Ram shows off its Rumble Bee concept truck causes a buzz

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BY GERRY MILES

With a lot of new sport trucks, aka muscle machines, making their intros this year, Chrysler’s Ram Group, nee Dodge, rolled out its Ram Rumble Bee at the Woodward Dream Cruise, the first time an automaker has ever rolled out a concept at this event.

Dodge Rumble Bee Truck

Dodge Rumble Bee Truck

Patterned after the classic Dodge Super Bee muscle car, the color theme had a brief run of production trucks in 2003. The Super Bee was produced from 1968-71.

To produce a rumbling sound, two buttons below the knob control exhaust cutouts to bypass the Mopar cat-back dual-exhaust system, allowing the full sound force of a 5.7-liter HEMI – yeah, that thang’s gotta Hemi –  to escape — loud and LOUDER!

The truck is a two-door regular cab model based on the Ram 1500 R/T that sits atop 24-inc wheels. It has special yellow paint and black accents. Even the shifter knob atop the automatic transmission receives an embossed bumble bee.

Power comes from a 5.7-liter, 395-hp Hemi V-8 engine mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission.

Chrysler did not indicated if the truck would be produced for public sale again.

Rolling 7: Chrysler July US sales up 11% best since ’06

  • Best July sales since 2006
  • 40th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains
  • Six Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in July
  • Ram Truck brand sales up 31 percent
  • All Jeep brand vehicles in production record double-digit percentage increases
  • Dodge Charger and Fiat 500 lead their segments in J.D. Power’s 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study™
August 1, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Chrysler Group LLC today reported U.S. sales of 140,102 units, an 11 percent increase compared with sales in July 2012 (126,089 units), and the group’s best July sales since 2006.The Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in July compared with the same month a year ago. The Ram Truck brand’s 31 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in July. Chrysler Group extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 40-consecutive months in July.“We continue to see strong retail sales, particularly with our pickup trucks and SUVs, and that has helped to propel Chrysler Group to our 40th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “In addition, the all-new Fiat 500L is off to a great start with 962 units sold in its first full month on sale.”The Ram Truck brand sales gain was driven by the 31 percent increase in Ram pickup truck sales. Dodge brand sales were up 18 percent in July, driven in part by the 88 percent increase in Dodge Durango full-size SUV sales. Jeep brand sales were up 2 percent as all Jeep brand models in production recorded year-over-year sales gains in July. FIAT brand sales were up 2 percent in July compared with the same month a year ago.Six Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in the month of July. Three Dodge brand vehicles – the Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Dart compact sedan – each recorded their best sales for the month of July. The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Compass also registered their best sales for the month of July. Sales of the flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee were up 30 percent, its best July sales since 2005.Chrysler Group finished the month with a 66-days supply of inventory (371,889 units). U.S. industry sales figures for July are projected at an estimated 15.8 million units Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR).

July 2013 U.S. Sales Highlights by Brand

Ram Truck Brand

Ram Truck brand sales were up 31 percent, the brand’s best July sales since 2007. July was the fifth-consecutive month in which the Ram Truck brand registered the largest percentage year-over-year sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand. Sales of the Ram pickup truck were up 31 percent, its 39th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains and its best July sales since 2006. Sales of the Light Duty Ram pickup were up 25 percent in July, driven by the Crew Cab pickups, while Heavy Duty Ram sales increased 35 percent.

The Ram Truck brand in July celebrated the start of production of its new 2014 Ram ProMaster Van at Chrysler Group’s Saltillo Van Assembly Plant in Coahuilla, Mexico. The new 2014 Ram ProMaster is Ram Commercial’s latest addition to its popular vehicle lineup.  Also in July, the brand introduced its newest model, the 2013 Ram Black Express, distinguished by its all-black exterior.

Dodge Brand

Dodge brand sales were up 18 percent in July, the brand’s best July sales since 2005 and its 26th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan and the Dodge Challenger each recorded their best July sales ever, while sales of the Dodge Durango full-size SUV were up 88 percent. The Dodge Dart compact sedan had its second straight month of year-over-year sales gains.

For the third-consecutive year, the Dodge Charger has ranked highest in the Large Car segment in J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study™. Sales of the Charger are up 10 percent this year through July. According to J.D. Power, the most appealing vehicles have greater owner loyalty, command higher transaction prices and spend less time on dealer lots before purchase.

Jeep® Brand

Jeep brand sales were up 2 percent in July, the brand’s best July sales since 2005. All Jeep brand models in production recorded sales gains in July compared with the same month a year ago, led by the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Sales of the Grand Cherokee were up 30 percent, its best sales month since 2005 and largest percentage increase of any Jeep brand model. Sales of the Jeep Compass were up 27 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

The new 2014 Grand Cherokee was the winner in July of the 2013 Cars.com/USA Today Midsize SUV Challenge. The Grand Cherokee topped five other popular SUVs. Evaluators included experts from Cars.com, USA Today, Motorweek, and a family representing the average midsize SUV buyer.

FIAT Brand

FIAT brand sales were up 2 percent in July compared with the same month a year ago. It was the brand’s best July sales since the Fiat 500 was launched in 2011 and its 17th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The Fiat 500 was ranked highest in the City Car segment in J.D. Power’s APEAL Study in July. Sales of the Fiat 500L, the newest addition to the FIAT brand product lineup, increased 78 percent compared with sales in the previous month of June. FIAT studios across the U.S. began selling the all-new 2014 Fiat 500L in June. The 500L expands the appeal of the iconic 500, with two more doors, accommodations for 5 passengers, best-in-class interior volume, and advanced European technology.

The all-new fully electric Fiat 500e, which went on sale in California in July, was voted “Top Electric Vehicle” by the Northwest Automotive Press Association during its first annual “Drive Revolution” green-car competition in Portland, Oregon.

Chrysler Brand

Sales of the brand’s flagship Chrysler 300 full-size sedan were up 12 percent, the vehicle’s best July sales since 2008. Chrysler brand sales were down 4 percent in July compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of both the Chrysler Town & Country minivan and Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan are up this year through July compared with the same period in 2012. The Town & Country was the highest-ranking minivan in J.D. Power’s recent 2013 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

Chrysler Group LLC U.S. Sales Summary Thru July 2013
 
      Month Sales
Vol %
      Sales CYTD
Vol %
Model
Curr Yr
Pr Yr
Change
Curr Yr
Pr Yr
Change
500
2,821
3,710
-24%
23,892
24,416
-2%
500L
962
0
NEW
1,503
0
NEW
FIAT BRAND
3,783
3,710
2%
25,395
24,416
4%
200
8,122
9,287
-13%
83,137
78,389
6%
300
3,796
3,399
12%
33,241
44,200
-25%
Town & Country
8,060
8,106
-1%
67,439
65,957
2%
CHRYSLER BRAND
19,978
20,792
-4%
183,817
188,546
-3%
Compass
5,222
4,099
27%
32,000
24,612
30%
Patriot
7,572
5,870
29%
45,687
38,577
18%
Wrangler
14,404
12,216
18%
92,132
83,087
11%
Liberty
60
7,803
-99%
6,048
50,142
-88%
Grand Cherokee
15,019
11,571
30%
95,815
86,688
11%
JEEP BRAND
42,277
41,559
2%
271,682
283,106
-4%
Caliber
0
520
-100%
45
9,502
-100%
Dart
6,064
772
NEW
51,013
975
NEW
Avenger
6,131
5,188
18%
67,149
58,049
16%
Charger
5,200
6,440
-19%
57,181
52,203
10%
Challenger
4,271
3,631
18%
34,253
27,082
26%
Viper
94
0
 
320
20
 
Journey
6,508
7,051
-8%
48,944
43,802
12%
Caravan
8,583
9,247
-7%
68,055
78,211
-13%
Nitro
0
45
 
0
3,182
 
Durango
5,135
2,736
88%
33,440
24,182
38%
DODGE  BRAND
41,986
35,630
18%
360,400
297,208
21%
Dakota
0
19
 
0
478
 
Ram P/U
31,314
23,824
31%
201,633
162,405
24%
Cargo Van
764
555
38%
5,507
3,998
38%
RAM BRAND
32,078
24,398
31%
207,140
166,881
24%
             
TOTAL CHRYSLER GROUP LLC
140,102
126,089
11%
1,048,434
960,157
9%
             
          TOTAL CAR
37,461
32,947
14%
351,734
294,836
19%
          TOTAL TRUCK
102,641
93,142
10%
696,700
665,321
5%

Chrysler reports 2Q net income up 16% to $507M

Modified Operating Profit for the Quarter was $808 million, from $755 Million a Year Ago

• Chrysler Group LLC net income for the second quarter of 2013 was $507 million, an increase of 16 percent from $436 million a year ago 
• Net revenue for the quarter was $18.0 billion, up 7 percent from a year ago
• Modified Operating Profit(b) increased 7 percent to $808 million in the second quarter, from $755 million a year earlier
• Free Cash Flow(e) for the second quarter totaled $91 million; Cash(d) as of June 30, 2013, was $11.9 billion, comparable with March 31, 2013, and slightly lower than $12.1 billion a year ago 
• Net Industrial Debt(f) was $656 million at June 30, 2013, up slightly from $619 million at March 31, 2013, and $432 million a year ago
• Worldwide vehicle shipments were 660,000 for the quarter, up 5 percent from 630,000 a year ago
• Strong worldwide vehicle sales for the second quarter of 643,000, up 10 percent from a year ago, were driven primarily by a 17 percent increase in U.S. retail sales
• U.S. market share was 11.4 percent for the second quarter, compared with 11.2 percent a year ago; Chrysler Group market share was 15.1 percent in Canada, up from 14.5 percent a year ago
• Full-year 2013 Modified Operating Profit and net income guidance revised
July 30, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Chrysler Group LLC today reported its preliminary second-quarter 2013 results, including net income of $507 million, an increase of 16 percent from $436 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The second quarter marks the Company’s eighth consecutive quarter of positive net income.

Net revenue was $18.0 billion for the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 7 percent from $16.8 billion for the same period last year, primarily driven by an increase in vehicle shipments, including the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickup trucks. Net revenue totaled $33.4 billion for the first half of 2013.

“Chrysler Group is poised for a very strong performance in the second half of the year, with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 pickup earning best-in-class recognition, and the all-new Jeep Cherokee now rolling off the line,” Chrysler Group LLC Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne said. “The timing of product launches and capacity increases causes this year’s performance to be biased to the second half, and a continued aggressive drive for excellence and flawless execution will be essential to attain the targets we’ve set for ourselves.”

Modified Operating Profit was $808 million, or 4.5 percent of revenue, in the second quarter, versus $755 million reported in the prior year. The 7 percent increase was primarily due to higher shipment volumes and positive pricing, partially offset by higher industrial and launch-related costs, as well as a $151 million charge related to the voluntary safety recall for the 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty, and the customer satisfaction action for the 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Modified Operating Profit was $1.2 billion for the first half of the year.

New Jeep Cherokee pics show off polarizing 2014 style

New Jeep Cherokee that will debut at the New York Auto Show

New Jeep Cherokee Limited to debut at the New York Auto Show.                                     (Jeep)

BY GERRY MILES

As on former auto PR wag told me, all “leaked photos” aren’t necessarily leaked by accident. It’s done on purpose … for the purpose of drawing early attention and interest to an a) new model or b) updated model and c) gives the automaker time to make some changes on the fly depending upon the a) raves or b) shrieks from the press and/or public.

See, more than one auto spy photog or two were told – often my retired friend told me – that if they ‘happened’ to be on the corner of a certain street near a certain restaurant that it would be ‘likely’ that a certain XYZ car or two would likely be parked nearby … perhaps. And the shooter(s) would get the shots for the magazines, newspapers (remember them?) and so forth to further the PR machinery before the product officially launched. Remember, this was well before internet, Facebook, texting and probably fax machines.

So the fact that Jeep has released four pictures of the replacement to its Liberty line, returning the Cherokee nameplate to production, could be a smart as a fox play. Most every outlet has jumped upon the news, and despite the scant info that’s known until the New York Auto Show debut, the pictures are running rampant as is the reaction to them.

2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited.

The all-new midsized SUV heralds the “No Compromise” theme for the Jeep lineup. In a presser, Jeep claimed the Cherokee will set new standards with more best-in-class capability, exemplary on-road driving dynamics, and fuel economy improvements of more than 45 percent versus the outgoing mid-size SUV model.

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be built in the U.S. at Chrysler Group’s Toledo Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio. It’s due in dealer showrooms in the third quarter of this year.

While the Cherokee retains the seven slotted grille opening Jeep is famous for, the sharply creased or sloped hood and amount of chrome glazing has drawn sharp criticism from many posted comments on the various boards I’ve perused thus far.

2014 Jeep Cherokee front view

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited front view

The smaller, slotted top lights are similar to those on the new Grand Cherokee. The front fascia incorporates fog lights that bookend a lower air intake. None of the released Jeep pictures shows off the backside.

No information was released with engine power or transmission specifics. Stay tuned.

2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

There Comes a Time When…

by Rick Deneau

Head of Brands, Chrysler Group Communication
  • … you’ve got to embrace being the SUV leader and lead by design.
  • … you’ve got to eschew the traditional and embrace the progressive.
  • … you’ve got to listen to the customer, saying keep capability, but give us more fuel economy (and a better on-road driver).
  • … you’ve got to listen to the experts, telling you to further grow and build the Brand that has perhaps the most equity of any worldwide.

The 2014 Jeep® Cherokee is that time.
Customers, through extensive research, are strongly telling us that. Media are saying same. And our dealers – critical in the past – are onboard as well.

Like our Sr VP of Design recently tweeted, “Have Faith. We are shifting some paradigms around … it is time.”

Check us out in New York, hear the whole story, see both models we’ll offer, even drive it and see if you agree we’ve made the vehicle that does it all.

Chrysler has top Super Bowl spots … again

By Gerry Miles

While Super Bowl commercial are meant to generate a stir from the viewers with either touching moments (see the young Clydesdale spot from Budweiser) or a sense of humor (think talking babies in E-Trade commercials) or outright shock and surprise (think Go Daddy! on almost any year but especially the audible sloppy kissing this year), the crown for the most poignant the past few years falls to Chrysler.

Not only did they hit a home run with their with Clint Eastwood’s narration and the 2011 “Imported from Detroit” spot featuring Emminem, but two of the spots from this year have generated their own buzz because they hit home, carried through a heart-wrenching and heart-warming theme of compassion, freedom, hard work and looking out for our own with two-minute spots, making them more costly but more thoughtful in this viewer’s mind.

The first, called “Whole Again, aired near half-time and before the 34-minute third quarter blackout with Oprah Winfrey narrating the dialogue of how we must, should and welcome our soldiers back from the battlefields because it’s the right thing to do and remember that freedom is not free.

In the second, Ram Truck brand’s video features ‘So God Made a Farmer’ words delivered some three decades ago by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and all original photography is used to recall how deft a farmer must be to tend to cattle, fields, crops, and always be ready to improvise, specialize and harmonize on the delicate balance he walks daily while serving his fellow man at his craft.

Toyota’s RAV4 spot was pure fun and auto aficionados are still trying to count the number of cars they spotted in the Fast and Furious 6 commercial. Hyundai’s “Stuck” commercial that showed the benefits of a turbo-powered car to zoom past a leaking hazwaste truck, or flatbed with warheads and the like was equally humorous and spot on clever. The buildup to Mercedes’ fourth quarter spot with all the promoting and “Sympathy for the Devil” from the Rolling Stones merely showed off an under $30K that junior can say ‘thanks dad’ for and summarily wreck while driving over his head to show off on a hot summer night. (We used to call those folks the Jetta Jerks who drove their cars like the bargain basement BMW’s they were while behaving badly. Now ‘thanks Dad’ can get the Benz that Janis Joplin only wished for when she recorded her famous lick while stomping her foot to keep time.)

I also noticed the irony that when Mercedes-Benz FIRST put its price in a print/TV spot, it was not for a baby Benz burner but the mid-1990s C-Class to make it seem more attainable and not aspirational. Market research showed it was a desired ride and brand but without the listed price, it fell into the old axiom of “well, if you have to ask … ”

Kudos, again, to Chrysler. They’re made in Detroit, near the heartland of America and the conscious of what we once were as a country and hopefully will strive to be again. Soon.