Number of Cylinders: 8
Model: Other Pickups
Drive Type: rear
Number of Doors: 4
Middletown, Connecticut, United States
It's fascinating the way that one change to a complex system can have all sorts of unintended consequences. For instance, there are hundreds of new Chrysler Town and County and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, sitting in lots on the Detroit waterfront because of the energy boom in the Bakken oil field in the northern US and parts of Canada.
The huge amount of crude oil coming from these sites mostly use freight trains for transport, and that supply boom has resulted in a shortage of railcars to carry other goods. According to The Windsor Star, North American crude oil transport by train has gone from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 434,032 carloads in 2013. Making matters worse, some North American rail infrastructure is still damaged because of this year's harsh winter, and that's slowing things down even further.
Chrysler admits to The Star that it has had some delivery delays due to the freight train shortage. In the meantime, it's using more trucks to deliver its vehicles. Trucking is a far less economical solution, partially because a train can carry so many more units at one time, but alternatives are slim. The Windsor plant alone has a deal for 33 trucks to distribute the minivans around Canada and the Midwestern US.
Chrysler has announced a recall covering 349,442 vehicles due to ignition switches that can either become stuck or move without warning. All of the affected vehicles are from the 2008 model year, and were built before May 12, 2008.
The automaker has learned that ignition keys on some vehicles "may not fully return to the 'ON' position after rotation to the 'START' position during engine-startup," the company said in a statement. Additionally, "an ignition key may not fully return to the 'ON' position after rotation to the 'START' position and may inadvertently move through the 'ON' position to 'ACCESSORY' or 'OFF.'"
Chrysler says it is unaware of any related injuries, and notes that while reduced braking, engine or steering power is possible in such instances, the airbags are not affected. The later stands in contrast to General Motors' recent rash of high-profile recalls, and it's an important distinction that Chrysler (understandably) felt necessary to call out in bold print in its press release.
Students and teachers at a Washington community college are up in arms following an order from Chrysler that it must destroy the pre-production Dodge Viper that was donated to the school's automotive technology program ten years ago.
The Viper in question is said to be the fourth off the production line, based on its VIN, and has had its emissions controls disabled, allowing its ten-cylinder engine to produce 600 horsepower, according to a report from Yahoo! Autos. As one of the first Vipers ever produced, the school's AT instructors claim it could be worth $250,000 in a museum, while a local news report purports that Jay Leno once tried to purchase the car, but the sale was prevented by Chrysler.
As pointed out by our friends at Autobytel, though, there are a lot of things in this story that don't quite add up. Immediately noticeable from the news report embedded below - which shows the car at South Puget Sound Community College - is that the car in question is not a 1992 model. When the Viper went on sale in 1992, it was only available as an RT/10 with a (flimsy) soft top, like the red car shown above. But the car featured in the report from KING5 News (inset image) is clearly a hardtop Viper GTS, which didn't enter production until 1996. And even if, as reported by a local newspaper, the hardtop featured is a prototype, it doesn't explain the lack of another iconic feature of the first Vipers - their distinctive side pipes. This kind of pokes holes in the school's argument that this is the fourth Viper to ever roll down the line. At best, this appears to be a pre-production Viper GTS.