Auto blogTue, 30 Jul 2013 10:01:00 EST
Chrysler has some good news and some bad news. First, profits were up 16 percent over the second quarter of 2012, bringing the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based manufacturer $507 million on the back of strong demand for trucks and SUVs (a recurring theme this quarter, particularly in the US). Q2 revenue was up as well, from $16.8 billion in 2012 to $18 billion in 2013. The bad news is that the Pentastar's overall earnings forecast for net income in 2013 has been trimmed from $2.2 billion to between $1.7 and $2.2 billion, according to Automotive News.
In addition to the adjusted net income forecast, Chrysler tweaked its operating profit from $3.8 billion to between $3.3 and $3.8 billion. This has gone largely unexplained by Chrysler, perhaps hoping the news of a three-percent increase in its transaction prices for Q2 will allow it to sweep this adjustment under the rug.
The star of the show for Chrysler has been its US sales, which saw a 10-percent jump, both bettering the industry average of eight percent and improving over the same stretch of 2012. As with the increase in transaction prices, Chrysler has the new Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee to thank. Perhaps most worrying from this report, though, is that every brand in the automaker's stable saw an increase in sales... except for the Chrysler brand itself.
Are you hesitant to pull the trigger on a brand new Dodge Avenger in hopes that a new one will be coming? Well, don't hold your breath. According to The Detroit News, Chrysler will be extending production of the current Avenger sedan through the end of 2015.
Originally, we heard that the company would kill the Avenger to better focus its midsize sedan efforts on the Chrysler 200 replacement. But then new reports stated there would indeed be an Avenger successor, and that we could see it as early as next January. This Detroit News report cites supplier sources confirming the extension of Avenger production, though Chrysler has not released an official statement on the matter.
These same suppliers say that the current Jeep Wrangler will live on through mid-2018 - that's right, another five years. The Detroit News reports that a replacement for the iconic, go-anywhere Jeep was due in mid-2016.
This is why we love Ralph Gilles. While in Italy hanging out with a group of Viper Club members in Europe, the SRT boss took the time to respond to a question directed at him on Instagram in regards to the future of Dodge.
Recent reports have painted a bleak picture for Dodge, but Gilles defended Chrysler's full-line brand by stating that the rumors are, "all rumors, Dodge is here to stay! It may get more focused going forward but not killed!" The idea of a "more focused" Dodge brand could lend some credibility to reports that the Grand Caravan and Durango are on their way out, which would leave Dodge solely as a car, or car-based, automaker.
Chrysler has issued a recall for some 2013 Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Ram C/V Tradesman vans built between May 10, 2012 and June 7, 2013. These vehicles may have a software error that would cause the wrong side (opposite side) airbags to deploy in a crash. With this defect, a left-side impact would cause the right-side airbag to deploy, etc.
The recall affects 281,500 vehicles in total: 224k in the US, 49,300 in Canada, 2,900 in Mexico and 5,300 in other locations. Chrysler will notify owners of effected vehicles, and reflash the offending occupant restraint control module to resolve the issue. Scroll down to read the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration press release.
Wards Auto reports the future of Dodge is looking uncertain. Fiat has more or less laid out it's game plan for the next few years, and while the Chrysler, Fiat and Jeep lines are set to receive plenty of love, Dodge isn't so lucky. Fiat has already hobbled Dodge significantly by splitting off the brand's trucks into a separate Ram line.
Wards says that after the Avenger rides off into the sunset early next year, Fiat-Chrysler won't replace the model, leaving a gaping midsize hole in the Dodge lineup. The report also cites unnamed sources as saying that at least two other current Dodge products will move to the Chrysler line.
One of those could very well be the Grand Caravan. Chrysler has already made it clear that it plans to trim redundancy between its minivan offerings, but it has yet to clarify which other vehicle could sail under the Chrysler banner moving forward. Either way, such changes to the product line would theoretically leave Dodge with just four models.
For the past few years, Chrysler's Mopar in-house tuning division has created its own one-off versions of several cars in the automaker's portfolio, including the Mopar '10 Challenger, Mopar '11 Charger and Mopar '12 300. For 2013, the black-and-blue up-do has been given to the new Dart compact, and Chrysler has announced that the limited-edition sedan is now available for order, priced from $25,485, not including *$995 for destination.
Like previous Mopar edition vehicles, the Dart is painted in a signature Pitch Black exterior with an offset blue racing stripe. The sedan sits seven millimeters lower to the ground and gets visual add-ons like a chin spoiler, decklid spoiler and rear diffuser, along with gloss black 18-inch alloy wheels.
Performance wise, the Dart's 1.4-liter MultiAir inline four-cylinder engine remains, producing 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The Mopar car gets a sport-tuned exhaust system along with revised power steering calibration and beefier brakes.
What's not to love about crowdsourcing? This idea, after all, has given us Kickstarter as well Local Motors, but automakers are starting to use the social platform to sell more cars (or just drum up a little PR). Both Dodge and Hyundai have used "crowd-funding" recently, and while Automotive News is reporting that neither has racked up big sales with this gimmick, both automakers are pleased with the attention.
For Hyundai, it teamed up with website Motozuma.com to help customers crowdsource money for a down payment, and the automaker matched this amount up to $500. Last year, this helped Hyundai sell an extra 1,600 units, a fraction of its total 2012 sales. That figure is far larger than Dodge fared with the Dodge Dart Registry - it netted only two sales and a small number of individual options. This registry did help University of Southern California fraternity crowdsource $18,000 to buy a Dart for a local Meals on Wheels, however. Despite the low sales figures, Dodge and Hyundai are considering their crowdsourcing programs a success since it helped them connect with younger buyers.
The following is written by auto industry veteran Tow Kowaleski. The words are his own, but the memories now belong to everyone thanks to his willingness to share. If you're an industry veteran with a story to share, contact us at tipsATautoblogDOTcom.
It became the flame that started the fire of belief in the next life of Chrysler.
I just sold a car. Nothing new. Millions do it every day. But my car was a 1995 Dodge Viper, so maybe it was a bit more unique since just 12,000 were built. And like others selling a car that's been a part of the family for close to 20 years, this was a confluence of emotions for me. I was sad to see it go, but happy to have the cash and one less big, shiny, under-utilized object in my life.
According to Automotive News, Chrysler is hoping Fast & Furious 6 will be kind to the Dodge Dart. While the compact sedan doesn't actually show up in the film, Dodge has partnered up with the movie franchise for a new ad featuring the Dart.
Chrysler hasn't exactly seen the high sales numbers it was originally hoping for with the new sedan, thanks in part to a couple of missteps. For starters, most early-production vehicles were only offered with a manual transmission. Analysts believe Chrysler squandered around 95 percent of potential Dart sales because automatic transmission options weren't immediately available.
Right now, the Dodge Dart rakes 19th among compact cars, pulling down 31,064 sales through April. Last month was the company's strongest, with 8,099 units moving off of dealer lots. Unfortunately, the model has also been handicapped by its older sister, the Avenger. With Chrysler throwing heavy incentives at the aging sedan, many consumers have taken advantage of a better deal with the slightly larger, more powerful Avenger.
As car lovers, it's always hard to find a good television show with decent cars, but what the 1990s show Viper lacked in acting, scripting and plot, it more than made up for with cool cars. For starters, the lead car was a Dodge Viper RT/10, but, on screen, it was able to morph into its "Defender" mode making it an armored coupe with a full arsenal of weapons.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a fan of the bad show to love its lead car, and if you really want one, a Defender is up for auction right now on eBay. According to the listing, this car is the real deal - not a clone - and it comes with a V8 engine (not sure what happened to the V10?) and plenty of swag and memorbilia. No word on its actual asking price, but with a day left and 42 bids already, the reserve has not been met at $133,400. The listing does add that this same car was listed at Mecum back in 2010, but did not get sold, even with a bid of $270,000.