Thursday, June 19, 2008


Oil sinks below $132 a barrel, down nearly $5, after China says it will stop supporting gas prices. More soon.

Chrysler sold more than 600 bricks to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo.

Chrysler sold more than 600 bricks to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo.

Hundreds of pieces of Toledo history are now turning into thousands of dollars of support. One year ago today, 2 of the 3 smokestacks of the old Willys-Overland Jeep Parkway came down. Chrysler sold more than 600 bricks to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo. And with a matching donation from the Chrysler Foundation, they're now giving almost $18,000 to the club.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chrysler sees low U.S. June auto sales

Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:05pm EDT
Email | Print | | Reprints | Single Page | Recommend (-)
[-] Text [+]

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Bob Nardelli has told employees that industry-wide U.S. sales in June were expected to fall to the lowest level in 16 years.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are predicted to fall to an annual rate of 12.5 million vehicles in June, Nardelli told employees in a company-wide memo sent on Tuesday, citing forecasts from J.D. Power and Associates and Citigroup.

"This is the lowest sales level in 16 years and indicates a significant and continued softening of the U.S. automotive market," he said in the memo, which was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Nardelli said a number of economic factors continue to weigh on auto sales, including the weak U.S. housing market.

A spokeswoman for privately held Chrysler declined to comment on the memo.

Cautious forecasts for June U.S. auto sales and uncertainty about when the U.S. auto industry will hit bottom drove down shares of automakers General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), parts suppliers and auto retailers on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache cut his industry-wide U.S. auto sales outlook for 2009 to about 15 million vehicles, and expects sales in 2010 to come in at 16 million vehicles.

There was evidence that June sales were falling to "surprisingly low levels," he said in a note to clients.

Chrysler's U.S. sales have fallen 19 percent this year as it struggled with a product line-up that relies more on trucks and SUVs than its larger rivals at a time when more Americans are looking to buy smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Continued...

Bloomberg news service reports that crude has risen by 697 percent since November 2001, when it traded at a now-astonishing price of $17.45 a barrel.

Memo From Nardelli To Chrysler Employees

June 17, 2008

Dear Employees,

If you haven't already heard, I want to share with you some important U.S. economic updates in the news today. While the automotive industry is still growing in global markets, including a record 36 consecutive months of increased sales outside of North America for Chrysler, our home market continues to struggle. U.S. light-vehicle sales are predicted to fall to an annual rate of 12.5 million vehicles in June, according to forecasts by J.D. Power and Associates ...

BREAKING NEWS: Oil turns lower as Bush calls for expanded U.S. production, including end of offshore ban; crude inventories decline. More soon.

2008 Speedfactory Dodge Challenger w/supercharger

2008 Speedfactory Dodge Challenger w/supercharger

Let the tuning begin: 600 hp Speedfactory Challenger SRT8

Posted Yesterday 01:28 PM by Andrew Strieber
Category: Tuners, Dodge

The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 has only been in production for a little over a month, and so far deliveries have been largely limited to high-profile buyers. But that isn't about to stop tuners from kicking the 425 horsepower beast up a few notches -- Mopar specialist Speedfactory has gotten their hands on a new SRT8, and has already given the car a supercharged performance package that reportedly is good for a whopping 600 horsepower.

2008 Speedfactory Dodge Challenger SRT8

Based out of Georgia, Speedfactory works on Chrysler LX and LY platform vehicles and can either provide new, turnkey cars with factory warranties or install extra goodies on your existing 300, Magnum, or Charger (they do Dodge Rams and Jeep Grand Cherokees as well). Currently a work in progress, their State 1 Challenger package includes a centrifugal style supercharger good for 5.5 lbs of boost, suspension tuning, 20-inch forged wheels (the ones pictured are just for testing, new ones are coming), and special Speedfactory interior and exterior add-ons. Step up to Stage 2 and the company turns up the boost to 8 lbs, which helps Dodge's 6.1-liter Hemi make 630 horsepower but unfortunately voids the warranty. And if you're looking to turn your muscle coupe into a genuine Lambo-fighter you can always opt for Speedfactory's proposed Stage 3 package, which includes a complete motor rebuild with performance racing components, lowered compression, a custom boost configuration, and more. The tuner estimates this gives the Challenger an unreal 800 horsepower at the crankshaft.

Speedfactory will be releasing complete specs on its Stage 1 Challenger SRT8 soon, and the car will be put up for sale by an Atlanta-area Dodge dealer. So if you're one of the lucky 6400 to get a 2008 Challenger but feel 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds still isn't fast enough, check out the Speedfactory site -- they should be able to help.

Source: Speedfactory

2008 Speedfactory Dodge Challenger SRT8 - 2

REPORT: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 not sold out, but bring your wallet

click above for more high-res live shots of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

If you’re still jonesing for a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, there may still be time to buy one. Frank Klegon, VP of product development for Chrysler, told Kicking Tires at the Chicago Auto Show this week that 4,300 Challengers have been sold so far. We take that to be the number of folks who have advanced beyond putting down a deposit and actually proceeded to buy the cars.

Klegon also revealed that an additional 10,000 orders have been placed by dealers for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8. Since only 6,400 will be built for the 2008 model year, some simple math tells us that there are 2,100 Challengers headed to dealerships with no customer name on the order. Dealers will no doubt find a use for them as display vehicles if they’re not sold (unlikely), but expect to pay a premium for absconding with a dealership’s number one window dressing.

Kicking Tires also reports that 2009 Challengers will be available with a 380-hp, 5.7L HEMI V8 sporting cylinder deactivation technology, which we may see at the New York Auto Show in late March. A base model with a V6, however, seems unlikely to appear from what we hear.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

U.S. sales plummeting, Chrysler's chief says

Memo may signal cuts to come


After months of confident talk that Chrysler LLC anticipated the economic downturn better than other automakers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli told employees Tuesday, in a memo obtained by the Free Press, that the last few months -- and this month in particular -- have been even worse than Chrysler anticipated.Industry-wide sales so far in June have been about 20% worse than Chrysler's expectations for the year, according to the memo.

Nardelli didn't indicate or threaten any job or production cuts like those under way at rivals, but experts saw the message as an ominous sign that the privately held automaker may have to do more.

"I don't think he would really address that unless they were getting some pretty dismal signals that said that we're going to have to prepare for the worst," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.

When Chrysler announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs in November -- on top of 13,000 over three years -- executives were assuming Americans would buy fewer vehicles in 2008 than in any year in a decade, only about 15.5 million. Nardelli said that "conservative estimate" was pretty close for the first three months of the year.

But sales were 7% to 8% below that rate in April and May. And so far in June, he said, J.D. Power and Associates and Citigroup are seeing a sales pace that is almost 20% lower -- only 12.5 million vehicles per year.

"This is the lowest sales level in 16 years and indicates a significant and continued softening of the U.S. automotive market," Nardelli wrote.

A Chrysler spokeswoman declined to comment on the memo.

U.S. car and truck sales are down 8.4% so far this year; sales of Chrysler's three brands are down 19.3%.

In November, the automaker also announced that four models would be cut and production would be scaled back in anticipation of a tough 2008.

Cole added that an annual rate of 12.5 million in June is a major decline. "That's really falling off the cliff. That's going to mean some more cuts," Cole said.

"That is going to hit cash very hard through the industry," he added. "Production cuts, employee cuts -- I think it's going to depend upon the company. That's tough stuff."

Tuesday's e-mail marks a shift in Nardelli's take on the economy.

"We thought we were being extremely aggressive in our conservative view" of 2008, Nardelli said late last month. "As it turns out we may have been spot-on."

At the New York Auto Show in March, he said Chrysler would respond decisively if things got worse. "If we were wrong and the economy worsens enough, we'll be quick to adjust," he said.

Tuesday's e-mail didn't specify what actions -- if any -- Chrysler would take in response to the grim economic outlook it shared with employees. But he asked them to stay committed to Chrysler's turnaround.

"During these turbulent times, I want you to know that your leadership team has a clear and realistic view of the economic conditions and remains committed to our goal of returning Chrysler LLC to profitability and long-term sustainability," Nardelli added. "I ask each of you to keep your attention on the important role you play in our company's success."

Nardelli attributed the dramatic market drop to a number of economic factors, including a plunge in new-home construction, weak consumer confidence, automotive loan defaults and high oil costs.

"We have great vehicles to sell," Nardelli said. "And keep talking up our products to your family, friends and neighbors."

Despite the encouraging words, analysts said the underlying message seems to be that Chrysler will soon make job and production cuts similar to those that are already occurring at GM and Ford.

"You can't rule it out," said Burnham Securities analyst David Healy.

Both GM and Ford are trying to adapt quickly to a U.S. automotive market suffering from declining volumes, as well as rapidly shifting consumer preferences away from profitable trucks in favor of cars and crossovers.

In response, GM announced on June 3 plans to cut production by 700,000 trucks annually, or about 40% of its truck capacity, by idling four North American truck plants by mid-2010, among other cuts.

And Ford, which already planned to build 280,000 to 350,000 fewer vehicles overall in North America this year, is now in the midst of reducing salaried-related costs by 15% by Aug. 1, including job cuts.

Analysts expect Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. to shift production from trucks to cars at plants that can handle both types of vehicles.

Automakers say they are responding to changes in demand that have come about because of economic instability, the mortgage crisis and gasoline prices that now average more than $4 per gallon.

And while most analysts expect that the truck market will eventually stabilize, the latest memo from Chrysler may portend more serious economic troubles and further automotive production cuts.

If J.D. Power's forecast for June -- an annualized rate of 12.5 million sales -- continues for long, Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. said, it would be "Armageddon. Doomsday."

"I don't think there is anyone out there prepared for 12.5" million annual U.S. sales, he said. "I know it is only one month, but still that would show some signs that there is some real deterioration in the market, that would mean the economy is really slowing down significantly."

This Day in Auto History:

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly

Lawrence Randolph Hafstad of General Motors is born in Minneapolis, MN
Racer Denis Clive Hulme is born in Nelson, New Zealand
Chrysler Corporation stylist Thomas Charles Gale is born in Flint, MI
Robert P. Page, Jr., Chairman of the Autocar Company, dies in Bryn Mawr, PA at age 70
Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, driving a Ford GT40 Mk2, win the Le Mans 24-hour race, becoming the first to exceed 3000 total miles during the event

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Global sales of Belvidere-built line hit high note

May marked the best month yet for sales of the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, the three fuel-efficient vehicles assembled at Chrysler LLC’s plant in Belvidere.

According to Chrysler, dealers sold 36,555 Calibers, Compasses and Patriots in May, helped undoubtedly by the shift by buyers to more fuel-efficient vehicles that surging gasoline costs have prompted.

The total topped March’s previous high of 34,495, and dealers are on pace to sell more than 375,000 of the models built in Belvidere. Last year, dealers sold 294,894 globally. With more than 2,700 workers, the Chrysler plant is the Rock River Valley’s largest manufacturing employer.

May also marked the sixth straight month sales have surpassed production levels. In May, Belvidere workers turned out 27,272 of the trio, led by the completion of 13,351 Dodge Calibers. It’s the highest total since the company eliminated a third shift in early March.

Electric cars plug in to Washington

Industry pushes for federal incentives

By Stephanie I. Cohen

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - Get your sockets ready -- plug-in electric cars are coming soon to a garage near you, according to car makers and power company officials who met in the nation's capitol last week to discuss the technology's future.

Soaring gasoline prices and America's appetite for Toyota's Prius hybrid have prompted growing interest in putting a fleet of electric-powered vehicles on the nation's roadways.
Backers point out that electricity is significantly cheaper than oil right now and that a surge in electric-powered cars could reduce national oil consumption by millions of barrels a day while curbing tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.

"GM firmly believes the long-term future involves a march" toward electric-powered vehicles, said Troy Clarke, president of General Motors-North America

But the "bottom line question," in determining whether electric cars make real headway is a policy one, namely what will Washington do to help make plug-ins a reality, according to industry executives.

A major federal commitment to advance the development of the battery technology that will power these cars is needed for plug-ins to take off, say analysts and industry representatives. The first generation of plug-in hybrids is expected to rely on lithium ion batteries.

Plug-ins will not become commercially viable in the near term "without support from Washington," Mark Fields, president of Ford-North America said at last week's conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution and The conference pulled together lawmakers, auto makers, battery makers, and environmental advocates.

For auto makers 2010 has become the goal for getting plug-in hybrid vehicles into consumers' hands. General Motors said recently it plans to have its plug-in model -- the Volt -- for sale by the end of 2010. just announced plans to start making lithium-ion batteries in 2009 with the goal of hitting commercial production in 2010. Ford has partnered with the California utility Southern California Edison to bring plug-in hybrids to the market and is road testing an Escape plug-in hybrid model.

"We are going to see an explosion of plug-in hybrid cars between 2010 and 2012," said Felix Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can get more than 100 miles per gallon.

Bold incentives
U.S. executives have a long list of incentives and programs they say are pivotal to bringing electric-powered cars to the U.S. market including funding the development of battery technology, tax breaks for consumers that purchase plug-in cars, helping American automakers retool existing manufacturing plants for the production of plug-in vehicles, a cap on carbon emissions, a federal battery guarantee program and the purchase of electric vehicles for government fleets.

But the biggest funding boost is needed in the development of batteries. Battery suppliers will need to develop a robust battery that can last 150,000 miles or at least 10 years, said Mary Ann Wright, chief executive officer of Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions.

"Bold and dramatic incentives" are specifically needed for the development of high-power batteries, which today are largely being developed in Asia, Fields said. "We must ensure that we have a domestic battery supply." Ford is looking for a "substantial government partnership" if America is to take the lead, Fields said.

The other hope is that an aggressive domestic push into battery development could boost American manufacturing and the auto industry.

But the excitement generated by fans of plug-in vehicles must also be tempered by certain realities. U.S. car makers are talking up plug-in cars years before they arrive on dealer lots in the hopes of generating early interest among consumers. Battery makers have plenty of issues to work out before the technology is consumer ready. The first batch of plug-ins are aiming to go 40 miles without recharging -- a modest but practical one, considering most Americans travel less than 40 miles a day.

"Cars are not iphones," they are complicated vehicles, said Mark Duvall, Program Manager for Electric Transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute. General Motors' Clark described the intricacies of developing not just batteries but redesigning an entire car to be compatible with plug-in technology. He described efforts to build a radio for plug-ins that won't eat up energy and reduce the miles the car can travel on a single charge.

The power grid will also need work to sustain the additional demand for electricity plug-ins will generate. The utility sector isn't ready for every American to start pulling power off the grid to recharge their cars, said Peter Darbee, chief executive officer of California-based power company PSEG. But the utility is already investing billions of dollars in its power grid "which will enable plug-in hybrid vehicles," he added.

Efforts to get the grid ready will take between five and 10 years, Darbee predicted. In the meantime, Darbee thinks tax credits and federal mandates for utilities to produce a portion of their generation from renewable energy sources will help advance plug-ins.

Shifting Washington's focus
Washington's energy portfolio has largely been focused on hydrogen and ethanol production in recent years, with little attention going to batteries and electric vehicles.

"We were all hydrogen, all the time," said Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy. But Karsner said he sees a preference starting to move towards electron-based technology due to the potential to scale up production and store electricity.

"I inherited a budget with almost zero for plug-ins. Now it is up to $100 million," said Karsner. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 created some initial incentives for plug-in cars, such as a loan guarantee program for advanced battery development, grant programs for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and incentives for purchasing heavy-duty hybrid vehicles. But most of these programs are dependent on rulemaking and appropriations.

Enthusiasm seems to be building within Washington. "I don't have to tell you how sexy the Volt is," Karsner said. "The Japanese and Chinese never could have put out something like that."

Last Thursday the Department of Energy announced it would give $30 million over the next three years to help fund plug-in projects undertaken by Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said he hopes Congress can pass legislation next year to help move development of electric cars along

Chrysler suing Magna over costs for minivan recall

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC is suing Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc (MGa.TO) to recoup money it spent on a recall involving defective heated seats in minivans.

Chrysler filed the lawsuit in Oakland County court in Michigan, near Chrysler's headquarters, in February after exhausting all other option available "in the normal course of business," Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese said on Tuesday.

He declined to reveal the amount Chrysler is seeking from Magna, but said it was a "significant amount."

A lawyer for Magna did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Chrysler recalled 161,500 1999-2001 model-year Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans in 2005 because of defective heated seats made by Magna.

Yahoo!, Fiat and Chrysler LLC Win EU Vibrant Awards for In-Text and Contextual Video Advertising

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Vibrant Media, the world leader in video and contextual advertising, presented its first Vibrant Awards last night in London, recognising the creative and strategic use of in-text and contextual video advertising.

These awards reflect the growing influence of in-text on the advertising landscape as a whole. Says Craig Gooding, CCO and Co-founder, Vibrant Media, We have seen the industry embrace in-text advertising since our inception in 2000 and today Vibrant works with the worlds leading brand advertisers who are reaching more than 120 million users worldwide. The Vibrant Awards is designed to inspire excellence and we want to thank the winners for delivering some of the smartest, most impactful and creative executions of in-text and contextual video advertising across Europe.

Hundreds of campaigns from around the world were considered and evaluated based on creativity, word selection and the campaigns ability to effectively communicate the brand message/meet campaign objectives. European finalists included:

Adidas: End2End project

Karstadt: Jubel

BP: Race for Champions

Lloyds TSB: Premier Loans

Chrysler LLC: Sebring Launch

Microsoft : Windows Mobile

Coke: Grand Theft Auto Give a little Love

Nike: Football T90

Corel: Fortunately

Nintendo: Super Paper Mario

Diageo: Pimms

Nissan: Urban Proof

Fiat: Fiat 500

Paramount Pictures: The Kite Runner

Ford: Kuga

Sky: Lost Series 4

Fortis: Business leader

Tourism Ireland: Visit Ireland

HP: The Computer is Personal

Unilever: Axe Shock deodorant

IBM UK: Wimbledon

xBox: Fun for all

Intel: Intel Centrium Processors

Yahoo!: Yahoo! Answers

The distinguished panel of industry judges consisted of:

  • Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB UK
  • Peter Bale, Executive Producer, Microsoft
  • Dr. Jochen Kalka, Editor-in-Chief, W&V
  • Susan Kingston, Business Director International, Neo@Ogilvy
  • Rich Sutcliffe, Digital Editor, Media Week
  • Richard Townsend, Managing Partner, Circus Street
  • Rob Watt, Media Director, Avenue A / Razorfish

Three awards were presented.

Gold Award:

First Place (Gold) was awarded to Yahoo! Answers (Carat Digital, UK). The campaign creative was custom built for in-text and designed to intelligently align the Yahoo! Answers database of real user questions with relevant words within online web content. Each creative was pre-populated with actual questions asked by Yahoo!s users. For example the word pasta would trigger the question how do you cook pasta?. This unit would drive users to real-time answers related to cooking pasta and the opportunity to post their own responses. This campaign ran across 12 different sectors and achieved an outstanding average CTR.

Silver Award:

Second Place (Silver) went to Fiat (Isobar, France) for their 2008 Fiat 500 campaign. Fiat used words such as compact, chic and fun to deliver creative that featured objects commonly identified with these words. These objects created a personality for the compact car and the relevant product and emotional words helped to raise awareness amongst their two target audiences of core targets and early adopters. The average CTR for the campaign was excellent.

Judges Choice Award:

Finally, the Judges Choice Award (Blue), is a special honour awarded to Chrysler France (Mediaedge:cia / Proximity BBDO, France) for its innovative and creative Chrysler Sebring launch in France. Creative agency ProximityBBDO France created five videos clips specifically for in-text that focused on daily situations (e.g. cooking dinner, asleep in bed, doing exercise). The creative maximised the intimacy of the internet with a comic video clip. As the user moved their mouse over relevant words within web content they would trigger an ad that would show a man who had been interrupted during his daily routines. The clips were shown relative to the time of day so if the user moused over in the morning they would see him being woken up or in the evening they would see him cooking dinner. The annoyed man would play an active role, directing users on how to use the unit to click for photos, car information, their local dealer or to request a brochure on the new Chrysler Sebring.

Vibrant will be hosting its US inaugural Vibrant Awards on 12th June in New York.

DODGE versus NISSAN: There is simply too much competition in the sector. NNA's clever thinking is to have Chrysler rebody its 2012 Dodge Ram thus, at a stroke, solving a problem for both firms. In return, Dodge gets a rebodied Nissan Versa just in time to effectively replace the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Chrysler LLC Prices New Hybrids Thousands Below Competition

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 17 /PRNewswire/ --

-- Chrysler and Dodge SUVs boast 40 percent fuel economy improvement in

-- 25 percent overall fuel economy improvement

-- Customers to save hundreds of gallons of gas per year

-- Full-size SUVs deliver rare blend of fuel economy, utility, capability
and performance

-- 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid starts at $45,340

-- 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid starts at $45,570

-- Customers to receive estimated tax credit of $1,800

As Chrysler LLC goes green, customers will save some "green."
Chrysler announced today that it is pricing its full-size 4x4 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) hybrid electric vehicles nearly $8,000 below the competition.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI(R) Hybrid is $45,340, including $800 for destination. The MSRP for the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid is $45,570, including $800 for destination. Additionally, customers are expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.
"The new 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid deliver fuel economy up to 20 miles per gallon - a 40 percent improvement in the city and 25 percent overall - best-in-class cargo room, and are priced nearly $8,000 below the competition," said Deborah Meyer, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer - Chrysler LLC. "Offering the unique combination of value, fuel economy, performance and capability, Chrysler's hybrid vehicles deliver exactly what SUV owners are demanding in today's marketplace."
The 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid vehicles are Chrysler's first entries in the hybrid market.
Capable of towing 6,000 lbs., the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid vehicles deliver seamless, dependable power and performance on demand, in an efficient package. With an electrically variable transmission - featuring the best characteristics of an automatic transmission and hybrid drive - and two different hybrid modes of operation, the drive system dramatically improves fuel economy around town and at highway speeds.
The 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid and Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid are coupled with Chrysler's renowned 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine. Total output, when combined with the advanced two-mode hybrid system, is 385 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. In hybrid form, the HEMI continues to feature Chrysler's fuel-saving MDS technology, which allows the engine to seamlessly alternate between four-cylinder mode when less power is needed and V-8 mode when more power is in demand. The two-mode system provides assistance from electric motors, allowing the HEMI V-8 to remain in four-cylinder mode more often than without a hybrid powertrain, improving overall fuel economy.
The result: In typical use, Chrysler expects customers will reduce fuel consumption by several hundred gallons of gas per year.
Built at the Newark Assembly Plant in Delaware, the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid and Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid vehicles arrive in showrooms this August.
2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid
Chrysler Aspen is a premium SUV that offers elegant styling, premium amenities and innovative engineering with the room and capability of a sport-utility vehicle. Bigger than its full-size SUV competitors, yet smaller than large SUV competitors, Chrysler Aspen offers unique benefits as a luxury SUV in a class all its own.
Chrysler Aspen exudes styling elegance with clean, angular front and rear fenders, rear doors and rear-quarter panels creating a seamless profile. Individual chromed "Chrysler" lettering adorns the bodyside on each of the front doors. Premium touches also include chromed accents on body-side moldings, door handles and side mirrors, as well as 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. Chrysler Aspen's broad, chromed grille is crowned by a sculpted hood, a signature of Chrysler vehicles.
Standard interior appointments include wood-accented door panels and instrument-panel center stack, air conditioning, overhead console with HomeLink(R) Universal Transceiver and Electronic Vehicle Information Center, front and rear LED lamps that may be individually aimed, uconnect gps, floor console with rear power accessory outlet, and a 60/40 third-row bench seat.
Standard equipment also includes premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, eight-way power driver's seat with memory, four-way power passenger seat, heated front-row seats, and a second-row bench seat, providing seating for eight.
Chrysler Aspen rides on a torsionally stiff, hydroformed frame with an independent torsion-bar front suspension setup featuring rack-and-pinion steering that helps provide a smooth and quiet ride and precise handling. An isolated torsion bar crossmember helps minimize road noise. Suspension and steering are tuned to deliver optimum comfort and driveability.
In the rear is a unique suspension setup with coil springs and a solid rear axle that delivers durability and strength. A Watt's linkage system is fitted to the rear axle, centering the axle and reducing rear-end skate over rough surfaces.
Standard safety features include Chrysler's exclusive Trailer Sway Control, Electronic Stability Program, Anti-lock Brake System and next-generation front air bags, ParkSense(R) Rear Park Assist System, ParkView(TM) Rear Back-up Camera System, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and three-row side-curtain air bags with roll sensing.
2009 Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid Dodge
Durango offers style, comfort, convenience and superior versatility in a real SUV, with three rows of seating and room for eight.
The Dodge Durango's styling is enhanced with a high beltline emphasizing its bold appearance, while short front and rear overhangs contribute to the vehicle's expression of concentrated power. Crisp angles and chiseled surfaces highlight a strong and confident front-end design. Dodge Durango's signature crosshair grille stands out prominently, flanked by rectangular headlamps with dual-halogen bulbs wrapped around the corners of the fenders. The rear design of the Dodge Durango is marked by "afterburner" taillamps, and a chromed applique accentuating the rear liftgate.
Standard interior appointments include premium two-tone door panels and satin silver finish instrument-panel center stack, air conditioning, overhead console with HomeLink(R) Universal Transceiver and Electronic Vehicle Information Center, front and rear LED lamps that may be individually aimed, uconnect gps, and a floor console with rear power accessory outlet.
Standard equipment also includes premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, eight-way power driver's seat with memory, four-way power passenger seat, heated front-row seats, a second-row bench seat and a 60/40 third-row bench seat, providing seating for eight.
Dodge Durango rides on a torsionally stiff, fully hydroformed frame with an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, providing a turning radius of 37.5 ft. - shorter than a Honda Pilot. Suspension and steering are finely tuned to deliver superior ride and precise steering. Dodge Durango's rear suspension features coil springs and a solid rear axle secured with a Watt's linkage system, resulting in refined ride and handling characteristics.
Advanced safety and security features include standard Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Program with Electronic Roll Mitigation and Trailer Sway Control, side-curtain air bags for all three rows, ParkSense(R) Rear Park Assist System, Tire Pressure Monitoring system, Sentry Key(R) engine immobilizer, and ParkView(TM) Rear Back-up Camera System.

This Day in Auto History:

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly

William C. Durant marries Clara Pitt in Flint, MI
The Automobile Company of America is formed in Bridgeport, CT by John Brisben Walker, Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, and asphalt paving magnate Amzi Lorenzo Barber to produce the Locomobile steam car based on designs purchased from F. E. and F. O. Stanley
The Brooklands motor course opens in Weybridge, England
Enzo Ferrari records his first racing victory, winning a 166-mile event at the Circuito del Savio near Ravenna, Italy in an Alfa Romeo RL TF – it was at this race that Ferrari met the Count and Countess Baracca who suggested that he use the prancing horse emblem of their son, a World War I pilot, a logo that would grace all Ferrari cars in later years
The Cord Corporation is organized in Chicago, IL with E. L. Cord as President, Lucius B. Manning as Vice President, Raymond S. Pruitt as Secretary, and Hayden Hodges as Treasurer

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

Big 3 to increase exports to China

Deal OK'd ahead of trade talks lets GM, Ford, Chrysler ship $2.2B in parts, vehicles.

Sharon Terlep / The Detroit News

Detroit's Big Three automakers will ship $2.2 billion in vehicles and parts -- most made in the United States -- under agreements signed Monday between the companies and the Chinese government.

The deals, which mark some of the largest trade agreements to date between U.S. automakers and China, come ahead of two days of talks to resolve longstanding trade disputes between the nations.

General Motors Corp. will export $1 billion in U.S.-built vehicles and parts, mostly Cadillacs, to its Chinese partner, Shanghai General Motors, over the next two years. GM spokesman Greg Martin said the company was negotiating how many vehicles would be exported to China under the agreement.

Chrysler LLC plans to ship more than $400 million in Jeep brand SUVs, most of which are built in the United States, by 2009, said spokesman Dave Elshoff.

Ford Motor Co.'s deal calls for sending 30,000 U.S.- and Canadian-built vehicles to China as part of an $800 million agreement. Michigan-made transmissions are part of the pact.

"This historic export agreement with China is another step in our commitment to accelerate the development of new products that customers want and value and leverage Ford's global assets," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement.

The trade moves come as each of the Big Three angle for a larger share of China's fast-growing auto market, a mission that has increased in urgency as the companies lose ground in North America to foreign-based rivals.

Detroit's automakers have been sending vehicles to China for years, but not to this extent.

GM's China operations have imported about $4.2 billion worth of vehicles, components, equipment and machinery from North America over the past 11 years.

GM's most recent deal comes in addition to an agreement struck last year to export to China 5,000 Buick Enclaves, worth about $800 million, over four years.

All of the vehicles exported would be sold in China, Martin said.

Ford noted it first exported vehicles to China in 1913.

The Dearborn automaker called the agreement struck Monday one of the company's largest export agreements.

Under the pact, Ford will send 30,000 vehicles to China starting in 2009. The company this year will begin supplying transmission components and parts to its passenger car joint venture in China, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd.

Top U.S. and Chinese officials are working this week to resolve investment disputes between the countries and to make way for international investments from both sides.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan will discuss the imbalance in trade between China and the United States among other issues beginning today during talks at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

The U.S. trade deficit with China soared to a record $256.2 billion in 2007.

"It is clear that our strategy for robust engagement with China ... is more productive than protectionist policies or legislation," Paulson said on Monday.

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Carl Levin, D-Detroit, along with a group of nine other senators, including Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, sent a letter to Paulson urging him "to push the Chinese government to stop manipulating its currency."

The currency valuation has forced "American companies to declare bankruptcy or even go out of business, harming our workers, families, and middle class," the letter said. "This is about taking a stand for American businesses, American workers and American jobs."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Four Chrysler LLC Plants Award $10,000 in Scholarships to Kokomo Students

KOKOMO, Ind., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Indiana Transmission Plants I and II (Kokomo, Ind.); Kokomo (Ind.) Casting Plant and Kokomo (Ind.) Transmission Plant have awarded a total of $10,000 in scholarships on behalf of The Chrysler Foundation to Kokomo-area students for the 2008-2009 calendar school year. Ten students each received $1,000 and individually monogrammed backpacks to help support their pursuit of technical educational courses in post-secondary education at two- and four-year colleges, universities or vocational/technical institutions.
"It is important to give back to the youth of our community," Brian Glowiak, Vice President - The Chrysler Foundation, said. "Helping these students achieve their educational goals will benefit them as well as the surrounding community and workforce in the future."
In 2006, The Chrysler Foundation established the Chrysler Scholarship Fund for Technical Training with the Kokomo/Howard County Development Corporation. Both organizations selected the winning students and the recipients were recently honored at a reception at Indiana Transmission Plant I.
The scholarship fund targets high school seniors and graduates who are under 21, living in Kokomo and pursuing careers in technical or vocational fields such as engineering, manufacturing, computer science or skilled trades.
This year there are four renewed scholarships and six newly awarded scholarships. Among the 10 scholarships presented, two are dedicated awards: The Kokomo Chapter of Chrysler African American Network (CAAN) scholarship is provided to a qualified minority candidate; and the Brett Maggert award is named in memory of the Kokomo Transmission Plant electrician who lost his life at work in 2006.

Scholarship recipients include:

-- Jacob Chalk - Northwestern High School (2008) and "Brett Maggert" award

-- Daniel Kelley - The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and
Humanities (2008)

-- Dustin Merrell - Northwestern High School (2008)

-- Shayne Riley - Northwestern High School (2008)

-- Ian Smith - Western High School (2008)

-- Joseph Williams - Northwestern High School (2008)

-- Thomas Kelley - Western High School, currently attending Rose-Hulman
Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

-- Todd Powell - Northwestern High School, currently attending University
of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio

-- Simonne Gaskin - Kokomo High School and CAAN selection recipient,
currently attending Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky.

-- Stephen Sehr - Kokomo High School, currently attending Purdue
University in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Indiana Transmission Plant I produces transmissions for the Jeep(R) Grand Cherokee, Dodge Dakota and Durango, as well as the Dodge Ram Trucks and Jeep Liberty, Cummins Diesel and Heavy Duty, vehicles.

Chrysler LLC Patent Updates

1 7,382,102 Full-Text Heating of batteries using reactive power
2 7,381,084 Full-Text Connector position assurance arrangement
3 7,380,827 Full-Text Steering column/airbag tunable impact absorption system
4 7,380,800 Full-Text Method and system for controlling a dual mode vehicle suspension system
5 7,377,571 Full-Text Collapsible seat mechanism with integrated subfloor
6 7,373,930 Full-Text Multi-port check-valve for an evaporative fuel emissions system in a turbocharged vehicle
7 D568,792 Full-Text Automobile body
8 D568,211 Full-Text Automobile body
9 7,367,589 Full-Text Collapsible steering assembly with a stationary reaction surface
10 D567,410 Full-Text Vehicle tail lamp
11 D567,409 Full-Text Vehicle headlamp
12 7,363,250 Full-Text Market center based purchasing system and method
13 7,363,131 Full-Text Re-positionable vehicle control-by-wire assembly, method, and system
14 7,361,092 Full-Text Balance assembly for coupling first and second rotating members
15 7,360,512 Full-Text Low-thermal-inertia intake ports for port-injected, spark ignition engines and an associated manufacturing method

Chrysler LLC Trademarks Update

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Check Status Live/Dead
1 78713633
2 78971401
3 78938650
4 78768427
5 78607239
6 78972570
7 78866661
8 78764206

Chrysler 'Cuda Convertible Concept at Cars & Coffee

Chrysler 'Cuda Convertible Concept

Maybe the 'Cuda is alive after all. While we have speculated about the existence of one ever since we first heard a hint of the SEMA show car from last year, all we've had to work with since are rumors and sketches of what might be. Well, today at the weekly Cars and Coffee show in Irvine, a genuine 'Cuda Concept was parked right in the midst of everything. A convertible nonetheless. It just sat there with only a few people really spotting it for what it was. Considering that real original '70s 'Cudas are plentiful at this show and that several Challenger SRT-8s have already made appearances, it doesn't seem surprising that people might not spot this concept immediately. The surprising part is that it is painted purple with a white convertible top that can't be ignored no matter how hard you try. While the car sported no badges, it wore a mock "NEWCUDA" Colorado plate and had a seemingly stock Challenger-like interior, complete with a Hurst pistol-grip shifter for the automatic trans. While many of the details emulate the 70-74 cars, the bulk says Challenger. Particularly fun is the grill and headlight setup and the Shaker hood scoop. Very nicely done. The only badge we spotted was a big G on the front fenders, the mark of Metalcrafter's Gaffoglio boys. Looks like we have a SEMA '08 preview on our hands.

This Day in Auto History:

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly

Leonidas Theodore Barrow of the Humble Oil and Refining Company is born in Manor, TX
Race promoter Joshua James “J.C.” Agajanian is born
Walter E. Flanders dies at age 52 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident three weeks earlier
The Long Island Motor Parkway Company dissolves after 31-years and deeds its pioneering toll highway to the public
Henry Ford II announces that the 1948 Ford will be as different from the 1947 as the Model A was from the Model T

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

Chrysler's Nissan car likely will be a Dodge Hornet


The Hornet concept car debuted at the 2006 Geneva auto show

The Dodge Hornet concept car, which caused a buzz at the 2006 Geneva auto show, is likely to go into production next year and will be built for Chrysler LLC by Nissan Motor Co., sources say.

"We are working intensely on the Hornet study," Thomas Hausch, Chrysler vice president of international sales, said in a story last week in the Financial Times Deutschland. "I think we will announce something on this in the future."

Industry sources familiar with Chrysler's plans say the Hornet will be the first fruit from the cooperation between Chrysler and Nissan.

In January, the two companies jointly announced that Nissan will begin building a car for Chrysler at its Oppama, Japan, factory in 2009 for the 2010 model year. The car will be based on the Nissan Versa subcompact.

The Hornet concept was a three-door hatchback with more than a passing resemblance to the Mini Cooper. Industry sources familiar with Chrysler's plans say the Hornet will likely be an upscale small car designed to compete against the Mini.

Chrysler also plans other small cars, to be built in China with Chery Automobile Co. and aimed at budget buyers. Chrysler has set no production date for those cars and is continuing development work with Chery.

Hot seat: Chrysler v. Magna

Automaker blames supplier for seat warmers that overheat

DETROIT — Chrysler LLC is suing Magna International Inc. for millions of dollars to cover mounting costs of injuries and recalls involving heated seats in Chrysler minivans.

Chrysler blames North America's largest parts supplier for a technical flaw in the heated seats that can cause serious burns — especially to paraplegics, who cannot feel their seats overheating. Magna denied the allegations in court filings.

Chrysler sued Magna in Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan over who will pick up the multimillion-dollar tab for faulty seat warmers that were the subject of two recalls in 2005. Affected minivans are the 1999 and 2000 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.

In addition, Chrysler faces lawsuits over seat heater problems on 2003 and 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Chrysler voluntarily recalled those seats but denied they represented a safety problem. Johnson Controls Inc. supplied the seats on the Grand Cherokees.

Neither Chrysler nor Johnson Controls would say whether there is litigation between them over the recalls.


In an April 8, 2004, letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DaimlerChrysler said it had received 221 customer complaints about minivan seats overheating. Of those complaints, 26 were allegations of minor injuries and 33 were alleged fires. Five complaints resulted in lawsuits.

The letter said none of the complainants sought medical attention. "Based upon the follow-up interviews, lack of treatment sought and the customer narratives, the majority of the reports classified as 'alleged injury' for this report are referring to only a burning feeling or sensation," the letter said.

Chrysler spokesman Michael Palese says Chrysler had only one reported case of injuries caused by the defective minivan seats. But four law firms handling cases across the United States identified more than a dozen against Chrysler alleging injuries involving minivans and Grand Cherokees.

The overall costs of the mounting lawsuits are unknown. Some have been settled before going to trial.

Chrysler's lawsuit contends that Magna, of Aurora, Ontario, has denied responsibility for the recalls and has disputed any obligation to reimburse Chrysler for costs incurred in remedying the allegedly defective heated seat assemblies.

"We're not a charity," says Chrysler spokesman Palese. "If we deserve compensation or consideration, we will pursue it."

Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst declined to comment. Last year, Magna derived $3.33 billion, or 13 percent, of its $25.65 billion in sales from Chrysler.

Palese declined to put a price tag on Chrysler's costs. The automaker's lawsuit says it has spent "millions of dollars replacing the defective heated seat assemblies" on its 1999 and 2000 minivans.

In February 2005, Chrysler recalled 110,000 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans. It replaced the front-seat heater elements, modules and related wiring that had been designed, manufactured and supplied by Magna. In November 2005, Chrysler recalled an additional 51,500 minivans.

Hot spots

In the lawsuit, Chrysler claims that the heated seat assemblies — supplied by Norwegian supplier Kongsberg Automotive Inc. to Magna — developed small burn-through patterns and localized hot spots. Chrysler has not sued Kongsberg, a spokesman for the Norwegian supplier said.

The seat heating element resembles a miniature electric blanket filled with wires surrounded by seat padding.

Chrysler's lawsuit against Magna, filed Feb. 27, says the root cause of the defects was wiring problems and/or solder failure. Doug Wheeler, an engineer with Kongsberg, declined comment.

In the instance of the Grand Cherokee seats, DaimlerChrysler said in June 2006 that it would recall nearly 111,700 Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 2003 and 2004 because seats could overheat and cause fires.

The First Supercharged Challenger SRT8 Hits The Dyno


It looks like Speedfactory gets the golf clap for building the first supercharged Challenger SRT8. With owners around the country taking delivery of their 2008 Challengers Speedfactory was among the first and they have been hard at work adding the Vortech Supercharger. According to the dyno sheet which can be seen after the jump the Challenger SRT8 puts down 495 horses at the rear wheels with Speedfactory claiming the Challenger is making around 600 horsepower at the crank. These are definately some amazing numbers and I expect with better tuning the Challenger will produce even more horsepower in the future.

Dyno Sheet and High-res pic of the engine bay after the jump…


Chrysler raises prices by 2 percent on 2008 models

Chrysler has told its dealers that it will raise prices by 2 percent for most of the remaining 2008 models. The price increase, which will start today, will be carried over to the 2009 models. According to executives, the price increase comes from the rise in prices for commodities such as steel.

“The average 2 percent increase brings total model year price increases in line with key competitors,” said Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr. “It does not affect vehicles already in dealer inventory. Incentives would not be changed.”

Schorr said that at the beginning of the 2008 model year, Chrysler put an average increase of $1,200 worth of content per vehicle without raising prices.

“All manufacturers including us have taken small incremental price increases after the launch of the model year,” he added. “The cumulative impact is that with our increase we are bringing the total model year increase in line with our key competitors.”

Hughes Telematics to Combine with Polaris Acquisition Corp. in an All-Stock Deal Valued at Approximately $700 Million

  • Combined Company at Forefront of the Expanding Telematics Industry
  • Apollo and Management to Maintain Stake, Agrees to Two-Year Lock-up
  • Access to Public Markets Expected to Accelerate Expansion Opportunities

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hughes Telematics, Inc., a leader in the high growth telematics industry, and Polaris Acquisition Corp., a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (Polaris) (AMEX: TKP.U), have signed a definitive merger agreement in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $700 million. The transaction provides Polaris investors with a unique opportunity to participate in a rapidly growing technology and services company that is poised for strong recurring revenues and earnings.

The transaction provides Hughes Telematics with access to added resources, including an additional $140 million in capital to fund the companys growth opportunities. This capital is in addition to the approximately $90 million invested to date by an affiliate of Apollo Management L.P. (Apollo). Apollo, which will maintain its current stake in Hughes Telematics, has agreed, along with management and other Hughes Telematics shareholders, to a two-year lock-up and will continue to play an important role in guiding the Companys management team. In addition, the founders of Polaris have a 1 year lockup in a further showing of confidence in this transaction. Hughes Telematics has established its leadership position through long-term contracts with Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz USA, both of which are expected to begin implementing the Hughes Telematics solution in the second half of 2009 with the solution expected to be standard in nearly all of their U.S. production by 2012.

Hughes Telematics Positioned at the Forefront of a Rapidly Growing Industry

Hughes Telematics is one of the leaders in automotive telematics, a fast-growing technology enabled services industry that is expected to reach $30 billion in annual revenue within a decade. Automotive telematics is a set of systems that leverage and integrate Global Positioning Systems, on and off board computers, and other communications technologies, the functionality and combination of which radically transform the driving experience by remotely connecting drivers, passengers, auto manufacturers, dealers and other vested third parties with a wide range of safety, service, information and entertainment options.

Every day over 650 million people worldwide spend a significant amount of time in their vehicles. Automakers are contracting with Hughes Telematics to create user-friendly computerized dashboard displays and implement advanced, contextual voice recognition systems, through which drivers will be able to control personal devices such as MP3 players, download content, read, receive and respond via voice to e-mail, navigate in real time to connect with valuable points of interest, and much more.

Hughes Telematics is making the possibility of a truly connected car a reality, said Jeff Leddy, CEO of Hughes Telematics. Because of our unique systems and innovative technology, our product and service offerings are gaining significant interest in the automotive industry. We have been recognized throughout the industry for developing what we believe to be the best, most flexible approach to telematics. As the industry evolves, we are committed to continually innovating ways to add daily value for drivers using our telematics system. Drivers, fleet managers, auto manufacturers, dealers and other third parties will all benefit from being connected real time to the vehicle. Over the next decade, tens of millions of new vehicles are expected to come equipped with a telematics offering and since Hughes Telematics offers a seamless, all-encompassing telematics solution, we are excited about our prospects of gaining additional and significant market traction.

Hughes Telematics was recently awarded the Best Embedded Telematics Service at the awards program for the 8th Annual Telematics Detroit 2008 Conference & Exhibition, the world's largest and most prestigious telematics conference.

U.S. consumer adoption of telematics services is expected to almost double from 16.2 million users in 2009 to 30.6 million in 2011, according to Visant Strategies, a marketing research firm that focuses on emerging and wireless technologies.

Most drivers spend multiple hours each day in their cars and we know that they want information, convenience, and the ability to stay connected to their families and their office. They also want features and services which ensure their safety and security. Our products and services are being designed to provide all of these solutions, seamlessly, cost effectively and in a user friendly way. This will be accomplished through a robust end-to-end solution, leveraging multiple innovations from the Hughes family of companies, Leddy said.

Mr. Leddy continued, Our long-term contracts with Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz USA clearly underscore the importance that telematics represents for auto manufacturers, particularly as increasing numbers of consumers demand more integrated and interactive safety, convenience, information and entertainment options in their vehicles. We believe that our OEM partnerships position us to generate strong free cash flow as subscription services ramp up commensurately with factory installs in several million vehicles in the coming years. Our team is also very focused on our continuing discussions with many other relevant auto manufacturers around the world, each of which is seeking innovative and differentiating solutions for their customers. We believe that a large majority of auto manufacturers are in the process of making strategic decisions about their telematics solutions and we are well positioned to grow our market share as these decisions come to maturity.

Transaction Cements Hughes Telematics Position; Offers Investors Compelling Growth Opportunities

Mr. Leddy added, This transaction expands our shareholder base beyond Apollo and provides Hughes Telematics with additional resources. With access to significant capital and the public markets, as well as the deep marketing experience of the Polaris management team, we have the resources in place to propel the company forward and further deepen our business among manufacturers, dealers and consumers. This transaction is a validation of our business model by sophisticated and seasoned investors from Polaris and Apollo, both of which have a tremendous amount of experience in uncovering high value investing opportunities.

Apollo is a leading private equity firm with a long track record of success in technology investments. Apollo has been an early and ongoing investor in Hughes Telematics, having invested approximately $90 million in capital to finance the product and technology solution development and deployment. Apollo will maintain its current stake in the company and continue to play an important role in guiding the Hughes Telematics management team.

Marc Byron, Chairman and CEO of Polaris stated We promised our investors that we would methodically and quickly identify a consumer facing services company with great growth prospects. In merging with Hughes Telematics, we believe that we delivered on our promise. First, we are merging with a company in a rapidly growing industry. At the same time, Hughes Telematics has long-term contracts already in place that we believe provide financial stability. We believe we are investing in Hughes Telematics at the inflection point of the Companys evolution, much of which is anticipated to come in the form of predictable, recurring revenues. Second, there are no selling shareholders in this transaction, validating our belief that the company is poised to create meaningful value going forward, especially as revenue and earnings scale with the installations expected in virtually all Mercedes and Chrysler vehicles in the U.S. in the coming few years. Third, the transaction merges the technology and engineering skills of the Hughes Telematics team with the marketing and customer retention skills of the Polaris team.

Byron added, The structure of the all-equity transaction, including an earn-out component for management, ensures that all parties are completely aligned and focused on the long-term success of the business.

Details of the Transaction

The transaction provides for a direct merger of Hughes Telematics and Polaris. Under the terms of the agreement, the shareholders of Hughes Telematics will receive approximately 45 million shares of Polaris common stock at the closing of the transaction, subject to certain adjustments, and they will be eligible to receive up to 29 million additional shares of Polaris common stock upon the achievement of certain stock price targets in the subsequent five years based on approximately 25% compounded annual growth in the Polaris stock price. Hughes shareholders are expected to initially own approximately 65% of the fully diluted equity of the combined company, and the Hughes Telematics management team, with significant experience in telematics, satellite radio, wireless, automotive and entrepreneurial initiatives, will continue to manage the company.

Stockholders of Hughes Telematics will further align their interests with the public stockholders of Polaris by agreeing not to transfer their shares of Polaris for two years. The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter 2009 pending Polaris stockholder approval, regulatory approval, and other customary closing conditions.

Lazard is serving as financial advisor to Polaris, and Pali Capital is serving as financial advisor to Hughes Telematics. Legal counsel to Polaris is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, while legal counsel to Hughes Telematics is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Duff & Phelps provided an opinion to the Polaris Board that the transaction was fair to Polaris from a financial point of view.

Additional information regarding the transaction as well as Hughes Telematics operations and historical financial information will be contained in an investor presentation to be made public and filed by Polaris with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

For more information on the transaction, visit

About Polaris Acquisition Corporation

Polaris Acquisition Corporation is a special purpose acquisition company formed for the purpose of acquiring a growing subscription-based business or assets. Polaris went public on January 17, 2008 and trades on the AMEX under the ticker TKP.U.

For more information, visit

About Hughes Telematics

Hughes Telematics is an Atlanta-based automotive technology solutions company that provides consumers with an extensive line of in-vehicle telematics. Hughes is majority owned by Apollo management, a leading private equity firm, which also manages various enterprises in the telecommunications sector including Hughes Network Systems, LLC, a service provider to Hughes Telematics. Hughes Telematics existing assets also include wholly-owned subsidiary Networkcar, Inc. The San Diego, CA based company is a leader in remote vehicle diagnostics, and offers an integrated GPS tracking and diagnostic monitoring system for wireless vehicle management.

For more information, visit

Conference Call

Hughes Telematics and Polaris Acquisition Corp. will host a conference call on Monday, June 16, 2008 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) to discuss the transaction. The call will be open to the public. All interested parties should dial (800) 370-0740 (within the U.S.) or (973) 935-8758 (outside the U.S.) 10 to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the call. The conference call ID is 51572193. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available by dialing (800) 642-1687 (within the U.S.) or (706) 645-9291 (outside the U.S.) approximately two hours after the event. The conference call ID is 51572193. Participants can also access the teleconference via webcast available at

This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expect,' "estimate," "project," "budget," "forecast," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "may," "will," "could," "should," "believes," "predicts," "potential," "continue," and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, Polaris' and Hughes Telematics' expectations with respect to future performance, anticipated financial impacts of the merger transaction and related transactions; approval of the merger transaction and related transactions by shareholders; the satisfaction of the closing conditions to the merger transaction and related transactions; and the timing of the completion of the merger transaction and related transactions.

These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the expected results. Most of these factors are outside our control and difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to, the possibility that the expected growth will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period, due to, among other things, (1) the telematics environment; (2) competitive actions taken by automotive manufacturers or other telematics firms; (3) general economic conditions; (4) actions taken or conditions imposed by the United States and foreign governments; and (5) the willingness of customers to use the services. Other factors include the possibility that the merger does not close, including due to the failure to receive required stockholder or regulatory approvals, or the failure of other closing conditions.

Polaris and Hughes Telematics caution that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. Additional information concerning these and other risk factors is contained in Polaris' most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements concerning Hughes Telematics, Polaris, the merger, the related transactions or other matters and attributable to Polaris or Hughes Telematics or any person acting on their behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements above. Hughes Telematics and Polaris do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, relating to the matters discussed in this news release.