Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chrysler LLC Patent Updates

1 7,297,880 Full-Text Load limiter for strain gauge occupant classification sensor
2 7,296,493 Full-Text Offset transmission shift lever and isolator arrangement
3 7,296,490 Full-Text Switch assembly for selecting among plurality of shift schedules on an electronically controlled transmission
4 7,294,085 Full-Text Three stages differential assembly and method of operating the same
5 7,294,082 Full-Text Powertrain arrangement for a skid-steer vehicle
6 7,293,465 Full-Text Conveyor diagnostic system having local positioning system
7 D554,563 Full-Text Automobile body
8 7,292,928 Full-Text Method for controlling an operating condition of a vehicle engine
9 7,292,922 Full-Text Target volume based torque phase control during upshift
10 7,288,046 Full-Text Torque converter slip control for multi-displacement engine
11 7,283,488 Full-Text J1850 application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and messaging technique

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

John Wallace Raisbeck of American Motors is born in Coronel, Chile
The Fox Motor Company is organized in Philadelphia, PA by Ansley H. Fox, inventor of the Fox shotgun
Howard E. Coffin, Vice President and Chief Engineer of the Hudson Motor Car Company 1909-1930, is killed at age 64 by an accidental gunshot wound in Sea Island Beach, GA
Racer Carlos Panini is killed near Oaxaca, Mexico during the Pan-American Road Race
Irving R. Bacon, an artist who was the “court painter” for Henry Ford, dies in El Cajon, CA at age 86

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chrysler loan sale likely postponed

November 20, 2007 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT (Reuters) -- A $4 billion sale of loans being raised by automaker Chrysler LLC following its takeover by buyout firm Cerberus was likely to be postponed from a planned sale this week, a number of sources said yesterday.

Weak credit markets and worsening news from the US autos sector were behind the latest postponement, one source said.

Underwriters have been trying to sell $4 billion of Chrysler's debt to investors in the past few weeks and had set a Monday deadline to participate in the sale, sources previously told Reuters.

Cerberus Capital Management closed its $7.4 billion deal to buy a majority stake in Chrysler in August from the automaker's former parent, Daimler AG.

The deal to buy Chrysler has already been funded by the underwriters. Those underwriters are now trying to sell a majority of the debt on to other investors.

They tried to do this in late July but postponed the sale because credit markets were weak. Since the deal closed, proceeds of the loan have been used to fund working capital for Chrysler.

Several separate sources told Reuters that the $4 billion debt sale was likely to be postponed. Confirmation of whether the sale was actually delayed was likely to be known in the next few days, those sources said.

Sales for Chrysler, which counts on North American sales for nearly all its revenue, were down almost 4 percent in the first 10 months of the year.

More Than 102,000 Dodge Avengers & Chrysler Sebrings Recalled

Chrysler is recalling 102,042 MY 2007-2008 Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring vehicles equipped with 2.4 liter engines. The engine coolant may be drawn into the left radiator cooling fan motor connector which can cause an electrical short circuit resulting in an engine compartment fire. Chrysler dealers will inspect the connector for contamination or damage, install a wiring harness overlay, and replace the fan motor. The recall is expected to begin in the forthcoming weeks.

Detroit 2007 Preview: Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept

click above image for more views of the Chrysler evoVoyager Concept

Chrysler has released sketches today of three eco-minded concepts it will be unveiling at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show in January, and the first we'll tell you about is the Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept. The ecoVoyager Concept appears to be a series hybrid, much like the Chevy Volt or Ford Airstream Concept, that uses a lithium-ion battery pack for jaunts of 40 miles or less and a hydrogen fuel-cell range extender to reach distances up to 300 miles away. Power is expected to be in the range of 200 kW total, which Chrysler claims is good for reach 60 mph in around eight seconds. The exterior features an extreme cab forward design creating an arch profile with flowing character lines coming from the front and back that intersect on the sides. The interior design is described as being like a luxury jet, though no images of the concept's innards have been released yet. We'll have to wait until we meet the ecoVoyager Concept in person come January to tell you more, but for now gaze upon Chrysler's first of three concepts that's slated for introduction on the biggest stage of the year.

[Source: Chrysler]


2008 Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept

The 2008 Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept celebrates the romance of automobile travel embodied in a four-door, four-passenger distinctively American design. Designed for customers seeking elegance, simplicity and serenity, the elegant one-box design takes advantage of space normally occupied by a conventional powertrain setup. The 2008 Chrysler ecoVoyager features an advanced lithium-ion battery pack, along with a small, advanced hydrogen fuel cell that serves as a range extender. The result is a vehicle with a total range of more than 300 miles that emits no emissions from the tailpipe except water vapor.

Length: 191.2 inches (4856 mm)
Width at H-point: 75.4 inches (1915 mm)
Height: 63 inches (1600 mm)
Wheelbase: 116 inches (2946 mm)

New 426 Packages

426 Stage #1 Package: $7,427 (Shipping, Shippable Engine Stand & Crating, and Core charges are not included; call for details)

426 Short Block for 6.1L engines (works and uses Stock Heads)

426 Head Gaskets
Lower Engine Gasket Kit
Road Warrior Camshaft (supports stock Heads & Pushrods)
Upgraded Injectors
426 PCM Reflash (reuses stock PCM)
180’ Thermostat

426 Stage #2 Package: $9,277 (Shipping, Shippable Engine Stand & Crating, and Core charges are not included; call for details)

426 Short Block for 6.1L engines
IndyMaxx 6.1L Head Package (includes all upgrades)
426 Head Gaskets
Lower Engine Gasket Kit
Track Warrior Camshaft (Road or Race Warrior cams available as well)
Upgraded Injectors
426 PCM Reflash (reuses stock PCM)
180’ Thermostat

426 Stage #3 Package: $9,702 (Shipping, Shippable Engine Stand & Crating, and Core charges are not included; call for details)

426 Short Block for 6.1L engines
PPP Stage 2 Head Package
Hardened Pushrods
426 Head Gaskets
Lower Engine Gasket Kit
Race Warrior Camshaft (Road or Track Warrior cams available as well)
Upgraded Injectors
426 PCM Reflash (reuses stock PCM)
180’ Thermostat

Additional upgrade options:

Ported Intake: $750 (plus Core charge)
Add Polish to Ported Intake or replace your Stock Intake: $800 (plus Core charge)
Torque Converter (2600, 2900, 3200 RPM options): $695 (plus Core charge)
Quaife Limited Slip Differential: $1,670
403 Upgraded Half Shafts: $1,995 (shipping July 2, 2007)
426 SRT-8 Shift Knob: $89
426 engine covers: coming soon
Inconel Exhaust valves(stage 2 heads only): $200
PSI Valve Springs(stage 2 heads only): $300

Assembly required with all three packages.

Hands-on Viper assembly line [OZ style]

Dodge Viper

Mark Hinchliffe

The Dodge Viper will be left-hand drive and won't make it to Australia.

These days, most manufacturing plants use hundreds of state-of-the-art robots to assemble vehicles.

But one Detroit plant is producing hand-built performance vehicles.

The Conner Avenue Assembly Plant will hand-build the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 and new 8.4-litre SRT V10 engine using 26 work stations on a 214m assembly line.

Chrysler Australia says the Viper is only available in left-hand drive and will not be coming here.

Each vehicle will be hand assembled by 48 workers, remaining stationary for up to 49 minutes per work area while the workers make adjustments.

The process is normally performed only on race cars and eliminates traditional repair stations as the workers verify all work on all parts.

An alignment machine sets caster and camber at normal ride height and at the upward and downward travel of suspension; while most factories set caster and camber in the normal ride-height position only.

The V10 engine is built next to the vehicle on a 24-station circular line by nine workers; who assemble and certify each engine before it is installed in the chassis.

Each Dodge Viper is tested in place on the assembly line using special rollers.

At this stage, the vehicle is a rolling chassis without its body panels.

During this roll test, it is driven through all six speeds of the transmission, up to 145km/h to verify vehicle function.

The Dodge Viper was introduced as a concept car at the 1989 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Its V10 engine produces 450kW of power and 760 Nm of torque, propelling the car to 100km/h in less than four seconds.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

The 20,000th Essex, a 2-passenger roadster, is produced
Harold E. Larsen of the Timken-Detroit Axle Company dies in San Mateo, CA
The Kaiser-Frzer Corporation and Sears, Roebuck & Company agree to produce and market a variant of the Henry J through Sears as a new marque, the Allstate
The last 1953 Pontiac is produced - the division officially drops the Sedan Delivery body style
The British Ford Anglia is introduced to the United States market

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

OPEC Wants to Dump Dollar Reserves [Stupidty at its best]

AP | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that OPEC's members have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating U.S. dollar, which he called a "worthless piece of paper."

His comments at the end of a rare summit of OPEC heads of state exposed fissures within the 12-member cartel—especially after U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was reluctant to mention concerns about the falling dollar in the summit's final declaration.

The hardline Iranian leader's comments also highlighted the growing challenge that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, faces from Iran and its ally Venezuela within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper," Ahmadinejad told reporters after the close of the summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He blamed U.S. President George W. Bush's policies for the decline of the dollar and its negative effect on other countries.

"All participating leaders showed an interest in changing their hard currency reserves to a credible hard currency," Ahmadinejad said. "Some said producing countries should designate a single hard currency aside from the U.S. dollar ... to form the basis of our oil trade."

Oil is priced in U.S. dollars on the world market, and the currency's depreciation has concerned oil producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and has eroded the value of their dollar reserves.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah had tried to direct the focus of the summit toward the question of the effect of the oil industry on the environment, but he continuously faced challenges from Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Iran and Venezuela have proposed trading oil in a basket of currencies to replace the historic link to the dollar, but they had not been able to generate support from enough fellow OPEC members—many of whom, including Saudi Arabia, are staunch U.S. allies.

Both Iran and Venezuela have antagonistic relationships with the U.S., suggesting their proposals may have a political motivation as well. While Tehran has been in a standoff with Washington over its nuclear program, left-wing Chavez is a bitter antagonist of Bush.

During Chavez's opening address to the summit on Saturday, the Venezuelan leader said OPEC should "assert itself as an active political agent." But Abdullah appeared to distance himself from Chavez's comments, saying OPEC always acted moderately and wisely.

A day earlier, Saudi Arabia opposed a move by Iran on Friday to have OPEC include concerns over the falling dollar included in the summit's closing statement after the weekend meeting. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister even warned that even talking publicly about the currency's decline could further hurt its value.

But by Sunday, it appeared that Saudi Arabia had compromised. Though the final declaration delivered Sunday did not specifically mention concern over the weak dollar, the organization directed its finance ministers to study the issue.

OPEC will "study ways and means of enhancing financial cooperation among OPEC ... including proposals by some of the heads of state and governments in their statements to the summit," OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri said, reading the statement.

Iran's oil minister went a step further and said OPEC will form a committee to study the dollar's affect on oil prices and investigate the possibility of a currency basket.

"We have agreed to set up a committee consisting of oil and finance ministers from OPEC countries to study the impact of the dollar on oil prices," Gholam Hussein Nozari told Dow Jones Newswires.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said the committee would "submit to OPEC its recommendation on a basket of currencies that OPEC members will deal with." He did not give a timeline for the recommendation.

The meeting in Riyadh, with heads of states and delegates from 12 of the world's biggest oil-producing nations, was the third full OPEC summit since the organization was created in 1960.

The run-up to the meeting was dominated by speculation over whether OPEC would raise production following recent oil price increases that have approached $100. But cartel officials have resisted pressure to increase oil production and said they will hold off any decision until the group meets next month in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

They have also cast doubt on the effect any output hike would have on oil prices, saying the recent rise has been driven by the falling dollar and financial speculation by investment funds rather than any supply shortage.

During his final remarks, el-Badri stressed he was committed to supply—but did not mention changing oil outputs.

"We affirm our commitment ... to continue providing adequate, timely, efficient, economic and reliable petroleum supplies to the world market," he said.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Automobile engineer and designer Wellington Everett Miller is born in Los Angeles, CA
Carlos C. Booth, M.D., a surgeon who in 1895 designed the first car in Ohio (his Booth-Crouch was actually built by machinist W. Lee Crouch of New Brighton, PA), dies in Youngstown, OH at age 66
The last 1951 Pontiac is produced
The 1957 Pontiacs are introduced
Antique automobile collector George Hall Waterman Jr., best remembered as the co-owner of the 1866 Dudgeon steam vehicle, dies in Providence, RI

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

Chrysler planning engine stop-start systems


Chrysler has promised to follow the lead of carmakers like BMW by offering fuel-saving engine stop-start technologies on some of its cars in the near future. The system, which shuts down the engine while the car is stationary in traffic, then starts it again once the driver releases the clutch or brake pedal, can improve fuel economy by up to 5%.

Chrysler product development chief Frank Klegon told Automotive News that the new “micro hybrids will be introduced pretty soon” but wasn’t willing to reveal when exactly. Klegon also revealed that the system would only cost several hundred dollars per vehicle.

One of the first carmakers to offer the technology was BMW, which sources its version from auto parts supplier Bosch, and only a few a weeks ago ZF announced that it had developed a new version designed for automatic vehicles (the BMW set-up is only available on manual cars). Klegon did not reveal who would supply Chrysler’s new units.

As for the longer term, Klegon said “there is a whole trail of things coming.” He also explained that the hybrid partnership between Chrysler, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and BMW was now looking “into the next generation of design and development for hybrids” with a focus on saving cost and weight.

Chrysler PT Cruiser may cruise no more


After earlier reporting that Chrysler would be dropping only the convertible version of its retro-styled PT Cruiser, it seems now that the standard version too could be facing the axe as Chrysler execs seek to rejuvenate the brand to its former glory. Chrysler has already confirmed that the convertible was going, as well as the Pacifica, Crossfire, and the Dodge Magnum, and now latest reports claim the full PT Cruiser will likely be shown the door.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chrysler will be dropping the PT Cruiser after the 2009 model year. Released in 2000 with retro looks and an affordable price the car immediately became an icon for many, allowing dealers to inflate their prices to suit the demand. Eight years later the car remains almost untouched, barring subtle styling changes made in 2006.

Despite this, it’s still on target to reach its 100,000 unit target for the year, making it the fifth most popular compact crossover sold in the U.S. However, this figure is apparently 27% below last year’s result and shows that all good things must eventually come to an end, even if it’s after 10 years.

The source also outlined a plan for Chrysler dealers to sell all passenger cars under the Chrysler name, while trucks would be reserved for the Dodge brand and SUVs for Jeep.

Dead Again: WSJ says PT Cruiser indeed short lived

PT Cruiser fans who were relieved to hear only the convertible version would no longer be built may, after all, have reason to mourn. The Wall Street Journal, quoting a Chrysler dealership owner, says the retro-styled wagon-like CUV is again on the company's hit list.

No word on why Chrysler brass changed their minds or when the final PT will be built, but if you want a new one, you should probably take advantage of the soon-to-be-announced rebates soon. So, is it just a coincidence that the final special edition PT Cruiser will be the Sunset Boulevard Edition?

[Source: WSJ via All Cars All the Time]

And then there were three: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep to end brand engineering?

Among what must be many options on the table, Chrysler, LLC is looking at strictly defining the three brands in its care, and shedding 1,000 dealers in the process. The idea would be to eliminate the practice of selling a Chrysler model as a Dodge model as well. Chrysler would sell passenger cars, Dodge would sell pickup and commercial trucks, and Jeep would sell, well, Jeeps and SUV's.

From where we sit, it's not a bad idea, though it would give Chrysler a bunch of cars (and minivans) and leave Dodge rather few (Dakota, Ram, Sprinter vans?). That kind of rationalization, however, could allow Chrysler, LLC to additionally refine its dealer network and trim down inventory and, by extension, incentives. A decision could come by the end of the year.

Another big question would be the shift it would take for consumers to join the party. Would a Jeep buyer really go for a Chrysler Charger, or a Jeep Aspen? And would a Viper by any other name -- i.e., Chrysler -- smell as sweet?

Thanks for the tip, Tom!

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Hennessey releases details on Venom GT

Evidently not satisfied with having trounced the Bugatti Veyron in Road & Track's 0-200 mph showdown with its twin-turbo Viper, those tuners on speed over at Hennessey Performance Engineering are preparing a mid-engined supercar of their own. We brought you initial news, coupled with a teaser image, back at this year's SEMA show, but the company has now released additional information and the conceptual sketch you see above, which was penned by British auto designer Steve Everitt, who evidently likes the Lotus Elise/Exige, but thought it could use more oomph.

Built around the company's thousand-horsepower twin-turbocharged Dodge Viper V10 engine, the Venom GT would benefit from the immense power in a lighter-weight package weighing in around 2700 lbs. Carry the zeros and we're looking at 2.7 lbs per hp, giving the special Hennessey a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time estimated at less than 2.5 seconds, en route to an anticipated 300 km/h in about 14 seconds.

If it built the Venom GT, Hennessey would follow along the path of Saleen, who built the S7 supercar after years of tuning Mustangs. According to John Hennessey, existing owners of the firm's tuned Vipers would give the company a customer base to draw upon. Hennessey plans to have a pair of concept cars to show in 2009, which will help them gauge interest in potentially building the Venom GT at their factory in Houston. We're looking forward to it already. Press release after the jump.

[Source: Hennessey Performance Engineering]


Concept Car

1000 BHP + 2700 lb Mid-Engine Chassis = New Benchmark of Sports Car Performance

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 20, 2007) - Hennessey Performance Engineering today announced that it is introducing the company's first concept car - The Venom GT.

Penned by British auto designer, Steve Everitt, the Venom GT would incorporate Hennessey's potent Venom 1000 Twin Turbo Viper V10 powerplant into a light weight mid-engine chassis weighing "under 2,700 lbs". Power would be run through a 6-speed transmission or optional sequential gearbox.

With a power to weight ratio of just 2.7 lbs per bhp Hennessey estimates that the Venom GT could attain 0 to 100 km/h times in less than 2.5 sec. and a 0-300 km/h time of around 14 seconds. Company founder, John Hennessey, is careful to point out that the Venom GT is not being built as a "Veyron Slayer". Hennessey point out, saying, "The Veyron is an ultra fast and ultra luxurious grand touring car which also happens to be quicker and faster than any other road car, except for our Venom 1000 Twin Turbo SRT which beat the Veyron earlier this year from 0-200 mph. The Venom GT will be a much more engaging sports car to drive by challenging the driver with 1000+ HP in a chassis that is nearly 1500 lbs lighter than the Veyron."

Hennessey said, "The company already has existing Venom 1000 Twin Turbo clients interested in ordering the lighter, mid-engined Venom GT. "Right now are taking a serious look at building 2 concept cars that could be shown to the public sometime in 2009. If there is enough demand we may consider doing a very limited production run of the Venom GT."

If the Venom GT goes into production, it would be built at the company's facility at Lonestar Motorsports Park which is located just west of Houston, Texas.

About Hennessey Performance Engineering
Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) specializes in designing, testing, manufacturing and selling high-performance parts and services for the Dodge Viper SRT10, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Chrysler 300C SRT8 and Dodge Magnum SRT8 as well as other high performance and exotic brands such as Bentley, AMG Mercedes and Porsche. HPE is completing the construction of the company's new 30,000 square foot engineering and manufacturing facility at the company's Lonestar Motorosports Park - a 1/4 mile dragstrip located 45 minutes west of Houston, Texas. HPE is the only aftermarket tuning firm in North America that owns and operates its own vehicle testing track / proving grounds. The company will move to its new facility at the end of 2007.