Gilles to head new SRT Chrysler division

From the Detroit News:

Chrysler Group LLC announced today that it is creating a new brand — the Street and Racing Technology — or SRT brand — as it conducts a management reshuffle.

Chrysler also announced management changes, including a new Dodge Brand CEO.

Ralph Gilles, who has been president and CEO of Dodge, has been named head of the new cross-brand performance unit — SRT — and Chrysler’ Motorsports activities. Gilles continues with design responsibility for all exterior and interior design activities for all Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles.

Chrysler said the moves were aimed at the company’s business plan.

“Values and missions are sculpted on the rock. Organizational structures are designed to reflect the Company’s business needs in support of its strategic business plan. Today’s announcement is consistent with this line,” said Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri.

Last week, Fiat SpA reached a deal with the U.S. Treasury to acquire the government’s 6 percent stake in the company, which will give the Italian automaker a 52 percent majority stake in the Auburn Hills company.

Under the new structure, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne will have 24 direct reports at Chrysler, down from 25.

Read the full article.


Bullz-Eye and Dodge in New York City’s Gerardo Orlando recently traveled to New York City courtesy of Dodge. Check out his experience below!

I traveled to New York City courtesy of Dodge to check out and drive some of their 2011 models, including the 2011 Dodge Avenger. This was my first opportunity to test drive this vehicle, and I had a red Dodge Avenger Heat V6 for the drive (see the photos above). It was a rainy spring day, but I was able to push the Avenger on some country roads outside of the city along with hitting the city streets as well. The V6 made this car fun to drive, and Dodge made a number of changes to this vehicle for the 2011 model year to improve the handling. The wet roads weren’t a problem and I loved the way it handled tight corners. The result was a vehicle that matched the aggressive styling, and I think this car will be a big hit for guys looking for a sporty sedan. Check back for our full review of the Avenger in our Car Channel.

Dodge also had some Chargers for us as well. I drove the V8 R/T in the past and was very impressed with the vehicle, so I took the opportunity to drive the 2011 Charger Rally Plus with a V6 engine (see the silver Charger in the photos above). While it doesn’t have the power of the V8, this V6 Charger performed very well and had plenty of power. You can save some money and get better mileage with the V6, so for many guys this might be the better option. I recommend you drive both of them and you can choose based on your own preferences, but I came away impressed with both the V8 and V6 versions of the Charger. This car handles beautifully for a full-sized sedan and it has the most aggressive styling in its class in my opinion.

Read the full article and check out more photos.


Chrysler makes a statement with May sales figures

Chrysler is rockin’ the sales charts with an increase of 10% in May, totally bucking the trend. Jeep sales are on fire and cars like the new 2011 Chrysler 200 are selling well.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Retail sales up 27 percent in May compared with same month a year ago

May marks the 14th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains

New 2011 Chrysler 200 sales up 154 percent compared with sales of its predecessor a year ago; retail sales of the Chrysler 200 increase more than five fold

Chrysler brand named “Top Popular Brand” in 2011 AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

Jeep® brand sales up 55 percent compared with sales in May 2010

All current Jeep brand models post May sales increases, led by the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, whose sales were up 192 percent versus a year ago

Jeep Grand Cherokee wins “Premium Mid-size SUV” category in AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

New 2011 Jeep Compass posts 92 percent year-over-year sales increase, second highest percentage increase for Jeep brand models

New 2011 Dodge Journey crossover voted “Family Car of Texas” at the Texas Auto Writers Association “Spring Roundup”

Ram Truck brand posts a 13 percent increase versus a year ago, the brand’s 13th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains

2012 Fiat 500 voted “Best Value” and “Best New Design” at the Texas Auto Writers Association “Spring Roundup”

Read the full article.


Chrysler repays government loans

From the Detroit News:

It’s official. Chrysler Group LLC today confirmed the wire transfers have gone through, and the automaker has repaid loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The automaker has repaid $5.1 billion in loans, as well as $1.8 billion in interest and other fees, releasing Chrysler from all monetary commitments to the governments less than two years after the bailouts kept them in business. Chrysler went to the capital market for lower-interest financing to get out from under the government loans that carried interest rates as high as 20 percent. The refinancing — which is much like refinancing a home mortgage — will save more than $300 million annually.

Today, Chrysler repaid the U.S. Treasury more than $5.9 billion; Canadian governments received $1.7 billion to retire their loans to the automaker.

At a celebration attended by 1,100 workers this afternoon at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights plant, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wore a pin that said “Paid” on his customary black sweater.

Read the full article.


New Chrysler commercial van?

What will Chrysler name it’s new commercial lightweight van? Don’t know yet but it should look real similar to this Fiat Doblo spotted in Michigan!

From Automobile:

One of our sharp-eyed readers managed to snap a few photos of something peculiar while on his way home from work — a European-market Fiat Doblo van wearing Michigan manufacturer plates.

Given the tie-up between Chrysler and Fiat, seeing the Doblo on U.S. roads isn’tthat strange; especially since there’s a chance this exact van may eventually be sold through Chrysler’s U.S. dealer network. Rumors have long swirled that the Doblo could join the Ram Trucks portfolio, providing the company with a light commercial van that can battle Ford’s Transit Connect here in North America.

European-spec Doblos are offered with the choice of five engines paired to either a five- or six-speed manual transmission. Diesel options range from a 90-hp, 1.3-liter, turbocharged inline-four cylinder to a 135-hp, 2.0-liter turbodieselI-4. The two gasoline-powered options use a 1.4-liter, naturally aspirated inline-four good for 95 hp (120 hp when powered by CNG). If the Doblo crosses the pond, a gas offering may be the only engine choice — but we think Fiat may have to upsize what’s found underhood in order to appease power-hungry American buyers.

Read the full article.


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