Friday, November 2, 2007

SEMA 2007: 1970 Dodge Challenger packing a Viper V10

Click above image for high-res photos of the V10 Challenge

I'm a sucker for restomods as well as anything with the Viper V10, so this two-tone 1970 Challenger in the Dodge display was right up my Mopar alley. Built by Delaney Auto Designs of Shreveport, LA, this modified Mopar features a Mopar Performance V10 crate engine pumping out 585 horsepower mated to a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission. An independent rear suspension is also sourced from the Viper, and brakes have been upgraded to Wilwood front and rear discs. Paint was done by PPG and is a mix of Dodge SRT8 black and Lamborghini yellow. Click on the gallery link to view high resolution shots from the show floor.

Black Jack: Chrysler’s Casino on Wheels for SEMA

Written By: Evan McCausland

Chrysler Town & Country Black Jack

We’ve tried long and hard, but we can’t come up with a logical explanation for this one. Instead of previewing trends or aftermarket accessories, Chrysler’s Town & Country Black Jack serves merely as a vehicular one-liner.

In homage to SEMA’s host city of Las Vegas, Chrysler ripped out the new Swivel ‘n’ Go seating in favor of installing a poker lounge in back. A u-shaped bench trimmed in leather provides seating for four, while a sole bucket seat faces rearward. All rear passengers surround an illuminated card table fabricated from carbon fiber, while an acrylic floor is illuminated by amber LED lighting.

(Click through for more on Chrysler’s cruising casino)


If you think the casino gag ends there, you’re mistaken. Floor storage, normally provided for both the Swivel- and Stow ‘n’ Go seat systems, is now utilized as a lockable cash box for the dealer. Twin fixed skylights add some light to the interior, but they surround hidden cameras mounted in the stock overhead console. One camera’s aimed at the dealer’s hand, while the others help capture the emotions and cards of any players.

Sure, this could help the house always win, but Black Jack uses the cameras to entertain others. All cameras feed into a large 37″ Samsung LCD TV mounted in the rear hatch area. The entire system is powered by a dash-mounted Azentek mobile PC.

Exterior changes are limited to a customized burnt-amber paint (which looked black underneath cloudy skies), tinted tail lamps, a billet grille insert and large 20″ custom alloys sporting an offset spade logo.

It’s an interesting look for the Town & Country - one that doesn’t require much modification - but we think that fact will be eclipsed by the gambling gimmick. Heck, we’ll bet on it.

Freaking Huge: Dodge’s Ram BFT for SEMA

Written By: Evan McCausland

Dodge Ram BFT

Designer Scott Krugger knew his SEMA concept was big, but the reality of its size didn’t hit him until he parked the Ram BFT next to a run-of-the-mill Ram 1500.

“Oh my God,” he laughed. “It’s freaking huge!”

Freakin’ huge is, in contrast to the BFT itself, an understatement. In fact, we’d guess
a profane version of the same statement could be inspiration for its name, although Chrysler reps claim the BFT moniker represents “built for towing.”

“We had a few guys in our studio who really enjoyed modifying their trucks for towing large trailers,” says Krugger. “We wanted to go ahead and build their dream truck while maintaining a stock look.”

(Click through for a gallery and more on the BFT)

2007 SEMA: Dodge Ram BFT

Ignore the 5500 badges and flares - the BFT’s built not upon the frame of the new Ram 4500 and 5500 medium-duty chassis, but that of a Megacab-equipped Ram 3500 dually. A standard cab was procured from a 5500, which also lent its front bumper, wheel flares and emblems.

The big-rig look is further accentuated by the BFT’s stance. 3″ body and suspension lifts raise the Ram considerably, allowing room for massive 22.5″ Alcoa wheels. Lifted straight from heavy-duty semi tractors, the adapters for these wheels alone weigh a hefty 50 lbs each. Cummins’ standard 6.7-liter turbo-diesel I6 lies underhood, but the motor’s been tuned by reknowned turbo specialists Banks. We hear modifications include some programming and a new intake, but Chrysler’s not talking specifics at this point.

But the biggest change to the BFT lies out back, where a customized eight-foot bed has been stretched to measure 10′ long - two feet more than the current eight-foot “long bed.”

“Whenever we talked to the guys who really used their trucks for hauling,” says Krugger, “they kept telling us they couldn’t get enough room out in the bed.”

Chrysler’s metal shop welded in the extra two feet from a second bed, but a bedliner and skins stolen from a Megacab’s rear doors make the modification seamless. From a distance, it’s hard to identify this bed as being longer than the normal eight-foot box, but its cargo - a custom nine-foot long Big Dog chopper - says there’s something special about the box.

So is this a look into the Ram’s future? Perhaps. Chrysler reps wouldn’t say either way, but Krugger mentioned the box wasn’t hard to build, and better yet, actually uses the stock mounting points. The next-generation Ram may not be as big as the BFT, but color us not surprised should we see a 10-foot box out back.

SEMA: Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper

Written By: Seyth Miersma


After bringing you our initial impressions of Dodge’s Star Wars inspired Avenger Stormtrooper concept, we thought it only proper that we follow up with some live images.

The white on red, thick-chinned Dodge does a good impression of the Imperial enforcers, making the base Avenger look decidedly wimpy in comparison. Put on your favorite John Williams score and take a look at our live gallery.

(CLick on the thumbnails below to launch a gallery of live Avenger Stormtrooper images.)

Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-001
Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-003
Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-004

SEMA: Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper

Written By: Seyth Miersma


After bringing you our initial impressions of Dodge’s Star Wars inspired Avenger Stormtrooper concept, we thought it only proper that we follow up with some live images.

The white on red, thick-chinned Dodge does a good impression of the Imperial enforcers, making the base Avenger look decidedly wimpy in comparison. Put on your favorite John Williams score and take a look at our live gallery.

(CLick on the thumbnails below to launch a gallery of live Avenger Stormtrooper images.)

Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-001
Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-003
Dodge Avenger Stormtrooper-004

Chrysler Patents

1 7,287,798 Full-Text Tailgate assembly and method of operating the same
2 7,284,313 Full-Text Method for assembling a hybrid electro-mechanical transmission
3 D553,051 Full-Text Automobile body
4 D553,050 Full-Text Automobile body
5 D553,049 Full-Text Automobile body
6 7,278,942 Full-Text Transmission packaging and rotor support structure
7 D552,514 Full-Text Automobile body
8 D552,512 Full-Text Automobile body
9 7,277,781 Full-Text Method of undervoltage protection during engine cranking
10 D551,594 Full-Text Automobile body
11 D551,127 Full-Text Automobile body
12 D551,124 Full-Text Automobile body
13 D551,123 Full-Text Automobile body
14 D551,122 Full-Text Automobile body
15 7,268,451 Full-Text Motor resolver assembly and method of measuring speed and position of a motor roto

2009 Dodge Ram - Tailgate assembly and method of operating the same


A tailgate assembly and method of operating the same. The assembly includes a door portion movable between a closed position and an open position. An extendable spoiler is operably attached to the door portion. An extendable floorbed is operably attached to the door portion. The floorbed may be extended when the door portion is in the open position and the spoiler is extended. The method includes moving a door portion between a closed position and an open position. A spoiler operably attached to the door portion is extended. A floorbed operably attached to the door portion is extended when the door portion is in the open position and the spoiler is extended.

Chrysler LLC Announces Overall October 2007 U.S. Sales Down 9 Percent as Industry Sales Continue Below Trend Levels

* Chrysler brand car sales rise 7 percent over October 2006; led by Sebring
Sedan and Convertible
* Chrysler Town & Country up 26 percent on the success of the new model
* Jeep(R) brand sales down 21 percent year-over-year, driven by planned
fleet reductions
* Jeep Wrangler sales increase 8 percent versus last year
* Dodge brand car sales up 18 percent from the same period last year
* Dealer inventory down 8 percent or 469,426 units versus October 2006

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC reported U.S.
sales for October 2007 of 145,316 units; down 9 percent compared to October
2006 with 159,586 units sold. All sales figures are reported as unadjusted.
"Growing concerns about the housing slump are showing up in consumers'
expectations about future economic conditions as auto sales for the month
of October continue below trend levels," said Darryl Jackson, Vice
President - U.S. Sales. "Today's company announcement on product changes
reflects our customer-driven philosophy and current market conditions."
Chrysler brand car sales were led by Sebring Sedan which posted sales
of 5,015 units, up 86 percent versus 2006 and Sebring Convertible which
finished the month with sales of 1,856 units, up 837 percent versus October
2006. Chrysler Town & Country sales rose 26 percent to 12,177 units versus
October 2006 with 9,668 units.
Jeep(R) brand sales were down 21 percent year-over-year, driven by
planned fleet reductions. Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited posted sales
of 9,354 units, up 8 percent versus October 2006.
Dodge brand car sales increased 18 percent over last year aided by
steady sales of the Dodge Avenger with 6,268 units delivered.
"Given the competitive market, our approach is to provide substantial
value to our consumers by offering consumer cash and lease cash on the
majority of our 2008 models in November," said Michael Keegan, Vice
President - Volume Planning and Sales Operations. "We will also introduce
0% APR for 36 months on 2008 models through the end of the month."
Chrysler finished the month with 469,426 units of inventory, or an
84-day supply. Inventory is down by 8 percent compared to October 2006 when
it was at 508,724 units.
Chrysler LLC U.S. Sales Summary Thru October 2007

Month Sales Vol % Sales CYTD Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change Curr Yr Pr Yr Change

Sebring 6,871 2,892 138% 75,148 49,618 51%
300 8,923 10,518 -15% 99,174 116,625 -15%
Crossfire 111 763 -85% 8,401 8,144 3%
PT Cruiser 5,695 10,692 -47% 83,078 116,806 -29%
Aspen 1,783 1,524 17% 24,251 2,258 974%
Pacifica 4,880 5,578 -13% 47,754 66,463 -28%
Town & Country 12,177 9,668 26% 111,311 136,721 -19%
CHRYSLER BRAND 40,440 41,635 -3% 449,117 496,635 -10%
Compass 2,240 3,342 -33% 33,513 9,790 242%
Patriot 3,636 0 0% 31,248 0 0%
Wrangler 9,354 8,679 8% 101,903 62,913 62%
Liberty 6,486 11,004 -41% 75,351 114,218 -34%
Grand Cherokee 7,449 9,193 -19% 100,695 118,351 -15%
Commander 2,691 8,079 -67% 52,815 72,908 -28%
JEEP BRAND 31,856 40,297 -21% 395,525 378,180 5%
Caliber 5,563 7,790 -29% 85,915 75,791 13%
Avenger 6,268 0 0% 65,416 0 0%
Charger 8,343 8,619 -3% 97,833 96,387 2%
Viper 36 198 -82% 384 1,311 -71%
Magnum 3,219 2,576 25% 25,561 35,222 -27%
Dakota 3,196 4,943 -35% 44,572 66,416 -33%
Ram P/U 24,711 28,251 -13% 301,689 303,476 -1%
Caravan 11,005 12,454 -12% 141,477 182,805 -23%
Durango 2,322 6,932 -67% 39,833 60,349 -34%
Nitro 5,891 3,044 94% 61,680 4,010 1438%
Sprinter 2,466 2,289 8% 13,659 19,066 -28%
DODGE BRAND 73,020 77,654 -6% 879,497 912,719 -4%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 145,316 159,586 -9% 1,724,139 1,787,534 -4%

TOTAL CAR 36,403 32,369 12% 443,937 426,776 4%
TOTAL TRUCK 108,913 127,217 -14% 1,280,202 1,360,758 -6%
Selling Days 26 25 256 255

Chrysler feels equity's sharp ax

Cuts in jobs and vehicles show Cerberus has no patience for unprofitable operations

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
November 5, 2007 - 12:01 am EST

Any doubts about how private equity might manage an automaker were resolved last week when Chrysler whacked 10,000 jobs, four car models and five production shifts.

Private equity knows how to cut costs drastically. Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, hired last August by Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management, had previously demonstrated his cost-cutting ability at Home Depot, where he was CEO.

Last week's severe cuts — announced a few days after the UAW made major concessions in a new contract — show Nardelli is not afraid of slashing deeply, and dramatically, to get costs in line.

Fast pace
Since it took control of Chrysler Aug. 3, Cerberus Capital Management has
  • Hired Bob Nardelli, a former General Electric and Home Depot executive, as CEO, demoting Tom LaSorda to vice chairman and president (now co-president)
  • Hired Deborah Wahl Meyer, Lexus vice president of marketing, as vice president and chief marketing officer
  • Hired Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, as vice chairman and co-president
  • Hired former GM China head Phil Murtaugh as CEO of Asia operations
  • Said it will cut 4th-quarter production by 82,000 vehicles
  • Hired GE veteran L. John Cataldo as vice president of business development and mergers and acquisitions
  • Announced it will slash 8,500 to 10,000 hourly jobs and 1,000 salaried jobs, kill 4 vehicles and cut shifts at 5 plants

Source: Chrysler LLC

Input from Cerberus
Nardelli says Cerberus chief Stephen Feinberg and his team of turnaround experts consult closely with Chrysler's management. Feinberg even calls LaSorda, and it was Feinberg that recruited Toyota's former North American sales chief, Jim Press.

One week before Nardelli unveiled his turnaround plan, he described his relationship with Feinberg in a wide-ranging interview on the 14th floor of Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.

"It's not uncommon to get a call from Steve or a call from one of the other private-equity guys," said Nardelli in an Oct. 24 interview with Automotive News. "The question sometimes comes up — are you getting the freedom you need to run the company? Yes."

That freedom was on display last week when Nardelli unveiled a major cost-cutting plan just over three months after joining the company.

Chrysler's board of directors approved the cuts on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Nardelli worked out his plan with the assistance of his co-presidents, Jim Press and Tom LaSorda, and Andreas Schell, director of Chrysler's recovery plan.

Feinberg was matchmaker
Nardelli said in the interview that it was Feinberg who arranged to have Nardelli and Press meet at Cerberus' Park Avenue office in New York.

"Jim and I hit it off right away," Nardelli said.

"There was a huge mutual respect for what he had done over a number of years, and I was surprised that he knew about my background and career. So there was an immediate relationship between Jim and I."

Cerberus advisers are providing expertise in several key areas as Nardelli rebuilds Chrysler into an independent corporation.

"We have available ... our own internal 200 people, kind of a McKinsey & Co. consulting firm right there," he said. "We can bring them in by the day, the week or the month."

Nardelli said Cerberus is helping Chrysler:

  • Improve its management of cash flow.

  • Coordinate better with suppliers.

  • Improve information technology.

  • Sell idle assets such as unused land and buildings.
"As you might imagine, when a company goes through a marriage and then a divorce, goes from being an independent company to a division, there's some things that change," Nardelli said.

"We must put more rigor back into ... cash flow and cash management, because that is what keeps the doors open."

Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Coachbuilder Battista “Pinin” Farina is born in Turin, Italy
The first automobile insurance in Great Britain is written by the General Accident Company
B. Robert “Woody” Woodill is born in California
The Cord 810 is introduced at the National Automobile Show in New York City - President Franklin D. Roosevelt had urged car manufacturers to advance their introductions of new models by two months to help alleviate the traditional slump in employment during the fall months
The 1936 Hudson and Terraplanes are introduced

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

Chrysler to cut minivan plant's second shift

Business > Story

Veteran Chrysler watchers were suprised today when Daimler-Chrysler announced that it would cut 1,200 jobs from the Chrysler South Assembly Plant in Fenton, Mo.

Workers at Chrysler's Fenton minivan plant learned Thursday that its second shift will end earlier than expected. The shift was scheduled for elimination in the second quarter of 2008, but instead it will end at the start of the year.

In February, the automaker announced it would cut 1,935 jobs through 2009 across its two assembly plants in Fenton. That included cutting the second shift — or 1,000 employees — at the minivan plant.

That shift is now scheduled to end New Year's Day, said Joe Shields, president of United Auto Workers Local 110. The local represents members from the South assembly plant, which assembles the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.

Shields was notified Thursday by plant management.t's something we've been trying to overcome, but sales are just down," Shields told the Post-Dispatch. Shields held an afternoon meeting with shop stewards who were to officially notify second-shift workers on Thursday evening during their regular shift.

A Chrysler spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment on the new date. Earlier Thursday, she said the elimination would take place sometime in the first quarter.

Declining sales were also mentioned by Chrysler officials Thursday as the company announced a second round of job cuts. The automaker will cut from 8,500 to 10,000 hourly jobs, and 2,100 salaried jobs through 2008, or about 15 percent of its work force.

The cuts announced Thursday were in addition to the nationwide plan announced in February to cut 13,000 jobs.

Chrysler also said it will eliminate shifts at five North American assembly plants and cut four models, including the slow-selling PT Cruiser convertible, Dodge Magnum sports wagon, Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Crossfire.

Fenton's South plant and the adjacent North plant, which makes Dodge Ram pickups, were not affected by this second round of cuts.

Chrysler's sales fell 4 percent in the first 10 months of this year, and the company said it expects sluggish sales in 2008.

"We have to move now to adjust the way our company looks and acts to reflect a smaller market," Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda said in a statement Thursday. "That means a cost base that is right-sized and an appropriate level of plant utilization."

Before the February announcement, about 3,200 people worked at the South plant and 2,330 at the North plant. By Feb. 28, the South plant had been reduced to 2,847 employees, while 1,775 workers were at the North plant, according to Chrysler.

Shields and many other workers were hoping a hot-selling new product would make the cuts unnecessary. The South plant assembles a redesigned minivan that was just launched in August.

Others hoped the company would delay or avoid a mass layoff after Chrysler completed a multimillion-dollar upgrade at the South plant during the summer. The change is supposed to improve the plants' efficiency and allow Chrysler to quickly respond to peaks and valleys in demand.

However, market factors push automakers to consider making such production changes on a monthly basis, said Kim Hill, director of the automotive communities program at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"The automakers don't make a decision like (investing in the minivan plant) and (then) say, 'We don't have to worry about minivans for another two years,'" Hill said.

Hill said this market reality underscores the importance of having state and local development specialists who can regularly pay attention to the industry and lobby for their region's best interests.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chrysler Launches Production of New 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10

Source: Autochannel (press release) (Original Article)

Chrysler Launches Production of New 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 at
Conner Avenue Assembly Plant

- 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 hand-built at the Conner Avenue Assembly
- Additional 90 horsepower on tap from all-new 600-horsepower
8.4-liter Viper SRT10 V-10 engine built at Conner Avenue Assembly

AUBURN HILLS - October 24, 2007: Chrysler LLC today announced the
manufacturing launch of the new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, which is being
built at the company’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit.

In a time when most manufacturing plants utilize hundreds of
state-of-the- art robots to assemble vehicles, a unique plant in Detroit is
producing hand- built performance vehicles.

At the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, workers called “Craftspersons”
hand- build the new Dodge Viper SRT10 and all-new 600-horsepower 8.4-liter
SRT V-10 engine. Utilizing 26 work stations on a 705-foot-long assembly
line, 48 hand- picked UAW workers assemble each vehicle. Each vehicle
remains stationary for up to 49 minutes per work area as the Craftspersons
make any necessary adjustments. This process eliminates traditional repair
stations with all procedures verified by Craftsperson team members.

Each Dodge Viper is primarily made of seven component modules
(instrument panel, fuel tank, suspension corner modules, wheels and tires,
cooling module, lift gate assembly and full dressed engine). With the
exception of the engine, all modules are shipped to the Conner facility
from other locations. Stamping, casting and welding all take place off-site
with body panels arriving already painted.

Normally performed only on race cars, an alignment machine sets caster
and camber at normal ride height, at jounce and at rebound (upward and
downward travel of suspension). Typical factory alignments set caster and
camber in the normal ride height position only. The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10
is the only U.S. production Jetstar vehicle set up for such alignment …continue reading

Chrysler may need to drop more models selling slowly

November 2, 2007

Chrysler LLC's decision to cut four slow-selling models is the beginning of what is needed to reshape the company's lineup, analysts said Thursday.

The Chrysler Pacifica, PT Cruiser convertible, Crossfire and Dodge Magnum were obvious candidates to let loose, said Joe Phillippi, a principal with Short Hills, N.J.-based AutoTrends Consulting.Sales of the Pacifica and Magnum were down almost 30% through October, compared with the same period a year ago. The Crossfire and PT Cruiser ragtop were niche players.

"This was the low-hanging fruit you could deal with right away," Phillippi said. "There's clearly more to come."

Analysts say Chrysler has several major problem areas:

• The lineup has too many large, gas-guzzling SUVs and lacks a large, car-based utility vehicle, or crossover, that delivers better fuel economy while providing the same room.

• New or redesigned cars such as the Dodge Caliber and Chrysler Sebring fell short in attempts to catch up with competitors.

• The Jeep brand, an off-road icon, has gone astray with a ballooning lineup of vehicles that compete with each other.

Todd Turner, president of Thousand Oaks, Calif., consultant Car Concepts Inc., said he can think of at least three more vehicles Chrysler should drop: the Jeep Compass, Chrysler Aspen and Jeep Commander.

The Compass fills a spot also occupied by the Patriot, another compact utility vehicle. Jeep needs a small, fuel-efficient vehicle to hedge against rising gas prices, but it doesn't need two of them, Turner said.

Chrysler is not a strong enough brand to pull off a luxury SUV, such as the Aspen, he said. And the Commander crowds a market already covered by the Grand Cherokee, Turner said.

If Jeep wants to add a large SUV, it needs more separation, he said. The Commander is only 1.9 inches longer than the Grand Cherokee.

"The Commander just has to be stopped," Turner said. "It's so close to the Grand Cherokee that it makes no sense."

Pulling the plug on models, though, is not an easy decision, said Phillippi of AutoTrends.

Even if sales are modest, some vehicles help cover costs for new factory equipment, Phillippi said. The Compass, for example, is made at the same plant as the Patriot and Caliber.

Chrysler also cannot abandon a high-volume segment, such as midsize cars, just because the current model does not stack up, Phillippi said. "That's the greatest way in the world to bankrupt half your dealers."

Chrysler President and Vice Chairman Jim Press should help reshape the lineup quickly, Turner said. Under DaimlerChrysler AG, Chrysler Group was known for coming up with new models and then pushing them on dealers, he said. Press will take a different approach, Turner said. "It will be marketing-driven decisions," he said.

Chrysler cuts hurt London

Fri, November 2, 2007

Hundreds of job losses are predicted in London's auto sector as a result of the news.

By NORMAN DE BONO, SUN MEDIAThe slashing of jobs and production at Chrysler will hit London's auto sector with "hundreds of jobs" lost here, a union official says.

Chrysler is cutting 12,000 jobs in North America in addition to 13,000 announced in February.

The company will stop making two vehicles in Canada, the Pacifica in Windsor and Magnum at Brampton.

London and area suppliers make parts for those vehicles and other Chrysler products in the United States, Tim Carrie, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 27, said yesterday. The local represents several parts plants in the London area.

"Anyone who supplies Chrysler will be devastated by this, they will be hurt," Carrie said. "This will mean hundreds of jobs will be lost in the parts industry."

At Coopers Standard in Glencoe, 100 jobs may be cut at the plant that employs 300, said Bill Watts, quality manager at the plant.

"It will affect us, 99 per cent of our work goes to Chrysler. It will have a serious impact."

But there is already talk Chrysler will name replacement vehicles for the Pacifica and Magnum in 2008.

The new vehicles will ease job losses, said Bob Cook, manager for the Keiper Automotive plant in London that sends about 60 per cent of the seat structures it makes to Chrysler.

"Everyone here is concerned, but we are not sure what their plans are yet," Cook said.

Keiper could lose more than 20 workers out of its 280 production employees, he said.

Other area parts plants also supplying Chrysler include Brose Automotive, Siemens and Formet in St. Thomas.

Siemens, which makes dashboard fan systems, makes little for Chrysler, "but we still do not need any more bad news in this industry," said Maria McFadden, plant chair.

Siemens workforce will be cut to 117 after Nov. 23, when 37 are laid off from the plant that employed 1,300 in 1995.

"I think London is suffering, this will have a real impact on jobs here. It will hit the community, it will hit suppliers," McFadden said.

Formet makes front-end structures for a Chrysler Jeep plant in the U.S., but it is too early to say if that plant will cut jobs, said Tracy Fuerst, Magna spokesperson.

Siemens has been bought by Continental HE out of Germany in a deal not finalized. When the sale is complete, the London plant will learn if it is to remain open or be shut down, McFadden said.

"This is another sign of the erosion of the auto industry in this country," Carrie said.

"This is bad for our economy, for workers and their families. When will this (federal) government recognize we have a crisis?"

Chrysler is eliminating the third shift at its Brampton plant, cutting 1,100 jobs.

CAW national president Buzz Hargrove believes the Chrysler announcement will result in thousands of Canadian jobs lost in the automotive sector.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice said the federal government will not give aid to the auto industry. "Our industry has to face global competition," he said.

Pacifica production will end Nov. 26, and production of the Dodge Magnum in Brampton will cease early in 2008. Chrysler is also cutting shifts at four U.S. plants

Hargrove insists the problem lies in uncontrolled imports from Asia and government inaction to pry open those markets to Canada.


Chrysler will cut up to 12,000 jobs and eliminate one shift each at five assembly plants in an effort to match production to demand and cut costs.

Plant Employees Affected products

Belvidere (Ill.) 1,000 Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot

Brampton (Ont.) 1,018 Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum

Jefferson North (Detroit) 994 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Commander

Sterling Heights (Mich.) 1,100 Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger

Toledo North (Ohio) 750 Jeep Liberty, Dodge Nitro

Additional cuts will be made at these and other plants to get to the total cut of 8,500 to 10,000 hourly workers and 2,000 salaried workers.

Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove responds to a question during a news conference in Toronto, Thursday Nov. 1, 2007. Hargrove commented on the 12,000 layoffs announced by Chrysler which will affect the plant in Brampton, Ont. (Adrian Wyld, CP)

Chrysler inventory at 84-day supply

Thu Nov 1, 2007 8:10 PM GMT144

DETROIT, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC said on Thursday its inventory at the end of October stood at 469,426 units, or an 84-day supply, down from more than 508,000 vehicles a year earlier.

On a conference call with analysts and reporters, the automaker said its inventory included 104,961 cars and 364,465 trucks. Of the total inventory, 29 percent of the vehicles were 2007 models.

Chrysler, which has been criticized by industry experts and dealers for having too much inventory, is restructuring its operations under the new private ownership of Cerberus Capital Management and actively working to improve its relationship with its dealerships.

Cerberus purchased an 80 percent stake in Chrysler in August from former German parent, Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE: Quote, Profile , Research).

Chrysler's vice president of U.S. sales, Darryl Jackson, declined to disclose an inventory target for 2007 on the call, but said the main goal was to ensure profitability for the automaker's dealers. (Reporting by Jui Chakravorty)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A new hood, fenders and grille highlight the 2008 Dodge Dakota.

A new hood, fenders and grille highlight the 2008 Dodge Dakota.


2009 Dodge Ram pickup may look less menacing

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
October 22, 2007 - 12:01 am ET


Click Here
When a Dodge Ram pickup approaches from behind, there's no mistaking it from any other vehicle.

The Ram's front-end design has an over-the road, semitractor look to it. The design message is clear to those viewing it in their rearview mirrors: "Get out of my way." Other pickups look sedate by comparison.

But sources who have seen the re-engineered, restyled 2009 Ram say Dodge is moving away from the semitruck look toward something closer to the segment-leading Ford F-150. Spy photos have been scarce, but they hint at a look closer in spirit to the current Dodge Nitro or reskinned 2008 Dakota.

The exterior design has been the pickup's signature since the 1994 Ram debuted.

Jim Hall, an analyst at AutoPacific Inc. in suburban Detroit, says Chrysler can ill-afford to relinquish its design edge because the pickup market is the industry's most competitive.

"The current Ram is incredibly polarizing," he said. "If you have a product where half the public hates it and half loves it, that's OK."

With new entries from Toyota and Nissan and expected declines in sales volume in the segment over the next decade, the Ram's unique selling proposition is styling.

"If they lose their styling edge, they have to find another selling proposition, and that's not easy in what has become the most competitive large pickup market on the planet," Hall says.

Interior design is one area in which the Ram has fallen behind the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado pickups.

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler vice president for Jeep, truck, advance interior and component design, says the next-generation Ram will be the first Chrysler vehicle to use a revised design process originating at the automaker's new advanced interior studio.

Chrysler's goal is to involve suppliers earlier in the process so the automaker can dictate what it wants, rather than have the end product be dictated by the suppliers' capabilities.

Getting the interior right in the 2009 Ram is crucial.

Says John Wolkonowicz, an analyst at Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.: "Ford raised the bar in 2004, and GM did in 2007. The Dodge pickup today is really uncompetitive from an interior standpoint."

Chrysler hires Betts from Nissan

Automotive News
October 29, 2007 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT — Snatching yet another executive from a Japanese automaker, Chrysler LLC named Doug Betts its chief customer officer. Betts was senior vice president of total customer satisfaction for Nissan North America Inc.

Betts, 44, will be a liaison between Chrysler customers and executives on quality issues. It is a new position at Chrysler; he'll report to co-President Jim Press.

Before his most recent post, Betts was vice president of manufacturing quality at Nissan. Before that, he headed quality for Toyota's Tundra pickup plant in Princeton, Ind.

Chrysler cuts four models, five shifts

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli

Up to 10,000 hourly jobs and 1,000 salaried jobs being cut; overtime eliminated

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
November 1, 2007 - 10:20 am ET
UPDATED: 11/1/07 12:35 p.m. EDT

Dodge Challenger coupe
DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC, ending days of speculation, said today it will slash 8,500 to 10,000 hourly jobs before the end of 2008 and cut four vehicles from its lineup as it restructures under the ownership of Cerberus Capital Management LP.

Another 1,000 salaried jobs also are being cut, along with about 37 percent of its contract workers, the company said. Chrysler also will eliminate hourly and salaried overtime.

The cuts in the hourly workforce would equal about 17.5 percent of the company's 57,000 union employees in the U.S. and Canada.

Chrysler will drop shifts at Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly, Jefferson North in Detroit, Toledo (Ohio) North, Brampton (Ontario) Assembly, Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly and Mack Avenue Engine Plant II in Detroit. Three of the five plants will eliminate a third shift: Belvidere, Toledo and Brampton.

Chrysler will cut the Dodge Magnum, the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible, the Chrysler Pacifica crossover and the Chrysler Crossfire convertible.

In the same time frame, Chrysler said it will add two products: the Dodge Journey crossover and Dodge Challenger coupe. It also will add two hybrid SUVs, the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.
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Dodge Journey crossover
Market has 'changed dramatically'
“The market situation has changed dramatically in the eight months since Chrysler established the Recovery and Transformation Plan as its blueprint,” Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said in a statement.

“Annual industry volume (U.S. market) then was running at a 17.2 million clip. Now we expect a seasonally adjusted annual volume for 2007 to be significantly lower and carry over into 2008.”

The announcement comes just days after UAW workers narrowly approved a new four-year contract with Chrysler. The contract passed on the strength of approvals by several suburban Detroit locals, including Sterling Heights.

One UAW source expressed doubt that the Chrysler contract would have passed a rank-and-file vote had the layoff plan been known.

The Toledo plant was not a part of the recently approved contract.

Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12 in Toledo, said the Chrysler announcements came as a shock.

“They blindsided us on this one,” he said today.

Baumhower acknowledged that sales of the Dodge Nitro sport utility, which is made at Toledo, had been slow.

“The industry is down," he said. "There’s no question. We think we’re going to be able to negotiate things that will soften the impact until we can get some more product in.”

Chrysler said it had committed to spending $15 billion on products, plants and engineering through 2011 as part of the new contract.

About 1,100 jobs will be lost at Chrysler's assembly plant in Brampton, the head of the Canadian Auto Workers union, Buzz Hargrove, said on Thursday.

The Brampton plant has been producing the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger, the Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Magnum, and employs about 4,000 people.

The CAW said the cuts amount to a reduction of 13 to 14 percent of Chrysler's Canadian work force of about 9,000 employees.

The latest job cuts are in addition to 13,000 hourly and salaried jobs already eliminated when then-Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda announced the Recovery and Transformation Plan on Feb. 14. That was the same day DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche announced Chrysler was for sale.

Chrysler lost $1.47 billion in 2006, when it was still a unit of DaimlerChrysler.

Chrysler assembles the Dodge Magnum at Brampton; the Pacifica at Windsor, Ontario; and the PT Cruiser convertible in Toluca, Mexico. The Crossfire sports car is assembled in Germany.

David Barkholz contributed to this report

PRESS RELEASE: Chrysler Announces New Plans to Balance Supply and Demand
  • Industry-wide volume reduction and sales slow down requires plant adjustments.

  • Four products will be cancelled from Chrysler line-up; while adding two all-new products and two hybrid models.

Chrysler LLC today announced that it would make volume-related reductions at several of its North American assembly and powertrain plants, and eliminate four products from its line-up.

Shifts will be eliminated at five North American assembly plants which, combined with other volume-related manufacturing actions, will lead to a reduction of 8,500-10,000 additional hourly jobs through 2008.

Additional actions include reductions of salaried employment by 1,000 and supplemental (contract) employment by 37 percent. The Company also plans to eliminate hourly and salaried overtime and reduce purchased services due to reduction in volume.

The volume-related actions are in addition to 13,000 jobs eliminated by the three-year Recovery and Transformation Plan (RTP) announced in February. The objectives of the RTP remain the same.

"The market situation has changed dramatically in the eight months since Chrysler established the Recovery and Transformation Plan as its blueprint," said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Annual industry volume (U.S. market) then was running at a 17.2 million clip. Now, we expect a seasonally adjusted annual volume for 2007 to be significantly lower and carry over into 2008."

"We have to move now to adjust the way our company looks and acts to reflect a smaller market," added Tom LaSorda, Vice Chairman and President. "That means a cost base that is right-sized and an appropriate level of plant utilization."

LaSorda added that third-shift operations at assembly plants usually reflect a high demand after a product is launched. Three of the five plants affected by this action are the result of elimination of third shifts" in Belvidere, Illinois; Toledo, Ohio, and Brampton, Ontario.

In contract negotiations just concluded with the United Auto Workers, Chrysler committed to spending more than $15 billion on products, plants and engineering during the life of the contract through 2011.

The company announced that it will eliminate four models through 2008, including Dodge Magnum, the convertible version (only) of Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Crossfire. In the same time frame, Chrysler will add two all-new products to its portfolio: the Dodge Journey and Dodge Challenger, along with two new hybrid models, the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.

"These actions reflect our new customer-driven philosophy and allow us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products," added Jim Press, Vice Chairman and President. "Further, these product actions are all in response to dealer requests."

Manufacturing Actions

Chrysler will eliminate shifts at five assembly plants, and take further volume-related actions at several other facilities. It will:

Drop third-shift operations at Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. Belvidere builds the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.

Drop second-shift operations at its Jefferson North (Detroit, Mich.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. It's expected that the plant will return to two shifts in first quarter 2010 with the introduction of the next generation of sport-utility vehicles. The addition of a third shift will remain an option, depending on market demand. Jefferson North builds the Jeep® Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander.

Drop third-shift operations at the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2008. Toledo North builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro.

Drop third-shift operations at Brampton (Ontario) Assembly Plant in first quarter 2008. Brampton will build the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. The Dodge Magnum will be discontinued.

Drop second shift operations at Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant in first quarter 2008. Sterling Heights builds the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring sedans and Chrysler Sebring Convertible.

In addition, Mack Avenue (Detroit) Engine Plant II will return to a traditional two-shift / two-crew operation in the first quarter 2008 after operating on a three-crew, two-shift, 120-hour-per-week (3/2/120) schedule. Mack II builds the 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

"I'm confident that we have the right team in place and a business plan that doesn't need to be re-written," concluded Nardelli. "Like all good plans, the RTP has built-in flexibility that allows us to stay one step ahead of market change. And that is the way to long-term sustained profitability."

For more information, go to the Chrysler media site at