Chrysler’s Comeback is Real!

Chrysler Corporation has been beat up the last decade in so many ways it’s almost wrong. The merger with Daimler did not go as planned for either company and then right before the economic tsunami hit, Chrysler is purchased by equity firm Cerberus. Most people outside of the auto industry had no idea who Cerberus was and they still don’t have any idea who they are today. Cerberus knew very little about running an automaker and it showed, so when they bailed on Chrysler and her employees it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Almost everyone knows that Chrysler went through bankruptcy in 2009 and were on the brink of extinction when an agreement to take over the company was reached with Fiat. Heck, they basically shut down all production in December 2008, which had many in the industry pondering whether Chrysler could ever recover! Fast forward to December 2010 and now things have turned around for the Pentastar.

STERLING HEIGHTS, MI - DECEMBER 6: Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne attends an event that celebrates the latest announcements about Chrysler products, jobs, and investments at the Chrysler Group Sterling Heights Assembly Plant on December 6, 2010 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The Chrysler Group LLC announced the production launches of the all-new 2011 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, and an $850 million investment for all-new paint shop, machinery and handling equipment. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Chrysler is now run by Sergio Marchionne, who orchestrated a turnaround at Italian car maker Fiat and is now in the midst of doing the same with Chrysler but on a larger scale. We say “larger” because this turnaround will also include Fiat, as Mr. Marchionne is not finished his work in Turin either. There is new and consistent process and leadership with the Fiat World Class Manufacturing System working it’s way into all aspects of Chrysler’s facilities with a real focus on quality, which translates into “a new day has arrived.” On the design side, hopefully there are no more redesigns like the weak Sebring and no more allowing well-built and designed vehicles wither on the vine with shabby updates using cheap materials. Enter Fiat’s multi-air engines, which are reliable and fuel efficient. There’s reason for optimism in the halls of Chrysler. The culture is surely going through some changes at breakneck speed, but when you hear about what Italian export Mauro Pino is accomplishing at Chryslers Toledo, OH plants you can understand that real progress is taking place at all levels of the “New Chrysler”.

Chrysler sales in 2010 are up almost 20 percent from 2009 and with eleven all-new or seriously refreshed Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat vehicles to be launched during the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter of 2011, the march is on for a larger slice of the market. Also in the mix is the venerable Fiat 500, which will add some flair to the Chrysler/Fiat stable and don’t be surprised if that little 500 becomes a cult hit. Many thought the days were numbered for Chrysler and it wasn’t easy to change perceptions but in the auto world, many are taking notice of what Chrysler and all of her brands are building and selling.

The Dodge brand has seen sales steadily climb and has new product that could seriously put them on a roll with the gorgeous 2011 Dodge Durango, the stylish and tough-looking 2011 Dodge Charger, the sharp crossover 2011 Dodge Journey, the new 2011 Dodge Avenger, the upgraded 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan, and the badass Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. We had a chance to drive some of these cars and were very impressed. The 2011 Dodge Charger is the flagship of the Dodge brand and appears to be ready to rock and roll in the sales department, with a re-design that looks awesome.

The big daddy of them all at Chrysler is the 300 and we’re going to have a bird’s eye view of the new machine at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 10th, 2011. Some of the photos that have been released show a very sleek 2011 Chrysler 300, with a grille that features seven horizontal liquid chrome blades and a new Chrysler wing badge and a stunning totally new interior that is garnering plenty of praise early on in the 300′s unveiling. Look for plenty of coverage of the Chrysler 300 on Bullz-Eye.com during the Detroit Auto Show in January 2011.

There is no longer just a bunch of folks crossing their fingers hoping that the U.S. Auto Industry can recover, but rather we are witnessing a real strengthening in sales with Chrysler/Fiat positioning themselves for a renaissance that is truly American and amazing! The competition is fierce and we know this firsthand, as we continue to drive, test and review many makes and models from top flight auto producers. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Chrysler/Fiat is building something for the long term and they have an edge right now that they can’t lose if they want to be stronger than they’ve been in decades.

Ford’s F-150 New 6.2L V8 Engine

Check out this video of Ford’s new 6.2L V8 Engine for the venerable F-150 It’s one of 4 new engines going into the 2011 Ford F-150′s.

The Blue Oval keeps working on the color Green!

48704, SANTA ANA CITY, CALIFORNIA - Tuesday December 21, 2010.  MUSTANG TALLY - Bob Lucas's Car Still Going Strong After 45 Years And One Million Miles. A retired teacher who bought a car in 1965 is still behind the same wheel four decades later - after racking up more than one MILLION miles. Grandfather-of-six Bob Lucas, 79, bought the Ford GT Mustang 289 from his local dealer in 1965 for $3,000. Bob, then just 34, had no idea the hardy vehicle would last for the next 45 years - and clock up an astonishing million miles. Words by Paul Andrews, PacificCoastNews.com / Photograph: James Breeden,  PacificCoastNews.com

Ford isn’t letting up in trying to come up with all ideas possible to increase fuel efficiency. If this start and stop method can increase mpg by 10% in the city and 5% overall cars won’t need to be idle to get our attention! (just make sure the heater keeps running in Ohio winters!)

From the Truth About Cars:

Despite the fact that current EPA testing methods fail to demonstrate the advantages of “stop-start” systems, which shut down engines at idle, Ford will begin rolling out the technology on 2012 model-year vehicles. Automotive News [sub] reports that “some” four-cylinder models will go idle-free starting with next year’s rollout of 2012 models, and that

Based on the European rollout, the most likely initial vehicles include the 2012 Ford Fiesta and Focus cars, Escape crossover, C-Max minivan and Transit Connect delivery vehicle.

By 2015, Ford will have joined Mazda as one of the manufacturers offering start-stop across its lineup (on manual and automatic models). There was, however, no cooperation between the two firms on their respective stop-start systems. Ford’s newest system can reportedly improve efficiency by ten percent in the city and five percent overall.

Read the full article.

Dodge takes a “Journey” to Europe!

From AutoNews.com:

TURIN — Chrysler Group will stop selling the Dodge Journey in Europe and will instead market the crossover utility vehicle with a Fiat badge, Fiat sources said.

The Fiat version of the crossover will be called the Freemont, the sources said.

The Freemont is a key part of Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to cut development costs and boost capacity utilization at the automakers’ factories by cross selling vehicles from Fiat group and Chrysler group brands.

The Freemont will be a rebadged version of the revamped Dodge Journey unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in November. The Journey was given minor exterior design tweaks, a revised interior and a modified suspension.

Read the full article.

Nissan & Sony Give Gamers the Chance to Go Pro in Real Life

By the time I had watched thirty seconds of that video, I knew Nissan and Sony had done something epic. The two companies have paired up to offer the best Gran Turismo 5 drivers from around the nation a chance at becoming a real world, flesh-and-blood race car driver. Just look at those spinouts. I can’t wait.

Here’s a little clip from the press release:

GT Academy will challenge gamers and racing fans alike across the U.S. to compete in a series of online time trials in pre-selected Nissan vehicles in Gran Turismo 5. Throughout the course of the competition, participants will earn free digital content just for playing, as well as have an opportunity to win prizes for winning regional time trials. The top 32 virtual racers in the country will compete in the live national finals event scheduled for March 2011 to become one of 16 GT Academy finalists. The 16 finalists will compete against each other in a series of challenges, including behind the wheel of real Nissan race cars, for a chance to become a professional race car driver as the GT Academy winner for the U.S. The winner will have the opportunity to train with elite race car drivers at international tracks and race as part of a professional team.

It’s definitely an interesting concept. For more info, check out our post on the Bullz-Eye blog.

2011 Cadillac CTS Sedan Review

Bullz-Eye.com reviews the 2011 Cadillac CTS Sedan!

Cadillac has been working hard the past decade to get back in the game, but it’s the best competition in the world. The company has had some success, and the 2011 CTS Sport Sedan has helped them rack up decent sales numbers. In order to increase Cadillac’s sales further, though, they need the CTS to be a leader. We’ll let you know whether we feel the CTS is up to the test.
Exterior

We drove a Cadillac CTS Sedan that had a black raven color exterior and 18″ painted aluminum wheels, which together made this car look more grown up than I expected. The front end is the best looking exterior design feature of the CTS Sedan. The fascia is distinctive and bold and really adds some character to the car. The low stance and muscular fenders with the fog lamps and Cadillac crescent give an appearance of both luxury and performance. The rest of the CTS is somewhat of a letdown. It appears the exterior was slapped together and the rear end looks bloated and out of place.

Read the full review.

Nissan goes “personal” with new wraps!

From Auto Guide.com:

Large panel vans are perhaps the ultimate form of mobile blank canvas – the acres of sheetmetal representing the perfect opportunity to install your own logo. Increasingly, companies are using vehicle wraps to market their product or service on their own vehicles and it’s proven to increase public awareness.

Now, Nissan North America is teaming up with Lakewood, Colorado based Original Wraps Inc. to offer specific wrap applications for customers of the new NV commercial van. Original Wraps has developed a software program that allows owners of Nissan’s new commercial van to create their own logos and designs on the Nissan Commercial Vehicle Website. Once the design has been finalized, it can then be printed on 3M Scotchprint Vinyl and shipped to the customer within 7-10 days ready for installation.

“We’re pleased to offer high quality, customized vehicle personalization with hundreds of different graphic designs created specially for the new Nissan NV,” remarked Joe Castelli, vice president, Nissan Commercial Vehicles and Fleet, NNA. “It’s part of our innovative approach to thinking about how our customers use their vans – including as a vehicle for advertising their company and services.”

The program is scheduled to start in January 2011.

Read the full article.

Finalists announced for North American Car and Truck of the Year


From the Detroit Free Press
:

Fuel efficiency and new electric car technology helped several cars and trucks battle their way into the finalist ring for North American Car and Truck of the Year — a highly anticipated award in the auto industry.

The finalists were announced Thursday at an event hosted by the Automotive Press Association. For Car of the Year: Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf. For Truck of the Year: Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are given by a jury of 49 veteran automotive journalists from Canada and the U.S. The winners will be announced on Jan. 10 at the Detroit auto show. Here is a closer look:

Chevrolet Volt: After nearly four years of anticipation, Chevrolet’s extended-range electric car has arrived. It travels 25-50 miles on an electric charge before switching over to a gas generator. Price: $41,000 (before tax credits of up to $7,500). Mileage: EPA rated 35 miles per charge and then 37 m.p.g.

Read the full article.

Fisker Automotive and China Grand Automotive Group to bring premium electric vehicles to China

Fisker automotive

You may know Fisker Automotive as the manufacturer of the Karma. The Karma is an electric car at heart, but with extended range to back up the green-savvy tech. It’s a very cool car, and you can see CEO Henrik Fisher’s design credentials (Vantage, DB9, Z8) come forth in the above Karma shot from the LA Auto show.

Fisker has partnered with China Grand Automotive Group, the number one passenger car trader in China, to deliver vehicles to the Far East.

From the press release:

“We are extremely proud to be working with CGA to support Fisker Automotive in the fast-emerging Chinese market,” said Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker Automotive. “With its vast network of experienced retailers CGA will give Fisker an instant and credible footprint in the region. CGA’s attention to detail and excellent customer service will ensure Fisker buyers receive the level of service and peace of mind expected of a premium brand.”

Fisker Automotive’s first car, the Fisker Karma, will make its Chinese debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011. The Karma represents Fisker Automotive’s vision of responsible luxury and is the world’s first true electric vehicle with extended range.

The Karma combines world class style and performance with industry leading economy and the lowest emissions of nearly any production vehicle. With a total range of 483 km (300 mi) the four-passenger Karma saloon is capable of traveling 80 km (50 mi) on emission-free electric power alone, and an additional 403 km (250 mi) on low-emission hybrid electric power.

This is a big announcement for the green movement and especially for China. Fisker has reportedly already seen 3,000 vehicle preorders from China.

Car Review of the 2011 Dodge Charger

Bullz-Eye.com reviews the 2011 Dodge Charger!

For years I’ve felt that the American auto brands each needed a sport sedan the evoked the best traditions of the brand while offering a stylish yet affordable option for the American car market. Specifically, they needed cars that would appeal to American men who didn’t want to break the bank buying a high end sports car or a pricey European sedan.

After Dodge gave me the opportunity to drive the completely redesigned 2011 Dodge Charger R/T AWD through the winding roads of Highway 1 outside of San Francisco, I’m convinced that Dodge has a winner that will satisfy this demand. The new Charger should have huge appeal for guys looking for performance, aggressive styling and value. As you can see from the photos we took, the car is beautiful and it was a joy to drive as well. For a car that starts at $25,995, buyers will also get tremendous value. The V8 equipped R/T starts at $30,995, which is $2,000 less than the 2010 edition.

Read the full article.

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