Friday, August 22, 2008

Under the Pentastar: Wild Wheels, design change, Hybrids roll

Wild Wheels, a new head of design and the Hybrids are launched - these are some of the significant stories this week Under the Pentastar.

Chargers, Challengers and more, oh my! Over 300 Chrysler employees and retirees showed off their pride-and-joy at the tenth Wild Wheels at Work event, held at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills. Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler LLC, attending his first Wild Wheels, reflected on the importance of Chrysler’s heritage and the excitement it brings to the company.

Bob Nardelli
Chairman and CEO, Chrysler LLC

Well, I think it’s extremely important to always reflect back on our roots. The things that made this company such a wonderful iconic brand within the auto industry…it’s great to reflect on the past and use it to drive towards the future.

But the fun didn’t stop there. Challengers past and present were on hand at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum for Dodge Challenger Night, the sixth and final event of the Cruise Night series.

Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President of Design, announced his retirement after twenty years with Chrysler. Trevor played a key leadership role in the design of the Dodge Challenger, Chrysler 300C, and Dodge Viper, just to name a few. Taking his place will be Ralph Gilles who will take over at Vice President of Design effective September 1. Gilles oversaw the design of the all-new 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans and the 2009 Dodge Ram.

The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 showed off some extreme adrenaline-pumping capability for employees at the Dodge Ram Challenge Tour. The tire-smokin’ drifting demo was part of the two-day “Never Back Down” Ram event in Pontiac, MI., that invited employees to come learn all about the all-new Ram 1500, and test-drive it themselves on some tough track conditions against its top competitors.

Chrysler LLC’s Hybrid Electric Vehicles - the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen - began rolling off the assembly line this week at its Newark, Delaware, assembly plant. The two-mode hybrid provides the fuel-saving benefits of a full-hybrid system, including electric-only operation. In this mode, the engine is “shut off,” with the vehicle moving under electric-only power at low speed. The result is a significant reduction in fuel consumption in heavy stop-and-go traffic.

More than 250 volunteers, including Dodge NASCAR drivers Bobby Labonte, Kyle Petty, Kasey Kahne, Patrick Carpentier and Reed Sorenson, joined organizers from KaBOOM! to build a new and secure playground in Pontiac, Michigan. Among the volunteers were employees from 74 Chrysler Jeep® Superstores and Motor City Dodge Dealers. The playground is the eighth of 25 scheduled to be built nationwide in 2008.

Momentum building with commercial vehicles

calendar (1K) Posted Friday, Aug 22, 2008 at 10:25 am in Company News

Dodge continues to move ahead and maintain its commercial market onslaught while further extending its bold, Ram-tough leadership and heritage into the commercial vehicle market.

“While continuing to conquer new territory and set new commercial standards, the commercial vehicle market remains a white-space opportunity for the Dodge brand,” said Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Brand Marketing. “Dodge has introduced six all-new vehicles since 2003 and we will continue to fill this space with bold, powerful and capable commercial-grade vehicles.”

In setting the new commercial standard, Dodge now offers a full line of Class 2-5 commercial vehicles. Led by three exceptionally powerful, capable and durable work trucks, the Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs – which compete in the Class 3-5 medium-duty segments – the brand’s commercial program is anchored by the Dodge Sprinter, the market’s top-performing full-size van, and the ultimate small business transport solution, the Dodge Grand Caravan cargo van.

“Delivering maximum uptime, dependability, capability, safety and increased savings, Dodge is continuing its commercial market onslaught with a barrage of product enhancements and upgrades intended to further improve an already great commercial line-up while better serving our business customers’ specialized needs,” said Accavitti.

Commercial Vehicles Are Natural Extension and Complement to Overall Business Strategies

For Dodge, the commercial market is a great example of capitalizing on adjacent opportunities while serving as a natural complement to a strategic objective of extending the business by investing in new products that cover new segments. Beginning with the 2003 introduction of the Dodge Sprinter – which delivers the segment’s best overall value and most best-in-class advantages, Dodge made its return to the commercial market. Then, in returning to the Class 3 segment, Dodge set the new commercial standard with the all-new Ram 3500 Chassis Cab which quickly achieved a 29 percent market share in less than one year, surpassing the historic leader Ford and leading the segment in four out of the past six months of 2007.

In addition, last year Dodge extended its reach into the Class 4 and 5 medium-duty markets with the all-new Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs which offer best-in-class fuel economy that is 14 percent better than comparable Ford models and 23 percent better than Chevy and GMC. Dodge continues its climb in the medium-duty segment and has achieved a 16 percent share of the Class 4 and 5 retail market in less than one year.

Dodge Breaks Through Industry Decline and Showcases Half Year Mark Growth

Industry-wide, Dodge is a distinct bright spot this year leading all other manufacturers with Class 3-5 half-year growth of 132 percent versus the same six-month period in 2007. For Class 3, Dodge grew 102 percent and for Class 4-5 is up 100 percent. In total, through the first six months of 2008, Dodge increased its retail market share to 21 percent for the Class 3-5 segments.

In 2007, Dodge sold 33,500 commercial vehicles, a 285 percent increase over 2003 when the company returned to the commercial vehicle market. Through the first half of 2008 Dodge sold 20,177 commercial vehicles, a 123 percent increase over the same period in 2007. Dodge is now firmly entrenched as the fourth largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles sold in the U.S.

With Best-in-class Fuel Economy, Dodge Ram Chassis Cabs Continue Upward Climb While Extending Ram Leadership to Class 5 Commercial Trucks

With the 2007 introduction of the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs, Dodge’s Ram-tough heritage and legacy now extends into the Class 5 medium-duty segment. Boasting best-in-class fuel economy and low ownership costs, Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs have carved a 16 percent retail share of the Class 4-5 segments.

This success follows the prior introduction of the Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab which, after being in the market less than one year, quickly bolted to the forefront capturing the number-one ranking in U.S. retail registrations and market share from the perennial leader, the Ford F-350, in the Class 3 conventional chassis cab market. Through June 2008, Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab maintained an average retail market share of 27 percent.

Delivering maximum uptime while showcasing dominant commercial-grade capability, durability and dependability, Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs feature numerous class-leading attributes and are the ultimate chassis cabs for commercial customers looking for dynamic, capable work trucks. Targeted at small-business tradesmen, fleet customers and traditional chassis cab users, Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs are formidable anchors to Dodge’s commercial vehicle lineup.

Dodge Sprinter Continues Reign as Market’s Top-performing Full-size Van

With its 2003 introduction, the Dodge Sprinter completely changed the standard for full-size vans. Through July 2008, Dodge sold 9,501 Sprinters, representing a 21 percent increase over the same period last year.

In addition to class-leading fuel economy and lowest ownership costs, Dodge Sprinter offers the segment’s most best-in-class advantages, world-class quality, innovations, design and performance, comfort and safety, and builds on Dodge’s rich commercial heritage, bolstering the company’s position as a leading player in the commercial vehicle market. Beyond its appeal to a wide range of customers in traditional and niche market vocations, Dodge Sprinter has quickly become a preferred vehicle of choice embraced by the market’s major courier companies including FedEx, UPS and DHL.

Fleet Elite Latest Service Program for Commercial and Business Customers

In addition to great commercial vehicles, also supporting the company’s commercial market success are innovative customer offerings including a new national dealer program, Fleet Elite. With a goal of providing a world-class dealer experience to Fleet and Fleet Management Company (FMC) accounts and customers, Fleet Elite is a dealership certification program that is designed to ensure that business customers receive enhanced service and support with specialized facilities, staffing and processes to meet their specialized needs. Leveraging the Five-Star certification process, target dealers are selected based on their volume of courtesy deliveries, “fleet-friendly” practices and expertise with the company’s coveted Five-Star program. Fleet Elite certification is awarded to select dealerships that have demonstrated that they are focused on treating and retaining fleet customers as they would a retail customer. Combined with other initiatives including “On The Job” and Dodge BusinessLink, dedicated commercial programs help deliver a superior service experience to business customers.

“By offering one-stop shopping for all of our customers’ passenger vehicle and commercial transport needs, we continue to solidify our commercial strategy and maintain our mandate of offering the best light- and medium-duty vehicles on the market,” said Accavitti.

U.S. Commercial Vehicle Market

The U.S. commercial vehicle market is defined as all vehicles sold to businesses, organizations and individuals who use their vehicle primarily for business purposes. Two subsets further define the market – dealer commercial sales of one to 49 units and large fleet sales of 50 or more vehicles. Over the past seven years, sales to small business have made up approximately 15 percent of total new vehicle sales.

In the Class 3-5 segments, a total of 261,809 vehicles were sold in 2007 representing 165,896 Class 3 vehicles, 50,991 Class 4 vehicles and 44,922 in Class 5 with forecasts for continued growth. Class 3-5 vehicles have a gross vehicle weight range between 10,001 lbs. to 19,500 lbs.

Dodge Commercial Vehicles

Since its return to the commercial market in 2003, Dodge has introduced six all-new commercial vehicles. Along with the Dodge Ram 2500 Box-Off and the Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs — the Class 3-5 segments’ most powerful, capable and upfit-friendly work trucks – the Dodge Grand Caravan cargo van complements a growing Dodge commercial lineup that includes the class-leading Dodge Sprinter. Dodge maintains a collaborative partnership with Daimler AG, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles.

Dodge BusinessLink

Launched in 1999 and offering no-cost enrollment, Dodge BusinessLink is a full-service commercial program comprised of a select network of Dodge dealers who know and understand the unique vehicle needs of small businesses, fleet managers and other commercial vehicle customers. Providing exclusive benefits, BusinessLink dealers offer unprecedented business assistance including dedicated commercial account managers and sales teams, dealer inventories representing a higher mix of work-truck and other commercial vehicles, next-bay service and technicians, extended hours to minimize downtime, free loaner vehicles and more. BusinessLink also includes Dodge’s “On The Job” program which offers discounts on upfits and direct cash incentives and savings on almost all Dodge commercial vehicles.

650 hp Dodge Challenger by Hennessey

Smart ForTwo Faces First Recall

By Joe Benton

August 22, 2008
Smart USA is recalling 43 of the 2008 Smart ForTwo mini-cars because of defective paint that could lead to the windshield coming out, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA Web site reported that "a batch of paint sent to the company did not meet specifications" and the defective paint can apparently present a safety concern.

Federal safety regulators determined that the defective paint, which was used to coat the frame and chassis, could "delaminate" from the frame and body structure of the little Smart car.

Should the paint delaminate where the windshield and roof are attached with an adhesive, the risk of separation will increase, according to the federal safety agency.

"This could cause a crash if the roof or windshield separated from the vehicle while in motion," NHTSA warned on its Web site.

NHTSA reported that Smart dealers will repaint the affected areas when the recall begins later this month.

Owners of the 43 Smart ForTwo mini-cars involved in the recall can contact the automaker at 1-248-648-2451.

Next Jeep SRT8

2009 Jeep SRT8 Grand Cherokee
Photo by Brenda Priddy & Company

Jeep's SRT8 Grand Cherokee may get towing package

The exhaust has been moved from the center and is now integrated into the rear bumper on each side. That -- along with sightings of a prototype pulling a trailer -- lead us to believe that the SRT8 Grand Cherokee will be offered -- for the first time -- with a towing package. Several updates to the 2009 Grand Cherokee have already been made public, but we're not sure whether they'll be available this fall or midway through the model year.

Patent Updates

1 7,413,259 Full-Text Hub and extension arrangement for an axle having dual wheels
2 7,413,231 Full-Text Truck cargo bed management system
3 7,413,229 Full-Text Holder for an electronic device
4 7,413,211 Full-Text Deactivation arrangement for a vehicle park assist system
5 D574,298 Full-Text Automobile body
6 7,406,845 Full-Text Steering column lock assembly and method of operating the same
7 D573,507 Full-Text Automobile body
8 D572,640 Full-Text Vehicle hood
9 D572,638 Full-Text Vehicle front bumper
10 D572,392 Full-Text Vehicle headlamp
11 D572,183 Full-Text Vehicle front fender
12 D572,179 Full-Text Vehicle grille
13 7,393,043 Full-Text Method and system for determining full open position of a power liftgate
14 7,393,036 Full-Text Slide out cargo floor
15 7,393,014 Full-Text Energy absorbing support for a vehicle steering assembly
16 7,392,700 Full-Text Method and system for determining fuel level
17 7,392,662 Full-Text Method and system for controlling a climate control system
18 7,392,659 Full-Text Dynamic control of a variable displacement compressor
19 7,389,650 Full-Text Cooled instrument panel compartment for a vehicle
20 7,382,102 Full-Text Heating of batteries using reactive power
21 7,381,084 Full-Text Connector position assurance arrangement
22 7,380,827 Full-Text Steering column/airbag tunable impact absorption system
23 7,380,800 Full-Text Method and system for controlling a dual mode vehicle suspension system
24 7,377,571 Full-Text Collapsible seat mechanism with integrated subfloor
25 7,373,930 Full-Text Multi-port check-valve for an evaporative fuel emissions system in a turbocharged vehicle
26 D568,792 Full-Text Automobile body
27 D568,211 Full-Text Automobile body

trademarks update

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Check Status Live/Dead
1 78907048
2 78907019
3 78951523
4 78700553
5 78790012
6 78907664
7 78701075
8 78852590
9 78642327
10 78789255 3473843 COMPASS TARR LIVE

Advanced two-mode hybrid system available in Dodge Durango Chrysler Aspen -
Intelligent implementation of new manufacturing processes manages quality, cost

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Chrysler LLC's
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) began rolling off the assembly line this week
at its Newark (Delaware) Assembly Plant. Chrysler is offering the two-mode
hybrid powertrain on both vehicles built at the plant, Dodge Durango and
Chrysler Aspen.


In order to smoothly add one of the automotive industry's most advanced
technologies into their established build process, cross-functional launch
teams conducted highly accurate, cost-effective computer simulation of new
assembly processes. Similar efforts were conducted at tooling suppliers.

"The implementation of this new manufacturing process was done
intelligently, with both quality and cost in mind," said Joe Ozdowy, Plant
Manager of Newark Assembly. "I'd like to congratulate and thank the team for
their dedication while bringing these important new products to market to help
satisfy the changing needs of our Dodge and Chrysler customers."

"The members of UAW Local 1183 continue to prove that they have the
expertise, the experience, the training and the professionalism to
successfully accomplish the most demanding and complex work," said Larry
, President of UAW Local 1183. "This demonstration of excellence is
something the men and women of UAW 1183 and UAW 1212 should be proud of."

The production of early pilot vehicles was done on the plant's assembly
line which helped to root out anomalies early in the pre-production process,
helping to ensure a higher quality launch.

Production of vehicles with the hybrid powertrain differs in several ways
from production of those with conventional powertrains. New processes were
implemented to accommodate HEV production, including a unique powertrain
assembly process, and ergonomic-assist systems to aid in new functions, such
as HEV battery installation.

There are several unique components associated with HEV production that
are installed at the plant, including:

-- 300-volt battery
-- Two-mode transmission
-- Torque power inverter module (TPIM)
-- Electric air conditioning
-- Auxiliary power module
-- High-voltage cables (AC and DC)
-- Hydro-electric power steering pump
-- Hybrid gate way module
-- Cooling module
Dodge Durango was the leader in its segment for initial quality, according
to J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality Study(SM). With the advent
of HEV production, a new series of error-proofing processes was put in place
to ensure continued quality excellence.

"We are proud of the highly skilled and dedicated employees at Chrysler's
Newark plant," Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner said. "The employees at
Newark Assembly continue to work hard to ensure the success of this new
product line, and we are looking forward to these new hybrid vehicles being
available to the public."

The Advanced Two-mode Hybrid System

Chrysler LLC's advanced, state-of-the-art two-mode full hybrid system --
developed in partnership with General Motors, Daimler and The BMW Group --
integrates proven automatic-transmission technology with a patented
hybrid-electric drive system to deliver the world's first two-mode full

As a result of low- and high-speed electrically variable transmission
(EVT) modes, the system is defined as a "two-mode hybrid." In addition, the
sophisticated fuel-saving system incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high
efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two EVT modes, the
system can use the electric motors to improve fuel economy, acceleration, and
for regenerative braking to utilize energy that would normally be lost during
braking or deceleration. The energy is stored in the batteries for later use.

The system's two modes are optimized for city and highway driving.

In the first mode -- at low speed and with light loads -- the vehicle can
operate in three ways:
- Electric power only
-- Engine power only
-- Any combination of engine and electric power
The two-mode hybrid provides all of the fuel-saving benefits of a
full-hybrid system, including electric-only operation. In this mode, the
engine is "shut off," with the vehicle moving under electric-only power at low
speed. The result is a significant reduction in fuel consumption in heavy
stop-and-go traffic.

The second mode is used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to
electric assist, the second mode provides full power from engine when
conditions demand it, such as when passing, pulling a trailer or climbing a
steep grade.

Pricing for the full-size 4x4 sport-utility hybrid electric vehicles is
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.

MOPAR Fest images are now posted: 16 August

Win a Dodge Challenger SRT8 (

All work and no play makes Mick a very dull boy. In the meantime how about the ever popular sweepstakes link? Today we have the Dodge Challenger as our offering. As Borat would say..."I like...It's a Nice!" Borat would also probably mention some of the "magnetic" qualities of this car, if yah know what I mean ;-)

Click here to enter.

The Dodge Ram Challenge - St. Charles, MO

How would you like to take the Dodge Ram Challenge? This challenge features the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500. You can take the challenge against the competition on two closed courses.

This driving test is happening at the St. Charles Family Arena this weekend - August 23rd and 24th, 8 a.m. - 6 pm. both days. All who attend have the opportunity to win a brand new 2009 Dodge Ram!

Bring the family and enjoy the fun, because this event is free of charge! For more information,

call: 636-896-4200

This Day in Auto History:

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly

Hugh Chalmers marries Frances Lucretia Houser
Diadema Argentina SA de Petroleo is incorporated
Perry L. Tenney of General Motors, a principal developer of the automatic transmission, dies in East Lansing, MI at age 54
The last 1959 Ford Thunderbird is produced

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