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Auto blogTue, 22 Jan 2013 08:46:00 EST
Striving for improved fuel economy, we already knew that Chrysler will begin using a nine-speed automatic transmission in some of its new products this year, but what we haven't known is that volume at which this gearbox will be used. According to Bloomberg, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been quoted as saying that the automaker expects to sell close to 200,000 units equipped with this new transmission in 2013. Those gear-rich trannies will be spread out across three models, consisting of the redesigned Chrysler 200, the still-unnamed Jeep Liberty replacement and the Dodge Dart.
This transmission should play a pivotal role in making Chrysler vehicles more competitive in their respective segments. Just for comparison, one of the Dart's key competitors, the Toyota Corolla, still uses a four-speed automatic, and a previous report indicates that the next-generation 200 could get up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway, which is better than most non-hybrid midsize sedans on the market. Marchionne says that the new Jeep model is expected during the second quarter of this year, but there is no word as to when the new 200 or nine-speed Dart will debut, but clearly Dodge would like to have the transmission in its compact yesterday. As for that volume figure, it definitely doesn't seem out of reach since the Dart, Liberty and 200 combined for a total of more than 225,000 units in 2012.
How many more gears can we expect in future cars? Probably not many more, since the CEO of transmission-builder ZF, Stefan Sommer, previously stated that nine speeds was the "natural limit" for transmissions.
Dodge is only building 500 examples of the black-and-blue Mopar '13 Dart, but the majority of them are now being recalled. Part of the Mopar upgrade included replacing the stock seat skins in the Dart with black and blue Katzkin leather, but the seat-mounted side airbags were reinstalled improperly during the upfitting process, which could affect the performance of the front seat side airbags.
According to the official National Highway Traffic Safety Administration bulletin, a total of 374 Mopar '13 cars are being recalled due to side airbags that might not deploy in a side-impact collision. There have been no reports of the airbags not going off, but Chrysler will still need to reinstall the bags to ensure proper deployment. The recall notice is posted below, which gives information for Mopar '13 owners to contact Chrysler and NHTSA.
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.