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Monthly archives for February, 2011

Chrysler/Fiat at the Geneva Auto Show

All Star Dodge Jeep Dealer in Bridgeton MO. is committed to keeping its customers updated on the latest in Chrysler vehicles soon to be launched.

Fiat (which is Chrysler’s Italian partner), will exhibit versions of the Chrysler 200 and 300, as well as the Town & Country minivan at this year’s Geneva auto show in March.  The world premier of the Lancia will be launched to be offered only in Europe as the Lancia Flavia midsize sedan and convertible, the Lancia Thema full size sedan, and the Grand Voyager minivan.

The Ypsilon, a subcompact hatchback, and the Delta compact car will complete the Lancia display in Geneva.  Shortly after Chrysler and Fiat formed a partnership in 2009, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of both companies, decided to merge future Chrysler and Lancia products. They will be sold under the Chrysler brand in North America and under the Lancia brand in Europe.

Lancia possesses styling that can compete with near luxury brand vehicles, according to Chrysler; “The goal is for savings in developing and manufacturing the vehicles while filling out the portfolios of both brands and expanding their markets by tapping each other’s distribution networks.”

In October, the Thema sedan will go on sale in Europe with an option of Chrysler’s new Pentastar 3.6-liter engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission or a 3-liter V-6 turbo diesel that will come with a 5-speed automatic. European buyers generally prefer diesels because of the high cost of fuel.

The Lancia brand has been without a flagship sedan since 2009 when the Thesis sedan was discontinued.

The Flavia concept shows what could be done with the Chrysler 200 sedan and convertible. Fiat could start production of the Flavia for European market within 6 months of getting approval to offer the car in Europe.

For European consumers, Fiat will use the Geneva show to unveil the new Ypsilon subcompact which has been upgraded from a 3 door hatchback to a 5 door model.

The new Lancia Delta compact car goes on sale next month and then Chrysler will offer a Fiat-engineered compact sedan early next year.

Chrysler’s Jeep Compass

All Star Dodge Jeep Dealer in Bridgeton MO. is pleased to announce the new revamped Jeep Compass. One glance and you’ll see why this car is going to make it on to a lot of wish lists.

The 2011 Compass could be referred to as the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s little brother. Although the Compass might borrow some styling ideas from the Cherokee, it is still truly its own model. With the 2011 Compass, the designers have provided a new hood, new front fenders, new front fascia, new headlamps, and a new grille. Let’s face it, there’s a lot that’s new!

Classified as a compact utility vehicle, the Jeep Compass should be making its first American show rooms soon. It’s all part of a powerhouse roll out of revamped Chrysler cars and trucks. There’s a reason why the 2011 Jeep Compass borrows from the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee in July: because it works.

“Combined with new interior appointments, and refinements to the suspension and steering systems, Jeep Compass provides consumers the ultimate combination of styling, capability, fuel economy, efficiency, safety and value in the important compact-SUV segment,” Mike Manley, Chrysler’s president and CEO of Chrysler’s Jeep brand, said in a statement.

The new features on the Compass don’t stop with the restyling of the body. This line is also supported with 17-inch wheels. Buyers will also get to pick between two distinct types of engines: A 2.0-liter, 158-horsepower four-cylinder or a 2.4-liter 172-horsepower four-cylinder. Either way the new Compass offers an impressive 23 miles per gallon in the city, and 29 on the highway with a five-speed manual transmission. All Jeep models will be offered with an option of a diesel engine.

Of course, driving a Jeep can also provide a lot of off-road fun and the Compass is no exception. There is an optional 4×4 package with a 2,000-pound towing capacity, which harks back to the origins of the Jeep. As described by the Army in 1942, the Jeep was “A four-wheel drive vehicle of one-half- to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty.” For its debut, they actually drove a Jeep up the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington.

Dodge Ram Gets a New Powerhouse Under the Hood

All Star Dodge in Bridgeton Missouri knows that if you’re like most fans of the Dodge Ram, you’ve probably been wondering when they are going get around to adding more torque. Wonder no longer! Chrysler announced today that a high-output Cummins turbo diesel engine is going to be added to the already mighty Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickup. The light-duty Ram Tradesmen will be getting the same boost. It’s Cummins engines all around!

Right now the Dodge Ram 3500 HD gets around 650 pounds-feet of torque. With the new Cummings engines that torque is going to torque up to 800. For those who use their Rams for towing this is going to make a big difference. Now there can be true competition between the Ram and Ford’s F-Series heavy duty pickups. They’re on the same level now and are both passing up the GM heavy duties.

Going to the stats, the Ram can now make the claim that it can towing up 22,700 pounds on the 3500 pickup. That’s the one with the dual rear wheels and special rear axle. Ford can only manage 22,600 pounds. Close, very close.

The new engine also means upgrades for the brakes as Ram engineers adapted the truck with the strongest diesel brakes they could pack in. You’ll know how important this is when you’re hauling a load down a hill. The Dodge Ram has a sticker price hovering around $23,000. For that, owners are basically getting the Hemi V-8 class 4 trailer hitch plus a bunch of other goodies.
With the Tradesman value package, it will be taking dead aim at pickups from Ford and GM that carry a 6-cylinder engine.  The only value package on the Tradesman is with the regular cab.

To test drive a new or pre-owned Dodge Ram, visit your local Missouri All Star Dodge dealer today.

Chrysler Dealer Arbitration

Your local Dodge Dealer, All Star Dodge in Bridgeton Missouri knows thati n the auto dealership world, there are strict regulations when it comes to having like-branded dealerships competing with each other in the same geographic zone. This issue is causing a lot of headaches in the past  for former Chrysler dealerships as they try to get back into business with the automaker.

Before Chrysler went belly-up in 2009 the company had around 3,200 dealerships spread out across the country. As part of its immediate bankruptcy needs, many of those dealerships were closed. Now with Chrysler on the rebound, those same folks want back in. Unfortunately for some, other dealerships have already beaten them to the punch. Such is the case with the Livonia Chrysler Jeep Inc. dealership that has been prevented from reopening at their previous location because of the nearby Crestwood Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealership. It is now in the hands of a Detroit federal judge to sort out this mess.

Chrysler thinks they have the right of way in this case and has told as much to U.S. District Judge Sean Cox. The Detroit automaker would like the courts to declare that Chrysler is in compliance with the newly passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010. This law specifically created the arbitration process now being used by former dealers as they try to deal once again. Under the terms of the law, it does not automatically grant “unconditional reinstatement” or supersede Michigan laws concerning auto dealer markets.

“Livonia’s interpretation of the (dealer arbitration) Act contradicts the plain language of the Act, and its civil action … seeks to fashion a remedy that is nowhere to be found in the Act,” so says attorneys John Berg and Cynthia Filipovich of Detroit-based Clark Hill PLC who are retained by Chrysler. “Chrysler respectfully requests … a declaration that the Act limits the arbitrator’s power to the determination of whether or not the covered dealership should be added to the dealer network.”

Waiting in the wings are around 20 other dealerships who are in the same predicament. One court ruling will either set them free or have them looking for a new franchise location. Stay tuned to All Star Dodge’s blog for future updates regarding Chrysler dealers arbitration status.

Chrysler Dealers Will Sell Fiat

All Star Dodge, your local Missouri Dodge Dealer is pleased to announce that Chrysler has started the process of awarding Fiat dealer franchises.  Letters of approval were sent out to those dealerships chosen from approximately 600 applicants. Chrysler selected dealers from over 100 specific markets that were pre-selected as those with high growth potential for small cars. The March launch of the Fiat 500 mini car, produced in Toluca, Mexico, marks the return of Fiat to the U.S. market. The small Fiat will be available in 4 different versions: a convertible and a sporty Abarth version in 2011, an electric model in 2012, and a high-roof, four-door model in 2013.

Chrysler has reported that the company is considering dealers other than those from the Chrysler network. Chrysler stated: “Dealers from outside the Chrysler Group dealer network also have shown great interest in securing the Fiat franchise, a selection team has been reviewing proposals from Chrysler dealers.”

According to Peter Grady, Vice President of Chrysler: “We have carefully considered each of these dealer proposals looking for the best locations and the most creative plans.”  Names of those dealerships awarded franchises were not released.

Laura Soave, of Fiat North America, stated “some of the proposals are extremely creative.”

“Some dealers will build new state-of-the-art facilities, while others plan to convert on-site used car and other buildings into Fiat dealerships,” the company said in a press release. “Some dealers will purchase former auto dealerships, while others are snapping up empty retail stores in their markets.”

Chrysler projects that U.S. sales of the Fiat will reach 50,000 units in the 2011 based on market studies of the Fiats’ contender, the Mini which sold 54,077 vehicles in the United States in 2008.

The new Fiat showroom is planned to be decorated with a modern Italian design and it will be called the “Fiat Studio,” as Chrysler believes that buyers will have an appreciation for Italian culture and style. Each new Chrysler franchise will allow for 20 to 37 employees who will represent only Fiat.

According to Auto News.com: “Ally Bank, Chrysler’s preferred lender, formerly known as GMAC, will offer floor plan packages for Fiat dealers, along with real estate and working capital loans.”

Chrysler’s Big Finish for 2010

All Star Dodge Dealer in Bridgeton Mo. is pleased to announce that the company’s bankruptcy filing gave it some much needed breathing room to regroup and reenergize. Part of that “way forward” was a coordinated sales push dubbed the “Big Finish for 2010.” Now it appears that big finish didn’t actually finish last year as sales figures from January are still showing signs of growth.

“We have set the foundation for a year of sales growth with our 16 all-new or significantly-revamped models for 2011,” said Fred Diaz, president/CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales. “We started the year on a strong note, and we intend to continue gaining sales momentum as our new 2011 models hit dealer showrooms during this first quarter.” Here’s how the Chrysler numbers break down:

In America, January 2011 was the 10th straight month of year-over-year sales increases for Chrysler Group. This translates into a total U.S. unit volume of 70,118. That represents a 23% increase when you stack up those numbers against last January when only 57,143 Chrysler cars were sold.

Getting into specifics finds that the top selling models for January were the Ram Pickup with 12,197 units. This was followed by Dodge Grand Caravan which sold 7,813 units. Rounding out the top sales list was the Jeep Grand Caravan with 7,612, the Chrysler Town & Country with 6,552 and finally the Jeep Wrangler that sold 6,444 units.

All the good sales numbers weren’t just for U.S. Chrysler dealerships. The Canadians stepped up and had their own impressive numbers to share. January was the 14th straight month of sales growth for Chrysler Canada. This meant a total number of sales of 13,587 versus the 11,940 they sold last January. For those keeping score, this is a 14% increase.

“Chrysler Canada has the newest vehicle line-up in the industry with 16 all-new or completely redesigned products in dealer showrooms,” said Reid Bigland, president/CEO of Chrysler Canada. “We gained more market share than any other manufacturer in 2010 and it’s good to see the momentum has carried over into 2011.”

Up north, the big sellers for January were the Dodge Grand Caravan with 4,422 units, the might Ram Pick-up with 3,766 as well as the Dodge Journey with 1,764 units sold.

Chrysler Finacial Forms New Partnership

All Star Dodge, your local Missouri Dodge Dealer in Bridgeton, is committed to keeping its loyal customers updated regarding the latest in Chrysler automotive news.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank struck a deal to acquire the Chrysler Financial Corporation from Cerberus Capital Management. The price tag? $6.3 billion in cash, and that’s not funny money!

What this means for car owners who have financed their vehicles through Chrysler Financial is that their money will now be going to Canada. The economic crisis that has seemed to grip the rest of the world appears to be sweeping past Canada. The World Economic Forum has rated Canadian lenders as being among the soundest. Translation: Canada has a lot of money to throw around investing in new businesses.  Recently the Bank of Montreal bought up Wisconsin’s biggest bank for a cool $4.1 billion.

According to Chrysler Financial CFO, Colleen Johnston, the lender stands to earn its goal of $1.6 billion a year within the next three years. That makes this a solid investment on the part of Toronto-Dominion.

“This is a really good way to put those deposits in the U.S. to work,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc. in Toronto, which manages a bulk of Toronto-Dominion shares. “This is further execution of their U.S. strategy to touch more clients.”

When the ink is dried on the contracts, the deal could mean an extra $100 million right out of the gate for Toronto-Dominion. That’s going to look good on anyone’s earning statement. The number crunchers feel that if current trends keep up, the amount of new loans generated through this company could reach around $1 billion a month. That’s a lot of auto sales, and the trickle down effect of that is good news for the American auto industry.

On the Cerberus side, they will get back around 90 percent of its initial investment in Chrysler. No one seems to be complaining and the big board game goes on.