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Dodge Killing Off Viper Again

Slow sales led to repeated production cuts.

by on Jun.22, 2016

The Dodge Viper will end its run this year.

For the second time since 2010, Fiat Chrysler is killing off the Dodge Viper sports car.

Reintroduced in 2012 to much fanfare, the Viper received strong reviews, but relatively few buyers ponied up the initial MSRP of $97,395. Dodge later cut the price but sluggish sales forced it to repeatedly put production on hold.

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“The Dodge Viper has had a great run and, 25 years after it was first introduced, it leaves the super car world reaching for the records it continues to set,” Tim Kuniskis, the head of the Dodge brand, said in a statement.


First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Redefining the minivan – will it win back American family buyers?

by on Mar.21, 2016

Perhaps no other type of vehicle does a better job of delivering what it offers than a minivan.

Running from the Southern California Coast towards Lake Elsinore, the Ortega Highway is the sort of torturously twisting two-lane highways that motorcycles and sports cars love. Minivans travel it at their own peril, and yet, we’re planning to run nearly the full 111.5 miles of what’s official known as CA-74 this drizzly, late winter morning.

If we were driving Chrysler’s old Town & Country model, or just about any conventional minivan, for that matter, you might have reason to question our choice of routes. But this is our first chance to drive the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

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No automaker is more closely identified with the minivan. The Detroit side of Fiat Chrysler invented the modern people-move back in 1984, and for years it struggled to meet demand, U.S. sales at one point nudging 2 million a year. These days, the numbers are down for nearly three-quarters and a number of one-time competitors, including Ford and General Motors have dropped out of the minivan market. So, some question whether the new Chrysler Pacifica is the segment’s last great hope.


Tomahawk Concept Comes to Life on Vision Gran Turismo

FCA design team competed to produce game’s newest vehicle.

by on Jun.02, 2015

The Tomawhawk concept in a virtual street shot was created by the design team at FCA for the video game.

Vision Gran Turismo has emerged as a force of nature in the automotive world so Ralph Gilles, product design chief at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said he was excited when he received an e-mail more than a year from the Polyphony Digital Inc. asking if what was then Chrysler Group could provide a concept car for the famous video.

“I jumped up from my desk,” he said, and quickly began looking at ways to fulfill the request from Polyphony, a Sony subsidiary that provides the gaming software used on PlayStation. “Video games can touch millions and millions,” said Gilles, who noted that more than 73 million fans around the world play Gran Turismo.

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Gilles explained that “lots of gamers” are also auto enthusiasts. In turn, many automotive designers are huge fans of gaming, said Gilles, who said he can spend hours involved in the gaming set-up at home, which he has outfitted with a special steering wheel for driving games on race courses all over the world. (more…)

Chrysler Dumps Viper Racing Program

Move comes after program takes home championships.

by on Oct.07, 2014

Chrysler cut its SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program just after it won two championships.

After taking home a championship trophy last weekend, the Chrysler Group has dropped the Viper racing program supported by its Street and Racing Technology (SRT) unit.

“Our company has made a business decision to discontinue the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program,” said Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC, who has headed up the SRT program, which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had considered making a separate brand at one point.

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“We are very proud of the amazing achievements our fantastic teams, drivers and partners have achieved on track the last few seasons,” he said. “We thank them for their hard work, effort and commitment to SRT Motorsports. Its been an honor to be a part of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season and we wish them every success in the future.” (more…)

Volvo Concept XC Coupe, Ford Mustang Win Auto Show Design Awards

Hailed as best by jury of global designers.

by on Jan.15, 2014

The 2015 Ford Mustang at its global debut.

The new Ford Mustang and the Volvo Concept XC Coupe took honors as the best designed production model and concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show.

They were among scores of new products unveiled during the annual Detroit event’s media preview that faced scrutiny by 30 current and retired chief automotive designers from around the world.

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While fuel economy, performance and digital safety and infotainment systems have become increasingly important to buyers, studies routinely show that design remains one of the most critical factors, especially when shoppers are first figuring out which models to put on their shopping list.  And, if anything, that has triggered what many observers are calling a new golden era of automotive styling.


SRT’s Track-Ready Viper Ready to Rock

Production of $123,000 model limited to run of just 159 cars.

by on Dec.02, 2013

Chrysler now plans to produce more limited-edition versions of the SRT Viper, such as the new TA.

Chrysler has launched production of a track-ready version of the new Viper in a bid to put sales of the domestic supercar into high gear.

Dubbed the SRT Viper TA – short for Time Attack – Chrysler’s performance division plans to produce just 159 of the special models set to blast  into showrooms this month for a price of $123,080. The “base” Viper starts at $97,395.

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Chrysler first revealed the Viper TA at the New York Auto Show, last spring and has revised some of its plans for the special edition since then, boosting output from an original 33 TAs, with production originally expected to begin several months ago.  A total of 93 of the track-ready models will be painted in a unique “TA Orange” paint – originally dubbed Crush Orange – with 33 more in Venom Black and 33 in Bright White.

“We’re shifting to more pre-packaged models like the TA,” Ralph Gilles, SRT president and chief executive officer, told TheDetroitBureau.com.


Despite Slow Start, Chrysler Insists Viper Building Momentum

Volume “not our be-all and end-all,” says Gilles.

by on Nov.26, 2013

SRT chief Ralph Gilles - also Chrysler's corporate design chief, plants a welcome kiss on the new SRT Viper during its 2012 NY Auto Show debut.

Launched with plenty of ballyhoo last year, Chrysler Group’s reborn Viper has generated more buzz than business. But the head of the fledgling SRT brand insists the Detroit supercar continues to build momentum.

If anything, SRT CEO Ralph Gilles – who also serves as Chrysler Group chief designer – insists that dealers have been a bottleneck and that the order books for the Viper are close to full.

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Nonetheless, the maker is not looking at sales alone when it measures the success of the Viper. “Volume is not our be all and end all,” said Gilles.


Only Select Dealers to Get New SRT Viper

As few as 1 in 20 will get revived supercar.

by on Sep.21, 2012

The SRT Viper undergoing testing. Production begins in autumn, dealers officially launching sales in November.

If you’ve been saving your pennies for the return of Chrysler’s supercar, the all-new SRT Viper you now may be in for a search to find a dealer.

Letters are now going out to Chrysler’s 2,300 U.S. dealers letting them know whether or not they’ve been chosen to carry the reborn supercar.  The maker hints the number that have been approved will ultimately come to more than 100 to 150.

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That’s a turnaround from earlier plans.  When the maker revealed the reborn Viper, last spring, it initially indicated most retailers would be offering it.  But Chrysler apparently recognized that would create problems considering it only plans to produce about 2,000 of the 2-seaters annually, or less than one for each of its dealers.


Dodge Pulls out of NASCAR

“Clearly an extremely difficult decision.”

by on Aug.07, 2012

What was to have been the 2013 Dodge NASCAR entry (r) sits alongside the street version of the Dodge Charger.

In what a top executive described as “Clearly an extremely difficult decision,” Dodge is pulling out of NASCAR, the maker announced Tuesday afternoon, confirming reports that had first surfaced on the website run by the popular race series earlier in the day.

The decision to abandon what is the most widely followed motorsports program in the U.S. was the belated result of the decision by Team Penske to abandon Dodge and sign on with its arch-rival Ford Motor Co.  That unexpected setback, last March, left the smaller brand frantically searching for a new team and sponsors just as was ready to begin testing an all-new car for the 2013 NASCAR season.

After months of effort, no effective solution came together, a senior Chrysler executive lamented during a Tuesday conference call with reporters, leaving the Dodge brand no option but to pull out.

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“Cash,” insisted Ralph Gilles, the head of Chrysler corporate motor sports operations, “was not the issue.”  Instead, he repeatedly stressed, the effort to replace the Penske team had to be seen as “a multi-piece puzzle.  We couldn’t, unfortunately, put together a structure that made competitive sense for next year.”


First Look: 2013 SRT Viper

The snake charms again.

by on Apr.04, 2012

SRT chief Ralph Gilles - also Chrysler's corporate design chief, plants a welcome kiss on the new SRT Viper.

It’s the rare automaker that can keep secrets, but Chrysler pulled off a coup by keeping the covers on the reborn Dodge Viper up until the very moment the 2-seat supercar made its debut at the opening press day of the 2012 New York Auto Show.

Make that the SRT Viper, because the 2013 model will wear the badge of Chrysler’s Street Racing Team division when it returns to showrooms this year.  And it will live up to the full meaning of that name.  With its 640-horsepower V-10, Chrysler expects the 2013 Viper to dominate on both the street and the track, with the new model set to enter the American Le Mans Series.

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The launch of the snake is clearly one of the highlights of this year’s show, an overflow crowd struggling to get a look at the long-nosed sports car.  All but jumping for joy, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s chief corporate designer and the head of the SRT division, recalled the improbable story of the fight to revive the Viper – which former owners Cerberus tried to sell in the months leading up to the maker’s 2009 bankruptcy.

“It’s huge that we’re here today,” proclaimed Gilles. “It’s like being pregnant for 24 months.”