Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chrysler's Remarks to Senate

Chrysler's Remarks to Senate

The prepared remarks submitted by Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, before the Senate Banking Committee.

The following is a transcript of the prepared remarks submitted by Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, before the Senate Banking Committee

I appreciate the opportunity to represent the one million people who depend on Chrysler for their livelihoods. Before I answer your questions regarding our loan request, let me state clearly why were here: Chrysler requests a $7 billion loan to bridge the current financial crisis.

In exchange, Chrysler is committed to: continue our restructuring, including negotiating cost-saving concessions from all constituents; investing in fuel-efficient cars and trucks that people want to buy and beginning repayment of our government loan in 2012. I also want to reinforce the need for Chrysler Financial to receive immediate assistance from TARP - as its continued vitality is a critical assumption to our plan.

Chrysler requires this loan to get back to our transformation that began just over one year ago. As a newly independent company in 2007, Chrysler was on track for financial profitability.

Since August of 2007, we have eliminated more than 1.2 million units, or 30 percent of our capacity. We reduced our fixed costs by $2.4 billion and separated more than 32,000 workers, including 5,000 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And at the same time, we invested more than half a billion dollars in product improvements in our first 60 days, improved our J.D. Power quality scores and reduced our warranty claims by 29 percent. As a result, through the first half of 2008, Chrysler met or exceeded its operating plan and ended the first half of the year with $9.4 billion in unrestricted cash.

We are here because of the financial crisis that started in 2007 and accelerated at the end of the second quarter of 2008. As consumer confidence fell and credit markets remained frozen, the lowest U.S. auto sales in more than 20 years put tremendous pressure on our cash position. U.S. industry sales fell from 17 million a year in 2007, to a monthly annualized rate of 10.5 million last month - a 6.5 million unit decline.

What does that mean for Chrysler? At 10 percent market share, it translates to a loss of 650,000 vehicles, or roughly $16 billion in lost revenue opportunity. With such a huge hit to our sales and revenue base, Chrysler requires the loan to continue the restructuring and fund our product renaissance.

Chrysler has a sound plan for financial viability that includes shared sacrifice from all constituents. We have identified approximately $4 billion of potential cost savings and improvements that have been included in our plan. We are committed to negotiate with all constituents to achieve our savings targets. Our plan also includes producing high-quality, fuel-efficient cars and trucks that people want to buy, while supporting our country's energy security and environmental sustainability goals.

For the 2009 model year, 73 percent of our products will offer improved fuel economy compared with 2008 models. We plan on launching additional small, fuel-efficient vehicles. ENVI is our breakthrough family of all-electric and range-extended electric vehicles - similar to the one parked outside.

Chryslers long-range product plan is robust, realistic and green. The plan features 24 major launches from 2009 through 2012. It includes a hybrid Ram truck and our first electric-drive vehicle in 2010 with three additional models by 2013.

A key feature of Chryslers future is our capability as an electric vehicle company. Through our GEM neighborhood electric vehicle division, Chrysler is the largest producer of electric-drive vehicles in the U.S. today. Combined with the new products from our ENVI group, we expect that 500,000 Chrysler electric-drive vehicles will be on the road by 2013.

Chrysler will continue to aggressively pursue new business models that include alliances, partnerships and consolidations. This model is currently successful in helping Chrysler increase the efficient utilization of our manufacturing capacity. For example, in North America today, Chrysler manufactures all Volkswagen minivans, and beginning in 2011, we will produce all Nissan full-size trucks.

With government collaboration, our industry can accelerate how America drives cutting-edge technology. An Automotive Energy Security Alliance would: coordinate public and private spending already devoted to advanced vehicle technologies; produce basic technology available to all manufacturers; work with national labs and major research universities and draw private investment to meet our national energy and environmental goals. Such an alliance would help ensure that as a country, we do not trade our current dependence on foreign oil for a future dependence on foreign technologies.

I recognize that this is a significant amount of public money. However, we believe this is the least costly alternative considering the depth of the economic crisis and the options we face.

Chrysler exec visits Toledo, touts electric Jeep

Jeep workers pay attention as Tom LaSorda explains why the auto industry needs billions from the government soon.

With the Jeep Wrangler assembly line behind him and nearly 300 hourly workers in front, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda led a rally in Toledo yesterday to drum up support for the U.S. auto industry's request for $34 billion in federal money.

Mr. LaSorda also revealed to The Blade that, if the federal aid is approved, an electric-drive Jeep Wrangler would be built at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex.

A prototype of the vehicle, which gets the equivalent of 50 miles to the gallon and has a range of about 400 miles, was on display at the rally.

The rally, quickly put together by Chrysler, is part of actions Chrysler, General Motors Corp., and Ford Motor Co. were taking nationwide to generate support for the federal aid. Chrysler is seeking $7 billion.


Mr. LaSorda called upon Jeep workers to contact Ohio's 18-member congressional delegation and urge support for the request.

Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12, which represents workers at Toledo Jeep, said at the rally that the union had targeted about 10 congressmen in Ohio for an e-mail and letter-writing campaign.

At union meetings, workers have been enthusiastic about participating, Mr. Baumhower added.

"Sometimes we get 30 people, sometimes 300 attend, but we have gotten good response," Mr. Baumhower said. "Our guys understand that this is a crisis."

FORD: Restructuring plan
GM: Restructuring plan
CHRYSLER: Restructuring plan

During the rally, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur made clear that as the automakers suffer, so too do their workers and the communities they live in, and that some in Congress seem reluctant to help the auto industry.

The banking industry asked Congress for help and quickly got $700 billion, Miss Kaptur said. "And they didn't even have to provide any evidence" of their plight, she said.

Mr. LaSorda said lawmakers need to understand that Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. don't want a handout.

"Let's be clear, we're asking for a loan, and we're going to pay it back," he said.

Automakers have said they need the total of $34 billion to fund daily operations and new product development.

Without the aid, the industry's survival is in doubt and the communities it supports are in serious trouble, auto executives have said.

Tom LaSorda said the electric-drive Wrangler, on display during the rally at Toledo Supplier Park, would be built at the Jeep Assembly complex if the $34 billion federal bailout passes.

At the request of congressmen, Chrysler, GM, and Ford submitted their business plans this week, hearings before lawmakers are supposed to start today, and a vote on the requested aid is expected next week.

Chrysler told Congress it plans 24 major product launches between 2009 and 2012.

Asked after his speech at the Toledo rally whether any of those vehicles would be made in Toledo, Mr. LaSorda turned to glance at the shiny white Jeep EV - electric vehicle - prototype and said, "One is right there."

Chrysler unveiled three electric prototypes in September, including the Jeep EV, a minivan, and a sports car. But officials at that time said only one would be produced by 2010 and they declined to reveal which one or where any would be produced.

The Jeep prototype was a four-door Wrangler that seats five and runs on electricity, but has a back-up gas-burning motor to generate electricity once the battery charge runs out after about 40 miles of use. The so-called "range extended vehicles" rely on a lithium-ion battery system that plugs into a standard household outlet.

To make the vehicle would require retooling at Toledo Jeep, company officials said. But whether it would mean additional workers was unclear.

Toledo Jeep now makes two and four-door Wranglers and the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro.

To illustrate Chrysler's impact in Ohio, Mr. LaSorda said at the Toledo rally that the company last year had nearly 8,000 employees and retirees, 625 suppliers, and 170 dealers in the state. It paid $15 million in state taxes and $737 million in wages and pensions, he added.

"We are talking about neighborhood streets and auto plant streets. This is where the true work begins," Mr. LaSorda said. "This isn't about Joe the plumber. This is about Joe and Josephine the autoworker."

After the rally, the Chrysler president said he was happy to hear that the United Auto Workers union leaders yesterday decided at an emergency meeting yesterday to delay the company's payments to a multibillion-dollar, union-run health care trust fund and to reduce a company-funded "jobs bank," which pays its laid-off workers nearly 95 percent of their after-tax wages.

Mr. LaSorda said he would be willing to meet with UAW President Ron Gettlefinger to discuss contract changes. The UAW leader said yesterday the union is willing to reopen contract bargaining

GM, Chrysler reportedly consider accepting pre-arranged bankruptcy to secure govt. funds

Thu. December 04, 2008; Posted: 05:02 AM

(RTTNews) - Automakers General Motors Corp. (GM | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating) and Chrysler LLC are considering accepting a pre-arranged bankruptcy as the last resort of getting a multi billion-dollar bailout from the government, media reported Thursday. The firms have warned that bankruptcy would lead to liquidation, as customers deserted the companies.

As part of a renewed bid to win backing from the government, GM has requested $18 billion in federal loans, $6 billion more than its estimates a few weeks ago, reports said. Certain sources said that of the $18 billion, the company has asked for up to $12 billion in bridge loans and an additional credit line of $6 billion to enable it to weather the worst economic crisis. The company also said it needs an emergency fund of $4 billion to stay afloat till the year-end.

Sources said that the total bailout package requested by GM and Chrysler along with Ford Motor Co. (F | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating) reaches $34 billion, larger than the $25 billion Energy Department loan program the White House previously supported to finance more fuel-efficient cars. The chief executives of the three companies are scheduled to testify at congressional hearings on Thursday and Friday on their requests for the federal assistance.

GM plans to begin repaying the loans as early as 2011 and fully repay it by 2012. The company has also requested for the creation of a Federal Oversight Board to oversee the loans and restructuring plan.

GM's plan calls for higher production of fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-saving technologies, rationalization of brands, models and retail outlets, reduced wage and benefit costs, significant capital structure restructuring and further consolidation in manufacturing operations. GM also plans to close 9 additional plants by 2012, taking the number of North American production facilities to 38 from 47 currently.

Further, the company intends to significantly reduce its current debt, and said it would reduce the number of U.S. employees to between 65,000 and 75,000 by 2012, compared with 96,000 now. In addition, the company's Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner would reduce his salary to $1 per year, and GM's board members would receive retainer of $1 for the year, according to the plan.

Although GM's immediate need for cash raised speculation that the company may file for bankruptcy protection, GM President Frederick Henderson reportedly said in a conference call that the company is not considering bankruptcy as an option. The company is focusing solely on securing help from the federal government and "there is not a Plan B," he said. Upon completion of the restructuring actions, the company expects to operate profitably at industry volumes between 12.5 and 13 million vehicles.

Meanwhile, Chrysler is reportedly seeking $7 billion before the end of the month to avoid running short of operating cash in the first quarter of next year. The company said it was counting on receiving $6 billion of low-cost funding from the Department of Energy and has factored the loans into its business plan running until 2012. Chrysler's chief executive officer Bob Nardelli already receives an annual salary of $1 and gets no health care, insurance or similar benefits from the company. Chrysler expects begin repayment of the federal loans in 2012.

Based on the business plan submitted by Ford to the U.S. Congress, the company is seeking up to $9 billion in bridge financing from the federal government in case the current economic crisis worsens or there is a bankruptcy of a major competitor. Ford has confirmed its decision to transform its North American automotive business through aggressive restructuring actions and the introduction of more high-quality, safe and fuel-efficient vehicles. The company said it does not expect a liquidity crisis in 2009, except in the case that one of its domestic competitors goes bankrupt or a more severe economic downturn further cripples automotive sales and create additional cash challenges.

Ford also reiterated that it is canceling all bonuses to be paid in 2009 for all management employees worldwide and foregoing bonuses for all employees in North America. The company also will not pay merit increases for North America salaried employees in 2009.

Media also reported that the three automakers are meeting with the leaders of the United Auto Workers union, or UAW, to debate on cost savings that could be wrung from the union contracts. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has said that he was open to all options, including reopening the deals. Gettelfinger said the union will consider changes to the 2007 labor contract with the Big Three, including the delay of automakers' payments into a multibillion-dollar union-administered health care fund.

Meanwhile, GM and Ford continue to report sharp decline in their monthly vehicle sales. For the month of November, GM reported a 41.3% drop in U.S. vehicle sales, mainly due to a significant drop in the market's retail demand and continuing economic uncertainty that has negatively impacted consumer confidence. The company sold 154,877 vehicles in the U.S. in November, down from 263,654 vehicles sold in the same month last year. Total car sales for November were down 44.1% year-over-year to 58,786 units, while total truck sales slipped 39.4% to 96,091 units.

Ford reported a 30.6% drop in November U.S. sales, hurt by a weakening economy and tight credit conditions.

GM closed Wednesday's trading at $4.90, up $0.05, on a volume of 28.28 million shares.

F rose $0.15 and ended Wednesday's trading at $2.85, on a volume of 152.25 million shares.

For comments and feedback: contact Copyright(c) 2008, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Chrysler keeps new Chinese partner "confidential"

Though it is troubled by the financial crisis, U.S. auto giant Chrysler LLC has not stopped looking for new partners in China since its dropped out of Daimler AG's joint venture (BBDC) with Beijing Auto. However, Chrysler keeps its potential new Chinese partner(s) "highly confidential" for the moment, said today citing Chrylser's China sales unit.

Chrysler has proceeded with production of the Chrysler 300C and Sebring in Beijing Auto, and Chrysler's some Dodge-brand models will be made in Southeast Motor, a Chinese partner of Mitsubishi Motors. Chrysler's Jeep-brand Compass, Grand Cherokee, and Commander have been sold in China as imported cars. Since it withdrew from BBDC a few months ago, Chrysler has talked with several Chinese automakers, including Chery Auto, for the partnership.

However, Chrysler LLC has not decided yet on which local automaker to team up with in China, the world's second largest auto market. Recently the U.S. auto company announced that its deal with Chery Auto has been put on hold until the two sides sort out their individual financial futures. And Chery has said that its talks and discussions with Chrysler are still going according to plan.

Great Wall Motor is developing an A-class car along with Chrysler. In mid-August, Great Wall revealed that the company's cooperation with Chrysler was making progress. Since then, Chrysler has sent dozens of technicians to assist Great Wall Motor in developing the new car model. The latter's former designs have been given up or totally changed.

Sooner or later, Chrysler will form its joint venture in China for its expansion in this fast-growing market. The company has been recruiting auto professionals in the country for this purpose. Chrysler has planned an extensive product lineup for the Chinese buyers and more positive operation pattern for its recovery in the China market by 2010.

By George Gao

2009 LX and LC models: New features and changes by Gucci300C

* This post will be continuously updated and/or corrected between now and until the 2009 models are released in the fall of 2008
* Some features may be optional and/or grouped in packages and available only on selected models
* Some of the information posted here has not and will not be officially confirmed for quite some time
* Please do not make a vehicle buying decision based on information herein until it's officially announced

2009 Chrysler 300 Series (LX)

Estimated production startup (unless otherwise noted): late July 2008


300 LX

300 Touring AWD
300 Touring RWD
300 Touring RWD Executive Series

300 Limited AWD
300 Limited RWD

300C AWD
300C RWD
300C RWD Executive Series
300C RWD Heritage Edition

300C SRT8


2.7L (300 LX only)
3.5L (300 Touring and Limited only)
5.7L (NEW 370hp MDS engine with VCT, 300C only)
6.1L 425 hp (SRT8 only)

New Features:

All models - Rear window integrated antenna replaces mast antenna
All models - Optimized suspension (springs, bushings, stabilizer bars and steering gear tuned to match new front control arm geometry)
All models - Available "Keyless Go" ignition system with proximity entry
AWD models - new active transfer case with front axle disconnect
Internet - Wi-Fi port (Mopar accessory, possible late model year factory option)
iPod - built-in interface on selected radios
Upgraded suspension
Discontinued - SRT Design Group
New Limited Slip Differential (SRT8)

Exterior colors:


300C SRT8

Engine and transmission:

6.1L SRT HEMI V8 ENGINE 425 hp



Exterior colors:




2. 245/45ZR20 BSW PERF TIRES





2009 Dodge Charger (LX)


Charger SE
Charger SE AWD
Charger SXT
Charger SXT AWD
Charger R/T
Charger R/T AWD
Charger SRT8


2.7L (SE only)
3.5L (SE, SXT only)
5.7L (NEW 370 hp MDS engine with VCT, R/T only)
6.1L 425 hp (SRT8 only)

New Features:

All models - Rear window integrated antenna replaces mast antenna
AWD models - new active transfer case with front axle disconnect
Internet - Wi-Fi port (Mopar accessory, possible late model year factory option)
iPod - built-in interface on selected radios
Active Cruise Control
Upgraded suspension

Key features same as 2008 models

Key features same as 2008 models

Key features same as 2008 models

Key features same as 2008 models
New Brake knockback mitigation (unconfirmed)
New Limited Slip Differential

2009 Dodge Challenger (LC)

Production start, 2008 models (SRT8 only): April 21, 2008
Production start, 2009 models (SE, R/T, SRT8): Late July 2008


Challenger SE base model 4-speed auto
Challenger R/T 5-speed auto
Challenger R/T 6-speed manual
Challenger SRT8 5-speed auto
Challenger SRT8 6-speed manual


3.5L (SE model only)
5.7L (NEW 375 hp 5.7L gen II engine with Variable Cam Timing, 6-speed R/T only)
5.7L (NEW 370 hp 5.7L gen II engine with Variable Cam Timing and MDS, 5-speed R/T only)
6.1L (SRT8 only)


4-speed automatic (SE model only)
5-speed automatic W5A580 (R/T and SRT)
6-speed manual TREMEC 6060 (R/T and SRT)

Rear axle gearing:

3.64 (base model)
2.82 (R/T auto)
3.73 (18" wheels) / 3.92 (20" wheels) (R/T manual)
3.06 (SRT auto)
3.73 (18" wheels)/ 3.92 (20" wheels) (SRT manual)


AM/FM CD MP3 Radio (model RES)
AM/FM 6 Disc DVD MP3 Radio (model REQ)
MyGIG Infotainment System with navigation (model RER)

Exterior colors:

Bright Silver Metallic
Brilliant Black
Dark Titanium Metallic
Deep Water Blue Pearl
Inferno Red Crystal pearl
Hemi Orange Pearl
Stone White
B-5 Blue (late model year intro for R/T classic model)

Key features and options:

17"x7" wheels, 18"x7.5" optional wheels (base model)
18"x7.5" aluminum wheels, optional chrome clad 20"x8" wheels (R/T)
20"x9" aluminum wheels (SRT)
245/45ZR20 and 255/45ZR20 Perf Tires (SRT)
Air Conditioning (all models)
All Speed Traction Control (all models)
Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle (R/T, SRT)
AutoStick Automatic Transmission (R/T, SRT)
Brake Assist (all models)
Brembo brakes (SRT)
Bright pedals (R/T, SRT)
Cell phone storage (all models)
Electronic Stability Program ESP (all models)
Exhaust, dual (R/T, SRT)
Fog lamps (all models)
Fuel filler door, chrome (R/T, SRT)
Gas Guzzler tax (SRT)
Grille, Satin Chrome (all models)
Heated front seats (R/T, SRT)
HID headlamps (R/T, SRT)
Hill Start Assist (R/T, SRT 6-sp models)
Hood scoop, functional (all models)
Illuminated Cupholders (R/T, SRT)
Illuminated Front Map Pockets (R/T, SRT)
Keyless-Go ignition (R/T, SRT)
Kicker audio system (SRT)
Leather Wrapped Shift Knob (RT/SRT)
Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel (RT/SRT)
Performance Steering and Suspension (R/T, SRT)
Power Heated Mirrors (R/T, SRT)
Power Windows, Front 1-Touch Down (all models)
Rear 60/40 Folding Seat (all models)
Rear Window Antenna (all models)
Remote start (R/T, SRT, auto transmission models only)
Satin Silver Lock Knobs (all models)
Seats, cloth (base)
Security Alarm (all models)
Side air bags (all models)
Sirius Satellite Radio (all models)
Spoiler, rear (R/T, SRT)
Sunroof (all models)
Tilt/Telescope Steering Column (all models)
Trak Pak (6-sp manual package, R/T, SRT)
UConnect Hands-Free Communication (all models) __________________

Ripple effect seen if GM, Chrysler or Ford goes bankrupt

December 4, 2008

A bankruptcy filing by General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC or Ford Motor Co. would have an immediate impact on every Asian and European manufacturer operating in North America because of their dependence on parts suppliers used by the domestic automotive industry.

For example, 58% of GM's North American suppliers also supply parts to Asian automakers, according to research conducted by automotive consulting firm CSM Worldwide.

Among Chrysler's suppliers, 59% also supply Asian automakers and among Ford suppliers, the figure is 65%.

"The bankruptcy of a major automaker won't be just a Detroit problem or a Michigan problem," Craig Cather, CSM's president and CEO, said in a statement. "The pain will quickly spread to the Southern states that have new foreign-owned auto plants, as well as Canada and Mexico."

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have made similar statements.

It's a good time to buy a car

December 4, 2008

Right now could be the best time ever to buy a vehicle, if you aren't worried the maker will go out of business, shutting off parts and service and ruining resale value.

"There are going to be fabulous deals. ... It's a buyer's market," says Tom Libby of Power Information Network.

Because of the economy, sales are falling faster than automakers can cut production, leaving dealers with a good selection.

"Virtually everybody can find what they want," says Jack Nerad, executive market analyst at car-shopping site "The only place they're thin is pickups and large SUVs." Production was cut months ago.

It's also a terrific time to buy what you're leasing. Automakers "really don't want that car back, so you can negotiate hard," says David Champion, senior auto tester at Consumer Reports magazine.

If the maker of your car or truck goes under, you could be in trouble.

"There is a federal regulation that parts have to be available for 10 years. But who do you enforce that against if there's no entity there?" Nerad asks.

If the maker is absorbed by another or is kept running under bankruptcy protection, parts, service and warranty work would be available. But if a car company goes into liquidation, "People will be left holding the bag," Champion says.

LaSorda expects no layoffs now at Chrysler


TOLEDO -- Chrysler LLC's Tom LaSorda does not expect the automaker will lay off any workers involuntarily this month, saying Wednesday that the company met its salaried headcount reduction goals in November.

As part of its effort to slash costs and restructure operations, the Auburn Hills automaker announced in October plans to cut its white-collar workforce by about 5,000 people.

Chrysler, which is seeking $7 billion in federal assistance from Congress, offered buyout and retirement packages through November and had warned that if those efforts weren't successful, involuntary separations could occur in December.

"We're not expecting layoffs in December," LaSorda, a Chrysler president and vice chairman, said at the company's Jeep plant following a rally. "We had a very successful take rate from the programs. ... The take rates were above our expectations."

The 5,000 job cuts, which included both salaried and contract workers, came on top of previous plans to eliminate 29,000 jobs. Chrysler said it had approximately 63,400 employees in September.

On Wednesday, Chrysler employees also were told that five of the automaker's product teams -- Jeep, truck, car and minivan, Project D, and street and racing technology -- were being consolidated into three teams, according to a company memo obtained by the Free Press.

A notable change includes the announcement that Mark Chernoby, the Chrysler vice president leading the so-called Project D team, was appointed vice president of alliance partnerships. Project D has been a top project within Chrysler to develop a midsize car to replace the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger.

Analysts have speculated that Chrysler could turn to a partnership, possibly with Nissan Motor Co., to bring a new midsize car to market.

Last month, Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president for product development, told Automotive News that Chrysler's next step in the midsize car project is to decide whether it should develop a new platform, modify a current one or partner with another automaker.

Other changes announced Wednesday, include:

• Scott Kunselman, who had been vice president of the Truck Product Team, has been named vice president of the Jeep/truck product team.

• Daniel Knott, who had been vice president of the Jeep product team, has been named vice president of the Car/minivan/SRT product team. Project D is apparently folded into this team. Kipp Owen, director of street and racing technology, will now report to Knott.

• Larry Lyons, who had been vice president of the car and minivan product team, has been named vice president of core components, process and international engineering. He succeeds James Issner, who is retiring.

Also, Roger Monforton Jr., vice president of product technology strategy, and Deborah Morrissett, vice president of regulatory affairs, are retiring. Employees were told other announcements and appointments will be coming.


This Day in Auto History:

The Gates-Osborne Carriage Company of Indianapolis, IN reorganizes as the Cole Carriage Company, evolving in 1909 into the Cole Motor Car Company
Racer Francois Migault is born in Le Mans, France
Joseph A. Galamb of the Ford Motor Company dies in Detroit, MI at age 74
Race car designer Leo Goossen dies in Los Angeles, CA at age 82

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hundreds gather as UAW addresses domestic auto crisis

Representatives of the United Auto Workers union arrive to General Motors headquarters for meetings with company executives on Wednesday. (Fabrizio Costantini / The New York Times)

Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Hundreds of United Auto Workers locals have converged at the Marriott Hotel in the Renaissance Center this morning, and many are prepared to be asked by top UAW leaders to reopen national labor agreements that will allow for a vast overhaul of the way autoworkers are paid, the health and retiree benefits they receive, and determine how many will hold on to their jobs.

The local leaders said it was unclear if they were going to vote today on reopening, which is the first step toward a general vote for its 139,000 active workers. But on Tuesday, each of the Detroit automakers made it clear they intend to reopen the 2007 labor agreements.

UAW vice president General Holiefield also kept mum on the details.


"I'd hate to get it out there just yet because I don't know which way Ron is going to go with this," Holiefield said, referring to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

UAW local representatives will be addressed by Gettelfinger this morning. Later in the day, meetings will be held for each of the three automakers.

Detroit's Big Three automakers submitted plans to U.S. Congress on Tuesday declaring a need for an immediate $34 billion government bailout in order to survive. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC warned they could soon collapse without the emergency aid. Ford Motor Co. said it should break even by 2011 but needs more concessions from its hourly workforce.

GM has offered to eliminate up 31,000 jobs, shutter nine plants and either shrink, sell or possibly kill three additional brands. Ford said it needs to bargain with the UAW on wages, benefits and work rules. Chrysler only said it will "seek meaningful concessions from each of its major constituents."

The union has lost more than 119,000 auto workers since 2006 and now represents 139,000 active workers. It agreed last year to a contract that reduced total hourly pay and benefits for new hires to about $26 from about $78, and new hires also wouldn't be eligible for pensions. The contract also called for creating union-managed trusts that will take over retiree health-care obligations starting in 2010.

UAW Local 600 delegate Gary Walkowicz, who works at the massive Ford Rouge facility in Dearborn, said he was opposed to reopening the contract.

"We've already given enough," he said. But many other delegates said they understood Detroit automakers were facing collapse.

"A great many of us are prepared to trust our leadership," said UAW Local 22 President George McGregor.

Hawaii to be 1st state with electric car stations

By AUDREY McAVOY , 12.03.08, 06:52 AM EST

Article Link:

Top 20 vehicles for November
The Ford F-Series helped to lift the Dearborn automaker's market share in November.

% change 2008
% change
Ford F - Series 37,911 -18.6% 473,933 -25.4%
Chevrolet Silverado 29,534 -22.5% 431,725 -23.5%
Toyota Camry 25,224 -28.8% 411,342 -5.3%
Toyota Corolla / Matrix 21,807 -12.8% 328,878 -4.1%
Honda Civic 17,690 -29.6% 321,987 5.9%
Honda Accord 17,430 -38.1% 350,441 -2.9%
Dodge Ram 15,538 -36.5% 229,222 -29.7%
Chevrolet Impala 12,851 -43.7% 244,692 -16.6%
Honda CR-V 12,153 -26.3% 183,346 -8.6%
Nissan Altima 10,828 -45.3% 252,357 -2.8%
GMC Sierra 10,497 -24.2% 155,564 -17.5%
Ford Escape 10,019 -19.1% 145,577 -4.4%
Chevrolet Malibu 9,469 35.4% 159,733 51.8%
Toyota RAV4 9,260 -25% 128,225 -19.3%
Ford Fusion 8,914 -27.4% 137,295 0.9%
Toyota Prius 8,660 -48.3% 151,025 -9.6%
Toyota Tacoma 8,648 -27.8% 135,962 -15%
Ford Focus 8,194 -38.0% 184,152 15.7%
Toyota Highlander 7,887 -35.9% 96,870 -14.4%
Chrysler Town & Country 7,457 -41% 110,411 -10.9%
Source: Autodata Corp.


This Day in Auto History:

The Stafford Motor Car Company is incorporated in Missouri by Terry Stafford
Donald Duane Lennox of the International Harvester Corporation is born in Pittsburgh, PA
The 1933 Buicks are introduced
Racer Walker Evans is born
The 1952 Pontiacs are introduced

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

Chrysler to hold public rally Wednesday at Toledo Jeep

Tom LaSorda, co-president of Chrysler LLC, is scheduled to appear at the Toledo Jeep rally on Wednesday.

Two top executives of embattled automaker Chrysler LLC will visit the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex Wednesday for a town hall meeting to rally support for the U.S. auto industry, the automaker announced Tuesday.

Chrysler Co-President Tom LaSorda and manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn are to appear at 11:30 a.m. at the factories where Jeep Wranglers are made, off of Stickney Avenue, Chrysler officials said.

Mr. LaSorda will discuss highlights of Chrysler’s plan for future success. In addition, the event is a chance for employees, community leaders, and area residents and businesses to voice their opinions about what Congress and the general public should know about the significant impact the auto industry has on the Toledo area community.

Also scheduled to appear are: Bruce Baumhauer, president, of United Auto Workers Local 12; Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner; Anne Baker, executive director and chief executive of the Toledo Zoo; Brian Daly, vice president - sales and marketing for Fleet Car Carriers; and Rusty Orben, director of public affairs in Ohio for CSX Transportation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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-- Chrysler asks Congress for $7B bridge loan by year-end. Plans more consolidation and pledges to seek alliances to stay viable.

Chrysler LLC Reports November 2008 U.S. Sales; Continues Aggressive Customer Discounts

-- All-new Dodge Ram sales continue to gain momentum -- Jeep(R) Liberty sales increased 6% compared to October 2008 -- Chrysler's U.S. retail market share increased 0.6 percentage points in November -- Fleet sales decreased 63%; Retail sales remain aligned with industry -- Additional incentives and financing arrangements designed to support customers during the continued credit crisis

Last update: 3:06 p.m. EST Dec. 2, 2008
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec 02, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Chrysler LLC today reported total November 2008 U.S. sales of 85,260 units, down 10% versus October 2008 (94,530 units), and down 47% from the same month last year. Inside these total numbers, fleet sales decreased 63% versus last November, as planned, and retail sales were in line with the retail industry (down 36%). The company's U.S. retail market share increased 0.6 percentage points in November.
"2008 will go down as unlike any other year in the industry, and thus, comparisons to 2007 sales have become irrelevant," said Jim Press, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President. "In this environment, we need to evaluate sales based on month-to-month trends, with the last two months of the year being especially important to determine if we have established a base for sales in 2009. Our goal is to fight to maintain our share of the retail market month-to-month by keeping a strong advertising and incentive presence in the marketplace and finding financing solutions for our customers, roughly 75% of whom finance their vehicles with dealer assistance."
November's industry sales declines reflect the combined impact of weak consumer confidence and tight credit, and highlight the need for government action. This week Chrysler LLC will present its Viability and Accountability Plan in detail to Congress regarding the Company's request for an immediate working capital bridge loan.
November Sales Highlights
Sales for the all-new 2009 light duty Dodge Ram increased as it makes its way to dealerships across the country. While the sell-down of the previous model continues as planned, sales of the 2009 model for the month reached 1,958 units, up 72% versus last month. Compared to October 2008, total Dodge Ram sales were down 12% (15,538 units), performing better than the industry overall.
Jeep(R) Liberty sales in November increased 6% (4,171 units) compared to October 2008 (3,918 units).
The all-new Dodge Challenger continues to draw attention. Sales of the vehicle reached 3,364 units in November, a 12% increase over October 2008 sales.
The Company finished the month with 399,724 units of inventory, or a 117- day supply. Inventory is down 17% compared with November 2007, when it totaled 480,424 units.
December Incentives
Chrysler remains committed to supporting customer needs for financing and incentives during the current economic conditions. Current deals provide customers an opportunity to take advantage of solid offers on the remaining 2008 model year inventory at the best deals of the year. The incentive plan will focus on aggressive cash rebates up to $6,000 on 2008 models, up to $3,000 on 2009 models and discounted APR financing that drive lower monthly payments.
In addition to the significant cash incentives, in several markets some 2008 model year vehicles are available with a 0% APR for up to 72 months; and 2009 model year vehicles are available with an APR as low as 1.9% for up to 72 months.
For returning lease customers, Chrysler will offer a Lease Loyalty allowance of up to $750 toward a new retail purchase. For consumers interested in leasing through independent financial institutions, Chrysler offers Bonus Cash of up to $2,000 on select 2008 model year vehicles.
About Chrysler LLC
Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., produces Chrysler, Jeep(R), Dodge and Mopar(R) brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2007 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside of North America were the highest ever with an increase of 15 percent over 2006. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee and Dodge Challenger and Ram. The Chrysler Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, annually supports hundreds of charitable organizations in the United States and throughout the world. In 2007, the Foundation gave approximately $21 million in charitable donations.

Chrysler LLC U.S. Sales Summary Thru November 2008

Month Sales Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change
Sebring 2,891 8,708 -67%
300 3,423 11,512 -70%
Crossfire 92 193 -52%
PT Cruiser 3,597 6,769 -47%
Aspen 2,013 1,515 33%
Pacifica 544 4,184 -87%
Town & Country 7,457 12,629 -41%
CHRYSLER BRAND 20,017 45,510 -56%
Compass 880 2,683 -67%
Patriot 2,461 4,199 -41%
Wrangler 6,140 8,333 -26%
Liberty 4,171 6,813 -39%
Grand Cherokee 5,203 8,489 -39%
Commander 1,447 4,391 -67%
JEEP BRAND 20,302 34,908 -42%
Caliber 2,755 6,313 -56%
Avenger 2,362 10,242 -77%
Charger 5,478 10,341 -47%
Challenger 3,364 0 0%
Viper 61 5 1120%
Magnum 48 2,417 -98%
Dakota 1,760 3,257 -46%
Ram P/U 15,538 24,488 -37%
Journey 2,815 0 0%
Caravan 6,055 13,347 -55%
Durango 1,662 3,190 -48%
Nitro 1,804 5,795 -69%
Sprinter 1,239 1,275 -3%
DODGE BRAND 44,941 80,670 -44%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 85,260 161,088 -47%

TOTAL CAR 20,475 50,088 -59%
TOTAL TRUCK 64,785 111,000 -42%

Selling Days 25 25

Sales CYTD Vol %
Model Curr Yr Pr Yr Change
Sebring 68,091 83,856 -19%
300 58,645 110,686 -47%
Crossfire 1,911 8,594 -78%
PT Cruiser 49,087 89,847 -45%
Aspen 20,739 25,766 -20%
Pacifica 6,771 51,938 -87%
Town & Country 110,411 123,940 -11%
CHRYSLER BRAND 315,655 494,627 -36%
Compass 24,124 36,196 -33%
Patriot 53,057 35,447 50%
Wrangler 77,567 110,236 -30%
Liberty 62,382 82,164 -24%
Grand Cherokee 68,174 109,184 -38%
Commander 25,506 57,206 -55%
JEEP BRAND 310,810 430,433 -28%
Caliber 81,262 92,228 -12%
Avenger 59,913 75,658 -21%
Charger 91,953 108,174 -15%
Challenger 14,821 0 0%
Viper 1,020 389 162%
Magnum 6,881 27,978 -75%
Dakota 24,343 47,829 -49%
Ram P/U 229,222 326,177 -30%
Journey 42,822 0 0%
Caravan 116,822 154,824 -25%
Durango 19,985 43,023 -54%
Nitro 34,332 67,475 -49%
Sprinter 13,468 14,934 -10%
DODGE BRAND 736,844 960,167 -23%

TOTAL CHRYSLER LLC 1,363,309 1,885,227 -28%

TOTAL CAR 385,590 519,586 -26%
TOTAL TRUCK 977,719 1,365,641 -28%

Selling Days 282 281


Chrysler Canada Announces November 2008 Sales

- Solid calendar-year-to-date sales of 210,702
- Jeep(R) Wrangler up 55 per cent; Jeep Liberty up 24 per cent
- Dodge Grand Caravan continues strong showing - up three per cent
- Dodge Journey No. 1-selling crossover in Canada

WINDSOR, ON, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - Chrysler Canada today announced sales of
15,560 for the month of November (November 2007: 18,445), with calendar
year-to-date sales of 210,702 compared to 213,729 in the same period last
year. "With only one month remaining, Chrysler Canada is on track for another
solid year," said Reid Bigland, President and CEO of Chrysler Canada. "The
credit crisis is creating a very challenging economic environment right now.
However our current product line up is well-suited for the Canadian
marketplace and will carry us through this difficult period."

November Sales Highlights

Overall Jeep(R) brand sales were up 11 per cent calendar-year-to-date,
led by strong showings from the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty. Jeep Wrangler
sales increased 55 per cent in November compared to 2007, with unit sales of
1,066 (2007: 690). Jeep Liberty sales rose 24 per cent for the month, to 813
units (2007: 656).
The Dodge Journey once again held leadership of the Canadian crossover
segment, with strong sales of 1,326 units. Carrying up to seven passengers,
the Journey unites the best of the compact car, SUV and minivan segments into
an affordable, fuel-efficient package.
Canada's most popular minivan, the Dodge Grand Caravan, achieved an
increase of three per cent over November 2007 to 3,039 units (2007: 2,942).
For the January through November period, Dodge Grand Caravan has grown sales
by 42 per cent compared to the same timeframe last year.

December Sales Promotions

Chrysler Canada will continue the popular Employee Pricing discount on 27
unique 2008 and 2009 model Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles through January
2, 2009.
Zero per cent purchase financing has been expanded to a total of 14
different models, including 0% purchase financing up to 84 months on the 2009
Chrysler 300 and 300C, and the 2009 Dodge Charger.
"Canadians really appreciate the no-haggle quality of Employee Pricing,"
said Dave Buckingham, Vice President of Sales. "Our special zero per cent
purchase financing, together with the Employee Pricing Program, create a
one-two punch that knocks the competitors out of the running in the
The combination of Employee Pricing with cash allowances equals total
discounts of up to $15,000 off the manufacturer's suggested retail price
(MSRP) on vehicles such as the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, winner of AJAC's
2009 Pickup Truck of the Year. Other eligible vehicles include Canada's
best-selling minivan, the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, including the new 25th
Anniversary Edition of the Dodge Grand Caravan which provides $1,400 of
content for no extra charge; and the 2008.5 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel.
Chrysler Canada now offers 12 vehicles for under $20,000, including the
2009 Dodge Caliber starting as low as $13,489 or $96 bi-weekly. Other vehicles
available for under $20,000 are the Dodge Dakota, Dodge Charger, Dodge
Avenger, Dodge Journey, Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Jeep
Wrangler, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler Sebring Sedan, and Chrysler Sebring

-- Chrysler November sales fall 47%.

Honda US sales drop more than 30 pct

GM US sales drop more than 41 pct

Chrysler LLC Trademarks Updates

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Check Status Live/Dead
1 78710980
2 78607238 3538635 CHALLENGER TARR LIVE
3 78661023
4 78938042
5 78920255
6 78866661
7 78838050
8 78780347
9 78971401
10 78837657
11 78716558
12 78542958

Automotive News also mentioned that Chrysler may employ an eight-speed automatic transmission to further improve performance and fuel economy. We don't know of any Chrysler transmission projects that are this ambitious, and Daimler currently utilizes only seven cogs in its Mercedes lineup, but suppliers like Aisin and ZF already have 8 speeds on the market.

Ford Nov. sales drop 30 pct., Toyota falls 34 pct.

Ford says Lincoln and Mercury light truck sales were off 29 percent compared with November of last year, while the three brands' car sales were down 32 percent.

Toyota's truck sales plummeted 36 percent, while demand for passenger cars fell 32 percent.

Garmon's Dodge wins 2008 NADM Unlimited Street Championship

Aftermarket Business

Pro Street diesel drag racing driver Jeff Garmon won the 2008 NADM Unlimited Street Championship with the National Association of Diesel Motorsports driving the Silverline Dodge Cummins drag race.

The Garmon Silverline drag racing pick-up truck consistently ran low to mid 6-second 1/8th mile passes, running on diesel fuel only, without power boosters such as nitrous or propane. ANSA Automotive, the industry leader in high performance sport compact and diesel exhaust systems, will continue to support the Garmen Silverline Dodge Cummins drag racing truck for the 2009 racing season.

ANSA Automotive is the exclusive North American supplier of Silverline Stainless Steel Exhaust products, which include direct-fit single and dual systems for diesel trucks, exhaust systems for many popular sport compact models, as well as universal mufflers and tips for domestic and import cars and light trucks. ANSA Automotive also offers ANSA brand OE replacement mufflers and exhaust systems, ANSA Sport High Performance exhaust systems and mufflers and EPA-certified bolt-on catalytic converters for import vehicles.

ALLPAR Rumor...

Despite economic turmoil and an overactive rumor mill, it appears almost certain that the next-generation 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a long-time moneymaker for Chrysler Corporation, Group, and LLC, will be built in a renovated North Jefferson plant.

1998 grand cherokee

Reliable source oh20 described the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee as a “complete redesign, not a refresh.” Whether Mercedes is involved or not is an open question, but their influence is bound to be smaller than it was with the 2008-2010 models — despite the heavy use of Mercedes powertrain components and a technology sharing agreement which will result in the next-generation Mercedes “M” adopting some new Grand Cherokee engineering.

Ryan, another established source wrote, “I can tell you a few things that are certain. Jeep will be moving the Grand Cherokee to the North Jefferson plant, along with the Durango. Both vehicles are already done being designed, and production starts in the spring I believe [this may indicate the Grand Cherokee will be a 2010 model]. Both vehicles will be quite different than what they are now. The Aspen will be kicked because for some reason, people still like Escalades better.” He agreed on the Phoenix, put in the new Hemi at 380 hp, and suggested an SRT model.

Redriderbob wrote, “About a year and half ago, I broke the word to you guys and gals at that the next generation of the Grand Cherokee would grow in size to cover both the Commander and Grand Cherokee lineups. I also stated that the next Grand Cherokee, Aspen, and Durango would all share a common platform. That is still true. Dodge will replace the Durango in 2012, one model year after the introduction of the new Grand Cherokee. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012 Dodge Durango will share powertrains as well as chassis parts. The Chrysler Aspen's future is still undecided.”

A new source, whose information has been collaborated to a degree by others, noted that three engines will be available, with a possible SRT8 model also getting its own engine:

The new source wrote that each of these engines will get a different five-speed automatic transmission; the best goes to the Hemi, which will have the reliable, comfortable 545RFE. Phoenix engines will get the usual Mercedes automatic. Finally, the diesel will get a Mercedes automatic that’s new to Chrysler.

Again, despite the mostly-unchanged powertrains, we’re told the new Grand Cherokee is a complete redesign — an unusual step considering that the current Grand Cherokee was also a complete redesign. However, Mercedes’ involvement reportedly added considerable bulk to the current generation, while the overall feel declined from the prior model.

Some more interesting features and options are slated to include:

  • “Jeep naturals:” Load-levelling, height-controlled air suspension (optional) and “terrain select” four wheel drive
  • From minivans: Power liftgate, video, and ParkSense and ParkView™ rear assist and side blind spot detection
  • From Liberty: “Command View®” dual sunroof system
  • Satellite radio/phone system
  • Adaptive cruise control (which maintains a distance from the next car, as well as a speed)

The usual range of other options should be present (e.g. dual zone air conditioning, skid plates, trailer towing, extra-good audio system).

As for looks, our guess is that Jeep will move back to the original Grand Cherokee styling cues. Most likely, aerodynamic considerations will have a much higher influence than before — which does not necessarily mean you should expect swoopy lines, since the new Ram doesn’t look especially aerodynamic but is, and the “aero-styled” Shadow wasn’t. We suspect the “blocky” styling will be toned down, inside and out; today’s ethic is looking lighter, not heavier. We’re hoping the goofy headlight treatment will disappear — replaced either by the current “big round headlights” or by the Grand Cherokee’s original rectangles.

Redriderbob wrote, “We do know it will draw super-heavy amounts of influence from the 2007 Jeep Trailhawk Concept. That vehicle was based on the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited platform that has a 116" wheelbase, the same wheelbase as the previous generation Dodge Durango! Front grille styling, as well as side profile styling cues will be very similar I am told. The vehicle will carry more chunky and edgy fenders. I have been told it will look more like a Range Rover Sport with Jeep DNA on steroids!”

jeep trailhawk

Ryan wrote, “The Grand Cherokee will bring in some Commander qualities and design cues (interior wise) and expect something beautiful to compete with the luxury bound Range Rover.”

One area where our new source and oh20 differ is in the use of the V8, with oh20 believing that the Grand Cherokee will use a 4.7 liter V8 engine apparently based on the Phoenix line. This might have been postponed given budget cuts.

Since the new Grand Cherokee is due in late 2010, you might see an introduction at the next New York Auto Show in 2009... or you might not. Historically, Jeep has been showing new models in New York.