Camry. All those top three most stolen vehicles are imports. The first American car is the 1997 Ford F-150 Series Pickup which ranks just above the 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup on the list.

Not all the news is good news for vehicle owners about trends. Despite the third straight year in reductions in the number of vehicles stolen, they were recovered less often last year. Only 59% of stolen vehicles were recovered last year, which is the lowest in over a decade according to the press release.Regardless of the make or model of your car, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of it being stolen. These include making sure you lock your car and take your keys with you. Devices that can help protect your car include car alarms and immobilizing devices. If your car is stolen a GPS tracking system can become very helpful. Car thefts are dropping, but the best defense is a smart and prepared owner.

SOURCES: "Hot Wheels: Vehicle Theft in Third Year of Decline".

Chrysler sits on high inventories

Only select vehicles could be in short supply

Richard Truett
Automotive News
October 10, 2007 - 11:17 am ET DETROIT -- The UAW walkout at Chrysler LLC won’t immediately hurt the company’s vehicle supply, but dealers could run out of four-door Wranglers and 2008 minivans if the strike drags on.

A look at Chrysler’s inventory shows that plenty of other vehicles are in stock or in the dealership pipeline.

Only two critical vehicles are below the industry’s benchmark 60-day supply level: the Jeep Wrangler and the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans.

On Oct. 1:

  • Chrysler had a 54-day supply of Wranglers. It is unclear how many of the 18,500 units in inventory are the four-door version, which has been flying off dealer lots this year.

  • The Dodge Grand Caravan had a 50-day supply, but some of those could be previous-generation models. Total units at dealerships or on the way were 20,600.

  • There was a 58-day supply of Chrysler Town & Country minivans, or 20,100 units.

    Several other Chrysler vehicles had less than a 60-day supply on Oct. 1, but they are models that carry heavy incentives or are low-volume performance cars, such as the Dodge Viper and Chrysler Crossfire.

    Some analysts said today that a strike might help Chrysler whittle down bloated inventories of such vehicles as the Jeep Compass and Patriot and the Dodge Nitro, all of which have more than a 100-day supply.

    Chrysler has idled six plants this week to reduce inventories.

  • Chrysler U.S. light-vehicle inventories, as of Oct. 1
    Inventory UnitsDays supply Oct. 1, 2007Days supply Sept. 1, 2007
    Crossfire (I)7003650
    PT Cruiser13,0005334
    Chrysler Div. car (D)61,0007160
    Chrysler Div. car (I)7003650
    Total Chrysler Div. car61,7007060
    Town & Country20,1005856
    Total Chrysler Div. trk.35,6005362
    Total Chrysler Division97,4006360
    Total Dodge car54,2004960
    Total Dodge trk.185,7008386
    Total Dodge239,8007279
    Grand Cherokee29,2007066
    Total Jeep trk.113,5007670
    Chrysler LLC car (D)115,2005960
    Chrysler LLC car (I)7003650
    Total Chrysler LLC car115,9005960
    Total Chrysler LLC trk.334,9007677
    CHRYSLER LLC450,7007172
    Source: Automotive News Data Center

    A UAW strike at Chrysler LLC would damage the launch of the carmaker’s critical new minivans.

    The union is threatening to strike Chrysler at 11 a.m. today unless it can resolve remaining issues in contract talks that accelerated last week. Negotiations are continuing.

    The UAW reached a tentative agreement with General Motors on Sept. 26. Rank-and-file ratification of the GM contract is expected to be completed Wednesday.

    Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove said today that a UAW strike would shut Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario, minivan plant within 24 hours. Chrysler also makes minivans in St. Louis.

    Chrysler has redesigned the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans for launch this fall. They are among the automaker’s most popular and profitable vehicles, Hargrove said.

    “A strike would be devastating for Chrysler,” says Hargrove, who added that the minivans are just reaching full production. The CAW's contract with Chrysler doesn't expire until next year.

    The CAW represents about 9,000 Chrysler workers at two Ontario assembly plants and a casting plant. The Windsor assembly plant makes the minivans and Chrysler Pacifica crossover. An assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, produces the Chrysler 300 sedan, the Dodge Magnum and the Dodge Charger.

    Hargrove said the Ontario plants are so dependent for parts on U.S. Chrysler plants that they would be forced to close within a day of a strike.

    The UAW is negotiating a new master contract on behalf of about 49,000 active hourly Chrysler workers. The previous four-year contract expired Sept. 14.

    The UAW and Chrysler have been working under a contract extension since then, though the UAW over the weekend told Chrysler that it would strike Wednesday unless an agreement was signed.

    Chrysler cannot afford to have its minivan production stalled, says Erich Merkle, vice president of forecasting for consulting firm IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Chrysler has been touting the redesign of the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country.

    The vehicles feature several innovations, including a new Swivel ’n Go seat system that allows second-row seats to turn 180 degrees to face rearward. They also have a more muscular stance, a new 4.0 liter V-6 engine and a six-speed transmission.

    Windsor produced 22,382 minivans in September, while St. Louis produced 4,043 during a month of ramp-up. Chrysler sold 446,578 minivans in North America in 2006.

    Merkle said other than the minivans, Chrysler probably could absorb a two-week strike without extensive damage. The company is temporarily idling five assembly plants and one engine plant as it culls excess inventory.

    Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson declined to comment on the potential of a strike.

    Chrysler Recalls 125,0000 Cars Over Engine Fires

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    WASHINGTON — Chrysler LLC said Friday it was recalling about 125,000 2007-2008 Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring passenger cars to address a problem with the cooling fan motor connector that could lead to engine fires.

    Chrysler has received reports of 17 fires since July that could be related to the condition, company spokesman Max Gates said. There have been no injuries.

    The recall only covers Avenger and Sebring models with 2.4-liter engines. About 102,000 of the cars are in the United States, with the remaining vehicles in Mexico, Canada and Europe. Vehicles with 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter engines are not involved in the recall.

    Owners will be notified in November and the work will be completed at no cost. Dealers will inspect the cooling fan motor connector and install new wiring. Consumers who notice any problems with the cooling fan system should take their vehicle to a dealer for inspection, Chrysler said.

    Owners can call Chrysler at (800) 853-1403 for more information.

    Chrysler confirms end of volume bonus program

    Dave Guilford
    Automotive News

    October 9, 2007 - 5:04 pm ETChrysler LLC will end its controversial monthly volume performance allowance effective Jan. 1, replacing it with a $400-a-car payment that dealers get regardless of sales volume.

    Chrysler executives announced the change at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas, dealers said. A Chrysler spokesman confirmed the change.

    The new program pays dealers $200 when they are invoiced for a vehicle and another $200 when the vehicle is sold, said Chuck Eddy, co-owner of Bob & Chuck Eddy Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Austintown, Ohio, and a dealer council member.

    A key feature is that dealers do not have to meet a quota to get the bonus, Eddy said: “If you sell one car, you get the money.”

    The volume performance allowance angered many dealers because only those meeting monthly sales targets earned bonuses, which reached $700 a vehicle. Dealers who opposed the program said it pitted Chrysler dealers against each other and gave an unfair cost advantage to dealers who met targets.

    Eddy said Chrysler also plans to revise its Five Star elite dealer program to emphasize customer retention.

    CEO Bob Nardelli, hired in August by new Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management, received a standing ovation after his speech, as did newly hired co-President Jim Press, Eddy said.

    “I felt like it was the modern-day version of when Lee Iacocca met with us in 1979,” he said. “It was emotional at one point.”

    Another dealer at the Las Vegas meetings said dealers appreciated last week’s moves to idle five assembly plants, reducing inventory backlogs that caused factory-dealer tensions.

    That, in addition to the move to kill the volume performance allowance, fired up dealers, the dealer said. “This is the happiest I’ve been in my 30 years as a Chrysler dealer.”

    Future Dodge Ram prototype caught testing its improved Hemi.

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    Can Cummins' Success Continue?

    Some analysts doubt this engine maker can sustain its recent earnings growth, but maybe they have underestimated the company's ability to innovate.

    Based on most analysts' opinions, the shares of engine maker Cummins are running on fumes. The company has had a remarkable run, they'll concede, but the stock, which closed at $139.98 on October 9, is expensive.

    Perhaps a bit of caution is warranted, given that Cummins traded for less than $10 in March 2003. A recent Lehman Brothers report points out that Cummins' price-earnings ratio of 16 (it's now up to 18, based on the latest price and estimated 2007 earnings of $7.70 a share) is just wee bit higher than its historical peak P/E of six to seven. Of the 11 analysts who follow the Columbus, Ind., manufacturer, only three rate the stock (symbol CMI) a buy.

    On the other hand, the company is growing like kudzu. And we think investors should take a hard look. One of the three bullish analysts, Charlie Rentschler of Wall Street Access, ticks off several reasons why he thinks Cummins' earnings could double in the next several years.

    First, he says, "There's no other American company that's done such an incredible job of sticking its roots down into China and India." Cummins has had joint ventures in in India since the 1960s and China since the 1970s. Of the three new engine plants Cummins is building, two are in China. Many Beijing buses, part of the biggest bus company in the world, run with Cummins engines.

    Such engines are Cummins' bread and butter. The company makes diesel- and natural-gas-powered engines for trucks, buses and RVs. But it also has an important and growing business making generators for factories, offices, hospitals and the like. Generator sales are growing particularly briskly in countries where power is less than dependable. Cummins' Standby Power systems, for example, make sure a building will have power when the grid crashes.

    Second, Rentschler says, "Cummins has superior technology." Case in point: Cummins is "in the vanguard" of developing car and truck diesel engines that must meet increasingly tight pollution controls.

    This leads to Rentschler's third point, which is how far ahead of rivals Cummins is in getting its wares to markets. The company has already announced that it's ready for the stringent, near-zero 2010 emission standards for diesel engines, beating many other engine makers to the punch.

    And passenger cars with diesel engines -- already popular in Europe -- could be the key to U.S. energy independence from OPEC, says Rentschler. In 2009, Chrysler will introduce a light pickup with a Cummins diesel engine, he says.

    The analyst, by the way, is the only one of the 11 following Cummins who once worked for the company. He says he spent ten years in operations there.

    What could go wrong? Well, lots of well-known, well-managed companies, such as Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere (DE), make engines. And most of Cummins' sales go to companies, such as big truck makers, who also make their own engines.

    Plus the engine business is notoriously cyclical. For example, new emission standards for big truck engines in 2007 caused a spike in sales for the 2006 models and a crash in the first half of 2007. Cummins' truck-related sales dropped 40% in the first half of 2007, according to Morningstar. (Sales have already started to bounce back for all engine makers -- the things wear out, after all.)

    Morningstar analyst Keith Schoonmaker sums up the strategic case against Cummins when he writes: "The company's recent results are impressive, but we don't see any sustainable competitive advantages to keep rivals at bay."

    That's a good point. Cummins' technologies for building engines that run more cleanly and producing catalytic converters used by other engine makers to help meet ever-tightening emission standards won't be on the leading edge forever. But Cummins has been so successful in recent years -- and has gained its current competitive advantages -- because it is a strong innovator.

    It may well be that analysts badly underestimated Cummins' earnings in the first half of 2007 because they didn't fully appreciate the company's ability to innovate. In the first quarter, analysts on average estimated profits of 86 cents a share; Cummins posted $1.42. For the second quarter, analysts had $1.59 per share, and Cummins reported $2.13.

    Analysts are looking for an 18% earnings gain, to $9.12 per share, in 2008. Rentschler says Cummins can earn $14 to $15 a share by 2011. That could mean a near-doubling of profits from 2007 levels. So although Cummins' stock is expensive and the chances of it repeating its 14-fold advance since 2003 over the next four years are zero, it's conceivable that the shares will chug along nicely, in line with earnings growth, for the foreseeable future.

    Automobile Quarterly
    Automobile Quarterly
    This Day in Auto History:

    The first Packard magazine advertisement appears
    E. C. di Bricherasio of Fiat dies in Aglie, Italy at age 35
    The Ford Model T Fordor Sedan is announced to dealers
    Frank R. Hickman of Locomobile dies in Fairfield, CT at age 75
    Racer Ted Horn is killed at age 38 during a race in DuQuoin, IL

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

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    UAW Strike Deadline Grows Near

    Associated Press


    The United Auto Workers union and Chrysler remained locked in negotiations early Wednesday as workers prepared for the picket lines.

    The UAW set a deadline of 11 a.m. EDT to reach a tentative agreement with Chrysler LLC or have thousands of workers walk off the job. The union represents about 49,000 workers at 24 U.S. manufacturing facilities and other sites.

    In a memo to local union leaders, the UAW said it would stop extending its contract with Chrysler by midnight Tuesday, but that deadline passed with no announcement. The contract was supposed to expire Sept. 14 but has been extended since then.

    "The company has thus far failed to make an offer that adequately addresses the needs of our membership," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and the UAW's chief Chrysler negotiator, General Holiefield, said in the memo sent Monday.

    UAW spokesman Roger Kerson declined to comment early Wednesday. Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said talks were continuing through the night.

    Chrysler's deadline comes as UAW members at General Motors Corp. wrap up voting on their own tentative contract. The UAW was expected to announce Wednesday whether a majority of GM's union members approved the agreement, which was reached Sept. 26 after a two-day strike. Contracts can't go into effect until workers approve them.

    David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said Tuesday that it appeared the GM contract would be ratified with about 60 percent of the vote despite protests from some members. The historic agreement establishes lower pay for some workers and puts GM's retiree debt into a UAW-run trust in exchange for promises of future work at U.S. plants.

    Typically, the union crafts an agreement with one Detroit automaker and then persuades the other two to match its terms. But it was unclear how much of GM's contract Chrysler would want to adopt. The UAW is expected to bargain with Ford Motor Co. last.

    Chrysler entered the talks seeking health care cost concessions that the UAW already granted to GM and Ford in 2005. Bargaining also has centered on how much Chrysler would pay into a company-funded, union-run trust that would take over its unfunded retiree health care costs, estimated at $18 billion.

    The union agreed to the creation of such a trust last month in GM's contract, but GM needed the trust more than Chrysler because it has 340,000 retirees and surviving spouses - compared with 78,000 at Chrysler - and billions more in retiree debt.

    Also at issue are the union's desire for job security pledges at U.S. factories and Chrysler's wish to contract out work now done by higher-wage union members, according to a person briefed on the talks. The person requested anonymity because the talks are private.

    At factories and union halls across the Detroit area Tuesday, workers filled out paperwork for strike pay and signed up for picket duty.

    Some workers said they didn't know what to expect from the talks because Chrysler recently became a private company. Daimler AG finalized the sale of a majority share in Chrysler to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP in August, shortly after the contract talks began.

    Melvin Thompson, president of a UAW local at a Chrysler truck plant in Warren, near Detroit, said there is uncertainty in having a new bargaining partner.

    "There is a difference," he said. "We don't know what that difference is yet."

    It would be to Cerberus' advantage to settle some of Chrysler's labor cost issues in the new contract without a lengthy strike, said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Gregg Lemos-Stein.

    "One would have to imagine if their return on investment would be superior if they were to achieve a contract that would address some of these very serious legacy cost issues," he said.

    Analysts agreed that a short-term strike would have little effect on Chrysler and might even help the company reduce inventory. Chrysler had a 71-day supply of cars and trucks on dealer lots at the end of August, according to according to Ward's AutoInfoBank. An ideal supply is around 60 days.

    But a walkout that lasts longer than a month would start to cut into sales, said Paul Taylor, chief economist with the National Automobile Dealers Association. Taylor said a strike could hurt sales of hot-sellers like the Chrysler Aspen sport utility vehicle and Jeep Wrangler four-door. Chrysler also is in the middle of the critical launch of its new minivans.

    Chrysler said it already planned to idle five assembly plants and some parts making factories for short stretches during the next two weeks in an effort to adjust its inventory to a slowing U.S. automotive market.

    Chrysler confirms end of volume bonus program

    Dave Guilford
    Automotive News
    October 9, 2007 - 5:04 pm ET Chrysler LLC will end its controversial monthly volume performance allowance effective Jan. 1, replacing it with a $400-a-car payment that dealers get regardless of sales volume.

    Chrysler executives announced the change at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas, dealers said. A Chrysler spokesman confirmed the change.

    The new program pays dealers $200 when they are invoiced for a vehicle and another $200 when the vehicle is sold, said Chuck Eddy, co-owner of Bob & Chuck Eddy Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Austintown, Ohio, and a dealer council member.

    A key feature is that dealers do not have to meet a quota to get the bonus, Eddy said: “If you sell one car, you get the money.”

    The volume performance allowance angered many dealers because only those meeting monthly sales targets earned bonuses, which reached $700 a vehicle. Dealers who opposed the program said it pitted Chrysler dealers against each other and gave an unfair cost advantage to dealers who met targets.

    Eddy said Chrysler also plans to revise its Five Star elite dealer program to emphasize customer retention.

    CEO Bob Nardelli, hired in August by new Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management, received a standing ovation after his speech, as did newly hired co-President Jim Press, Eddy said.

    “I felt like it was the modern-day version of when Lee Iacocca met with us in 1979,” he said. “It was emotional at one point.”

    Another dealer at the Las Vegas meetings said dealers appreciated last week’s moves to idle five assembly plants, reducing inventory backlogs that caused factory-dealer tensions.

    That, in addition to the move to kill the volume performance allowance, fired up dealers, the dealer said. “This is the happiest I’ve been in my 30 years as a Chrysler dealer.”

    UAW-Chrysler Talks Resume

    DETROIT (AP) — As a strike deadline loomed, bargainers for the United Auto Workers and Chrysler LLC were back at the table early Tuesday morning trying to settle on a tentative contract.

    A worker inspects a Jeep on the assembly line at the Daimler Chrysler Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio in this Monday, Aug. 28, 2006 file photo. A year ago, auto workers at a Chrysler parts plant agreed to make changes that will end up costing hundreds of jobs over the next few years. But some may be off the job sooner than expected after the United Auto Workers set a Wednesday, Oct 10, 2007, strike deadline during contract talks. (AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero, File)

    Related News

    The 11 a.m. Wednesday deadline set by the UAW may be a tactic to get Chrysler to give a little more. It also makes one thing abundantly clear: Chrysler isn't going to just agree to the same contract terms as General Motors Corp.

    Several industry analysts said Monday night that Chrysler's needs are different than GM's, so it requires a different deal with cost cuts in different places.

    The union may have set the strike deadline for its 49,000 hourly workers because of how far Chrysler bargainers want to go in demanding cost cuts.

    "We think that they may be holding out for something more than GM got," said Aaron Bragman, an industry analyst for the consulting firm Global Insight.

    Chrysler is likely to make another round of buyout or early retirement offers to salaried employees and cut contract workers in an effort to reduce its white-collar work force by about 1,500 more people, a person briefed on the plan said Monday.

    The person, who requested anonymity because the plan has not been made public, said the reduction will be made because the company needed to modify its recovery plan announced in February.

    Most of the white-collar reductions will occur at Chrysler's Auburn Hills headquarters, said the person, who did not know when the company expects to complete the cuts.

    Chrysler announced in February that it would eliminate 13,000 positions, including 11,000 production jobs and 2,000 white-collar posts in an effort to return to profitability in 2008.

    The UAW went on strike for nearly two days last month before coming to a tentative agreement with GM on Sept. 26. Workers with the nation's largest automaker are expected to wrap up voting on the agreement by Wednesday.

    The union normally settles with one U.S. automaker and then uses that deal as a pattern for an agreement with the other two.

    Among the differences this time, analysts say, are health care givebacks granted to GM and Ford Motor Co. in 2005 that Chrysler didn't get, worth approximately $340 million a year.

    Another person briefed on the negotiations said the two sides have not agreed on giving the same deal to Chrysler. The person also requested anonymity because the talks are private.

    Higher health care costs are one big reason why Chrysler pays its workers an average of $75.86 per hour in wages, pension and health care costs, the highest among the Detroit automakers.

    Several analysts also said the company and union likely are apart on setting up a Chrysler-funded union-run trust that would take on the company's roughly $18 billion in retiree health care costs. Unlike GM, Chrysler also may be against giving specific job security promises by guaranteeing new cars and trucks will be built at U.S. factories, and it wants to hire out parts transportation rather than pay full UAW wages for it, the analysts said.

    Job security could be a tough issue because Chrysler and its new owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, would be reluctant to commit to huge investments when the company is looking at potentially cutting some models, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

    As a bargaining chip, Chrysler could back off from new factory investments that it has announced and make them contingent on a new agreement, Cole said.

    UAW President Ron Gettelfinger traded job security to GM for taking on the retiree health care costs and for a limited lower pay scale for new hires.

    Chrysler has to be able to outsource its parts transportation because its competitors do for much lower costs, Cole said.

    "They just can't sustain that, so there will have to be buyouts and things to compensate for that," he said.

    Cerberus, a private equity firm, probably doesn't want to put too much cash into the trust fund because it wants to turn Chrysler around and sell it, Bragman said.

    "They don't necessarily want to contribute a large amount of money to a long-term solution when Cerberus is more than likely a short-term owner," Bragman said.

    Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson would not comment on specifics of the talks other than to say that they are progressing. UAW spokesman Roger Kerson also would not comment.

    All three U.S.-based automakers have said they want to significantly close or eliminate a roughly $25-per-hour cost gap with Japanese automakers that have U.S. factories.

    Cole said the strike talk could be drama to help get the pact ratified later by the membership. If there is a strike, he expected it to be short.

    The UAW's contracts with Chrysler, Ford and GM were originally set to expire Sept. 14.

    Besides the 49,000 active workers, Chrysler also has about 78,000 hourly retirees and surviving spouses.

    Chrysler to idle Sterling Heights plant next week

    Mon Oct 8, 2007 11:45am EDT

    DETROIT, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC will idle its assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, next week, sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

    The plant, which makes the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler Sebring, will also be idled for a week in November, one source said. Chrysler declined comment.

    This week, Chrysler is idling six other assembly plants, including one in Mexico, as it responds to building inventory levels, the company said on Sunday.

    The United Auto Workers union has set a Wednesday deadline for reaching a new labor agreement with the automaker and has threatened a strike if no deal is reached by then. (Reporting by Jui Chakravorty, editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

    Cummins to lay off 100 temporary workers

    Even historically strong Hoosier companies are suffering in the state's current lackluster economyCummins Inc. is laying off about 100 temporary workers from a Bartholomew County plant for at least for the rest of October.

    The Columbus-based engine maker says the layoffs from the plant near Walesboro were needed because Chrysler has decided to temporarily halt production of Dodge Rams. The 6.7-liter Dodge Ram diesel engine is produced exclusively at Cummins Midrange Engine Plant.

    Cummins spokeswoman Janet Williams says the layoffs will begin Monday and be re-evaluated at the end of the month. Williams says Chrysler has told Cummins that it will halt production in three of the next four weeks because of a general weakening in the market.

    Two Ohio Chrysler plants awaiting Wednesday contract deadline

    10/8/2007, 4:53 p.m. EDT
    The Associated Press

    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Workers at a Chrysler LLC parts plant in Perrysburg agreed last year to a deal that will end up costing hundreds of jobs within the next few years.

    But some may be off the job sooner than expected if the United Auto Workers union sticks with a Wednesday deadline to strike the company if negotiators don't reach a settlement on a new contract.

    The deadline directly affects two Ohio plants: the Perrysburg site just outside Toledo and another in Twinsburg, 15 miles southeast of Cleveland. Each plant employs about 1,500 people.

    Workers at Chrysler's biggest Ohio factory, a Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, are covered under a separate labor contract so there wouldn't be a strike there.

    But a long walkout likely would disrupt production of the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler and the Dodge Nitro at the Toledo plant, because parts made at other locations may become unavailable.

    Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said that even if the strike deadline passed, the union could extend the contract as negotiations continue.

    The UAW represents about 49,000 hourly workers at Chrysler. Workers the union represents at General Motors Corp. facilities went on strike for nearly two days last month before reaching a tentative agreement with GM.

    A year ago, UAW workers at Chrysler's machining plant in Perrysburg agreed to job changes to allow it to make a new V-6 engine and keep it from closing. Plans are for the company to cut about 800 jobs by 2011 and pay new employees less than current workers.

    The plant now makes steering columns and torque converters, but will shift to work on the more efficient engine.

    Chrysler said earlier this year that it planned to eliminate 110 jobs at its Twinsburg Stamping Plant by 2009. The plant opened in 1957 and stamps hoods, side panels and roofs for vehicles including the Dodge Dakota, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and three Jeep models.

    Twinsburg Finance Director Joanne Terry said the plant has been the city's biggest employer since it opened.

    Leaders of UAW Local 122, which represents workers in Twinsburg, were involved in contract talks Monday and were unavailable for comment.

    Chrysler to cut deeper

    UAW strike deadline looms: As 11 a.m. Wednesday nears, trims may be tactic to help seal labor deal



    United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinge

    Chrysler LLC, deep into labor contract negotiations with the UAW, also is making changes to its nonunion workforce -- cutting hundreds of salaried and contract jobs.

    The Auburn Hills automaker announced plans in February to eliminate 13,000 jobs over three years, including 2,000 salaried jobs. Now it intends to reduce even more white-collar positions by cutting the nonunion salaried workforce by 5% and cutting the contract workforce at Auburn Hills by 37%, said people who had been briefed on the plan but were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

    The move comes as the UAW has given Chrysler an 11 a.m. Wednesday deadline to reach a new labor agreement or face a nationwide strike, according to a memo sent Monday by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President General Holiefield to UAW local leaders.

    Although Gettelfinger told local leaders that Chrysler had "thus far failed to make an offer that adequately addresses the needs of our membership," several industry observers said the new deadline could indicate the two sides are near a deal.

    "It is meant to put the negotiations into their endgame," said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert from the University of California, Berkeley.

    "A deadline like that indicates two things that are a bit contradictory: first that a deal is near. Second that there is some trouble closing it."

    Chrysler, which is undergoing historic evolution as the first privately held major American automaker in more than 50 years, is racing along at breakneck speed in an effort to make changes at all levels -- from the chief executive's suite to the assembly line.

    In August, Cerberus Capital Management acquired majority control of Chrysler, putting Bob Nardelli in control as CEO and keeping former CEO Tom LaSorda around as president and vice chairman.

    Last week, minority owner Daimler AG confirmed that LaSorda, who is leading the UAW negotiations for Chrysler, was paid a bonus related to the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus. A German union leader called the bonus "unreasonably high."

    What new reductions could mean

    Before the ownership change, Chrysler, which lost $2 billion in the first three months of the year, implemented a turnaround plan that shed about 1,000 white-collar jobs this year and another 1,000 next year.

    Under the new plan, an additional 5% reduction of nonunion salaried workers could mean the loss of 535 white-collar jobs.

    The automaker also has 3,000 contract workers in Auburn Hills. A 37% reduction could mean the loss of 1,110 jobs.

    Chrysler declined to comment for this report. In August, LaSorda seemed to indicate that more cuts were on the horizon when he refused to rule out that the turnaround plan would go deeper than initially announced, noting that the economy was hitting the auto business hard. The automaker's U.S. sales are down 3% this year compared with 2006.

    Shaiken said it was not surprising that Chrysler would be making cuts to its white-collar ranks while negotiating a UAW contract.

    "White-collar folks at the Detroit automakers are in the unfortunate position of any time a company wants to make a point to the union, they demonstrate it on the white-collar folks, either to set the example or to show that they mean business or both," Shaiken said.

    UAW memo authorizes strike

    Leaders of UAW locals at Chrysler plants were prepared for a Sept. 14 strike, when the 2003 contract was set to expire, but work continued around the nation under an indefinite extension at Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. while the UAW worked to get a deal with General Motors Corp. first.

    Talks with GM went nearly two weeks past the Sept. 14 deadline and included a two-day strike at GM facilities before a tentative agreement was reached Sept. 26.

    Although GM's tentative deal serves as the template for a Chrysler agreement, the companies are in different situations, with GM much farther along in restructuring its North American operations.

    Talks between the UAW and Chrysler intensified during the weekend. Negotiators met late into the evening Sunday and were expected to go late Monday, people familiar with the talks said.

    "Your bargaining committee worked long hours this weekend in an attempt to reach a tentative agreement," Gettelfinger and Holiefield said in their memo. "Many difficult issues have been discussed involving the wages and benefits of the UAW-represented members."

    During the weekend, the UAW delivered the 72-hour notice required to end the indefinite contract extension with Chrysler, which the two sides had agreed to Sept. 13. The Gettelfinger memo said the contract extension officially ends at 11:59 tonight, apparently giving the two sides an hour-by-hour extension to reach a deal by 11 a.m. Wednesday.

    If no deal is reached by that time, Gettelfinger warned, "we will be left with no choice but to commence a strike at all UAW Chrysler facilities. ... Unless you receive notice otherwise, a strike is authorized at all locations at that time."

    Experts said a strike against Chrysler could be devastating for the automaker.

    "Everybody hopes that it does not come to pass," said David Gregory, professor of labor law at St. John's University. "Chrysler's really not in the position to take any significant, protracted strike. It could be the end of the company."

    Belvidere, IL- Beginning Monday, 3400 Chrysler workers at the Belvidere plant are temporarily be out of a job. The production stoppage is said to be taking place to adjust inventory levels.

    Automobile Quarterly
    Automobile Quarterly
    This Day in Auto History:

    The world’s first full-sized gasoline-powered buses, two 12-hp German-built Daimlers, go into service in London, England
    Hare’s Motors, Inc. is formed to coordinate the management of Mercer, Locomobile and Simplex
    The last Pontiac Fine Six is produced
    The Chrysler Corporation sells its New York City real estate including the art-deco Chrysler Building
    The 1,000,000th Volkswagen Transporter is produced

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


    The 4500/5500 Cummins' exhaust line traps and burns off soot like the Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty pickups, but the diesel particulate filter is mounted underneath the cab in the Class 4/5 trucks instead of under the bed in the HD Rams. And while the 2500/3500 HD pickups meet 2010 emissions standards for Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) today, using Cummins' near maintenance-free Adsorber catalyst, the 4500/3500 trucks will rely on urea selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to scrub NOX molecules. The urea tank will be mounted on the chassis by 2010 and will require periodic refills.

    Looks like urea is going to happen. Now I'm REALY glad that the pickup trucks already meet the 2010 emission laws. I also wonder if this means that Ford and Chevy will have to have a urea tank on there trucks since they don't meet the 2010 laws?

    eBay: 505hp Dodge Viper-Powered Jeep Wrangler

    Hey guys, someone is offering a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with 8.3L 505-hp Viper SRT10-powered engine on eBay. $75K for quick grab, current bid has hit $35100. I wondered how fast this jeep can go, 505 horsepower. More pictures after the jump.

    “This is what it has, the 8.3litre Viper motor, 48RE auto tranny, Rubicon Rock Trac transfer case : Currie Iron Jock Dana 60 axles, 5.38 gears, ARB rear and Detroit locker front : PSC power steering assist, high steer, heavy duty tie rods : Huge SRT10 brakes front and rear, American Racing Cartel wheels 20×8.5 : 39.5 Swamper Irok tires, matching spare, Staun internal beadlocks : Currie front and rear bumpers, Currie rocker protection : Warn 9.5 XP winch, ORO winch rope and fairlead : ORO air disconnect front sway bar, Currie antirock rear sway bar : Mopar RB1 nav deck, Tuffy center console, Bestop seat covers : Jeep has hardtop, softtop, full doors and factory half doors : Hood has custom louvers and Hoodlift gas lift supports : Red top Optima battery : A/C ,cruise, power steering, power brakes : full guage function, no check engine lights : Superlift 6″ longarm suspension, Walker Evans adjustable shocks : Gen-Right aluminum fuel tank with skidplate : Tom Woods premium driveshafts.”

    [via Techeblog]

    2009 Dodge Challenger Wearing A Colorgasmic Paint Job

    2009_Dodge_Challenger_Mulatto.jpgWe've already seen it in spy photos -- a lot, but one of us was headed down I-275 an hour ago and spotted the musclegasm that is the 2009 Dodge Challenger meandering down the left lane at posted speeds. Luckily, we were coming from an event so we happened to have a camera nearby to catch the re-make making its way south. What was weird about this particular test vehicle was it appeared to be both red and black. So, what -- they couldn't decide whether they what color they wanted it to be? Seriously guys, pick a color -- preferably before the 2008 Chicago Auto Show reveal.

    Spy Photos - 2009 Dodge Challenger

    Automobile Quarterly
    Automobile Quarterly
    This Day in Auto History:

    Racer Yves Giraud-Cabantous is born in Saint-Gaudens, Garonne, France
    Mercer records its last racing victory as a Model 22-70 Raceabout wins the Giant’s Despair Hillclimb in Wilkes-Barre, PA
    Racer Hollingsworth “Worth” McMillion is born in Virginia
    Automobile headlight designer Karl Dumas Chambers dies in Oteen, NC at age 38
    Racer Wayne Anderson is born in Yaphank, NY

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

    Automobile Quarterly
    Automobile Quarterly
    This Day in Auto History:

    Camille Jentazy, winner of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy and former land speed record holder, dies at age 44 from an accidental shooting while on a wild boar hunt
    Race car mechanic Curtis Wade Crider is born in Charleston, SC
    The 1946 Buicks are introduced
    Racer Henri Oreiller dies at age 36 from injuries suffered when he crashes during a race at the Montlhery circuit in France
    The 1966 Pontiacs are introduced

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

    UAW steps up talks at Chrysler

    UAW steps up talks at Chrysler

    UAW President Ron Gettelfinger

    Negotiations for Ford brake to a virtual stop

    With momentum growing toward ratification of the UAW's proposed contract with General Motors Corp., the union is ramping up negotiations with Chrysler LLC.

    Talks at the automaker's Auburn Hills headquarters are expected to intensify over the weekend, while those at Ford Motor Co. have virtually stopped, people familiar with the negotiations said Friday.Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who specializes in labor issues, said Ford and Chrysler will want to make at least minor changes to the pattern set in GM's deal.

    "I suspect the UAW went to Chrysler, because it seemed Chrysler would be the best place to adapt the pattern first," he said.

    The union slowed talks with those two automakers when it named GM its strike target Sept. 13, one day before the previous 4-year contract was to expire. After a two-day strike against GM plants nationwide, the union announced a tentative agreement with GM on Sept. 26.

    As of Friday evening, at least 14 UAW locals had approved the agreement and three had rejected it.

    For ratification, the union needs yes votes from a majority of its more than 73,000 members who work for GM.

    Analysts and workers have called the proposed contract historic for its inclusion of a two-tier wage structure and an agreement to transfer responsibility for $50 billion in future retiree health costs from GM to a trust in exchange for a $29.9-billion investment in the trust and guarantees of future U.S. manufacturing work.

    Key to gaining worker approval has been the inclusion of an extensive list of product plans and prospects for many of GM's U.S. production facilities.

    Approving the agreement, by various margins, were union locals in Pontiac; Flint; Lansing; Grand Rapids; Grand Blanc; Ypsilanti; Toledo; Fairfax, Kan.; Janesville, Wis.; Spring Hill, Tenn.; Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Oklahoma City. (Some cities have more than one local.) Ft. Wayne approved the agreement by just 50.7%.

    At the Romulus engine plant, 50.2% of voters opposed the deal Friday. Larry Long, president of Local 163 there, said the margin against was five votes.

    UAW members in Wentzville, Mo., also rejected the agreement Friday, union members said. The UAW local representing workers at a New York plant scheduled to close in 2008 rejected the agreement earlier this week.

    Chrysler next

    In turning to Chrysler for the next round of talks, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger is gambling he can win a quick agreement and then return to Ford with more leverage, Dan Luria, an analyst at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth, told Bloomberg News.

    "The UAW has got to go to Chrysler eventually, so if they go there now and things turn out to be relatively easy, then Ford will be in a bad position if they don't go along," he said.

    Bloomberg News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4) reported the news first.

    Automobile Quarterly
    Automobile Quarterly
    This Day in Auto History:

    Orazio Satta Puliga of Alfa Romeo is born in Turin, Italy
    Duesenberg, Inc. is organized by E. L. Cord to design and manufacture a top-of-the-line car, introduced two years later as the Duesenberg Model J
    The 1940 Fords are introduced featuring styling by Eugene Gregorie
    Thomas J. Litle Jr. former Chief Engineer of Lincoln and Marmon who served as President of the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1926, dies in South Bend, IN at age 66
    Racer Manfred Winkelhock is born in Waiblingen, West Germany

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