Thursday, August 14, 2008
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:44 AM
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:39 AM
|Serial Number||Reg. Number||Word Mark||Check Status||Live/Dead|
|1||78790012|| ||DOBLA FACIL||TARR||DEAD|
|2||78907664|| ||GREAT RIVER ROAD||TARR||DEAD|
|3||78701075|| ||LIBERTY COUNTRY||TARR||LIVE|
|4||78852590|| ||FIRST VIP||TARR||DEAD|
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:39 AM
by Bryan Laviolette | The Flint Journal
Most car buyers believe they are simply buying transportation when they plunk down their hard-earned cash, but marketing experts will tell you the decision goes far deeper than that.
How It Rated
(1-5 stars, 5 being best)
• Performance ***
• Interior **
• Handling ***
• Styling ***
• Overall **
People have come to express who they are and what they want the world to think they are through their cars. A Mercedes driver is telling the world -- even if it's subconsciously -- that they are successful. A Toyota Prius screams, "Hey, I care about the Earth!"
But what about those drivers who own vehicles that reflect the lifestyle they only wish they lived?
Frankly, that's the case with most vehicles designed for going off-road, such as this 2008 Dodge Nitro.
The Nitro shares its bones with the Jeep Liberty, so there's no questioning its pedigree.
What it also has is "The Look." A lot of these rock hoppers -- think Toyota FJ Cruiser, Nissan Xterra and Hummer H3 -- feature hey-look-at-me styling.
The Nitro is no exception. Slathered in Electric Blue paint, the test vehicle attracted a lot of attention. One older couple we met at a garage sale were particularly smitten. The lady went so far as to go out and walk all the way around it.
• Good: Extroverted styling attracts attention, Load n' Go floor is a great idea.
• Bad: Chrysler desperately needs to improve its interiors to compete in the marketplace, uncomfortable seats, raucous engine makes unpleasant sounds.
• Bottom line: Check it out if your plans including leaving pavement or if you need more towing capacity than offered by the crossovers.
Attract attention or not, it still doesn't have the presence of some others in the category, in particular the FJ Cruiser which sort of looks like a cartoon version of an SUV. Like a lot of recent efforts, the Dodge stylists missed an opportunity to sell excitement with extroverted styling.
The Nitro also misses the mark under the hood.
This may seem like a unlikely time to introduce a new sport utility, but it starts to make sense when you realize what little it cost Chrysler to do it. By simply reskinning the Jeep Liberty, Dodge offers buyers a different look and Chrysler can keep the Toledo factory where the Liberty is built a bit busier.
It's a good plan, if only Dodge could deliver a great vehicle.
The Nitro comes standard with a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and a six-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is available with the 3.7. Opt for the R/T edition and you get a 260-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with a five-speed automatic.
The 3.7 in the test vehicle had sufficient power, but it was rather raucous under heavy acceleration. A boisterous engine would seem to fit with the Nitro's personality, but only if the engine made pleasant sounds. It doesn't. Instead, it sounds like a garbage disposal unit.
As would be expected in this sort of truck, the Nitro's ride is rather stiff. It's about on par with the FJ and H3, but much less comfortable than crossover sport utes that don't suggest off-road prowess.
Like most recent Chrysler products, the Nitro's interior is frustrating. Why is the cruise control switch in a $40,000 Chrysler Town & Country smooth, but same part in the less-expensive Nitro has burrs? It's the exact same piece.
The Nitro's seats were too narrow for our admittedly wide-of-beam backsides and proved uncomfortable on a three-hour trip Up North.
The basic structure of the interior also comes in for criticism. The base of the nearly upright windshield is very close to the steering wheel. All of the windows are narrow, leading to a closed-in feeling. Most of the vehicles in the rock hopper category have these short windows, but the others seem to have more spacious cabins.
Dodge has come out with several no-one-has-this features lately and the Nitro is no exception. The cool feature in the Nitro is the available Load n' Go floor in the storage area. The floor slides out over the bumper to make loading easier. It also makes a nice work surface. A latch locks the floor in place in multiple stops. There's even a little bit of storage underneath for things like jumper cables and a pair of gloves. Best of all, it's rated to carry 400 pounds in the outward position.
• Base price: $21,015
• Price as tested: $29,835
• Powertrain: four-wheel drive
• Engine: 3.7-liter V-6, four-speed automatic transmission
• Horsepower: 210
• Curb weight: 4,162
• MPG: 16 city, 22 highway
• Built: Toledo
The Nitro starts at $21,015, including destination, for a base rear-wheel-drive SXT. Part-time four-wheel drive starts adds $1,660. The SLT 4X4 tested here starts at $26,015. As tested, this Nitro priced out at $29,835.
There are plenty of better choices out there for most folks. The Ford Escape, Toyota RAV 4 and Saturn Vue ride better, have more room and perform every on-road task better. If you're not planning to go mucking in the mud with this vehicle and you don't need the extra towing capacity (Nitros can tow as much as 5,000 pounds while most crossovers are limited to 3,500 pounds), all of those would make a better choice.
Admittedly, they don't have The Look. Just buy some brush guards and mount some big driving lights to the bumper and call it good.
For years, a former boss of mine drove a bright red Jeep Wrangler, the undisputed king of off-road vehicles. One would think that anyone willing to put up with the Wrangler's obvious shortcomings -- uncomfortable ride, limited interior space, boomy highway manners -- would take the vehicle off road where it would be in its element.
He said that not once had he taken it off road.
That will be the same for most Nitro owners. But they will have The Look.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:35 AM
Business Weekly by: David Kiley
There is a rush for smaller vehicles with four-cylinder engines. And Chrysler should be racking up big gains.
Bt when you look at July sales, the Dodge Caliber was down 4%, and is off 20% on the year. The Jeep Patriot was up 4% and is selling well. And the Compass was down 46% in July and down 20% on the year.
Some of this is due to a decline in fleet sales, and it doesn’t take into account Chrysler’s exports of these cars to other markets. But the group is still under-performing trend in the U.S., especially if you consider the interest people supposedly have now in smaller vehicles with lots of utility like these.
Vice chairman Tom Lasorda says the cars have lagged for lack of marketing support. “You should talk to [vice chairman] Jim Press about that,” Lasorda said with a laugh at the Center for Auto Research Management Seminar in Traverse City, MI today. Press is in charge of sales and marketing at Chrysler whereas Lasorda, the former COO, is in charge of the manufacturing side of things and forging global joint ventures.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:35 AM
Chrysler recently introduced at the 14th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise the limited Edition 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser Series 5 model. The PT Cruiser series 5 comes in two fuel-efficient engines. The standard 2.4 liter, 16 valve engine which produces 150 horsepower and 165 lb. of torque and comes with a four speed automatic transmission and a 2.4 liter engine with a 180 horsepower engine which can produce 210 lb. of torque.
The 2009 Chrysler PT Dream Cruiser Series 5 model features new design elements such as a brilliant black crystal pearl painted roof and hoop spoiler. There's also a new cross-hatched, lower and uppoer solid billet aluminum grilles which is individually milled and machined. For those like me, who's never really into wordey description, here's some photos for you to peruse.
Chrysler set production for the PT Cruiser only at 1,750 units which will retail for $22,700. Can't wait for this baby to hit the used cars for sale market though I'm not getting my hopes up. Speaking of which, if you're looking to rate some cars, head on over to www.auto123.com and rate your car and you can win a free vacation.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 10:31 AM
Shutdown of St. Louis plant prompted actions
By TIM HIGGINS • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
“I am not just going to stand idle,” said UAW Local 110 President Joe Shields. “We’re an American car company, but they’re taking all of our work outside the company.”
Local 110 represents workers at the St. Louis minivan plant.
Jeff Hagler, president of UAW Local 412, encouraged his metro Detroit members to turn out to help support the protest.
“Local 110 is having some of the same problems that many us are having in other locals throughout the country,” Hagler wrote in an e-mail obtained by the Free Press. “Chrysler is outsourcing our work to many other countries including some of it going to third-world nations at the expense of our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. We MUST send a strong message that enough is enough. We at Local 412 have made it perfectly clear to the company that we KNOW that we can be a world-class workforce at a competitive cost.”
Mary Beth Halprin, a Chrysler spokeswoman, said the company worked with UAW organizers to ensure a safe demonstration.
“We understand their disappointment and concerns over the difficult decision to idle the St. Louis South Assembly Plant and reduce a shift at the St. Louis North Assembly Plant,” Halprin said in an e-mail.
”We are committed to treating those affected by the manufacturing actions in a socially responsible manner. Plus, efforts are under way to maximize available job openings for affected employees,” she added. “However, in order to support Chrysler’s long-term strategy to build a profitable enterprise, the actions taken were unavoidable and are a direct reflection of the current state” of the U.S. market.
The protest ended around noon.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:39 AM
BY TIM HIGGINS • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Chrysler LLC, approaching the first-year mark of going private last August, gave a rare look into its books Friday, saying the automaker generated $1.1 billion in cash over the first half of the year.
While it's not the same thing as revealing the private company's bottom line, the announcement is a positive sign at a time when many industry observers have been questioning the automaker's future.
"The strongest steel comes from the hottest fire, and while this is like dancing on the sun, we're actually making significant improvements in our business, and they're beginning to be apparent," said Jim Press, a Chrysler president and vice chairman.
Also Friday, Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli announced the return of a program that allows employees and retirees to share their employee discount price with anyone.
Those deals will be good until Sept. 30. Chrysler stopped allowing employees to share their employee-discount price with friends and extended family last January.
"As we mark this first anniversary, let's all focus on revenue, put our sales hats on and talk up our products to everyone we know and make a sale," Nardelli wrote in a message to workers.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:16 AM
DETROIT (Reuters) -- Chrysler LLC is in talks with Japan's Nissan Motor Co. about jointly producing mid-size cars, the Wall Street Journal said Thursday.
In April, Chrysler and Nissan agreed that Nissan would build a small car for Chrysler using the North American automaker's design and Chrysler would build a new full-sized pickup truck for the Japanese automaker using Nissan's plans.
Since then, the two companies have been discussing an agreement under which Nissan would produce midsize sedans that Chrysler would sell in the U.S. under its own name, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Chrysler has been in touch with Nissan and is evaluating whether it makes financial sense to partner with the company, the paper said.
"We continue to seek opportunities to work with Chrysler," said Nissan spokeswoman Pauline Kee.
Kee declined to confirm or deny the Journal report on midsize cars, while Chrysler did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Chrysler, the No. 3 U.S. automaker, is focusing its engineering resources on parts of the market where it is a strong player, mainly trucks, SUVs and minivans, the paper said, citing one person familiar with the company's strategy.
Chrysler has moved quickly since its acquisition by Cerberus Capital Management LP last summer to address an unfocused vehicle lineup and to answer customer complaints ranging from materials, interiors, noise and vibration.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:09 AM
By dr. donyell
The 2008 Chrysler Arts, Beats & Eats plays host to a hot line-up of national and local musical acts on Labor Day weekend, August 29 through September 1, 2008. The four-day Festival will be open from 4 p.m. 11 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. 8 p.m. on Labor Day Monday.
With more than 150 local bands and entertainers performing for crowds free of charge on six stages, and well-known acts taking to the Million Dollar Madness Stage, the 2008 musical line-up caters to festival attendees of all ages and musical tastes.
The Million Dollar Madness features high-profile, up-and-coming national acts as well as established international stars. Located again this year on Pontiac¹s Phoenix Plaza, the official list of confirmed
national acts includes headliners Blues Traveler, Rusted Root and Hard Lessons on Friday; Hunter Brucks, Marcel, Stephen Cochran, Billy Currington, Tim Bowman, and Boney James on Saturday; Leighton with special guest Steve Kostan, Beatlemania Live, Loverboy, Back in the Day Band and Chaka Khan on Sunday; and Critical Bill, Rev Theory and Puddle of Mudd on Monday.
Chrysler Arts, Beats & Eats will host nearly every musical style over the four-day weekend from country, Caribbean, Celtic, rockabilly, and rhythm & blues to gospel, swing, rock, funk, metal, jazz and reggae.
Performance schedule subject to change.
The full schedule for local artists is as follows:
Million Dollar Madness Stage
Friday, August 29
5 pm Harmonic Joe
6 pm Monkey Jacket
7 pm The Hard Lessons
8:30 pm Blues Traveler
10 pm Rusted Root
Saturday, August 30
4 pm Hunter Brucks
5 pm Marcel
6 pm Steve Cochran
7 pm Billy Currington
9 pm Tim Bowman
10 pm Boney James
Sunday, August 31
4 pm Leighton wsg Steve Kostan
5 pm Beatlemania Live
7 pm Loverboy
8:30 pm Back in the Day Band
10 pm Chaka Khan
Monday, September 1
2 pm Arts, Beats and Eats Best of the Beats
3 pm Avienne, winner of The Detroit News Battle of
3:30 pm Critical Bill
4:30 pm Rev Theory
6 pm Puddle of Mudd
Dodge Americana Stage
Friday, August 29
4 pm The Urban Nomads (rock)
5:30 pm The Random Family (pop)
7 pm The Tim Diaz Band (Americana)
8:30 pm Barbara Payton (rock)
10 pm The Twistin Tarantulas (rockabilly)
Saturday, August 30
10 am Longneck Strangler (country)
11 am Longneck Strangler (country)
12:30 pm Phil Treais (pop)
2 pm Domingo (Latin)
3:30 pm Billy King and the Idylls (country)
5 pm Redhill (country)
6:30 pm The Basiks (reggae)
8 pm Whitey Morgan & 78¹s (country)
9:30 pm Sunkwa (afro pop)
Sunday, August 31
10 am Cowboy Alan & The Steel Horse Band (country)
11 am Cowboy Alan & The Steel Horse Band (country)
12:30 pm TJ Kelly (country)
2 pm The Robin Horlock Band (Americana/rock)
3:30 pm Superdot (SKA)
5 pm Manna & Quail (melodic pop)
6:30 pm Back Forty (funk-grass/country)
8 pm The Marcy Levy Band (blues rock)
9:30 pm Impact 7 (Motown)
Monday, September 1
10 am Quincy Stewart (R&B)
11 am Cowboy Messiahs (melodic rock)
12:30 pm David Shelby (country)
2 pm Alyssa Simmons (pop)
3:30 pm Persuasion (R&B, country, Motown, rock)
5 pm Nadir Distorted Soul (funk)
6:30 pm The Orbitsuns (psychobilly/country)
Flagstar Bank Acoustic Stage
Friday, August 29
4 pm Hawks & Owls (Appalachian)
5:30 pm Jimmy Atto (Pop)
7 pm Matt Ratza (Americana)
8:30 pm The Mickeys (Celtic)
Saturday, August 30
11 am Rachnee (Folk Pop Rock)
12:30 pm Rude Dog (jam rock)
2 pm Chris Bategate (Indie Folk)
3:30 pm Frankie D¹ Angelo (Rock/Alternative)
5 pm Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
6:30 pm Brandon Calhoon (Rock/Alternative)
8 pm Mary McQuire (Folk Rock)
Sunday, August 31
11 am Dave Stoddard (pop)
12:30 pm Andru Bemis (Folk/Oldtime)
2 pm Jen Cass (Folk)
3:30 pm Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
5 pm Annie Capps (Folk)
6:30 pm Emily Rose (Folk)
8 pm The Harvestmen (Country Swing, Bluegrass)
Monday, September 1
11 am Julie Nager (Pop)
12:30 pm Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
2 pm Ian Thomas (Country Blues) from Virginia
3:30 pm Mo¹ Kauffey & Harmonica Buzz (Roots & Blues)
Miller Lite Rock Stage
Friday, August 29
4 pm Bear Lake (pop)
5:30 pm The Offramps (rock)
7 pm The Killer B¹s (classic rock)
8:30 pm Band B (rock)
10 pm The Howling Diablos (funk rock)
Saturday, August 30
11 am View (rock)
12:30 pm Shoe (rock)
2 pm Schaeffer (pop)
3:30 pm Liquid Motor Commission (rock)
5 pm Nuroksol (rock)
6:30 pm Monkey Jacket (rock)
8 pm Flophouse (funk rock)
9:30 pm The Universal Temple of Divine Power (rock)
Sunday August 31st
11 am Twin Pigs (classic rock)
12:30 pm Guitar Army (rock)
2 pm The Cult Heroes (Detroit rock)
3:30 pm Smokin¹ Moses (rock)
5 pm Broadzilla (rock)
6:30 pm StellarDrive (rock)
8 pm The Muggs (rock)
9:30 pm Rev RightTime (funk)
Monday, September 1
11 am Whack The Mole (classic rock)
12:30 pm The Ragbirds (global groove)
2 pm The Tom Butwin Band (rock)
3:30 pm Hotness (rock)
5 pm Jill Jack (country rock)
6:30 pm The Reefermen (classic rock)
Diet Pepsi R&B Stage
Friday, August 29
4 pm Pete ³Big Dog² Fetters (blues)
5:30 pm Darnell Kendricks (smooth soul)
7 pm Joey Spina (blues)
8:30 pm Pricilla Price (R&B)
10 pm The McKinney Zone (jazz)
Saturday, August 30
11 am Jesse Palter (jazz)
12:30 pm David Gerald & Insurrection (blues)
2 pm CEL (neo soul)
3:30 pm Moment Notice (R&B)
5 pm Thornetta Davis (blues)
6:30 pm The Fffellaz (jazz)
8 pm JStokes (R&B)
9:30 pm Tumbao Bravo! (Latin jazz)
Sunday, August 31
11 am Charlie Kemp Ensemble (Jazz)
12:30 pm Doc Holiday (neo soul)
2 pm Nite Flight (calypso jazz)
3:30 pm Rev. Marc Falconberry (blues)
5 pm Billie Holiday Review featuring Sky Covington
6:30 pm Midtown Underground (R&B)
8 pm Sky Covington (neo soul)
9:30 pm HotSauce (R&B)
Monday, September 1
11 am Paul Miles (acoustic blues)
12:30 pm Julie Nager (pop)
2 pm Pathe Jassi World Experience (Trinidad jazz)
3:30 pm The Chunky Funk Band (R&B)
5 pm Eric Tessmer (blues)
6:30 pm Laith Al-Saadi (blues)
Detroit News Stage
Friday, August 29
5 pm Sworn Rival
6 pm Stolen Liberty
7 pm Seven Story Fall
8 pm 11 pm Detroit Techno Militia (electronic, house, techno)
Saturday, August 30
Noon Cajun (country)
1:30 pm Cowboy Alan & The Steel Horse Band (country)
3 pm Whitey Morgan & The 78¹s (country)
4:30 pm Justine Blazer (country)
6 pm Austin Scott (country)
7:30 pm Anabelle Road (country)
9:30 pm Willie Nash (country)
Sunday, August 31
Noon The Phage
1 pm Desolation Angels
2 pm The Hadituptoheres
3 pm Solitary States
4 pm Love Meets Lust
5 pm The Questions
6 pm Brave Rifles
7 pm Dutch Pink
10 pm The Orbitsuns
Monday, September 1
11:30 am Overloaded
12:20 pm Pistol Day Parade
1:10 pm 60 Second Crush
2 pm Matt Austin
2:50 pm Core Effect
3:40 pm The Unheard
4:30 pm Paper Street Saints
5:20 pm Dirty Americans
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:08 AM
• Berthold Martin of Chrysler LLC won the SAE/Timken-Howard Simpson Automotive Transmission and Driveline Innovation Award. Martin was honored during the SAE 2008 World Congress in Detroit. The award, established in 2007, recognizes an engineer for significantly contributing to the advancement of transmission and driveline technology. Martin is a senior manager/specialist in advanced transmission engineering at Chrysler Powertrain Product Engineering. He has been the architect and principal engineer for the major internal automatic transmission programs at Chrysler for the last 20 years.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:06 AM
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler LLC is seeing the fruits of improvements in manufacturing quality and productivity, manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn said here today at the Management Briefing Seminars.
Chrysler, which tied Toyota this year as North America's most-efficient vehicle manufacturer, has reduced its year-over-year warranty costs by 29 percent, Ewasyshyn said.
Before Daimler AG sold Chrysler to Cerberus last year, the combined DaimlerChrysler had the highest warranty costs among the six major North American manufacturers.
Ewasyshyn said Chrysler has started customer satisfaction teams within the past year to follow model launches and troubleshoot problems. The multi-disciplinary teams are comprised of 6 to 15 engineers, technicians, quality professionals and others.
Ewasyshyn said standard processes and flexible manufacturing have helped turn Chrysler into an industry leader in manufacturing efficiency.
Since 2001 Chrysler has reduced the manhours needed to assemble a vehicle 31.4 percent from 44.28 hours to 30.37 hours.
Chrysler placed four assembly plants in North America's top ten, including industry leader the Toledo Supplier Park. The plant, which makes Jeep Wranglers, uses three key suppliers to help build the vehicles. Kuka runs the body shop, Magna Steyr paints the bodies and Hyundai Mobis builds the chassis for final assembly.
Ewasyshyn said workers in the plants are key to the improvements. Chrysler has developed a "Smart" process to seek their input. During the launch of the new Chrysler minivans in Windsor, Ontario, workers raised more than 6,000 "issues" to help make the retooling and launch go more smoothly, he said.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:04 AM
August 11, 2008 - 3:01 pm ET
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler LLC is negotiating with the UAW to put factory employees on four 10-hour workdays to save energy and travel.
Chrysler manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn said the new schedule would affect most of its plants except those working lots of overtime, such as Belvidere assembly in Illinois and Sterling Heights assembly in suburban Detroit. The remaining plants likely would qualify, Ewasyshyn told Automotive News today on the sidelines at the Management Briefing Seminars here.
Ewasyshyn said the proposal is similar to what some government entities are doing to reduce energy costs. They are shifting from five eight-hour days per workweek to four 10-hour days.
It reduces costs for workers and "reduces our operating costs," Ewasyshyn said.
Chrysler is testing the plan in a parts distribution center in Atlanta.
Ewasyshyn said he couldn't immediately provide specific savings, but he said it was less than $10 million annually.
To approve the change, Ewasyshyn said Chrysler is talking with the international UAW and the locals representing the affected plants.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:03 AM
The new Ram, which puts the emphasis on horsepower, arrives in showrooms in the fall.
The 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 ST 4x2 with a regular cab starts at $23,050, including a $900 destination charge. The base 2008 Toyota Tundra starts at $23,075, including a $685 shipping charge, while a base 2008 Nissan Titan XE 4x2 king cab starts at $25,170, including a $780 destination charge.
The redesigned Dodge pickup tops out at $44,140 for a Dodge Ram Laramie Ram Crew 1500 4x4 with a 5.7-liter Hemi engine. This trim level includes a power sunroof, power-adjustable pedals, AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer and Infinity speaker system, navigation system, uconnect phone, bucket seats with leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Dodge also announced that, new for 2009, there is a Ram Crew 1500 model with a box length of 5 feet, 7 inches. The 2009 Dodge Ram SLT Ram Crew 1500 4x2 starts at $32,530; the 4x4 companion model starts at $35,750.
The 2009 Dodge Ram TRX, with such features as an engine block heater, trailer tow mirrors, two-tone exterior paint and side curtain airbags, starts at $30,920 for the TRX Quad Cab 4x2. The top-of-the-line TRX Ram Crew 1500 4x4 starts at $36,895.
Powertrain choices on the '09 Ram include a 390-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a 310-hp 4.7-liter V8. Also in the engine lineup is a 215-hp 3.7-liter V6. As of Wednesday morning, the EPA had yet to post official fuel economy numbers for the 2009 Ram on its Web site.
As Chrysler backs out of offering corporate leasing, Dodge took pains to note in its pricing material that the Ram is available for "lease through independent sources." But the days of leasing a Ram through the automaker are over.
What this means to you: Dodge tries mightily to hold the line on '09 Ram pricing, but whether consumers will flock to it in droves in an era of high gas prices is still a major question. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent
Posted by The 'C' Team at 7:00 AM
Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas A. Wick
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:59 AM
August 11, 2008 - 12:01 am ET
Chrysler LLC has named Bruce Coventry CEO of its electric-vehicle subsidiary Global Electric Motor Cars LLC, or GEM. Coventry will replace Larry Oswald, 63, who is retiring after this month.
GEM, a Chrysler subsidiary in Fargo, N.D., makes low-speed, neighborhood electric vehicles, which have a top speed of 25 mph and are powered by a lead acid battery.
Coventry, 55, was vice president of Chrysler's Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance joint venture. He will continue as a nonexecutive chairman.
Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi Motors formed the joint venture, which develops four-cylinder engines at a plant in Dundee, Mich.
Chrysler's GEM vehicles are powered by a lead acid battery that takes six to eight hours to charge. Federal law permits them to travel on any road with a speed limit as high as 35 mph. They do not have airbags and do not have to be crash tested.
Unlike auto sales at Chrysler's three brands, GEM sales have been growing, by about 15 percent annually for the past five years. Sales have averaged 4,000 vehicles a year, GEM has said. Since it made its first vehicle in 1998, GEM has sold about 37,000 units.
This year, GEM President Rick Kasper told Automotive News that the company is profitable. GEM sells its vehicles through about 150 dealerships nationwide, about 125 of which are Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep stores.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:58 AM
Tom LaSorda, a Chrysler president
$500 million generated; Detroit plant expansion is confirmed
BY TIM HIGGINS • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITERTRAVERSE CITY -- A week ago, Chrysler executive Tom LaSorda had his blood pressure checked.
Everything was normal, he assured.
That was perhaps one of the biggest surprises in a speech he delivered Wednesday at the Center for Automotive Research's annual Management Briefing Seminar during which he officially announced an expansion of Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, indicated that Chrysler has sold more than $500 million of nonearning assets, and talked about possible partnerships with Indian, Italian and Russian automakers.
LaSorda's healthy blood pressure is a surprise given that a year ago when Cerberus Capital Management acquired majority control of Chrysler and put Bob Nardelli in as top executive -- demoting LaSorda to president and vice chairman -- many wondered aloud how long LaSorda would stay.
Since then it's been a wild ride for LaSorda and the Auburn Hills automaker as Chrysler has raced to remake itself as the first privately held major U.S. automaker in more than 50 years and to deal with a plummeting U.S. sales market.
Several analysts, including the Center for Automotive Research's David Cole, have praised LaSorda for how he's handled the transition.
Chrysler executives have been fighting rumors about its finances for months, saying Chrysler is meeting all its financial targets set by Cerberus.
In a new twist Wednesday, LaSorda said Chrysler was "meeting -- or exceeding -- its financial targets for our lenders" as well as its owners.
Earlier this month, Chrysler announced it has $11.7 billion in cash and securities on hand and had $1.1 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and restructuring charges -- a figure that indicates how cash flow is doing but does not give a bottom line.
Chrysler officials had said the $1.1 billion included recent sales of assets, such as a design center in California and an engine plant in Brazil.
LaSorda indicated Chrysler, as a privately held company, has sold more than $500 million in nonearning assets out of more than $1 billion in assets identified for sale.
"One advantage of private ownership is that we can sell nonearning assets to generate cash," LaSorda said. "To date, we've identified over $1 billion in nonearning assets and we're more than halfway to achieving that goal."
LaSorda also confirmed what had been reported by the Free Press in February 2007: Jefferson North is getting a large makeover.
Chrysler is investing $1.8 billion into new vehicle programs and to expand and upgrade the Detroit plant, preserving 400 jobs. The state and Detroit City Council have already awarded tax breaks to the project, which city records said would be worth $373 million in actual plant improvements.
The next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee will be made there along with, possibly, another car-based SUV.
"This investment will enable us to produce a new generation of ... world-class vehicles that meet the diverse needs of our consumers not only here but around the globe," LaSorda said.
The 285,000-square-foot expansion at the plant will include a new body shop and employ so-called green initiatives, such as special lighting and energy management, he added.
Throughout the day, LaSorda stressed Chrysler's strategy to team with other automakers to allow the Auburn Hills automaker to expand into new markets with less expense: "Partner early and partner often."
Chrysler has teamed up with Nissan Motor Co. on three vehicles, including two small vehicles that will be made by the Japanese company and sold by Chrysler in various places. In September, Chrysler's management team will be flying to Japan to inspect the small car that Nissan will make for the U.S. car company to sell worldwide beginning in late 2010, LaSorda said.
He denied reports that Chrysler is in talks with Nissan about developing a midsize car but did confirm that Chrysler has had talks with Fiat about a possible alliance.
"Have they approached us? Yes," LaSorda said of Fiat.
To do what?
"That's to be determined between the parties," LaSorda said. "At this stage there are no formal discussions going on."
LaSorda indicated the possibility of having an alliance by the end of the year with an automaker in Russia, where they've had discussions with several companies.
"Hopefully ... we'll see some light at the end of the tunnel by the end of the year in what might result from those discussions," LaSorda said. Chrysler is also talking to automakers in India, he added.
During a Q-and-A session with several industry executives, host Cole, chairman of the Center of Automotive Research, asked Richard Colliver, executive vice president of Honda Motor Co.'s U.S. sales arm, how the automaker was going to expand production with limited extra capacity.
"If you want to buy a plant, I know some folks that are selling one," Cole joked.
LaSorda interrupted: "I'll give him a great deal."
Apparently joking, Colliver responded: "Yeah, Tom offered it to me yesterday when I talked to him for a few minutes. He said he had capacity ... to build cars for us."
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:57 AM
DETROIT — Chrysler is pouring a hefty $1.8 billion into its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit as it aims to make the Detroit factory a "hallmark facility for flexibility," according to supplier sources contacted by Inside Line. Those sources also say that the 2011-'12 Jeep Grand Cherokee will get a hybrid variant.
Chrysler on Wednesday said it will spend $1.8 billion on new-vehicle programs, including an expansion of Jefferson North. Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda told WJR-AM on Wednesday that the investment includes a "car based" replacement for the current Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Supplier sources told Inside Line that the investment focuses heavily on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in two-row and three-row configurations. The new Grand Cherokee will be powered by the new Phoenix engine, a V6 that is likely to be either a 3.3-liter or a 3.5-liter. The new Grand Cherokee will be engineered with "more space for hybrid components," a source said. There was talk about "Dodge spin-offs" to be built at Jefferson North, but one source said those "talks have quieted down."
In any case, the future Jeep Grand Cherokee will be more fuel-efficient than the current model. The plant today builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Commander.
What this means to you: The Chrysler Group works to add a third hybrid SUV to its lineup, but has yet to produce a hybrid car. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:53 AM
So is this the beginning of the end for Jeep? A car-based Grand Cherokee? Is that what Jeep buyers want?
Or is Cerberus banking on the fact that each year there are less and less true die-hard Jeep afficienados out there, and that sooner or later that number will be so minisquel it won't matter?
"The segment the Grand Cherokee competes in has seen some of the most decline (because of the) high gas prices," said Global Insight analyst Rebecca Lindland. "This new product will allow the consumer to keep all attributes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. They won't be able to navigate the Rubicon trail but they will get to the grocery store on less fuel."
Oh Lord, did I really read that? A real Jeep that can't do the Rubicon?
You know, it's all fine and dandy that all the other SUV pretenders are being designed to handle nothing tougher than shopping center parking lots, but must Jeep follow that path too? Unlike most SUVs out there Jeep has real off-road credibility, but if they go that route, you can kiss their stellar 60-plus-year reputation of being America's first and true off-roader goodby.
For the record, this is not about being unibody, as the Cherokee and and Grand Cherokee have always been unibody. And it's not about using IFS and IRS, as there are several really good off-road vehicles using IFS and IRS. No, this is about changing the mission of Jeep Grand Cherokee. No longer will it be a true dual-purpose on-off road vehicle, but instead it will be skewed heavily towards on-road abilities at the expense of its famous off-road heritage. So it looks like the Grand Cherokee will become just another CUV. Sad.
For the sake of the Grand Cherokee let's hope I'm dead wrong with this blog entry.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:51 AM
With 8.4 liters and overhead valves up front, the Viper ACR seems to be an old-school supercar. Until you drive it.
You’re looking at Dodge’s answer to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS or Lotus Exige, a road car you can drive to the track, hot lap all day, and drive back home, tires, brakes, and ego intact. The Viper ACR is raw. It’s wired. And it’s probably the best weekend racer yet from Detroit.
The ACR has exactly the same power and torque as the regular Viper-600 horses and 560 pound-feet. The engine drives through a smaller dual plate clutch that reduces rotating inertia by 18 percent and the latest iteration of the Tremec T6060 six-speed that includes triple-cone synchros on first and second, and 10-percent-wider gears to manage the torque. The new GKN ViscoLok diff features its own sump to quicker generate the hydraulic pressure needed to actuate the limited-slip clutches faster, yet more progressively and with greater precision.
Most of the time, effort, and development dollars have been spent on stuff that makes the ACR go faster through the twisty bits-suspension, brakes, wheels and tires, and aerodynamics. Especially the aerodynamics. Just chew on this for a moment: At 150 mph, the regular Viper coupe generates 100 pounds of downforce; at the same speed, the Viper ACR generates 1000 pounds of downforce.
That giant carbon-fiber rear wing is the most obvious reason why. But there’s also a new carbon-fiber front splitter that extends way back under the car and incorporates seven steps to diffuse the airflow. The new hood louvers unveiled with the 600-horsepower engine upgrade a year ago play a part, too. “We knew we were going to do a new ACR, so we moved the louvers forward to help change the aero balance of the car,” says SRT boss Herb Helbig.
Suspension changes include race-style KW shocks all around that can be adjusted for stiffness and ride height, springs twice as stiff as those in a normal Viper, and a beefier front stabilizer bar. Forged “Sidewinder” alloy wheels save 30 pounds of unsprung weight, and new two-piece StopTech brake rotors save a further 30. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires-basically barely legal race rubber-are standard.
The standard ACR is 40 pounds lighter than the regular Viper coupe. An optional “Hard Core” pack saves an extra 40 pounds through the removal of the audio system, underhood silencer pad, trunk carpet, and tire inflator. The radio is replaced by a lightweight cover that can be configured to mount the lap timer that comes with the package. Hard-core, indeed.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:44 AM
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler LLC will make its next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2010 with a unibody construction and a fuel-efficient V6 engine being developed under codename Phoenix, Chrysler Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda told a media gathering here today.
The automaker plans to spend $1.8 billion to refit its Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant to produce the Grand Cherokee and other undisclosed products off the same platform, LaSorda said.
Chrysler worked with Mercedes jointly on development of the platform, LaSorda said. However, any products Mercedes would create from the development work would be distinctly its own, he said.
LaSorda spoke earlier this morning at the Management Briefing Seminars.
The expanded Detroit plant will be flexible to allow multiple vehicle models to be built on the same assembly line, LaSorda indicated. The expansion adds 285,000 square feet.
In prepared remarks for his speech this morning, LaSorda said the expansion and new vehicle program will help create 400 new jobs in Michigan.
LaSorda also said Chrysler has identified $1 billion in non-earning assets it plans to sell.
"One advantage of private ownership is that we can sell non-earning assets to generate cash," LaSorda said. "To date, we have identified over $1 billion in assets, and we are more than half way to achieving that goal."
LaSorda said the automaker so far has sold over $500 million in assets, including land around its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and its Tritec engine plant in Brazil.
In another announcement, LaSorda said the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram pickup would be priced at $22,170.
That's a drop in price from last year's model. A 2008 Ram with a similar set of features had an MSRP of $23,050 and didn't include an automatic transmission, which a Chrysler spokesman said will come standard on the new Ram.
"We've already announced that the light-duty Ram will soon add a clean diesel and hybrid powertrain choice," LaSorda said.
During a subsequent luncheon briefing with reporters, LaSorda added that Chery Automobile is making a number of engineering changes to a small car that it is developing jointly with Chrysler.
"Our engineers are estimating that it can be ready by the end of the year," LaSorda said. "We'll see. We are not going to put a nameplate on it until we can rest assured that it meets our standards."
The subcompact car could be ready for sale in 2009, LaSorda added.
And in other news, LaSorda confirmed that Fiat had held talks with Chrysler to discuss the sharing of vehicle production in North America. "At this stage, there are no formal discussions going on" with Fiat, LaSorda added.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, credited with steering a turnaround behind the Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Fiat brands, has said Fiat is looking for a partner for its return to the North American market.
LaSorda said Fiat has approached many other companies, too.
"We are not the only ones," he said.
Reuters reported last month that Chrysler was in talks with Fiat with the aim of leasing manufacturing capacity and sharing retail distribution, which would allow the Italian automaker to return to the U.S. market for the first time in 25 years.
Chrysler is also in discussions with India's Tata Motors Ltd about selling its Jeep Wrangler SUV in India and possibly other Asian markets, sources have said..
"When we look at alliances in different regions, we have had discussions with multiple companies in Russia," LaSorda said. "In India we have had discussions with many companies."
LaSorda, who declined to name the companies, said the automaker may decide on a Russian partner by the end of this year.
David Sedgwick, Andrew Grossman, and Reuters contributed to this report
PRESS RELEASE: Chrysler LLC Invests in New Products and Future Production at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit
- Plant investment for newly designed body shop, upgrades to paint, assembly areas
- New generation of world-class vehicles to be built in Detroit
- Extensive green initiatives, while adding greater manufacturing flexibility and capability
- Chrysler maintains its position as a leading employer in Detroit and Michigan
TRAVERSE CITY and AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC announced today that it will invest approximately $1.8 billion in new vehicle programs, including a significant expansion and upgrade at its Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant to ready it for future production, starting in 2010. The announcement was made by Tom LaSorda, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President, during a speech at the 2008 Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan.
"This investment in our future products and at Jefferson North will enable the Company to produce a future generation of vehicles more efficiently, with world-class quality and an improved environmental footprint," said Tom LaSorda. "Furthermore, this commitment reinforces the long-standing partnership between Chrysler LLC, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan."
"A strong Chrysler is important for Michigan and Michigan workers, and we are pleased to cooperate with them on this project," said Governor Jennifer Granholm. "This expansion will continue a valuable, long-term partnership that has helped keep Michigan the automotive capital of North America."
Plant and Product Advancements
The total program investment will go towards product development functions, as well as new, state-of-the-art manufacturing systems in the plant. This investment provides for the design, development, components and supplier support associated with the new vehicle programs.
"We believe the Jefferson North makeover will give the facility and our Company the upper hand on how responsive we can be to shifts in consumers' needs and changing market demands," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler LLC Executive Vice President of Manufacturing. "We also believe this will be achieved while continuously improving the quality of our vehicles that will be produced in Detroit."
Jefferson North will undergo a 285,000 square foot building expansion to replace the existing body shop, which will give the facility an all-new level of manufacturing flexibility for multiple product capability. In addition, changes throughout paint and assembly operations will accommodate vehicles of various sizes and dimensions. Material handling and other plant functions also will be improved.
Plant employees will benefit from new levels of involvement and training to help complete the plant transformation. Much of the critical work required for facility and equipment preparation and installation will be accomplished by employees from the plant, a result of collaborative work between Chrysler and the UAW.
"This is an important day for the future of the UAW and Chrysler LLC, and we are pleased to partner with Chrysler to help maintain jobs in Michigan," said General Holiefield, UAW Vice President and Director for the Chrysler Department. "Although we are in the midst of challenging times, the strong relationship between Chrysler and the Union will contribute toward our long-term success."
Multiple "green" initiatives will be employed at Jefferson North. Each of these additions will result in energy savings, as well as a brighter, cleaner and more ergonomically sound workplace for employees. Plus, these advancements will improve the environmental footprint of the facility by reducing carbon emissions, solid waste and raw material consumption while also helping to green the outside grounds of the plant. These include:
-- Energy-efficient fluorescent lighting fixtures and a state-of-the-art energy management system;
-- Air filtration systems to improve employee comfort and workplace cleanliness;
-- Decanting technology, which will utilize paint sludge as an energy source, reducing emissions and solid waste;
-- Electric-servo weld guns in the new body shop to improve welding quality for the vehicle bodies, while also producing quieter operations;
-- Replacing unused asphalt parking areas with grass to reduce heat generation and improve appearance;
-- Utilizing reusable paint clips that hold doors in place during the paint process and reusing parts racks, resulting in a reduced raw material consumption; and
-- Trailer cubing and rack density improvements to reduce fuel consumption and transportation costs.
The energy savings resulting from the sludge operations, filtration systems, lighting and servo welding alone are anticipated in total to save several dollars per vehicle built, while helping to have a cleaner, brighter workplace.
Posted by The 'C' Team at 6:43 AM