Thursday, October 9, 2008


Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

The first Packard magazine advertisement appears
E. C. di Bricherasio of Fiat dies in Aglie, Italy at age 35
The Ford Model T Fordor Sedan is announced to dealers
Frank R. Hickman of Locomobile dies in Fairfield, CT at age 75
Racer Ted Horn is killed at age 38 during a race in DuQuoin, IL

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

U.S. military boosts car sales in Europe

By Matt Millham, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, October 10, 2008

Matt Millham / S&S
Car salesmen at Exchange New Car Sales at the Vogelweh shopping center in the Kaiserslautern military community wait for customers on a chilly October morning. Fewer customers purchased cars through the Exchange New Car Sales program this September than last, but sales are still doing better this year than last.
Purchase reprint

Americans working for the U.S. military in Europe bought more new cars in September than they did a year ago, despite growing U.S. economic turmoil.

But the overseas military car market as a whole — including sales from downrange and Pacific theater dealers — fared slightly worse this past September than the previous September, according to data from Exchange New Car Sales, an on-base car dealer associated with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

Still, overseas dealers that sell to the military are faring far better than their counterparts in the United States.

A freeze in credit to risky borrowers stateside, along with plunging home prices, climbing unemployment and worries about a possible recession, sent U.S. auto sales for the month of September down 27 percent compared to the same month in 2007, according to preliminary data released Oct. 1 by Autodata, an auto industry research firm.

For the year, U.S. car sales are down 13 percent, according to Autodata, and the National Automobile Dealers Association expects total sales of about 14.2 million vehicles this year, compared with 16.1 million in 2007.

Meanwhile, Exchange New Car Sales dealerships in Europe delivered 55 more vehicles this September than last — an increase of about 16.2 percent. But taking into account all other overseas locations, the company delivered 33 fewer vehicles for the month, a drop of about 3.7 percent.

That drop-off notwithstanding, Exchange New Car Sales has sold more new vehicles so far this year than last.

In the first nine months of 2008, the company delivered 8,803 new vehicles, compared with 8,796 over the same period in 2007. In 2006, it delivered 8,814 in the first nine months of the year.

Salespeople in Europe say the data shows the sort of bubble in which the military economy operates.

"The military really is recession-proof," said Peter Hughes, relations manager for Exchange New Car Sales at Vogelweh shopping center in Kaiserslautern.

Matched up against their civilian counterparts, who face the threat of unemployment on top of losses on the value of their homes and retirement savings, military members are seen by auto financiers as stable. Lenders remain willing to loan cash to troops, usually at rates lower than those offered to people with similar credit histories through stateside banks and credit unions.

At Community Bank, for example, car loan rates start at an annual percentage rate of 4.08 percent, while stateside rates through Bank of America, which runs Community Bank, start at a heftier 6.24 percent.

Troops "still get paid," even if the economy goes sour, Hughes said, adding that the tax-free allowances given troops for housing, food and uniforms all but cover many basic needs, and leave troops with a reliable stream of cash to spend on less-than-essential items.

This stability and constant cash flow are benefiting off-base dealers that sell to the military as well.

"We haven’t seen a drop either," said Chris Cadotte, a senior sales consultant for Pentagon Car Sales in Heidelberg, a BMW and Mini automobile dealer. For the year, in fact, sales are up compared to last year — thanks in at least part to a shift to smaller vehicles.

"Minis are definitely off the chart," he said.

At the same time, sales of big trucks and sport utility vehicles are down.

"You can’t give ’em away," Jeremy Howard, a salesman at Exchange New Car Sales at Vogelweh, said.

To move inventories of large vehicles, manufacturers have slashed prices on some models by more than $10,000 and offered incentives such as $1.99 gas, Hughes said.

Sales of the smaller Ford Focus and Dodge Caliber have, at the same time, taken off, according to Howard and other salespeople.

"What you will find with the credit crunch is people themselves will think about it (what they can afford) instead of the banks thinking about it for them," Howard said. "People are still going to need cars. If they need cars, they’re going to come see us.

"It’s not if they want a car," he said. "It’s if they need a car."

FPGAs with Open System Architecture Drive In-Cabin Automotive Applications

The days of horsepower, valves per cylinder and 0 to 60 performance driving mainstream and luxury automotive sales are more or less over. At least as long as gas prices ominously hover around the $4 per gallon range. After all, what good is a gas-guzzling, high-performance engine when the majority of your drive time consists of stop and go traffic and your speedometer topping out at 45 mph? Indeed, automotive manufactures and OEMs have changed gears to leverage the latest technological innovations to enhance the in-cabin experience of driving your automobile.

Semiconductor and electronics companies have latched on to the automotive market to make the driving experience as comfortable and effortless as possible. For years, microprocessors and microcontrollers have been used “under the hood” in mission critical applications, such as anti-locking brakes and safety-restraint systems. But with the advent of in-cabin infotainment and driver assistance systems, the need for higher performance semiconductors, such as ASICs, ASSPs and FPGAs, has seen significant growth. Today, the total costs associated with automotive electronics systems are higher than the steel used to build the car. According to iSuppli Corporation, automotive electronics now account for more than 25% of a vehicle’s cost and that number is projected to grow to 40% by 2010.

As the requirements of today’s in-cabin electronics systems evolve, manufactures strive for higher levels of innovation with smaller, less expensive, and more flexible builds to win the cost and time-to-market battles. Many manufacturers have turned to ASICs and ASSPs due to their attractive per-unit cost advantage and performance capabilities. However, they are sacrificing a great deal in terms of hardware flexibility, scalability, and the threat of device obsolescence. As a result, FPGA vendors are now delivering silicon solutions specifically targeting many of these high-performance automotive applications typically associated with ASICs and ASSPs. FPGAs are providing optimal processing functions along with the flexibility to scale their designs, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: FPGA to ASIC Integration Allows Ramping Up Controller Performance and Features (Lower Axis)

With FPGAs, automotive suppliers are able to design single systems that scale across multiple automotive classes. By simply adding new functionality to their existing designs, automotive manufactures are able to target multiple platform variations and feature sets. FPGAs also enable in-field hardware revisions and corrections (i.e. ability to make field hardware modifications to accommodate the next consumer standard, such as the addition of an MP3 interface) without having to replace components. From a performance standpoint, FPGAs allow highly distributed parallel processing on many incoming signals, thus providing higher performance than standalone digital signal processors (DSPs) at a greatly reduced cost. Hardware costs, however, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the total costs of developing in-cabin infotainment systems. The majority of costs reside in the development of the software that resides on the hardware.

Today, more than 80% of automotive innovations come from computer systems. As a result, software has become the major contributor to the value of automobiles, while also becoming an increasing cost factor. And the amount of software being used in automobiles is growing exponentially. Within the last thirty years, automotive-specific software has evolved from zero to tens of millions of lines of code. For instance, today’s luxury car implements about 270 user-interactive functions, deployed over approximately 70 embedded platforms. This software totals about 100 megabytes of binary code. The next generation of luxury vehicles, hitting the market over the next five years, is expected to run up to one gigabyte of software.

As automotive in-cabin systems continue to reach new levels of complexity, development costs are starting to reach levels that automotive manufacturers can not justify. For an in-cabin system, automotive manufacturers must take into account the price of the hardware, the costs associated with developing the equipment platform, testing the system, and developing the software. The costs associated with maintaining multiple platforms over multiple vehicle classes significantly add to the cost of automotive electronic systems.

As a result, an emerging trend today within the automotive industry is the introduction of open system architectures, allowing OEM infotainment equipment suppliers to improve unfavorable cost structures. An open architecture can offer the basis for a cost-effective, manufacturer-independent, next-generation infotainment system.

FPGAs enable the ideal implementation in infotainment systems that use an open system architectures, as they make second-sourcing, inventory flexibility, and redeployment of software on new scalable platforms easily realized. In addition, with the ever-increasing number of applications enabled by the use of embedded microprocessors, soft core processors available in FPGAs offer an ideal solution for designs where software applications may need to be ported reliably to subsequent generations of FPGAs.

2009 Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

Technical Specs
Standard Engine 8.4L V10
Standard Transmission 6 Speed Manual
Cylinders 10
Horsepower @ RPM 600@6100
Torque @ RPM 560@5000 (foot-lbs)

The Viper is Dodge’s flagship All-American, hand-built exotic sports car. With a traditional front-engine rear-wheel-drive design, the Viper has a four-wheel independent suspension with large wheels and tires and massive brakes. Offered as either a roadster or a coupe, the Viper was updated for 2008 but retains signature Viper design cues such as the crosshair grille, deep side scallops, swept-back fenders and a low hood line. A new 600-horsepower 8.4-liter engine was developed to meet emission regulations but the Viper is also capable of a top speed of 200 mph.

The Viper is a 2-door, 2-passenger sports car, or convertible sports car, available in two trims, the SRT-10 Convertible and the SRT-10 Coupe. Upon introduction, both trims are equipped with a standard 8.4-liter, V10, 600-horsepower engine that achieves 12-mpg in the city and 22-mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard.

The 2009 Dodge Viper remains primarily unchanged following a complete redesign in 2008. The flagship of the Dodge lineup continues to sport an 8.4-liter V10 engine producing an impressive 600 horsepower and moving this exotic sports car to 60 mph in less than four seconds. For 2009, the Viper features a revised center console as well as a modified steel frame and fuel tank filler. Four new exterior colors have been added: Anaconda Green Pearl Coat, Graphite Metallic Clear Coat, Diamond Black Pearl Coat and Viper Bright White Clear Coat. A new six-spoke forged aluminum wheel is also available.

UPDATE 1-Global auto market may 'collapse' in '09-J.D.Power

(Adds more details from report, forecasts on Asia and Europe)

DETROIT, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The global auto market may experience an "outright collapse" in 2009 amid growing concerns around availability of credit and general economic stress, an influential industry tracking firm said on Thursday.

J.D. Power and Associates said in a closely-watched report that credit market restructuring, fewer leasing options and declining vehicle equity are all putting added pressure on the U.S. auto market in 2009.

The agency also said auto sales in Europe, China and India are expected to slow "dramatically" next year.

The outlook represents the most dire warning yet on the auto industry in the wake of the financial turmoil that has rocked consumer confidence and virtually shut the door for many consumers to finance vehicle purchases.

"While the global automotive industry is clearly experiencing a slowdown in 2008, the global market in 2009 may experience an outright collapse," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of automotive forecasting for J.D. Power.

"While mature markets are being impacted more severely than emerging markets, no country or region is completely immune to the turmoil," Schuster said.

It forecast U.S. light vehicle sales would fall to 13.2 million units in 2009 after likely settling at 13.6 million units this year, adding that a pronounced recovery is more than 18 months away. U.S. auto sales totaled 16.15 million units last year.

"Buyers are both voluntarily and involuntarily exiting the U.S. new-vehicle market," Schuster said.

The financial turmoil has dealt an additional blow to the U.S. market, which has already been bumping along at a 15-year low amid high gas prices and a housing slump.

Slowing within China's automotive market is also projected to intensify in the fourth quarter, and will likely lead to a downward revision for 2009, J.D. Power said.

It forecast auto sales in China would grow 9.7 percent this year, less than one-half of the 24.1 percent growth achieved in 2007.

Sales in Europe are expected to fall 3.1 percent in 2008, led by a 7.5 percent decline in Western Europe, it said. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim; Editing by Brian Moss)

2009 Dodge Charger police car

Chrysler, Getrag dispute jeopardizes U.S. dual-clutch gearboxes

David Barkholz and Robert Sherefkin

Chrysler LLC's source of dual-clutch transmissions in the United States is jeopardized by a factory-building dispute with supplier Getrag Transmission Manufacturing LLC.
Chrysler yesterday sued Getrag in Michigan, alleging that the German supplier failed to raise up to $300 million in debt financing necessary to build and equip a plant in Tipton, Ind., to produce the transmissions.
The plant was expected to open in the fall of 2009.
Getrag was expected to be Chrysler's sole source of dual-clutch transmissions in the United States. The dispute now casts the project in question, said Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff. ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

The world’s first full-sized gasoline-powered buses, two 12-hp German-built Daimlers, go into service in London, England
Hare’s Motors, Inc. is formed to coordinate the management of Mercer, Locomobile and Simplex
The last Pontiac Fine Six is produced
The Chrysler Corporation sells its New York City real estate including the art-deco Chrysler Building
The 1,000,000th Volkswagen Transporter is produced

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

The Chrysler Foundation Donates $100,000 to the National Infantry Foundation for National Capital Campaign

- Grant to be used to help fund construction of museum and memorial at Columbus, Ga. - Gift continues the "Honoring Those Who Serve" military support campaign

Last update: 3:37 p.m. EDT Oct. 8, 2008
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Oct 08, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Chrysler Foundation announced today that it donated $100,000 to the National Infantry Foundation, Inc., in support of its capital campaign to construct the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park in Columbus, Ga.
"The Chrysler Foundation is proud to support the National Infantry Foundation as it works to commemorate the extensive history of the Infantry," said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO - Chrysler LLC. "Chrysler has a proud history of supporting the U.S. military, and we are pleased to support this project as part of our 'Honoring Those Who Serve' initiative. This museum and memorial will stand as a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the Infantry, which has enabled us to enjoy the freedom, the opportunities and the comforts of living in this great nation."
The project is located on a 200-acre site that links Columbus, Ga., and Fort Benning, the Home of the Infantry. It features a 180,000-square-foot museum, six galleries that represent different eras in the Infantry's history, a 2,500-seat stadium for weekly graduations of Infantry Basic Trainees and a 3-D IMAX(R) theatre.
We're proud to have this level of support from one of the nation's leading automotive companies," National Infantry Foundation President MG (Ret.) Jerry White said. "Chrysler and the Infantry have been partners throughout our long history. They have been an essential part of the successes we have enjoyed on battlefields around the world. With this gift they still stand by us today."
The gift continues the Foundation's commitment to our nation's military as part of Chrysler LLC's "Honoring Those Who Serve" military support initiative. Previous recipients of gifts from The Chrysler Foundation include The Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, Operation Gratitude and the Freedom Calls Foundation.
The National Infantry Foundation
The National Infantry Foundation is conducting an $104 million fund raising campaign to build a new National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center on 200 acres linking Columbus, Georgia and Fort Benning, the Home of the Infantry. The world-class facility will honor the 233-year legacy of valor and sacrifice of the Army's largest branch, the Infantry. The project includes a museum, parade field, memorial walk of honor, authentic World War II Company Street and 3-D IMAX(R) Theatre. For more information, visit
The Chrysler Foundation
The Chrysler Foundation is the primary source of charitable grants made by Chrysler LLC. The Foundation annually supports hundreds of charitable organizations with an emphasis on community growth and enrichment, arts and culture, education and youth development programs throughout the United States and, increasingly, the world. The Foundation's Good Neighbor, Good Citizen(R) programs make a positive, lasting investment in local communities where our employees, customers and neighbors live. Visit

-- Oil prices tumble after report shows surprisingly sharp rise in crude supplies, while gasoline inventories rose more than expected.

Paul A. Eisenstein: Chrysler sees the future, and it’s electric

GateHouse News Service

Chrysler is charged up about electric vehicles.

In a surprise move, the ailing American automaker has rolled out a trio of battery-powered vehicles that it plans to put into production during the coming decade – one of them set to debut in 2010.

“You’re going to see the electrification of all vehicles” in the years ahead, said Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s executive vice president - product development.

Electrification will range from simple systems, like Stop/Start, which temporarily shuts off an engine at a stoplight, to full battery power. Indeed, by around 2020, Klegon said “at least 50 percent of the market” will be made up of pure EVs or extended-range EVs, or E-RVRs.

The sexy little DodgeEV fits into the pure battery car category. If the basic design looks familiar, that’s because it starts out as a Lotus Europa modified to accept a lithium-ion battery pack, electric motor and the computer control system.

In production, company officials claim the DodgeEV would actually outperform the turbocharged, gasoline-powered Europa, launching from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds and hitting a top speed of 120 mph. Significantly, the target range is 150 to 200 miles per charge.

The ChryslerEV and JeepEV combine battery and gasoline power, much like the well-received Chevrolet Volt. Unlike a conventional hybrid, all these products are designed to run exclusively on battery power for up to 40 miles. Then, a small gas engine fires up. It serves as a generator to recharge the batteries and provide current to the electric motors that directly drive the wheels.

With nine gallons of gas, the Chrysler entry – a modified Town & Country minivan – will get a total 400 miles range. The modified Jeep Wrangler needs eight gallons to go that distance.

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli won’t say which of the three models will come first, though he promises that by mid-decade, the automaker plans to offer a “fleet” of electric vehicles.

And it’s not alone. General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and numerous other major makers all believe that the auto industry’s future is electric.

Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 30 years covering the global auto industry. His work appears in a wide range of publications worldwide, and he is a frequent broadcast commentator on subjects automotive.

Electric vehicles coming soon

- Chrysler unveils three new electric vehicles, one for each of its U.S. brands.

- The automaker intends to put one of the three into production by 2010, with more to follow.

- Most major automakers now plan to begin switching to clean, high-mileage electric power.

Spied! Interior of 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty
By: Brenda Priddy & Co. Posted: 09-26-08 10:31 PT
© 2008, Chris Doane for Brenda Priddy & Co.

Page: [1]

Like the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, Chrysler is giving the interior of its heavy-duty pickups a complete makeover.

Our latest spy shots have caught a glimpse of the 2010 Dodge Ram 4500's new cabin. The materials are higher-quality, and more attention is paid to ornamentation, feel, and how drivers will interact with features. Most of the components are shared with the Ram 1500, including the Mercedes-sourced driver information center in the instrument panel. An integrated trailer brake controller may also be available when the truck goes on sale late next year.

The truck in this photo sports Dodge's new two-piece trailer-towing mirrors, which will be available as factory equipment on all Ram models in 2010.

The Ram HD is expected to debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.