Oakland, Maryland, United States
Chrysler has slowed production of its Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans this week, Automotive News reports. The Windsor, Ontario plant will cut its three shifts from eight hours each to four hours each in an effort "to align production with market demand," a Chrysler spokesperson told AN. Chrysler also builds the closely related Routan minivan for Volkswagen at its Ontario facility, but has not built a single example thus far in 2013.
Sales of Chrysler's minivans fell 15 percent for the first two months of 2013, and a large part of that has to do with the 26-percent drop of the Grand Caravan alone (the T&C was only down by one percent). According to Automotive News data, as of March 1, Chrysler had an unsold inventory of 24,713 Town and Country models and 18,547 Grand Caravans - a 69- and 43-day supply, respectively.
"No sense running full speed now, then have a lot of vehicles sitting around a few months down the line," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told AN. Full production is expected to resume again on March 18.
What do the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Ram 1500 all have in common? Yes, they're all Chrysler products, and two of them are based on the same platform. And we're sure you could find more similarities between them all, but the common trait we're looking at here is that, while they all come standard in rear-drive form, they're also available with all-wheel drive. And it's the transmission in those models that's the subject of the latest recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The output shaft on the eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF to Chrysler for the AWD versions of the 300, Charger and Ram 1500 is apparently prone to fracture. That in the end could leave the vehicle without power and could, according to the NHTSA investigation, increase the chance of a crash. The vehicle could also roll away if even if left in Park without the handbrake applied.
That's why Chrysler is calling in 4,194 examples of those three models from the 2013 model year. Dealers will be responsible for inspecting the transmissions and, where necessary, replace the entire unit. See the full recall notice below for all the details.
Being in business for 100 years is a HUGE milestone, so we hope Dodge has more in mind to celebrate its centennial than just a special edition package for the 2014 Charger and Challenger. Called the 100th Anniversary Edition package, this collection of cosmetic enhancements will be available in limited quantities for both cars at a cost of $2,500.
Ordering a Charger or Challenger with the 100th Anniversary Edition package means starting with either a V6-powered SXT Plus or V8-powered R/T Plus model. They can each be ordered in many colors, but only the High-Octane Red Pearl Coat above is an anniversary exclusive. Each car also comes with an anniversary-exclusive set of 20-inch, five-spoke wheels with what Dodge calls "Granite Crystal pockets," a texture that's also mirrored on each car's grille.
Of course, there are commemorative badges galore affixed to the exterior of each car, including "Dodge Est. 1914" fender badges and "100" logos on the center caps of each wheel. The styling theme of each car's interior is a bit more interesting, with Dodge designers trying to evoke "the patina and machinist legacy of John and Horace Dodge," the company's founders. To that end, the leather interior can be had in Molten Red or Foundry Black Nappa, and each features a custom cloud overprint that makes the hide look like a working man's dirty dungarees. Designers also used brass-colored accent stitching on the interior's leather trim pieces, and affixed more "Dodge Est. 1914" badges to the front seat backs and floor mats. We do like the flat-bottomed steering wheel, and the Challenger 100th Anniversary Edition gets exclusive white gauges faces and the Charger black. The "100" on each car's speedometer is also highlighted in red.