Friday, October 17, 2008

-- Oil settles up $2 to $71.85 a barrel, as traders bet that a rebound in equity markets could mean increased energy demand.

Dodge Ram media blitz kicks into high gear

calendar (1K) Posted Friday, Oct 17, 2008 at 10:11 am in Company News

The marketing launch for the all-new Dodge Ram revs up Sunday with the worldwide debut of a Ram Challenge “webisode.”

The launch will connect with consumers through new forms of content, new distribution channels and targeting tools.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the Ram Challenge Web site.

The site was designed as a unique destination to promote Ram, host exclusive content and showcase a unique reality series.

The Ram Challenge reality series was developed to highlight the features and benefits of the all-new Dodge Ram in an exciting and entertaining way. Broken into a number of “webisodes,” the challenge will pit four teams of American heroes—firefighters, military, cowboys and contractors—in a series of elimination challenges using the all-new Ram.

The webisodes will continue over the next few weeks. Some will air exclusively on

The site currently houses a variety of content and will be continually updated in an effort to deliver an entertaining experience to visitors.

Reports: Cerberus stepping up efforts to sell Chrysler


Talks with GM and Renault could result in sale or breakup of the automaker

DETROIT -- Cerberus Capital Management is stepping up efforts to sell Chrysler LLC to General Motors, according to two news reports late today.

GM executives want to get a deal done with Chrysler's owners by the end of the month, but the parties still are far from having a firm deal in hand, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site tonight.

The Reuters wire service said parts of Chrysler may be broken up between both Renault SA and GM.

Both reports cited anonymous sources, and no spokespeople for any of the companies involved had a comment.

The Journal reported that bankers -- including J.P. Morgan Chase -- are encouraging a Chrysler-GM deal. J.P. Morgan is the largest holder of Chrysler debt and also is a major banker for GM, the newspaper reported.

GM has "teams of people" analyzing potential cost cuts, the Journal said. So far, GM has identified about $10 billion in cost savings from a merger with Chrysler -- and is interested in getting access to some $11 billion in cash on Chrysler's books, according to the Journal.

Breaking up the company?

A GM-Chrysler combination faces opposition from GM's unions along with skepticism from industry experts. Some unnamed members of GM's board also have given such a deal a "cool reception," the Journal said.

But GM's top executives "remain bullish" on the prospects of a combined company, according to the report.

Cerberus, which owns an 80.1 percent stake in Chrysler, wants to maintain a stake in the combined GM-Chrysler, the Journal said.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Chrysler is considering a wide range of deals with both Renault and GM that could break up Chrysler, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the talks .

Under this scenario, GM may acquire some of Chrysler's assets as an alternative to an outright purchase of its smaller rival, the sources told Reuters.

Chrysler assets under consideration for purchase by GM include Chrysler's minivan line, a market segment Chrysler pioneered almost 25 years ago, and its truck-production facility in Mexico, one of Reuter's sources said.

The contacts between Cerberus and the automakers remain wide-ranging and preliminary but have been given urgency by the sharp downturn in auto sales that has forced Chrysler, GM and Ford Motor to take steps to cut costs and shore up their cash holdings.

Other deals being considered by Cerberus hinge on whether Chrysler's key assets now have more value separately than together, the sources told Reuters.

Selling off Mopar, Chrysler Financial

As a result, Cerberus is looking at selling its Mopar parts unit, spinning off its engineering operations as a separate company and separating Chrysler Financial, one of the sources said.

The captive finance company could also be merged with GMAC, the GM-affiliated lender in which Cerberus owns a controlling 51 percent stake, several sources told Reuters.

In addition, Cerberus has had talks with GM about acquiring the automaker's remaining 49 percent share of GMAC and that remains a possibility, those sources said.

But all of the potential deals have been complicated and slowed by the volatility in financial markets and frozen credit markets, according to the people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to speak about the discussions.

Market turmoil has made it far more difficult for Cerberus and potential bidders to agree on the value of Chrysler's various parts and GMAC, the sources said.

Cerberus bought its controlling stake in Chrysler from Daimler in 2007 for $7.4 billion, but the automaker, like its listed Detroit rivals, has been hit hard by a steep decline in U.S. auto sales to 15-year lows.

The still-ongoing talks between GM and Chrysler have revived discussions about a potential merger that started in early 2007 before Chrysler was sold to Cerberus.

Reuters contributed to this report

Financing may be holding up deal

Cerberus could put up the cash to make it work


Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli, right, and Vice Chair Tom LaSorda have noted that the automaker is attractive to foreign companies, too.


Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management and General Motors Corp. are working as hard as they can to get a deal to merge the two automakers, but financing is the issue keeping them apart, a person familiar with the talks told the Free Press.

But the private equity firm is “willing to put in cash to any deal that makes sense,” another source said.

A merger is seen as Cerberus’ preferred solution for Chrysler, where U.S. sales have dropped 25% so far this year, the people said. But financing a deal such as this can be complicated and could involve money flowing either way. When Cerberus acquired majority control of Chrysler from Daimler last year, the $7.4-billion deal included then-DaimlerChrysler spending money to get rid of its U.S. unit.

Because neither Cerberus nor GM is making public statements about the talks, it’s hard to definitively say how things are going. What is clear is that a number of scenarios -- including a laundry list of automakers and possible equity stakes -- are floating around Detroit about the future of the auto industry and Chrysler in particular.

GM hopes to have a deal by the end of the month, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

It noted that J.P. Morgan Chase, a key lender to both automakers, favors a deal. Citing people briefed on the talks, the paper said a deal is far from settled.

The turmoil in the U.S. auto industry could have historic ramifications. Industry sales in the United States are down almost 13%; GM’s sales are down nearly 18%.

Chrysler’s supposed kitty of cash could be useful for GM.

GM, which lost $18.8 billion in the first half of the year and has been burning through at least $1 billion a month, is believed to have enough cash to make it through the rest of 2008, but several analysts worry the company will not have enough for 2009.

Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, in a note to investors, said GM is about $2 billion short of what it needs to make it through 2009 -- even with help from the government and drawing down an additional $3.5 billion on its credit line.

As a privately owned company, Chrysler’s finances are less clear, but all signs point to trouble. The automaker has seen the biggest sales decline in Detroit, and it has indicated that its automotive and financial arm lost $509 million in the first quarter of the year. It has said it had $11.7 billion in cash on hand at the end of June, and that it had earned $1.1 billion before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and before restructuring charges during the first half of 2008.

Chrysler had identified $1 billion in noncore assets to be sold to raise money and has said about half of that has occurred.

“People have been talking about the $11 billion that Chrysler supposedly had at the end of June. I think Chrysler needs that money just to maintain its operations as well,” said Aaron Bragman, an analyst with Global Insight. “If that cash is going to be used by GM to further its own operations, that means they’re going to shut down Chrysler.”

There could be other partners for Chrysler, perhaps Renault-Nissan. An executive with Renault reportedly said earlier this month that the automaker might be interested in Chrysler.

Chrysler and Nissan already have an agreement to build some specific vehicles for each other. Similarly, Chrysler is building minivans for Volkswagen.

“For a foreign automaker, there is value in Chrysler in its domestic capacity, in its domestic brands and dealership network,” Bragman said.

Some see Italian automaker Fiat as a dark horse candidate to acquire Chrysler, noting it has the means and motivation to make such a deal work.

In August, Tom LaSorda, a Chrysler president and vice chairman, confirmed that the Auburn Hills automaker had talked with Fiat, but he declined to say over what. “At this stage, there are no formal discussions going on,” he said back then.

Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli has also said a Chinese automaker might be interested in buying Chrysler. “It depends on who has a hoard of cash in this economy because they’re not going to get a lot of debt out there,” Nardelli told the Automotive News.

Chrysler LLC Launches Workplace Diabetes Education Program

Last update: 9:44 a.m. EDT Oct. 17, 2008
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Oct 17, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Chrysler LLC and Henry Ford Health System announced today that the companies will bring an innovative diabetes program to its Sterling Stamping Plant.
"Stamping Out Diabetes" was developed with the Henry Ford Health System and is intended to increase awareness and integrate diabetes education and care with existing workplace wellness initiatives. All employees at the site can participate in the team-based program by completing screening and attending an educational session. Those identified as being at risk for developing diabetes and/or diabetes-related complications will be offered a more in-depth education and management program at the worksite.
The curriculum expands upon similar programs conducted at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan and Sterling Heights Assembly plant aimed at improving the health and quality of the workforce.
"We are excited about expanding our diabetes programs and are dedicated to remaining on the leading edge of diabetic care at the worksite," said Kate Kohn-Parrott, Director -- Integrated Health Care and Disability, Chrysler LLC. "We believe 'Stamp Out Diabetes' will improve the health of our workforce by providing convenient access to education and care."
Stamping Out Diabetes builds on previous work done by the Henry Ford Health System in partnership with Chrysler, Novo Nordisk, and Health Alliance Plan (HAP). Other partners include StayWell, American Institute for Preventive Medicine, and Life Scan. HAP is providing overall project management.

The Real Auto Crisis: Scared Buyers

Dealerships across the country are ready to sell cars—but the economy, not tighter credit standards, is keeping buyers away

By Kevin Krolicki

BIRMINGHAM, Michigan (Reuters) - J.D. Power and Associates, which tallies U.S. auto sales on a daily basis, sees October sales on track to hit the lowest level in 17 years with a sales rate below 12 million units.

If the October sales rate dropped below 12 million units, overall U.S. sales for 2008 could also drop below the 13.6 million units the forecasting firm has projected, a senior J.D. Power analyst said on Wednesday.

The last time U.S. light vehicle sales dropped below 12 million units was in April 1991, according U.S. Commerce Department data.

"The sad news that we've been getting month after month after month is likely to continue in October," J.D. Power economist Bob Schnorbus said in a presentation to industry executives and analysts.

"If we continue to see the weakness in the fourth quarter that we're seeing in October, we could end up having to take a few hundred thousand units out of our forecast."

U.S. auto sales have dropped to 15-year lows, battered since spring by factors ranging from the housing slump to higher gasoline prices to tighter consumer credit.

Some automakers had held out hope that the market hit bottom in August when U.S. sales were running at a 13.7 million-unit rate.

But global financial turmoil and the banking crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEHMQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) caused consumers to pull back from showrooms in September. The sales rate dropped to 12.5 million units.

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Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Evangeline Cote Dahlinger of the Ford Motor Company is born in Detroit, MI
Powel Crosley Jr. marries Gwendolyn Bakewell, Aiken
The 1923 Nashes are introduced
George Henry Turnbull, a longtime British automobile executive with Standard, Triumph, British Leyland Ltd., and “father” of the Korean-built Hyundai, is born
Racer Enzo Coloni is born in Italy

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

Chrysler's CEO says auto industry ripe for mergers

October 17, 2008 00:03 EDT

DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler's chief executive is refusing to comment on reports of accelerating merger talks between Chrysler and General Motors.

But CEO Bob Nardelli does say that a steep decline in U.S. auto sales has created an environment for industry consolidation. Nardelli tells CNBC that his company has been open about looking for partners and creating alliances but declines to address discussions with GM.

A person familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press last week that GM has been discussing a merger or acquisition with Cerberus Capital Manager, which owns 80 percent of Chrysler. And the Wall Street Journal's Web site reports GM wants to do a deal by the end of the month. And potential lenders are eager to see it done.

GM is trying to raise additional capital ahead of what could be huge losses when it reports third-quarter earnings.

PETA: Chrysler should ease shoe rule for factories



PETA says there are safe alternatives to leather shoes.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is protesting a requirement by Chrysler that factory workers must wear leather shoes or face being sent home without pay.

"I hope that you will retract this memo immediately and allow workers to wear shoes or boots made from any of the rugged, safe leather alternatives that exist today," PETA corporate affairs director Matt Prescott said in a letter to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli that was distributed to the media Thursday.

Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese said a recent memo was posted at the Los Angeles parts depot to remind workers to wear appropriate footwear after a manager noticed people wearing canvas shoes.

The standard calls for footwear with leather uppers and slip-resistant soles.

"It is a safety issue," he said. "We were just re-articulating that, in order to get the folks working there moving in the right direction for their own benefit," he added.

Palese said that no one was going to get fired as long as they had a shoe with a strong-enough upper and slip-resistant sole.

The PETA letter was sent via an e-mail. It said, "This requirement is likely to offend many, and it may even discriminate against employees whose religious beliefs forbid or discourage the wearing of leather."

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Oil settles $4.69 lower to $69.85 a barrel - lowest price in more than 13 months - as economic slowdown spooks traders. More soon.

Video: Go Inside the Factory With the 2009 Dodge Ram

Oct 16, 2008 at 10:44AM Marc Seguin

By Marc Seguin
Marc Seguin is shouting from the hilltops about the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram.
Senior Manager, Truck Marketing

We’re really proud of this truck. And we can’t say enough about how well we think it stacks up against any competitor.

Some $220 million was invested in Warren Truck Assembly to prepare for production of the new Dodge Ram, including a 200,000-square-foot expansion that houses a completely new body shop powered by robotics that quickly adapt to almost any build plan. No stone has been left unturned in the desire to give the customer the highest quality truck that Chrysler,. LLC has ever built and a quantum leap over the competition

In an effort to show you what we’re talking about, we made this quick little video, letting you in to the factory to see what we did. So, take a look and you’ll agree that nobody has more passion about building trucks than Chrysler and all the dedicated people of the Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

-- Oil tumbles below $70 a barrel for the first time in more than a year on inventory strength and a weak economy. Update soon.

Aspen, Durango hybrids best in fuel economy

calendar (1K) Posted Thursday, Oct 16, 2008 at 9:00 am in Company News, Messages From Our Leaders

Yeah, it’s got a HEMI® Hybrid. And best-in-class fuel economy, too.

Official EPA fuel economy numbers for the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid are 20 miles per gallon city and 22 highway, achieving best-in-class fuel economy ratings for a full-size 4×4 sport-utility vehicle.

Chrysler LLC’s first production hybrids are coupled with the renowned 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with fuel-saving Multi-Displacement System (MDS) technology. Total output, when combined with the advanced two-mode hybrid system, is 400 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque – the most powerful hybrid SUVs.

The Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid are priced nearly $8,000 below the competition. Additionally, customers can expect a tax credit of up to $2,200.

“Our new 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango hybrids deliver best-in-class fuel economy of up to 22 miles per gallon—an improvement of more than 53 percent in the city and 40 percent overall,” said Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President – Product Development. “This unique combination of value, fuel economy, performance and capability gives SUV owners a no-compromise hybrid alternative.”

Capable of towing 6,000 lbs., the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango 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.

Built at the Newark (Del.) Assembly Plant, the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango hybrids arrive in showrooms this year.

2009 Dodge Ram quality called ‘best ever’

Posted Thursday, Oct 16, 2008 at 12:01 am in Company News

“With the launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram, we have an opportunity to demonstrate what Chrysler can accomplish when we fully commit to meeting the needs of our customers,” Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said.

As a sign of that commitment, approximately $220 million was invested in the Warren (Mich.) Truck Assembly Plant to prepare for production of the new Dodge Ram, including a 200,000-square-foot expansion that houses a completely new body shop powered by robotics that quickly adapt to almost any build plan.

Enhanced processes and the installation of new technology will also benefit future product launches and product variants due to greater levels of flexibility. From hundreds of thousands of training hours to newly implemented systems of small, self-directed teams in which assembly workers are empowered to run their operations, no stone has been left unturned in the desire to give the customer the highest quality truck that the company has ever built.

In an effort to capture this transformation and share evidence Chrysler’s focus on quality with consumers, Dodge has produced a video that illustrates the changes and processes that are now in place to build the best truck on the market.

The video includes interviews comments and interviews with Doug Betts, Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, and Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President – Manufacturing, as well as Ken Brune, Plant Manager – Warren Truck Assembly, and some of the people involved in ensuring a quality build.

The video will be posted on for consumers to view as well as other sites, including, at key Dodge events, in all Dodge dealerships, and, of course, right here on The Scoop.


Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

The Bentley 8 Litre is introduced at the Olympia Motor Show in London
Pioneer tire designer and manufacturer Charles B. Whittelsey dies in Hartford, CT at age 80
Peter J. Shuttleworth, a mechanical engineer at the General Motors Proving Grounds, dies at age 23

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

One plan: GM may absorb Chrysler

Possible scenario would eliminate rival, reduce excess capacity; pact similar to AMC purchase.

David Shepardson, Christine Tierney and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

General Motors Corp. could swallow Chrysler LLC and end the Auburn Hills automaker's 83-year existence under one scenario being discussed by GM and Chrysler's owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, said a source briefed on the talks.

Such a deal, similar to Chrysler's 1987 acquisition of American Motors Corp., would allow GM to pick up some of Chrysler's 2.7 million in annual sales -- while avoiding the bulk of Chrysler's costs, the source said.

GM, Cerberus and Chrysler all declined to comment.

Sources familiar with the negotiations say the talks still are in early stages, and many combinations are being considered.

Analysts say a deal along the lines of Chrysler's purchase of AMC, which eliminated Detroit's No. 4 automaker as an entity and all its brands except Jeep, would make sense for GM.

Such a deal would differ from the 1998 acquisition of Chrysler by Germany's Daimler-Benz AG, which left the U.S. carmaker operating intact as a separate division. Instead, Chrysler would be completely absorbed into GM and melded into its car making and other operations over time.

"That would be the likely scenario, if such a thing were to happen," said Aaron Bragman, an analyst at Global Insight.

Besides the Jeep brand and Chrysler's minivans, the company has few assets of value to its bigger rival, he said.

"For GM, the only reason to absorb Chrysler would be to eliminate a competitor," he said.

Many industry experts believe GM's interest in Chrysler, both now and in 2007, when DaimlerChrysler AG put the American unit up for sale, reflected its goal to reduce the excess capacity in the U.S. auto industry that has hurt all of Detroit's carmakers.

"The others (automakers) will be delighted to have Chrysler just die and take 1.5 million units out of the industry, which is about what the excess is," said Gerald Meyers, former chairman of AMC and now a professor at the University of Michigan.

Such a deal would surely worsen Michigan's economic woes, eliminating thousands more auto jobs in Metro Detroit, canceling contracts with suppliers and prompting more plant closures.

The source familiar with the negotiations told The Detroit News that GM could cut costs by eliminating much of Chrysler's staff and gradually shifting production of Chrysler vehicles to use more GM components.

Lincoln Merrihew, an analyst with TNS Automotive in Boston, said he didn't see the Dodge or Chrysler brands surviving if such a deal were concluded. "In the situation the Big Three face, you're looking for hard-core, quick economies of scale," he said.

At Chrysler's Auburn Hills headquarters, morale is bleak as employees fear huge job losses in any GM deal, while the top bosses installed by Cerberus are expected to leave with fortunes.

GM, struggling with huge losses and a liquidity squeeze, might use Chrysler's cash -- $11.7 billion at the end of June -- to close Chrysler dealers and some of its businesses, as well as shore up GM's finances, analysts say.

Sources close to the negotiations say Chrysler might survive -- or at least fare better -- in a three-way deal with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

But it is unclear whether the French-Japanese partnership still is interested in Chrysler.

Renault SA is in debt, and executives are studying whether Nissan Motor Co. has enough cash to comfortably afford a deal in this difficult economic environment.

Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault and Nissan, is said to have been more inclined to do a deal with Cerberus a few months ago.

At GM, many top executives support acquiring Chrysler, but only in a deal like Chrysler's acquisition of AMC from Renault.

Renault agreed in 1987 to sell its 46.1 percent stake in AMC, and AMC's board sold the remainder to Chrysler in a $1.2 billion deal, the biggest merger in the U.S. auto industry at the time. Chrysler ended all of AMC's car lines, keeping only the Jeep brand.

In their discussions, GM and Cerberus also have looked at their shared ownership of GMAC Financial Services since 2006, when GM sold 51 percent to Cerberus. Cerberus wants to acquire the rest, but GM wants GMAC focused on its auto sales business.

This week, after GMAC's announcement that it would consider auto loans only for customers with high credit ratings many wondered whether Cerberus was putting pressure on GM.

At Cerberus, officials deny any ulterior motive. GMAC spokeswoman Gina Proia said the decision to increase credit requirements was a result "of the current market environment that has reduced access to funds and increased the cost of funds."

Dodge Ram Sportsman
The most noticeable aspect of the 2009 Dodge Ram Sportsman is the unique blowing-leaves paint scheme inspired by a new interpretation of traditional camouflage designed by Mopar Underground. The paint is protected by a set of accent Mopar wheel flares and running boards with an integrated step. The Sportsman features Dodge’s exclusive RamBox storage system, filled with plenty of outdoor gear and the bed rail system holds a cargo rack for additional cargo capacity.

The Mopar telescoping trailer tow mirrors aid in rear visibility and match the color theme. The vehicle gets the right stance and added capability with a Mopar 2-inch lift kit supported by Mopar polished and forged 20-inch wheels with 33-inch tires. You’ll never get lost with the Mopar navigation unit, but if you do you will be able to enjoy SIRIUS® satellite TV or movies on the Mopar headrest DVD system. Sit back and relax in the perforated leather Mopar seats by Katzkin, embroidered with the Sportsman logo. The steering wheel and door pulls have been trimmed to match, and the Mopar ambient lighting system gives a unique glow to the interior.

Dodge Ram Sport
Using a 2008 Dodge Ram Sport, the exterior blackberry paint really plays up the Dodge Ram Mopar Street Package. This Mopar Underground truck features a Mopar body kit consisting of sill extensions and a chin-spoiler. A slight Mopar body drop/leveling kit and Mopar concept 22-inch polished Alcoa forged wheels add to the appearance.

A Mopar high-style hard tonneau cover blends with the truck. To add to the aggressive look, the Mopar all aluminum dual-snorkel hood sits over the 390 horsepower HEMI V-8, which is backed with a Mopar tuned dual-exhaust. The theme is continued in the interior with Mopar ambient lighting. Mopar suede and leather seats trimmed with premium piping and stitching add to the high end feel of the truck. The steering wheel and door pulls are trimmed to match for a complete package. Entertainment is delivered via a Mopar DVD headrest system and a Mopar-Kicker audio system that will blow you away. The bed is also dressed with a Mopar bed rug and under-rail accent LED lighting.

2008 Jeep EV Concept Photo Gallery

(from Chrysler Press Release)

The Jeep EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that provides a glimpse into the future of a "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" vehicle with renowned Jeep Wrangler capability.

The Jeep EV combines Wrangler's unmatched off-road capability with the ultimate "Tread Lightly" mindset by providing nature ambassadors with the ability to roam the planet and take care of it at the same time.

The Jeep EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle uses an electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery system, and a small gasoline engine with an integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed. The 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor generates 400 N•m (295 lb.-ft.) of torque. With approximately eight gallons of gasoline, the Jeep EV has a range of 400 miles, including 40 miles of zero fuel-consumption, zero-emissions, all-electric operation.

"We are also exploring four-wheel-drive, in-wheel electric motors to demonstrate the full reach of ENVI's advanced electric-drive technologies," said Rhodes.

The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor and the ability to precisely control each wheel independently results in off-road capability ideally suited for the Jeep brand, without compromising on-road driving capability.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recent "evidence" is strongly pointing to the 6.1L returning for the 2010 model year... from what I see the 6.1L is currently listed as "standard" equipment on the 2010 300, Charger, Challenger, Grand Cherokee. This information *could* change, and it doesn't necessarily rule out any "hp bumps" or special models with a different engine. Hope to 100% confirm soon...Resumespeed.

Resume - you are correct to assume this. There is a bump in power as there are 8.4 powertrain left over from the Viper production that will end up in special HO models.

Dodge Challenger Targa
Dodge Challenger Targa. Click image to enlarge.

Dodge Challenger Blacktop
Dodge Challenger Blacktop. Click image to enlarge.

2009 Dodge Ram TRXtreme

dodge ram trxtreme

After talking about the Challenger line-up at SEMA, we’re now going to the RAM pick-up. First will be the Ram TRXtreme based on the TRX-4 off-road truck.

Mopar Underground design team added 4.5-inches of extra ground clearance using a Mopar lift kit, 20-inch wheels wrapped in knurly BFG 37X12.50’s. The exterior paint is bright yellow and mineral grey two-tone.

The Ram TRXtreme also features larger grille, a Mopar tuned dual exhaust system, a Mopar navigation system, DVD headrests and Mopar leather seats by Katzkin.

Press release

The 2009 Dodge Ram TRXtreme plays up the off-road capabilities of the 2009 Ram TRX package. Starting life with a quad cab TRX-4 off-road truck, it was easy to upgrade this truck to a serious off-road machine. Mopar Underground design team added 4.5-inches of extra ground clearance using a Mopar lift kit.

This made room for Mopar polished and forged 20-inch wheels wrapped in knurly BFG 37X12.50’s. The paint is a bright yellow and mineral grey two-tone incorporating a mud splash theme. A set of Mopar wheel flares, a wheel-to-wheel Mopar tube step and a box rail are painted to match the theme. Rearward visibility comes from the Mopar aftermarket telescoping mirrors, which extend when needed.

The one-off steel hood with cooling louvers and larger grille take care of any heat issues that may arise under severe use. A bed accessory system from Mopar holds off-road gear and a Mopar tuned dual exhaust system gives an impressive growl. Interior features include a Mopar navigation system, DVD headrests and Mopar leather seats by Katzkin.


Due to a new adhesive used in the powertrain control module, the circuit board in 712 MY2009 Chrysler products may break without warning; causing the engine to stall. Stalls at the wrong time can inflict damage, as you may well be aware.

It's a simple fix. Dealers will be replacing the PCM free of charge. The Recall affects the '09 versios of the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot. 712 new owners should expect to hear from Chrysler this month, but if you're curious as to the involvement of your vehicle, contact Chrysler at 1-800-853-1403.

Dodge Mopar Challenger Targa and Blacktop

Dodge Mopar Challenger Targa and Blacktop

While a V10-powered Challenger is devilishly delectable, our Mopar-loving hearts beat for something a bit more balanced with a healthy dose of motorsports cred. To that end, Dodge created the Challenger Targa to campaign in the Targa Newfoundland enduro earlier this year.

Affectionately known as "Samantha," the Challenger began its existence as a Mopar Challenger drag race car, complete with a 392 HEMI V8 crate motor putting 540 hp and 490 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a Tremec six-speed manual and a modified rear diff. The green hue of the Challenger Targa is pulled from the Viper, but the snake's influence doesn't stop at aesthetics. A KW race-ready suspension, six-piston calipers with 380mm Stop-Tech rotors (front) and 355mm, rear discs with four-pot calipers are all culled from the V10 'Ring-slayer.

In addition to the Targa model, Dodge and Mopar will debut the Challenger Blacktop at SEMA, retaining the 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed manual gearbox. Most of the modifications focus on style, including the black-on-black racing stripe paint scheme, custom spoilers and front brow. A Mopar coilover kit drops the Blacktop over 22-inch Viper wheels created by Factory Reproductions and wrapped in 265/35/R22 (front) and 305/30/R22 (rear) Dunlop rubber. A Mopar cat-back exhaust and cold air intake remain the only modifications to the engine, and if the V8's sound isn't intoxicating enough, a Kicker audio system will keep the Blacktop's driver entertained while bombing along Highway 15 on their way to the SEMA festivities in Sin City.


Dodge Challenger Blacktop
A menacing creation from the minds of the Mopar Underground design team. The Dodge Challenger Blacktop began life as a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 and six-speed manual transmission. Mopar Underground added custom-made spoilers and front brow. To finish off the look, a black-on-black racing stripe paint scheme was added. The "in the weeds" stance and superb handling characteristics are accomplished by the Mopar coil-over suspension and strut tower brace. Blacktop rolls on massive 22-inch Dodge Viper wheels from Factory Reproductions wrapped in Dunlop tires measuring 265/35 R22 front and 305/30 R22 rear. To ensure the powertrain can keep up with the suspension, underhood performance is enhanced. The addition of Mopar components, including a cat back dual-exhaust, cold air intake, allow the HEMI V-8 to breathe easy. The interior has been enhanced with Katzkin leather seating finished in bright red plus a Mopar Kicker audio system for premium sound.

Dodge Challenger Targa
The Dodge Challenger Targa is a full-blown competition car that raced and completed the infamous Targa Newfoundland race this year. "Samantha" started life as a Mopar Challenger drag race package car. Many features were borrowed from the Dodge Viper, but the most noticeable is the snakeskin green paint. To keep the front end down, a Mopar chin spoiler "Splats" developed in a full scale wind tunnel, was added to the front of the car. Mopar gauges keep a close eye on the vital signs. The Mopar hood is equipped with a scoop to make room for the 540-horsepower, 490 lb. ft. of torque, 392 HEMI® V-8 Mopar crate motor. Mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox, the engine blasts power to the rear wheels through a production 2009 modified gear ratio in the rear end. An abundance of fade resistant stopping power comes from Stop-Tech brakes. Up front, the six-piston calipers clamp 380-millimetre rotors, while in the rear, four-pot calipers work with 355-mm rotors. Developed by KW, the race suspension and brake upgrades came from a proven hero - the Dodge Viper ACR, which just broke the production car lap record at the world-renown Nurburgring in Germany. With only a few exceptions, the Dodge Challenger Targa was built using parts available through Mopar.

Dodge to raffle off dream ride for charity

We all like to dream.

Click to Enlarge That’s what makes today’s event at York Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Crawfordsville so special.

On the lot is a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, a throwback to the muscle car era when power was the name of the game.
Jay Heater is the Journal Review’s managing editor. He can be reached by e-mail at

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Daimler AG To Axe Sterling Trucks In North America, Cut 3,500 Jobs

JALOPNICK - Those eying the Ram-based Sterling Bullet should act quickly. Sterling's parent company, Daimler AG, has decided to axe the medium-sized commercial truck brand effective March, 2009. Sterling Trucks, formerly Ford's heavy duty truck line, failed to meet the expectations of Daimler's North American truck division. The company will cut approximately 3,500 jobs in the US and Canada, but have no fear as there will be more jobs... in Mexico! Further, Daimler will consolidate products in their Freightliner and Western Star brands. Press release below the jump.

Stuttgart/Portland – Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) today announced a comprehensive plan to adjust and strengthen company operations in response to continuing depressed demand across the industry and structural changes in the company’s core markets.

“It is a principle of our ‘Global Excellence’ strategy to strive for benchmark profitability and to address structural market changes in a timely and consequent way”, said Andreas Renschler, Member of the Board of Management of the Daimler AG, responsible for Daimler Trucks; “We are confident that this forward-looking strategy for DTNA is the right measure to address the challenges in the North American market.”

The measures to be implemented address three key areas of DTNA’s operations:
Focus on a two brand strategy: discontinuation of the Sterling Trucks product line
The Sterling Trucks brand will be discontinued effective in March 2009. Additions to the Freightliner and Western Star product ranges will be made to address market segments that have been served exclusively by Sterling offerings in the DTNA stable.
By concentrating the company’s considerable technical and marketing resources on a more focused model line-up, DTNA expects to drive an even more attractive program of innovation in safety, environmental impact, and user productivity that will further strengthen the leadership position of Daimler Trucks in the North American commercial vehicle market.

Consolidation of manufacturing plant network and alignment of network capacity with market demand

As a result of the decision to discontinue the Sterling brand, the St. Thomas, Ontario, plant will cease truck manufacturing operations in March 2009, concurrent with the expiration of the existing agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers members employed there. The plant currently manufactures Sterling medium and heavy-duty trucks.
DTNA will also close the Portland, Oregon, Truck Manufacturing plant, in June 2010, when current labor contracts expire. Western Star commercial production will be assigned to the company’s Santiago, Mexico plant, while production of Freightliner-branded military vehicles will take place at one of the company’s facilities in the Carolinas by mid-year 2010.

Start of production at DTNA’s new Saltillo, Mexico manufacturing plant will occur as planned in February 2009. The plant will produce Freightliner’s new flagship Cascadia model.

Expected annual earnings improvements of $900 million by 2011, with estimated program costs of $600 million

As a result of the measures cited above, DTNA expects to achieve annual earnings improvements of $900 million by 2011. The EBIT effects amount to $600 million in total: approx. $350 million against the fourth quarter of 2008 (including approx. $300 million, which are primarily related to employee and dealer separation), $150 million in 2009 as well as expenses of $100 million in 2010 and 2011 in total.

An estimated 2300 workers in the St. Thomas and Portland plants will be affected by mid-2010, on timelines related to the plant closures noted above. This figure includes 720 workers at the St. Thomas plant to be laid off in November 2008 as already announced in July.

The company also plans to reduce its salaried workforce by approximately 1200 positions, with over half directly related to the Sterling brand. A voluntary separation program will be available as well as other measures to offer flexibility and choice to affected employees.

[Source: Daimler]

Seven Dodge vehicles to debut at SEMA show

calendar (1K) Posted Tuesday, Oct 14, 2008 at 9:02 am in Company News

New trends and hot products will be unveiled at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show where Chrysler plans to showcase six new ultra-customized Mopar Underground vehicles and one new concept from SRT.The Mopar vehicles are a Dodge Challenger Blacktop, Challenger Targa, Ram TRXtreme, Ram R/T, Ram Sportsman and Ram Mopar Street Package.

Muscle-car maniacs also will be happy to see the Dodge Challenger SRT10 Concept with a Viper 8.4-liter all-aluminum V-10 engine, a fresh coat of Tornado Red paint and true to the Viper-powered vehicle lineage, a red engine start push button in the dash.

The SEMA show will be held Nov. 4-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

SEMA vehicle overview

2011 Nissan Titan: Rendered And Ramified!

As part of a recent agreement between Nissan and Chrysler, the next-generation full-size light duty truck, the 2011 Nissan Titan, will be based on the new 2009 Dodge Ram. In return, Chrysler will get a much needed small car and the heartfelt gratitude of Carlos Ghosn. We've asked the good folks at KORSDesign to render up what they think the next-gen Titan's going to look like. Check out their pics below and hit the jump for their expectations.

Titan Gets Ramified And Hemified

JALOPNICK - Expect the 2011 Nissan Titan to not only share platform hardware with the Dodge, but also engine options and transmissions. Yes, if Chrysler President Jim Press is correct, there is a possibility that your Nissan will have a Hemi. There’s no official word yet on whether the upcoming Ram’s two-mode hybrid system will make it into the Nissan but we see no reason why it wouldn’t. On the exterior, as you can see, will be an extension and modernization of the Titan front fascia although we're told since the new truck is still in clay form, it's got all sorts of opportunities for changes. As for the interior, the 2011 Nissan Titan will receive a unique instrument panel and inner door skins although the rest of the interior could be pulled from the ‘09 Ram, namely seats and other items not directly noticeable to the occupants. Pricing and release dates are unknown at this time, but look for the 2011 Nissan Titan to make its debut sometime in late ‘09 and go on sale in early to mid ‘10 as a 2011 model.