Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trademark Update: Dodge Hornet


(words only): HORNET

Standard Character claim: Yes

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

Date of Status: 2008-01-23

Filing Date: 2005-12-23

The Notice of Allowance Date is: 2007-07-03

Transformed into a National Application: No

Registration Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)

Register: Principal

Law Office Assigned: LAW OFFICE 110

Attorney Assigned:
THOMAS SARA NICOLE Employee Location

Current Location: 700 -Intent To Use Section

Date In Location: 2008-01-16



CIMS 483-02-19 1000 CHRYSLER DRIVE
United States
Legal Entity Type: Ltd Liab Co
State or Country Where Organized: Delaware
Phone Number: 248-944-6511
Fax Number: 248-944-6537


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





NOTE: To view any document referenced below, click on the link to "Trademark Document Retrieval" shown near the top of this page.

2008-01-23 - Extension 1 granted

2007-12-20 - Extension 1 filed

Chicago '08 Preview: Another 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 leaks out

click above to enlarge and view more official '08 Dodge Challenger images

None of us happen to subscribe to AutoWeek anymore, so we have to take Inside Line Senior Editor Ed Hellwig at his word that the latest issue of the weekly car rag includes another embargoed image of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 that you're not supposed to see until next week. It's a good one, though, being the first official pic to get out that shows the production derriere of the Challenger.

Obvious changes include a different light bar across the back that's comprised of traditional lamps instead of the slick set up on the concept car. The rear back up lights have been combined into a single unit that now sits in the middle of the taillamp assembly, and light markers on the rear fenders have been moved down, as well. There's the new black spoiler perched on the Challenger's deck lid, which, combined with the black front lip spoiler, is a perfect retro touch. Finally, the concept's dual split exhaust outlets are now more traditional dual rectangular ones. All changes for the better, if you ask us.

Look for our live coverage of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8's debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show early next week.

[Source: Inside Line]

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

"Karl Hamlen Martin, builder of the Martin Wasp, is born in Buffalo,NY"
Clement Smith is issued a United States patent for his steeringgear and linkage design
"Sir Walrond Sinclair, Managing Director of the British GoodrichRubber Company Ltd., and Richard S. Witchell, Works Manager since 1921,are elected as Directors of Bentley Motors, Ltd."
"The last pre-World War II Studebaker produced, a President SkywaySedan"
The 1954 Willys Aeros are introduced

Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas

600 Horses Take Wing

There are two places on the long track at Willow Springs International Raceway where you can clearly feel the difference between the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR and any other Viper.

One is at the turn-in point of Turn 8, a fast right-hand sweeper that is entered at a very high speed, where a decent front-to-rear handling balance is necessary to swing the nose to the apex without losing the tail. The other is at the exit of Turn 2, where you come off the corner hard on the power to squirt down the short chute to Turn 3's tricky uphill left-hander.

In both of these places, the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR feels noticeably better pinned to the asphalt than not only the current Viper SRT10 but also any other Viper we've ever driven.

We're grateful. We can remember hammering that first 1992 Viper roadster down into Turn 8 at 120 mph all those years ago and it felt like an airplane crash in the making, as if it was going to take off and smash itself to pieces in the desert.

May the Downforce Be With You
This improvement is not surprising given that the high-flying carbon-fiber rear wing unique to the ACR (American Club Racer) provides around 1,000 pounds of downforce at 150 mph, according to Dodge aerodynamics engineer Mike Shineling. Not only that, there's an equally prominent carbon-fiber front aero splitter that helps suck the nose downward, plus a full complement of various underbody aero kick-ups and fender-mounted aero dive planes.

The dive planes are said to account for more than 20 percent of the overall front downforce, generating aero vortices along the sides of the car to enhance air extraction through the wheelwells and help reduce turbulence.

A lot of midnight oil has been burned to get the ACR's setup just right. The SRT engineers used CFD (computational fluid dynamics) to help get the shape of the wing just right, and the Chrysler wind tunnel is in such huge demand for other vehicle projects that sometimes it is literally only available in the wee hours.

Enough Is Enough
Obviously, aerodynamics played a big part in the ACR's development. And for a car with 600 horsepower on tap that's intended for track work in the hands of not only professional racers but also Viper club owners, it should. After all, power just takes care of the acceleration. Afterwards you still have traction and cornering grip to think about.

Of course, the standard-issue 2008 Viper also has 600 hp, and when we first heard that the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR had an identical amount of power we were a little disappointed. Previous editions of the Viper ACR have offered a little more power than their more street-oriented siblings.

But Viper chief engineer Herb Helbig offers a reasonable explanation. "It costs the corporation millions to certify a new powertrain," he says. "And we'd just upgraded the engine significantly for all 2008 Vipers."

Besides, 600 hp is more than most drivers can exploit. So for the ACR, Dodge's SRT engineers have concentrated instead on weight reduction and high-speed handling, the very characteristics you'd expect from a vehicle intended to spend a lot of its time at the track.

Making It Turn
When it came to trimming weight, the SRT team started with the wheels, the most beneficial place they could think of. By adopting two-piece StopTech brake rotors and using forged-alloy Sidewinder wheels, the team slashed 60 pounds at a stroke, and all of it in unsprung weight. (Of course 20 pounds have been added back to the car by the specific ACR aero bits.)

Then the SRT engineers went hunting for good suspension pieces, finding race-specification dampers from KW Suspension to be just about exactly what they had in mind. These shocks are 14-way adjustable in compression and rebound, and they permit ride-height adjustment as well, so the car can be lowered right down to 3 inches of ground clearance.

With spring rates that are about twice as firm as the standard Viper and a front antiroll bar some 20 percent stiffer, the ACR Viper rides pretty hard, yet it didn't feel too jarring to us at Willow Springs. Other than a couple of bumpy points on the track where the car would bounce slightly off course, the Viper circulated surprisingly smoothly. Despite a fairly serious lecture from chief engineer Helbig about not crashing, we discovered to our relief that this 600-hp car with a big racy wing is actually pretty easy to drive.

Now We Drive It
We were suited up for track driving in fireproof gear and a helmet, and it took a bit of doing to squirm past this ACR's roll cage and buckle into the seat's five-point harness. Because so many owners of previous Viper ACRs have replaced the car's seat harness with their own preferred brand, Dodge has decided to supply the 2008 ACR model with the same three-point belts as in the standard street Viper. Don't fret; every Viper has mountings for a five-point harness anyway.

Once lashed in, we had the usual smallish wheel and tall center console to remind us what this car is about, so further orientation takes very little time. The 8.4-liter V10 pours torque down the tunnel at almost any rpm, so moving off from rest is easily managed. The new twin-plate clutch is not particularly heavy, and communicates its engagement point fairly well.

Out on the track, the ACR Viper comes into its own. The stiffer suspension feels better as the aero devices start to add downforce, and the lack of body motion helps you better assess the level of tire grip in corners. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires are unique to the ACR, with 30-series rubber all around on 18-inch front and 19-inch rear rims. The 295/30R18 front tires are 20mm wider, while the 345/30R19 rear tires remain the same. The tires grip with considerable tenacity, since they're blessed with a shallow tread pattern and contact patches the size of small farms.

The fluid supply of thrust from the V10 doesn't hurt, either. Although earlier examples of the Vipers have been known for the occasional episode of tail-happiness when you get on the gas, the ACR seems easy to read, and it can be booted out of corners with a long, linear surge of power without the threat of undue vehicular rotation. While you never want to mash the gas pedal in a strong car like this one, the ACR doesn't seem easily upset by big applications of throttle.

Rubber Side Down, Please
Since we were trying to bear in mind Helbig's advice, we didn't really expect to take this track-tuned supercar to its ultimate limits. Even finding them in a car with this much aero assistance would prove an interesting exercise in technique (and bravery), but we were interested that Helbig insists the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR is 2 seconds a lap quicker than its wingless stablemate.

Yet the ACR is still very much a Viper. Getting in means vaulting the wide sill and sinking down into the deep bucket seat. The shift lever is perched high on the tunnel, and requires a firm hand to guide it from gear to gear. The engine still has the unusual 10-cylinder growl and that surprisingly supple power delivery that completely understates its potential.

Once you're out on the track, the engine gets a serious, hard-edged tone to it as you wind it past 6,000 rpm, but it never feels over-stressed. It just gobbles one gear after another, effortlessly propelling the car to high speed. Six-hundred horses shouldn't feel this lazy, somehow, but it does, and you're glad the brakes are as strong as they are when you warp past your braking point.

$10,000 Per Cylinder
The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR's signature paint scheme is a two-tone treatment with a variety of special Viper colors complemented by a black center stripe. There's a Hard Core package for pure racers that deletes the audio system (replaced by a cover where you can mount the lap timer that comes with the package), the tire inflator, the underhood acoustic pad and the trunk carpeting to reduce overall weight by a further 40 pounds.

The bottom line is a price of $98,810, including delivery. While one could argue that the standard Viper offers all the power and pretty good dynamics for $12,050 less, it's clear that a track-ready 600-hp sports car at under a $100 grand is better than anybody else can manage right now.

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Rear

(Enlarge photo)
ACR's carefully shaped wing with end plates and a twisted chord adds 1,000 pounds of downforce. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Front

(Enlarge photo)
Air inlet in the hood is part of the standard '08 Viper, a measure to increase output to 600 hp. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR

(Enlarge photo)
Wider front tires, aero dive planes and front aero splitter add more front grip while steering through the corners. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Center Console

(Enlarge photo)
Inside the cabin, there's a hand-sewn stripe on the leather-upholstered steering wheel; otherwise there's no difference between this Viper and an ACR. ( (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Shifter

(Enlarge photo)
The shift action of the Viper's six-speed isn't slick, but you rarely miss a gear as long as you're not in a hurry. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Engine

(Enlarge photo)
Deep-breathing 600-hp version of the 8.4-liter V10 is powerful enough for both this standard Viper and the ACR. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Profile

(Enlarge photo)
Lightweight, forged-aluminum Sidewinder wheels conceal two-piece StopTech brake rotors. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Front

(Enlarge photo)
Front aero splitter incorporates three removable rub strips to forestall damage, and a center section can be added to increase downforce by 30 percent. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR

(Enlarge photo)
KW suspension pieces feature adjustable compression and rebound damping plus spherical bearing mounts. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - Oreca

(Enlarge photo)
ACR concept has its roots in the 1995 GTS-R, a racing car fielded at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Oreca. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - First Generation

(Enlarge photo)
First-generation 1999 ACR featured an upgraded engine with 460 hp. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR - SCCA Speed GT Championship

(Enlarge photo)
The ACR incorporates lessons learned by the Vipers competing in the SCCA Speed GT Championship. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler LLC)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Designer layoffs set at Chrysler

More buyouts on way, carmaker says

Chrysler LLC plans to lay off 119 salaried UAW design workers today at the technology center in Auburn Hills and at the Plymouth Road Office Complex in Detroit.

This is part of the group that was expected to be laid off around Christmas but saw a reprieve.

UAW Local 412, Unit 80 warned members Wednesday that layoffs would go into effect Monday.

"The UAW fought and fought to get this unjust layoff stopped! We will continue to fight the fight and get our impacted people back as soon as possible," Michael Norscia, unit chairman, said in an e-mail obtained by the Free Press.

Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson confirmed Wednesday that the employees will be told of the layoffs today and said the action was volume-related.

In addition, 770 UAW members at Warren Truck Plant and about 1,000 at Toledo Machining will be offered buyout and early-retirement packages Monday.

Earlier this week, about 13,000 UAW members in metro Detroit were offered buyout and early-retirement packages, all part of Chrysler's efforts to reduce its hourly workforce by 10,000 as announced in November.

That announcement was on top of a February 2007 plan to cut 11,000 hourly workers over three years.

The buyout packages included lump-sum payments as high as $100,000 and were for eligible employees with at least one year of service.

The UAW and Chrysler are believed to be in negotiations over potential buyout packages for the designers that are to be laid off today.

If laid off, the union members would continue to receive a percentage of their pay while not working for a period of time.

Some workers were upset about the development Wednesday.

"So I have to go home to my family tonight and tell them I am losing my job Friday," a designer told the Free Press on Wednesday.

In addition, 110 salaried UAW members at the company's Auburn Hills technology center and elsewhere will be able to take early retirement effective today.


National Time Trials
Firebird Raceway
Chandler, Ariz.
Jan. 25-27, 2008

2008 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T taken during the National Time Trials at Firebird Raceway, which Ron Capps will campaign in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Photo by: Roger Richards/Les Welch.

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Jan. 27, 2008)

The third day of the NHRA National Time Trials at Firebird Raceway was cancelled today due to rain.

Ron Capps, driving the new NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, ended the second day of testing on Saturday and the weekend on top of the charts, with a solid pass of 4.785 seconds at 322.34 mph. In the two days of time trials held in advance of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season-opener at Pomona, Calif., Feb. 7-10, Capps also posted runs of 11.918/75.03, 12.691/73.24, 13.167/71.38 and 5.924/159.38.

Capps and the other DSR teams will continue to test at Firebird Raceway until Wednesday, if necessary.

"Every year we come to this test session with everybody pretty much skipping Las Vegas (an open test session held the weekend before) because of the cold weather," said Capps, of Carlsbad, Calif. "We kind of rely on coming here and getting as many runs as we can.

"This year is kind of unique because of the 100 pounds that was added to the Funny Car minimum. NHRA added 50 pounds to us last year and then there was another 100 pounds added on. The cars are very different to drive and definitely harder to slow down with the extra weight on them.

"It's learning what these cars need. If you can imagine bolting 100 pounds onto something and trying to get it going from zero to over 300 mph in four seconds, you'll realize how this poses quite a dilemma for all the crews chiefs.

"Not a lot of cars got down the track and it took some adaptation for a lot of these guys just to get the cars to go down. We were ecstatic with the 4.78 (-second elapsed time) we ran Saturday night."

Saturday's schedule ran late because of a number of oildowns. "The lighting is not very good here in Phoenix and it was not our first choice to go to the finish line in the dark. Thank goodness the track owner brought (track surface consultant) Chad Head in again to work with the track. Chad did a great job, but, unfortunately, now we have the rain. It's really cutting everybody's test sessions short. Pomona is going to be very, very interesting. We're trying to get as many runs in here as we can.

"If you were to write one story about this test, the No. 1 story line would be getting used to the added weight.

"I think this year there's going to be a lot more teams going to Pomona that didn't have as many runs as they would like to have had going into Pomona. Usually we have plenty of opportunity to run, but with the rain forecast here, it's going to be tough."

This is the second straight year Capps led the charts after the "official" three-day test session. "I joked with (editor) Phil Burgess of National Dragster again about trying to make the cover being the quickest car in the test session," he said.

"To be one of the quickest cars here is definitely a confidence builder, there no doubt about it, but we're not naïve enough to think that a couple of good runs here and being the quickest translates to an automatic win in Pomona. Pomona is going to be interesting, let's put it that way.

"There's another chance of rain on Monday, then clearing up hopefully. We'll run Tuesday for sure, and possibly Wednesday, if we have to."

Best runs of the event, listed in order of elapsed time, in Funny Car at the National Time Trials (courtesy of Fast News and Compulink):

Psn---Num-Driver, Home Town, Car Type-----------------TT-ET----TT-Spd-Top Spd

1 28 Ron Capps, Carlsbad CA, '07 Charger 4.785 322.34 322.34
2 388 Jim Head, Columbus OH, '07 Solara 4.841 313.95 313.95
3 347 Tim Wilkerson, Springfield IL, '07 Impala 4.969 249.67 249.67
4 750 Del Worsham, Chino Hills CA, '07 Impala 5.216 216.62 216.62
5 33 Tommy Johnson Jr., Avon IN, '08 Charger R/T 5.228 216.31 216.31
6 1 Tony Pedregon, Brownsburg IN, '07 Impala 5.329 204.35 204.35
7 319 Scott Kalitta, Ypsilanti MI, '07 Solara 5.432 195.11 195.11
8 ROCKS Jerry Toliver, Temecula CA, '08 Charger R/T 5.512 163.65 163.65
9 3 Gary Scelzi, Fresno CA, '07 Charger 7.584 114.07 114.07
10 999 Melanie Troxel, Indianapolis IN, '08 Charger 8.646 84.44 84.44
11 TASCA Bob Tasca III, Cranston RI, Mustang 8.976 93.01 93.01
12 5 Jack Beckman, North Hills CA, '07 Charger 9.316 76.26 76.26
13 782 Gary Densham, Bellflower CA, '07 Impala 9.521 97.12 97.12
14 71 Cruz Pedregon, Brownsburg IN, '07 Impala 11.016 80.81 80.81
15 999 Melanie Troxel, Indianapolis IN, '08 Charger 11.580 73.08 76.21

Posted to Auto Racing - Drag Racing by Motorsports Blog

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Automobile design engineer Joseph A. Anglada is born in New YorkCity
"Artist John Ford Clymer, best remembered for his Chrysleradvertisements in the late 1940's, is born in Ellensburg, WA"
Howard W. Simpson resigns from the Ford Motor Company to pursue acareer as an independent design engineer
Racer Tommy Houston is born
The 1954 Kaisers are introduced

Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas A

Mopar® Will Debut its New Team Mopar ‘Liquid Metal’ Paint Scheme for the 2008 Season

• Team Mopar® drivers Gary Scelzi, Allen Johnson and Samuel Hübinette will carry the new Mopar “Liquid Metal” paint scheme

Center Line, Mich.

Team Mopar® drivers Gary Scelzi, Allen Johnson and Samuel Hübinette will debut Mopar’s new “Liquid Metal” paint scheme on their HEMI®-powered Mopar race machines for the 2008 season. The new Mopar “Liquid Metal” design will serve as the official paint scheme for Mopar’s factory-backed efforts in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car and Pro Stock Series as well as the Formula Drift Series.

Scelzi’s Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car and Johnson’s Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock Car already turned heads with the new paint scheme at recent test sessions in preparation for the start of the NHRA season scheduled for Feb. 7–10, 2008 at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

The Mopar “Liquid Metal” scheme was unveiled as a work-in-progress on Scelzi’s Mopar/Oakley Funny Car at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in October 2007. Designed by Competition Graphics® of Farmington Hills, Mich., the look was tweaked before the final version was delivered to the Mopar race teams.

The novel paint scheme has garnered early raves. Spy photos of Johnson’s Mopar/J&J Racing Pro Stock car with the Mopar “Liquid Metal” wrap were featured on the cover of the Jan. 18 issue of National Dragster. The drivers are also pleased with the innovative new motif.

“I think it’s probably the best paint scheme we’ve ever had,” said Johnson. “Judging by fan reaction on our Web site and National Dragster putting it on its cover, I think everyone feels the same way.”

“It’s definitely different,” said Scelzi. “Most of my professional career I had a red or silver car. This is the first time we’re going silver and blue and it’s pretty exciting. The ‘Liquid Metal’ is a whole different look for me. It reflects the speed and excitement that Mopar brings to our team and NHRA. And hopefully it will help bring us our fifth NHRA championship this year.”

“The Mopar ‘Liquid Metal’ design is a unique, modern look that has already been a hit judging from early reaction and press coverage. The new, cutting-edge design is indicative of Mopar’s endeavors to stand out from the crowd in our motorsports efforts,” said Rob Richard, Mopar’s Director of Global Parts, Sales and Service Marketing, Chrysler LLC.

Hübinette will fly the Mopar “Liquid Metal” colors on his Mopar drift car when he makes his 2008 Formula Drift debut in the season-opening Streets of the Long Beach event that is scheduled for April 12, 2008. Mopar’s factory-backed teams on the USAC Racing Series and SCORE Desert Series, led by Kasey Kahne Racing and Collins Motorsports respectively, will feature an updated version of the “Mopar Camo” scheme that was campaigned on Team Mopar’s race cars in 2007.

Reader Spy: 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Interior

Click image for a gallery of Challenger spy photos

Autoblog.Com by Alex Nunez - As we get closer to the official unveiling of the Dodge Challenger, tips continue to arrive in our inbox from readers who've eyeballed the car themselves. One such reader is Darryll, who encountered a still-camouflaged Challenger R/T 6-speed as it took a breather from winter testing. The open hood left the 5.7L HEMI plainly visible, and the interior was not shrouded, allowing Darryll to snap off a couple of photos of the instrument panel from outside the driver's side window. Combine this view with the shots published last week to get a good ballpark estimate of what to expect.

As we saw before, the car uses a pistol-grip shifter for the manual gearbox and an uncomplicated three-dial HVAC control setup. As with the Challenger concept car, the instrument cluster is trimmed out in the same metallic finish as the center console area, and the gauges themselves appear to be the same white-faced ones used in the Charger. The steering wheel is also the same unit found in the Charger. The instrument binnacle, based on the photo here, appears to take the same trapezoidal shape previewed in the Challenger concept. The wait to see the real thing will be over soon, but the spy photos indicate that Chrysler has taken a non-glitzy, straightforward interior design approach here, using existing parts-bin materials where it can instead of creating a unique-to-the-vehicle environment as Ford did with the Mustang and GM is with the Camaro. Thanks to Darryll for the new photos!

Chrysler offers buyouts to 13,000 in Detroit area


Chrysler LLC offered buyout and early retirement packages Monday to about 13,000 Detroit-area hourly UAW members as the automaker works to cut its overall hourly workforce by as many as 10,000 people.

Monday's effort aims primarily to reduce workers at support facilities that are seeing the domino effect of recent production cuts at the automaker's assembly plants.Packages offering lump-sum payments as high as $100,000 were offered to UAW workers at the Sterling Heights and Warren stamping plants, the Trenton and Mack Avenue engine plants, Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, Detroit Axle, Mt. Elliott Tool and Die, and the Sterling Heights Vehicle Test Center, Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said.

In addition, she said, the 1,140-person second shift at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was offered packages, and 770 hourly workers at Warren Truck Plant, which is idle this week, are expected to be offered buyouts, too.

Also, 110 salaried UAW members at the company's Auburn Hills technology center and elsewhere will be able to take early retirement effective Thursday.

About 500 workers at Jefferson North Assembly Plant already had a chance to show interest in a buyout package this month, Tinson said.

Outside the Detroit area, workers at assembly plants in Belvidere, Ill., St. Louis and Toledo already faced deadlines to express interest in buyout packages that were offered.

Chrysler had said it wants to eliminate about 900 jobs at the Jefferson facility in Detroit, 780 jobs at the Toledo North plant and 1,096 jobs at the Belvidere factory.

"That seems to be on plan," Aaron Bragman, an analyst at Global Insight, said of Monday's announcement. "This is reducing headcount so they can get costs down."

Of the packages offered Monday, an estimated 4,600 are early-retirement eligible. The early-retirement package includes a lump sum of $70,000. The $100,000 buyout package is for eligible employees with at least one year of service. The deadline is Feb. 18.

Chrysler negotiated the packages with the UAW, which did not want to make a comment Monday. Tinson said the job cuts are related to volume reductions.

Monday's offers seemed to focus on facilities that do so-called noncore work. Under the new UAW contracts with Chrysler, non-assembly workers can be replaced by new hires whose pay and benefits cost half as much as those for current assembly workers. But Chrysler has indicated that the current cuts are solely related to cutting capacity to meet falling consumer demand.

Chrysler is not alone in Detroit in its efforts to reduce its workforce. Ford Motor Co. has started rolling out buyout offers. GM has only begun the first phase of its program and aims to offer packages to the rest of its UAW workforce next month.

Some analysts wonder whether Chrysler will have a greater challenge getting workers to take buyouts because its workforce is younger than GM's.

The average age of Chrysler's UAW hourly workers is 46 with 30% of workforce eligible for retirement within five years, according to research by Sean McAlinden, vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

Meanwhile, 64% of GM's workforce is within five years of being eligible to retire; the workforce's average age is 49.

"They're young and looking around going, 'There's nothing else in this market. I can't necessarily leave because the housing market is so awful,' " Bragman said of Chrysler workers. "It is still a difficult decision to actually leave the company -- $100,000 notwithstanding."

The UAW told its members in October that Chrysler plans to close the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit some time over the next four years. The Detroit Axle plant is slated to close after the new Marysville axle facility comes online; the union has said UAW members will have the right to transfer to the new facility.

In November, Chrysler announced plans to eliminate as many as 10,000 hourly jobs on top of the 11,000 hourly jobs planned for elimination as part of the February 2007 turnaround plan.

Breaking rules on diesel power; Plenty of torque in 3.0 L engine


A common perception about diesel engines is that they're noisy, slow and smell bad. Don't tell Jeep's 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that . . . it's busy rewriting the book on what we've come to believe about diesel power.

Introduced into the Grand Cherokee lineup earlier in 2007, the diesel will impress even the most jaded critics and blow away most of its competitors in the process. In terms of pep it'll even give the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 a run for its money and consume less fuel doing it.

After several months driving in all kinds of road/driving conditions, this Jeep's capabilities are indeed impressive. The Grand Cherokee isn't the first Jeep to receive a diesel option (that honour goes to the 2005-'06 Liberty) but it's by far the most impressive application.

The 215-horsepower 3.0-litre V6 Common Rail Diesel (CRD) arrives by way of Mercedes-Benz, which has installed cleaner-burning "Bluetec" versions in a number of its passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles for the 2008 model year.

For the time being, the CRD in the Grand Cherokee doesn't yet qualify as a Bluetec engine since it lacks the urea-based nitrogen oxide reducing system installed on diesel engines used by its former business partner Mercedes. However, sources at Chrysler claim that Bluetec-equipped Jeeps should become available for the 2009 model year.

Meanwhile, buyers wishing to sample the current Jeep CRD's many attributes should definitely try one on for size. To coin a phrase, the engine is an absolute torque monster, producing 376 lb.-ft. of grunt from 1,600-2,800 r.p.m. That's enough to launch the beast with similar authority to the much ballyhooed 330-horsepower 5.7-litre V8 "Hemi" engine with a nearly identical torque rating . . . at least for the first couple of hundred metres. Beyond that point, the Hemi's extra horses kick in to rule the road. The CRD Grand Cherokee does, however, match the Hemi's 3,270-kilogram maximum towing capacity.

The CRD's nimble behaviour around town will surprise drivers of much smaller commuter-style vehicles as they dart through and around traffic. Also surprising is its relatively quiet nature. Compared to the stereotypical diesel engine, there's much less clatter, no blue/black smoke and virtually no aroma of fuel.

There is a bit of clatter, especially from a cold start, but the CRD is generally as well mannered as any gasoline engine. Because diesel engines have very high cylinder compression, letting off the throttle produces an automatic braking effect that requires some getting used to.

The CRD's real advantage becomes apparent the first time you fill 'er up: the city/highway fuel-economy rating of 12.0/9.0 l/100 km is much better than the 5.7-litre gas V8's rating of 16.5/11.2. Even the Grand Cherokee's base 210-horsepower 3.7-litre gasoline V6 can only muster 14.2/10.2 l/100 km.

For 2008, the CRD option, which was previously offered only on the entry-level Laredo model, can now also be ordered on up-level Limited (pictured here) and Overland trim levels. Laredo pricing begins at $50,500 including destination charges (slightly less than the entry prices for similarly equipped Hemi models). Those prices include five-speed automatic transmissions, 17-inch wheels, automatic on/off headlamps, power eight-way driver's seats (four-way for front passengers), automatic dimming rearview mirrors, leather-trimmed (and heated) front seats, power adjustable pedals, remote start and power sunroofs.

After all this time, parent company Chrysler is probably wondering if we're ever going to give back the Grand Cherokee CRD test vehicle. Actually we hope they forgot all about it so we can spend the winter reducing snow piles to meaningless impediments and catching the competition unawares at the next stop light.