Thursday, February 14, 2008

Schmoozing with the Mopar crew

Schmoozing with the Mopar crew


This year’s CIAS began in style with the annual Chrysler media dinner, during which the 2009 Dodge Ram made it’s Canadian debut. It was pretty cool watching Chrysler’s VP of Ralph Gilles (who also happens to be Canadian) describe the process that went into developing the new Ram. Hearing that they worked with existing truck owners to learn what they want was encouraging, as is the fact that Gilles seems truly excited about the finished product. A quick glance around the interior showed lots of neat, functional features that will be appreciated here in The Garage. The truck on display was a base model, but you would never know it from the quality of materials used on the inside.

Power comes from the 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 that has been bumped to 380 horsepower & 404 lb-ft of torque, while somehow managing a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy. Other available power plants include a 310 hp 4.7 liter V-8 and a 215 hp 3.7 liter V-6. Later on in 2009, the Ram will be available with a light duty diesel and dual mode hybrid models.

Chrysler has been getting really good at creating storage space and to this end they’ve outdone themselves with the 2009 Ram. There are a pair of “store in the floor” bins, with removable liners that are large enough to hold ten beverages and enough ice to keep them cold. 10 isn’t enough? No worries, as bed has the cool new RamBox cargo management system. These dual fender side storage bins are weather proof, lockable, illuminated and drainable. Oh yes, and each one is big enough to hold 5 cases of beer. In cans of course!

The 2009 Dodge Ram could be just the vehicle for hosting the ultimate tailgate party!

Emission changes could limit car choices


TORONTO -- Provinces that adopt California's proposed standards on auto emissions will find the supply of vehicles severely restricted, senior executives of auto makers in Canada warned yesterday.

And it won't only be the gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles - the bane of environmentalists - that are choked off. The supply of all vehicles will suffer, said Reid Bigland, president of Chrysler Canada Inc.

"You're going to have reduced selection of products and they're going to have increased costs," Mr. Bigland said in an interview at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

His comments were echoed by executives from General Motors of Canada Ltd., Honda Canada Inc. and Toyota Canada Inc. as several provinces consider adopting California's emissions rules, which are more restrictive and come into play sooner than the U.S. federal government regulations approved last year that Canada has said it will match.

The California regulations are scheduled to be phased in from 2011 to 2016 - compared with 2020 for the federal U.S. and Canadian standards.

They are estimated to translate into fuel economy of 43 miles per gallon (69 kilometres), compared with a 35-mile-per-gallon level adopted by Washington and Ottawa. The figures represent an average for vehicles produced by any single manufacturers. As a result, the auto makers may hold back offering certain vehicles for sale in some markets, especially if those markets adopt California standards, to keep their average MPG down.

Quebec is well down the road to adopting the more restrictive California rules and British Columbia said Tuesday in a Throne Speech that it will also move in that direction.

"To further reduce transportation-related emissions, this legislature will be asked to adopt new California-equivalent vehicle tailpipe emission standards, in tandem with California and a number of other states and provinces," the speech said. Manitoba and Nova Scotia would also like to adopt the stricter rules, auto industry officials said.

Environmental groups have criticized the new U.S. and Canadian standards as being inadequate, and regard the stricter California rules as the minimum action necessary to help reduce greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles.

Mr. Bigland glanced at a green Dodge Viper behind him on the floor of the auto show and acknowledged that Chrysler would not be able to sell the super sports car in any province that adopts the California rules.

Canada represents just 2 per cent of the global vehicle market and single provinces are an even smaller fraction, Mr. Bigland said, noting that "if you think we can dictate the world standard, it's just not going to happen."

By the 2011 start date for the phase-in of the California rules, "the majority of cars and sport utility vehicles that we sell now would just not be available," said David Paterson, vice-president of corporate and environmental affairs for GM Canada.

The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle that General Motors Corp. is aims to have on the market by 2010 would be one vehicle that GM could sell, he said.

Meeting the U.S. and Canadian standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 will be difficult enough, Mr. Paterson and other executives said. The fuel economy of GM's existing subcompacts isn't that high, he added.

What gives the auto makers some hope is that California's effort to have separate standards, which is backed by some 20 other U.S. states, is tied up in the courts at the moment.

But Jim Miller, executive vice-president of Honda Canada Inc., cautioned that all three leading contenders to replace U.S. President George W. Bush have said they support the California regulations.

Consumers in provinces where choice is restricted will simply buy their vehicles in a neighbouring province or in the U.S., industry officials said, noting how Canadians flooded over the border to buy cheaper U.S. cars and trucks last fall when the loonie hit parity with the greenback.

1500bhp Viper does 275mph...?

A colleague of mine today came up to me brandishing a copy of MaxPower magazine, and inside, well, only a 1500bhp Dodge Viper that can hit 275mph. Many people may be inclined to think why? Why not?

Anyway, how far off do you think we are from the first road-leagal production car to crack 300mph - ridiculous I know, but I can see it coming...

Video: Meet the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Designers

Gale and Nielander

Continuing on our effort to take you into the heads of the folks who work here, enjoy this first portion of our RLD’s sit down with 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 designers Jeff Gale and Brian Nielander…a conversation inspired in large part by the 83 pages (no exaggeration) of questions the Red Letter community sent along back in November and December.

Plenty, plenty more of this to come…

Chrysler extends its Sirius contract to 2017

Chrysler extends its Sirius contract to 2017

Chrysler announced today that it has extended its relationship with Sirius Satellite Radio through 2017. The auto maker has offered Sirius radios, available as an option or a part of package, in its cars since 2003.

Sirius is also a part of Chrysler’s new MyGIG entertainment option which features a 30-gig hard drive, a GPS navigation with real-time traffic info and a USB port that lets owners download and store photos and music.

Last year, Chrysler also rolled out Sirius Backseat TV on its minivans and has expanded it to seven vehicles in its lineup. The feature allows back-seat passengers to watch channels such as Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Benjamin B. Hotchkiss, firearms manufacturer and namesake of the 1903-1955 French automobile, dies in Paris, France at age 58
The Rayfield Motor Car Company elects Frederick K. Thayer as President, Charles Hoult as Vice President, A. E. Schnitker as Secretary-Treasurer, and E. E. Staley as Sales manager - the brothers John, William, George, and Frederick Rayfield worked for their namesake firm, but were not corporate officers
Nash increases the size of the Series 40 4-cylinder engine from 165.9 cid to 178.9 cid
Racer Ricardo Valentine Rodriguez de la Vega is born in Mexico City, DF, Mexico
Racer James Marcenac dies in Van Nuys, CA at age 69

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

You can't mess too much with an icon

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

I doubt if they'll run 120 longhorn cattle down the street in front of the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto the way they did at the Detroit auto show, but the Dodge Ram pickup truck, which was in the spotlight of that stunt, will be on display at the Canadian International AutoShow, which opens to the public tomorrow.The chief designer for this all-important Chrysler product is Ralph Gilles from Montreal. He skyrocketed to prominence for his design work on the Chrysler 300, although he is always careful to point out he's just part of the team.

Chrysler lives or dies on its trucks, minivans and SUVs, which currently account for about 70 per cent of Chrysler's sales; of the products in that category, the Ram pickup is certainly the most important.

The Ram line of trucks has been around since 1981 and the first generation had fairly typical, squared-off body lines. But in 1994 the exterior got a big redesign to give it the look of a big rig truck. It was an instant hit with a huge front end and grille that looked nothing like Ford or Chevy. Sales soared.

So when time came for a new one, Gilles and his team knew they had to keep an aggressive look, but wondered whether to make a knock-off or try something fresh.

What they came up with for the 2009 Ram was fairly subtle. Most apparent is the new "head-down" grille, which makes the truck's front end appear to stick out. They also added some features like the Ram Box, which is a quarter-panel bin that can carry "up to 10 cases of 12-ounce beverages." There are also storage compartments all over the place on the interior.

Ralph Gilles became vice-president of Chrysler's Jeep/Truck Design in 2006. He grew up in Montreal after his parents immigrated via New York from Haiti.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in transportation design from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and a master's degree in business administration from Michigan State University.

Vaughan: Ralph, when the Ram came out in '94 it was a startling statement. That, surely, is a hard act to follow.

Gilles: Absolutely.

So how did you approach it?

Well, we looked at it as an icon.

We figured the C 100, you know the one everyone remembers, had that big over-the-road look …

That big over-the-top-look.

Kind of like the Jeep Wrangler, which became an icon, the Ram also became an icon. Even Chevy and Ford owners told us that.

But we actually looked the other way when we were trying to redesign it.

We looked at extreme themes like the PowerWagon concept and the Rampage concept. These were hinting at different directions, but clearly we were told by our customer base that we should evolve the icon one last time.

But this one is not as over-the-top as the previous one.

True, but it's aggressive in a different way.

We couldn't afford to make the grille bigger and more monstrous because that equals inefficient aerodynamics. So we went with an aggressive look with a forward canted grille like the Dodge Charger.

So we have aggression in a more athletic way than that classic, over-the-top way.

You also designed in some functional stuff like the bins on the sides of the truck.

You need space to put your stuff and we thought the best solution was in the dead space over the fenders.

Our customers have always said, "When my crew cab is full of people, I have nowhere to put my stuff." So the Ram box was a natural evolution.

That dead space, as you call it, over the wheels has been there forever, but nobody's taken advantage of it.

It's a bit of a pain in the butt, but with our simulation technology we're able to work on solutions without cutting a bunch of tools or bending metal. We're able to figure it out in computer space first.

And our manufacturing guys really joined forces with us and said we can do this in-house, we don't have to go to a supplier with all that expense. It's going to be built at the plant.

We're trying to turn ourselves into a customer-centric company. The customers might not tell you exactly how to do it, but they tell you they need it.

They wanted dry, lockable storage so we interpreted that and put it into a design.

You did the same thing inside on the floor. There's more storage in there.

Yeah, that comes straight from our minivan experience — Stow 'N Go.

People are using these vehicles as family commuters as well, so they want DVDs, they want heated seats, they want storage, they want all that stuff, so why not.

What is the personality, the identity of the Ram pickup driver as opposed to the Ford pickup driver or the Chevy pickup driver, because they're almost like cults? They don't tattoo the logo on themselves like the Harley owners, but they're loyal.

It's deep. The Ram guy has an image need. He's just a little more conscious of the look of his truck, he's the guy who waxes his truck a little more often.

We came out with those 20-inch wheels and still, to this day, there's almost a 30- per-cent take of 20-inch wheels. So they're a bit fashion-conscious, but they still need durability and ruggedness.

Belvidere plant idled by failure of press

A stamping press that produces vehicle body parts broke this week at Chrysler LLC's Belvidere assembly plant, forcing it to shut down and Chrysler to scramble to find other places that can make the panels.

On Wednesday, the company confirmed the breakdown and said dies to make the parts were being removed from the plant, which employs about 3,600.

Chrysler spokesman Roger Benvenuti said he didn't know where the dies were being taken but that moving them was a temporary solution until the press at Belvidere is repaired. He said he couldn't estimate how soon repairs could be made and the closing is being reviewed "on a shift-by-shift basis.""They're trying to get these parts available as soon as possible," Benvenuti said. "They have to use whatever solution they can to get the plant running again." He added that the dies will be returned to Belvidere once production is "back to normal."

A worker at the stamping plant who asked not to be identified said a main gear that drives the press broke, damaging secondary gears as well.

No replacements were available, so workers loaded the dies onto trucks Tuesday to be shipped to other plants and suppliers that have stamping operations. Body parts for the three vehicles made at Belvidere -- the Chrysler Caliber and Jeep Compass and Patriot -- will then be shipped back.

Bill Pruitt, vice president of Local 1268, wouldn't comment.

Sales of Caliber, Compass and Patriot built at the plant east of Rockford rose 63 percent last year, to 181,000. They were up 41 percent in January, but Belvidere is scheduled to lose its third shift at the end of February.

The plant also was idle for a week in January to adjust inventory and Feb. 4 after supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. temporarily halted shipments.

Plastech, Chrysler fight is complex

Automaker says money not sole reason for split

It was more than financial issues that led Chrysler LLC to cancel its contracts with Dearborn-based Plastech Engineered Products Inc., the Auburn Hills automaker said during a hearing in which it is arguing to take back tools Plastech uses to make parts for Chrysler vehicles.

In U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit on Wednesday, lawyers for Chrysler called a purchasing director and a consultant hired to monitor Plastech to dig into the details of the legal dispute that shut five Chrysler plants last week, and Plastech says, drove the supplier to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Those details involve quality issues, financial troubles and whether Chrysler was abiding by several agreements that laid out the companies' relationship.

Testimony on Wednesday also revealed that Plastech was in talks that would have allowed its largest customer Johnson Controls Inc. to buy the supplier.

Plastech's quality was below the automaker's standards, said Douglas Doran, Chrysler's director of interior procurement, during testimony Wednesday.

Chrysler three times had to take the unusual step of bringing in a third party to review the parts Plastech made to ensure their quality, he said.

Plastech declined to comment on the quality issue.

But in opening statements, the company's attorney Gregg Galardi argued that Chrysler didn't properly terminate its contracts, and disputes the basis for Chrysler's decision.

Before Plastech's bankruptcy filing Feb. 1, there were talks led by Plastech's largest customer, Johnson Controls, about bailing out the struggling supplier through either a restructuring or by having the Milwaukee company buy Plastech, said Marcus Hudson, a consultant at BBK, the firm Chrysler hired to monitor Plastech.

That deal would have cost Chrysler more than $100 million over four years, Doran said.

One of Chrysler's key arguments is that a financing deal reached among Plastech and its largest customers last year says Chrysler can take back its tooling.

Plastech's largest customers -- General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Johnson Controls Inc. -- supported that part of Chrysler's argument. They say that they were also given the right to take back tooling under the agreement.

The hearing is slated to continue Thursday.

Plastech's filing comes at a difficult time for plastics suppliers in the auto industry, as suppliers are squeezed by rising material prices, decreasing production and pressures to cut prices.

On Tuesday, Blue Water Automotive Systems, which makes interior and exterior plastic parts, filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 - First Drive Review


For anyone who came of age during the heyday of the unfettered big-cubic-inch American V-8, the feeling is deliciously familiar.

Stab the throttle, and there’s that rocket sled pressure across the shoulder blades as a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 transmits its massive thrust to the pavement, provoking smoke and shrieking from the rear tires as they scrabble for grip.

The sounds and sensations after pushing the keyless-start button ignite memories of those thrilling days of yesteryear when an original Hemi V-8 lit up its Goodyear Polyglas rear tires and sent an original Challenger hurtling down the highway—or maybe Woodward Avenue—with a heady rush.

Whooma! Is that the ground trembling? Now, as then, the experience is seismic. Whooma! There’s almost nothing in the internal combustion inventory that can match the visceral experience that goes with exploiting the punch of a big ol’ American V-8.

And now, as then, a big V-8 can produce some pretty impressive acceleration numbers.

The Hemi Challenger we tested almost 40 years ago was able to smoke its way through the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 103 mph on tires that were considered hot stuff back then but would be only slightly better than linoleum compared with the performance rubber available today.

The latter-day Challenger, with its Goodyear F1 Supercar tires (245/45-20 front, 255/45-20 rear) is expected to rumble to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 13.3 seconds. To follow the action, the car gets a performance display similar to the one in the Caliber SRT4 that measures 0-to-60, quarter-mile and g-force.

We must add here that we have yet to put a new Challenger through its paces at a test track, and don’t expect to do so until April.

Our experiences with a pre-production development mule were accumulated at the Texas Motorsports Ranch, about 14 miles west of Houston, experiences that were tempered by intermittent rain showers.

Rain and 425 horsepower on a twisty road circuit isn’t a great combination for max lap times or blistering acceleration, although we did learn that the chassis engineers have set the stability system threshold commendably high, and that the Goodyear F1s deliver surprisingly good grip on wet pavement. So our acceleration forecasts are based on our test of a Chrysler 300C SRT8 in June 2005.

Although the Challenger’s two-door sheetmetal is sexier than that of the 300C or Dodge Charger SRT8, the foundations—minus four inches of wheelbase—are essentially identical to those of the sedans.

This in turn adds up to hefty curb weights. The Dodge boys forecast 4150 pounds, which is just 62 pounds lighter than the 300C. With the same 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 (425 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque), the same five-speed automatic, and the same final drive, and the same tires, drag strip numbers figure to be pretty much the same, too.

Still, you might wonder why the smaller coupe—at 197.7 inches it’s 2.5 inches shorter than a Charger and almost an inch lower—is nearly as heavy as the sedan.

Trademark: New Yorker


(words only): NEW YORKER

Standard Character claim: Yes

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

Date of Status: 2007-10-10

Filing Date: 2005-08-25

The Notice of Allowance Date is: 2006-08-22

Transformed into a National Application: No

Registration Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)

Register: Principal

Law Office Assigned: LAW OFFICE 113

Attorney Assigned:
AMOS TANYA L Employee Location

Current Location: 700 -Intent To Use Section

Date In Location: 2008-02-08



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


International Class: 012
Class Status: Active
motor vehicles, namely, passenger automobiles
Basis: 1(b)
First Use in Commerce Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)


Prior Registration Number(s):



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

2008-02-06 - TEAS Extension Received

Trademark: Snakeskin


(words only): SNAKESKIN

Standard Character claim: Yes

Current Status: Opposition period completed, a Notice of Allowance has been issued.

Date of Status: 2007-08-07

Filing Date: 2006-07-27

The Notice of Allowance Date is: 2007-08-07

Transformed into a National Application: No

Registration Date: (DATE NOT AVAILABLE)

Register: Principal

Law Office Assigned: LAW OFFICE 109

Attorney Assigned:
STEPHENS SONYA B Employee Location

Current Location: 700 -Intent To Use Section

Date In Location: 2008-02-08



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


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





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

2008-02-06 - TEAS Extension Received

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Racer Willi Heeks is born in Moorlage, Germany
Robert James Eaton of the Chrysler Corporation is born in Buena Vista, CO
Chrysler Corporation Ltd. of Canada President E. C. Row announces major expansions of the company’s factories in Windsor, ON to accommodate increased demand
The Lincoln Continental Mark III is introduced in Chicago, IL

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

Chrysler Recall Important in Truck Crash Lawsuit

St. Louis, MO: DaimlerChrysler Corp. is now the focus in a case in which a young girl was killed in a 2003 crash involving a Dodge Dakota truck driven by Bobby Fultz. The parents of Chelsee Cherry-Holmes, 18, are not only filing the lawsuit against Bobby Fultz, but they are also filing the suit against the dealership that addressed a problem with his Dodge Dakota truck and against DaimlerChrysler, the manufacturer, for what is suspected to be faulty ball joints that could have led to the crash.

The parents of Chelsee Cherry-Holmes state that a ball joint on the truck broke due to a defective design, which led to Fultz losing control of the truck. This ball joint was later recalled on various vehicles manufactured by DailmlerChrysler, including the Dodge Dakota models of trucks.

Attorneys state that had Fultz received the recall letter regarding the details of the defective part prior to the crash ever taking place, there would have never been a collision and Chelsee's life would not have ended so abruptly. Fultz's attorney is in agreement and has publicly stated that the crash was caused by the breaking away of the right front tire, which caused the October 1, 2003 crash in Franklin County on Highway O.

Roadside MemorialAs for the details that led to the tragic accident, Fultz hit the Volvo that was driven by Joshua Bessinger, 19, head on. Bessinger, along with his two passengers, Matthew Carter, 20, and Chelsee Cherry-Holmes were all instantly killed. Fultz was seriously injured and was flown to St. John's Mercy Medical Center by helicopter. Fultz's injuries were considered crippling.

However, DaimlerChrysler argues that it was not the defective part, but Fultz's negligence that was the cause of the crash. The claim of negligence by DaimlerChrysler is based upon information received regarding statements that Fultz made to police.

Fultz admitted to police that he had taken two different kinds of pain pills at three different times that day. He didn't immediately disclose to police that a tire detached from his truck. He didn't provide such information until after the recall letter was received by him.

The drugs that were determined to be in Fultz's system were Zanax and Oxycontin, each taken three times in the course of the day. A toxicology report expert engaged by Chrysler stated that Fultz's ability to operate a motor vehicle would have been significantly impaired due to the power of such a drug cocktail.

The attorney for Fultz stated that Fultz had taken the Dodge Dakota to the Barreth Chrysler-Dodge Center in Washington, MO, due to a strange noise just two weeks before the crash. The mechanics who investigated the strange noise concluded that there was not a problem with the vehicle and sent him on his way.

Chrysler stated that notes by the mechanics said that the ball joints were in good condition, so there was no way that a deterioration of the ball joints could have occurred in just two weeks time or at least enough to cause a wheel to fall off. The experts with the company who examined the ball joints are expected to testify in the case that the ball joints showed no deterioration after the crash. Due to the good condition of the ball joints, they would have not qualified as part of DaimlerChrysler's recall.

Over a dozen witnesses are expected to testify in the case that is expected to last for approximately two weeks.

By Ginger Gillenwater

Drivers, Start Your Engines: Independent Test Confirms Fuel Freedom International's MPG-CAP(TM) Stretches Your Fuel Dollar!

Engine Conditioner Improves Fuel Efficiency Up To 15 Percent and Significantly Reduces Vehicle Emissions

Drivers, Start Your Engines: Independent Test Confirms Fuel Freedom International's MPG-CAP(TM) Stretches Your Fuel Dollar!

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Fuel Freedom International (FFi) today released the results from extensive testing of FFi's MPG-CAP(TM) organic engine conditioner caplets, confirming that the caplets improve an engine's fuel economy by as much as 15 percent. The test, by an independent lab, supports FFi's claims that the MPG-CAP(TM) improves an engine's internal combustion process thus increasing engine efficiency, improving power, and greatly reducing harmful smog emissions.

"Part of Fuel Freedom's philosophy is to reduce the impact vehicles have on the environment and boost fuel efficiency for cars, trucks, boats, farm equipment, generators and other engines," said Randy Ray, CEO of Fuel Freedom International. "These results are great news for consumers interested in reducing the impact all types of gasoline- and diesel-powered engines have on the environment, while saving money at the pump."

Started in November 2005, FFi has grown into an international company, generating thousands of satisfied consumers each week through a network of more than 230,000 distributors in 224 countries and territories including Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, Korea, Mexico, Australia, Uganda, and Thailand.

"While we've had great testimonials from thousands of customers since we started the company, it is great to have yet another laboratory prove that MPG-CAPS can improve gas mileage and help families reduce their fuel costs," continued Mr. Ray. "With these test results and our 100% money-back guarantee, everyone should be using this product."

Fuel Freedom International takes pride in environmental consciousness and earth friendly products. The use of the MPG-CAP(TM) has spread wider and faster than predicted, resulting in an explosive growth of the Florida-based company. The product has been in demand and the business opportunity fulfills a desire by many to be entrepreneurs. Independent distributors have an entire line of ECO-friendly products designed specifically to provide excellent results and preserve the environment.


To test the product, a 2005 Dodge Dakota was tested on both a Mustang 1100 Dynamometer and a road course with untreated fuel. The vehicle reached a maximum horsepower of 158.1 HP and the average road mileage was 18.6 miles per gallon. After conditioning the engine, the vehicle was tested again using the same procedures. The maximum horsepower reached 164.3 HP and average road mileage was calculated at 20.81 miles per gallon. The results showed an overall increase in power and fuel efficiency.

For best results, MPG-CAPS must be used in specific quantities to your fuel tank capacity and in precise measurements. For more information about product usage, please visit MPG-CAPS are sold in packages of ten for $20.95.

About Fuel Freedom International

Based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Fuel Freedom International (FFi) is a global company operating in 224 countries and territories, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uganda, Great Britain, Ireland, the EU, Australia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong. Operations are run by independent distributors located throughout the world, with a global network exceeding 230,000 distributors. For more information on MPG-CAPS and how to become an FFi distributor, visit To find a distributor near you, call 1-800-493-9877.

Latest issue of Hot Rod Magazine and they said American Motors is coming back. It started as a Guy making body panel kits for some prototype AMX in limited production, he figured why not bring back a few more of the AMC Muscle too.

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#43 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Auction for Charity is LIVE

#43 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Auction for Charity is LIVE

Feb 12, 2008 at 11:00PM RLD

The #43 of 6,400 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is up for grabs on an online auction for charity.

As we mentioned before, the #43 of 6,400 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 in B5 Blue will be auctioned off for charity. And the auction begins…well, right about now! So follow the action by clicking here. We’ll keep you updated as the sale draws to a close on Feb. 22.

Chrysler dispute to return to court

Plastech seeks to keep molds, dies

The legal dispute that brought five Chrysler LLC plants to a halt last week returns to court today.

Chrysler and Dearborn-based supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. are to argue over whether Chrysler can take back molds and dies that Plastech uses to make parts for nearly all Chrysler's vehicles.

It's this dispute, Plastech says, that forced it to file for Chapter 11 protection on Feb. 1 -- the same day it lost its business with Chrysler -- and days before the firms reached a temporary deal on production.

Despite the unusually dramatic entrance into Chapter 11, Plastech's financial problems are all too common, echoing those of other suppliers that have had to restructure under the weight of debt from acquisitions, rising material costs, pressure from customers to cut prices and shrinking production volumes.

Reorganizing companies typically use the bankruptcy process to hack away at debt.

Plastech entered bankruptcy with nearly $500 million in debt, more than a third of its annual sales.

Plastech's story started 20 years ago, when founder Julie Brown, formerly an engineer at Ford Motor Co., bought a plastics plant in Caro.

Brown, born in Vietnam, went on to grow Plastech into the state's largest woman-owned company -- and one of the largest minority-owned businesses in country.

The distinction of size came swiftly in 2004 when Plastech bought rival LDM Technologies -- an acquisition that doubled Plastech's revenue to nearly $1 billion and doubled the size of its workforce to about 7,000 people.

The company made four smaller acquisitions after that. Plastech, which made a profit in 2005, was buying weaker companies or their books of business to prove its value as a problem-solver to customers that were dealing with struggling suppliers.

Those acquisitions also helped the company fill unused plant capacity.

While Plastech, known for keeping a tight control on costs, was careful not to take business at a loss, as Collins & Aikman had, Plastech made these acquisitions at a time when plastic prices pummeled parts suppliers.

The price for polypropylene, a staple for automotive plastic parts makers, has more than doubled since Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, rising from 30 cents to more than 65 cents a pound, said Jeff Mengel, a partner at Plante & Moran, who leads the plastics industry team.

"I think they overextended themselves by acquisitions, and they leveraged themselves to the point where they were not flexible enough," said Jim McTevia, head of turnaround firm McTevia & Associates.

In 2006, Plastech lost $73 million. In February last year, it cut a short-term deal with customers to ensure it had enough money to operate. Plastech struck a second deal with customers last month. It was on the verge of reaching a third, when Chrysler canceled its business with the financially struggling supplier.

During its 13-day-old bankruptcy case, Plastech has had to reach more short-term financing deals to keep operating.

The latest, which is to go before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Phillip Shefferly this morning, includes an early sale of inventory to Plastech's largest customer, Johnson Controls Inc., for $17.1 million, and would keep Plastech running for the next two weeks.

In the Chrysler dispute, the automaker is asking to be exempt from bankruptcy rules that halt lawsuits against a reorganizing company. Chrysler has sued to go into Plastech's plants to take tools used to make parts for its vehicles and give those tools and business to other suppliers.

Chrysler was ready to do just that Feb. 1, when Plastech filed for bankruptcy court protection, stopping Chrysler from moving on a court order it received to take the tools.

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said last week that the company will move its business. "We have to make sure we're getting the right value from our suppliers."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Delhi seat supplier wins Rs4bn Chrysler contract

By Megan Lampinen
12 February, 2008
Source: Automotive World

An automotive seat supplier based in New Delhi, India has secured a Rs4bn (US$101m) contract to provide seats for Chrysler LLC's Indian unit, reports Reuters, citing local publication Business Line.

The report did not identify the Indian supplier, bu...

IMT Joins With Dodge Ram

Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT) has successfully integrated a hydraulic crane and air compressor into the new Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis, as well as the Sterling Bullet chassis.

"There's a high demand for these new chassis today, and IMT now offers a hydraulic crane and air compressor option," said Tim Worman, product manager of commercial vehicles for IMT, which manufactures mechanics trucks, lube trucks, telescopic cranes, and articulating cranes. "Before, customers who wanted the new Dodge Ram or Sterling Bullet were limited to electric cranes, but because of IMT's innovation and commitment to our customers' needs, hydraulics are now available as an additional option."

IMT has been selling Dominator DSC20 and Dominator I service bodies with electric telescopic cranes mounted on these Class 4 and 5 chassis since their introduction in 2007. Electric cranes are best for customers whose lifting needs are fairly light and whose duty cycles are intermittent. However, customers who need to lift more than 6,000 pounds or who use the crane more than once or twice a day will need a hydraulic telescopic crane.

"The electrical integration with the Dodge Ram and Sterling Bullet chassis did not allow for simple operation of high-idle or remote start/stop," Worman said. "So the engineers at IMT took this challenge and faced it head-on, working with engineers at Dodge to ensure product integrity. Now we can easily integrate engine high-idle operation and remote start/stop for use with the hydraulic cranes and air compressors."

Oil Prices Slide As Profits Locked In

February 12, 2008 - 9:31am

Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Oil prices retreated Tuesday, with traders locking in profits, after jumping almost $2 in the previous session on concerns about potential supply disruptions in Venezuela and Nigeria.

Crude futures were supported by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's threat on Sunday to cut off oil sales to the U.S. in retaliation for court orders freezing assets belonging to Venezuela's state oil company. There were also reports of new violence in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery lost 90 cents to fetch $92.69 a barrel by afternoon in European electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract jumped $1.82 to settle at $93.59 a barrel.

"The oil price went up fairly sharply last night, and it's still at high levels by the standard of recent days and certainly well within the high end of the ranges we saw last night," said David Moore, a commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

The Schork Report, edited by energy analyst Stephen Schork, noted that while prices were at a three-month low just a week ago "since then it would appear that a lot of bullish money has found its way back into the market."

In addition to "Chavez's tired shtick," the newsletter blamed outages at Valero's Delaware City refinery for Monday's upsurge.

In Nigeria, unidentified gunmen Monday attacked a naval vessel that was escorting petroleum industry boats, killing one sailor and injuring another.

The attack is the latest incident to unnerve traders after Royal Dutch Shell PLC said last week that it would not be able to honor all its export contracts from the troubled Niger Delta region for two months due to sabotage of a pipeline. Approximately 130,000 barrels a day of production are believed to be shut-in as a result of the force majeure declared by the firm.

In Venezuela, Exxon Mobil Corp. has gone after Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts, challenging the nationalization by Chavez's government of a multibillion dollar oil project. A British court last week issued an injunction freezing as much as $12 billion in Petroleos' assets.

"The combination of these factors creates some concerns about the supply side of the equation," Moore said.

Heating oil futures were down 1.62 cents at $2.558 a gallon (3.8 liters) while gasoline prices lost 2.42 cents to sell at $2.372 a gallon.

Natural gas futures slipped by 6 cents, fetching $8.471 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude lost $1.19 to trade at $92.34 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

2008 Mr Norm's Dodge Hemi Ram 1500 Super Truck

(from Mr. Norm's Press Release) Mr. Norm’s Super Truck- Online Auction During Chicago Auto Show to kick-off first new Mr. Norm’s model in 35 years.

The 2008 Mr. Norm’s HEMI Ram 1500 Super Truck is built on the formula that made Mr. Norm famous; fueling passion while respecting the person. That is demonstrated once more in this collectible truck you can really drive. When Mr. Norm ordered performance oriented Mopars new at Grand Spaulding Dodge, he configured each batch to be the best model possible for performance upgrade, carefully choosing the options he knew his customers wanted, allowing them to personalize each vehicle once they took delivery. This time tested approach shows why Mr. Norm is still the King of High Performance. The result is a 2008 Super Truck that gives you real performance, real personalization, and real collectible value delivered at a tremendous value and convenience.

2008 Mr Norm's Dodge Hemi Ram 1500 Super Truck2008 Mr Norm's Dodge Hemi Ram 1500 Super Truck-2The Mr. Norm’s Concept Super Truck has certainly generated tremendous buzz, premiering at SEMA as the lead vehicle in the Sony Exhibit, being featured in the Dodge Exhibit at numerous auto shows, and earning a ton a magazine coverage. A steady stream of Mopar Enthusiasts began calling in asking if there were any Super Trucks left, eager to put down pre-build deposits. Now that the build have been authorized to begin, we don’t expect that the remainder of the 100 unit build to last very long. It takes approximately 12 weeks to build and deliver a Mr. Norm’s Super Truck (NST). With the ’08 production run ending in late April, the most owners should have their truck just in time for the summer driving season.

You can be one of only 100 to own a Limited Edition Mr. Norm’s Super Truck including for as low as $32,275. Even fully loaded with available Performance Proven ™ upgrades, a 4x2 standard cab comes to about $42,000 before tax, title, & license with estimating cash incentives.

© Source: seriouswheels

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

James W. Packard is awarded his first automobile patent
The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that a 1912 law requiring automobile registration is unconstitutional, and orders refunds of $28,040
Robert Authony Lutz of the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation is born in Zurich, Switzerland (his father, a United States citizen, was serving as a director of a Swiss bank)
Automobile parts distributor Lester Hutchings dies at age 54
Modernistic Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, is incorporated in Iowa

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

The plan for product: Less duplication

SAN FRANCISCO — Chrysler LLC will reshape its product lineup dramatically in the next five years so Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers won't compete against one anotherwith rebadged versions of the same vehicles.

It's all part of a dealership consolidation plan, called Project Genesis, that would result in more stores that sell all three brands.

Chrysler co-President Jim Press said badge-engineered vehicles and single-brand showrooms mean the three brands go up against one another, rather than Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota.

Many products will be deleted, although Press declined to give specifics.

"Do we need 11 SUVs when we sell a million and a half retail?" he asked at the J.D. Power roundtable here. "Maybe we just need three or four."

But Chrysler will add products, too, Press said. For instance, the Chrysler brand might have a minivan for families, while Dodge might get a more rugged vehicle from the same platform geared toward young people.

Badge engineering has wounded the company. The three brands mostly conquest new customers from one another, according to J.D. Power research. Meanwhile, defectors from the individual Chrysler brands frequently go outside the Chrysler fold.

Customer loyalty to the Chrysler brand is only 32 percent — well below the industry average, according to J.D. Power. But those buyers account for nearly half of total sales. That is a recipe for a company in trouble, said Steve Witten, Power's executive director of automotive research.

For every 100 people defecting from Dodge, only 62 new customers are conquested, according to J.D. Power. The research group says that, too, is below the industry average.

Chrysler exec: Journey started on the inside

Jim Issner, who guided the Dodge Journey to production, says the new crossover was designed to “fit in customers’ lifestyles between the Caliber and the minivan.”

Jim Issner guided the Dodge Journey to production, then was promoted to become Chrysler LLC's vice president of advance vehicle engineering. He's a veteran of nearly three decades at Chrysler.

Issner spoke with Staff Reporter Bradford Wernle at the launch of the Journey in Las Vegas.

What was your overall target in designing the Journey?

We wanted a crossover for the Dodge brand, a vehicle that would fit in customers' lifestyles between the Caliber and the minivan, especially with the short-wheelbase minivan not being part of the new minivan program.

When we looked at the position between the Caliber and the minivans, we saw a lot of crossovers in the market.

What do you need to compete in that segment?

Storage and innovative features in the interior are the heart of opportunity in that market, which goes along with good ride and handling, excellent NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).

What features are you proud of on the Journey?

There are a lot of things I'm happy we did. I think we've got an efficient three-row package for seating seven people. We increased the wheelbase 4.9 inches, but the vehicle is only 1.7 inches longer overall than the Dodge Avenger.

Some of the thoughtful features like the storage bins give us an opportunity to have some things our competition doesn't have.

At what point did you decide to delete the 2.7-liter V-6 engine?

It was late in the program. We had a management ride-and-drive at Chelsea (Chrysler's proving ground in Chelsea, Mich.). The 2.7 didn't provide enough benefit over the four-cylinder. Having that extra powertrain seemed to be a confusion point for our customers. The right thing seemed to be to go with the 3.5-liter V-6. The decision to take out the 2.7 was the right thing to do for the product and the customer.

Why did you make the changes so late?

We went after the Journey with the idea we're going to come out of the box right.

You plan to sell the Journey here and overseas. That means you'll be competing with different vehicles, such as the Ford S-Max over there and the Ford Edge here. What kind of challenge is that?

If you create a unique product for the European market like the S-Max and the Edge over here, that requires significant capital investment. Our strategy would suggest we can compete with one vehicle in both markets. I guess the marketplace will tell us whether we've been successful.

But from a technical standpoint, there's nothing that would preclude me from doing that with a single vehicle. It's not so much a technical challenge as a marketing challenge.

Chrysler will pay for new-car fill-up

DETROIT — Chrysler LLC dealers are getting their gasoline money back.

Starting March 1, Chrysler will restore to dealers money to give customers a full tank of fuel for new vehicles.

Chrysler executives received loud ovations when they announced the change at dealer meetings across the country. The cost to fill the 21.1-gallon tank of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, for instance, is about $63.

Under DaimlerChrysler ownership, the company took away the fill-up money in 2000 after rancorous meetings with dealers. The reinstated fill-up is part of a series of retail initiatives the company is rolling out this month as part of Chrysler's "New Day Celebration."

In a national road show Feb. 4-8, Chrysler LLC's top sales executives — including co-President Jim Press, Executive Vice President Steven Landry and Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Meyer — revealed major changes to dealers. Chrysler also told dealers it will speed parts delivery to them by giving a key component of the business to UPS.

Under Press, formerly Toyota's top North American executive, Chrysler has been listening to criticism from dealers, many of whom were unhappy during the DaimlerChrysler era.

For instance, Chrysler has reduced inventory by more than 100,000 vehicles because dealers said the factory was cramming unwanted cars down their throats.

Support group
To build support from dealers, Chrysler will
-- Pay for a new vehicle's first tank of gasoline
-- Speed parts to dealers via UPS
-- Cut inventory by more than 100,000 units to reduce pressure on dealers to take unwanted vehicles
-- Offer discounts on certain well-equipped vehicles

Chrysler also says it will give customers more equipment for their money on 12 vehicles.

For example, Chrysler now is offering the Aspen Limited SUV equipped with a MyGig in-dash stereo hard drive and rear parking camera along with heated two-tone front seats and 18-inch chrome wheels at a discount. Customers pay $1,855 for a package worth $3,355, according to Chrysler.

During the second quarter, Chrysler will start using UPS to ship parts that dealers can't get from local parts depots.

Dealers complain now that if parts aren't available at the local depot, orders are referred elsewhere, usually to the national depot. Then the order is shipped to the local depot before going to the dealership.

Under the new system, those parts will be shipped by UPS directly from the national depot to the dealership. Dealers will be able to track the shipments using UPS' tracking technology.

Klegon: Chrysler's new platform is flexible

Chrysler product chief Frank Klegon: Team is looking at “where we ought to go with the next midsegment cars

CHICAGO — Chrysler will spin a variety of vehicle types off its new mid-sized global vehicle platform, including sedans, hatchbacks, crossovers and small pickups.

"It has to be a pretty flexible platform," said Frank Klegon, Chrysler's head of product development, in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show.

The platform will replace Chrysler's D-segment platform, used for the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger cars and Dodge Journey crossover.

"We set up a small group. We're calling it Project D, to take a look at the next generation" mid-sized platform, said Klegon. They are "taking a look at worldwide demand — it is one of the largest segments worldwide. That segment breeds a lot of offspring."

Chrysler created the mid-sized team in December as part of a realignment of its product organization. Michael Donoughe, an engineer with experience in both front- and rear-drive platforms, heads the team.

Project D is made up of engineers, product planners and program managers, as well as purchasing and international business managers. Klegon expects the group to make recommendations by June.

Klegon said the team's job is to come up with a strategy — not plan and execute a new platform.

"They have to look at where we ought to go with the next midsegment cars," he said. "That goes from taking an existing platform and building upon it, to designing a new platform. It could be front-wheel drive; it could be rear-wheel drive; it could be the ability to switch."

The group will consider where in the world the vehicles should be built and will recommend whether Chrysler should partner with another automaker.

"All those things are on the table with no preconceived answer to the question," said Klegon. He said the first vehicles will arrive in five to six years.

The pickup based on the platform would be a lifestyle truck, he said. The Honda Ridgeline falls into that category. Automakers are scrutinizing this strategy because the small- and mid-sized truck market is declining, he said. They also are looking at light-weight pickups that offer better fuel economy.

"Everybody is hunting down this formula," Klegon said. "What is that substitute? Is it a smaller body-on-frame? Is it unibody? Can it be front drive? Can it just carry 1,000 pounds? We don't know yet." c

Chrysler plan: Advice — but no help on price

1,700 metro stores are targets of new consolidation push

Chrysler LLC's aggressive new strategy for shrinking its retail network won't give dealers the thing they would most like to see: money to lubricate consolidation deals that have been stalled.

"We have to be clear that we don't have a big checkbook," said Chrysler co-President Jim Press.

In many metro areas, Chrysler's network has grown into a crazy-quilt of single-brand stores packed too close together. The company's new owners are eager to do something about that.

Under Project Genesis, the new consolidation strategy, Chrysler wants a smaller and more profitable dealer network. Part of the plan is to reshape the product lineup dramatically to end duplication among the three Chrysler brands. That would allow more retailers to sell all three brands under one roof.

Chrysler has 3,600 dealers, and the plan targets about 1,700 stores in metro markets, says Michael Yatsko, director of dealer operations for Chrysler.

Teams of advisers have begun fanning out to help dealers arrange to buy or sell stores.

Dealers will be offered help with all aspects of business planning, including tax consequences, real estate, finance and estate planning. Some advisers will come from Chrysler's majority owner, Cerberus Capital Management.

In an interview last week, Press said Chrysler hasn't ruled out offering money. But he said: "We're not in the financial position to make this a big bunch of checks and paydays. We need to do it with a process of working together looking at alternatives."

Press said he expects the revamping of the dealership network and product lineup to be completed in four or five years.

Where's the money?

For some dealers, the lack of money could be a big problem, said Sheldon Sandler, founder of Bel Air Partners, a Princeton, N.J., firm that brokers dealership transactions and offers dealers financial guidance.

"I think that they're looking at a very, very difficult proposition, one they don't fully appreciate," Sandler said. "Another way of saying it is: Show me the money."

Sandler said the biggest obstacle to getting buyers and sellers to agree on a transaction price is real estate.

"Dealers quite often have an inflated idea of what their property is worth," he said. "Once you eliminate that operating entity, it becomes a piece of property without that operating asset on it. That really complicates the deal."

Without making a pot of money available, Chrysler will have trouble getting dealers to consolidate, says an executive at a large public dealership group with Chrysler stores.

"These things would have happened by now if they had put money in it," said the executive, who asked not to be identified. "The problem is you have sellers who don't want to sell and buyers who don't want to pay.

"There are not a lot of buyers of Chrysler deals out there because nobody's sure how long Cerberus is going to stay."

Blue-chip teams

Chrysler says the new framework will speed the process along. To make deals happen, the company is forming "business solutions teams" to go into each metro area to help dealers overcome obstacles.

"We've done a couple of market meetings already," said Steven Landry, executive vice president of North American sales. "Each of the business centers will hold metro market meetings" and review the volumes in those markets.

Room to breathe

Landry said Chrysler then will hold "individual meetings with dealers and review whether they want to be a willing buyer or willing seller."

Chrysler wants dealers to have more room so they're not poaching sales from one another. Chrysler built its network in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Big 3 ruled. The network in metro areas grew into a patchwork of single-brand stores or odd combinations.

In meetings with dealers last week, Press and Landry used the Boston metro area as an example — and the cuts envisioned apparently are deep.

Boston now has about 22 dealers with Chrysler franchises; the company would like to see that number cut to eight, each selling all three brands.

"Competition has put us in the position where dealerships are seven, eight miles apart," Landry said. "We want them to be 25 miles apart." Landry and Press said the mileage figures would differ from one market to the next.

Among the ideas Chrysler is exploring are satellite dealerships and service-only outlets, Press said.

He said Chrysler's rural dealers will remain largely untouched. Press said about 81 percent of those already have three brands under one roof.

Since Chrysler launched its Project Alpha consolidation in 2004, Chrysler completed about 250 Alpha combinations and has trimmed its dealer body from about 4,000 to 3,600.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Race car engine designer Fred Offenhauser is born
Joseph William Moon of the Moon Motor Car Company dies at age 68
John W. Brussel is named Manager of the Federal-Mogul Corporation
The Ford Division of the Ford Motor Company is established
Automobili Serenissima SpA is founded in Bologna, Italy by Giorgio Billi and Count Giovanni Volpi Di Misurata - the firm would evolve into Automobile Turismo e Sport, manufacturers of the 1962-1964 ATS sports car

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