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Robert Schwarzli/President of the Ontario Ram Diesel Owners Association- “A once in a lifetime experience.” It’s a term used far too often as a general description. For a small group of Ram enthusiasts, touring the holy grail of all things Ram was literally a once in a lifetime experience! One-hundred lucky members of the Turbo Diesel Register (TDR) got a chance to tour the Warren truck plant, Dodge City, in Warren, Michigan where Dakota and Ram Trucks are built.
So what is the plant like? Picture this: 4.2 MILLION square feet and almost a mile long! More than 900 Ram Dakota and Ram 1500 trucks come off the line EVERY DAY! To top it off, this is a closed plant; meaning even most of Chrysler’s own staff is denied entry. It’s locked down tighter than a vault at Fort Knox and we’re getting a tour! But I am getting ahead of myself as usual. Let’s get back to the start of the story.
The Turbo Diesel Register is a Ram/Cummins pickup club. The club’s Ontario, Canada chapter was able to book a tour for 100 people. Registration was on a first come, first serve basis and the tour booked in less than 36 hours! Club members from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Virginia, Florida, Ontario, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Georgia, and even California and Washington showed up for the tour.
The group started early Wednesday morning with the destination of Warren set in everyone’s GPS. In the case of your author, I would be driving my heavily modified 1990 W250 Ram on the five-day tour, covering over 1500 miles. Our Ontario group convoyed to Michigan, and when we arrived at the plant, the parking lot was already buzzing with TDR members from all over the continent.
Vehicles in the parking lot consisted of Ram trucks ranging from original 1989 Cummins Rams, right up to the new 2011 trucks. Upon arrival, we checked in and proceeded to the plant auditorium, where a few Ram trucks were waiting. The truck mix consisted of a 3500 Cummins cutaway show truck, a new 1500 Long Horn, and a 1500 rolling chassis with no body, to allow for maximum chassis inspection. It was just amazing to see all of the engineering that is normally covered up by the body in person.
Around 2:00 PM, a large group of Ram engineers arrived to join us and answer in-depth questions regarding the trucks; they were joined by a special guest – Ram CEO Fred Diaz. You don’t get to meet an automaker’s CEO every day. Once everyone had arrived, the group had a photo shoot on the front lawn of the plant to remember the occasion.
Once the photos were done, we watched a presentation on the history of the plant, and we were shown a map of the plant layout. The plant does its own stamping, painting, welding, and assembly, and was originally opened as a Dodge truck plant back in 1938. Talk about a flexible, well built plant to still be in use over 60 years later!
With the plant history fresh in our minds, out onto the plant floor we went. Now, when you tour a plant of this size, it takes a long time to walk from one end to the other. So for our tour, we all got to ride on oversized golf cars. This also prevented us from walking into walls or other people due to the distraction from the assembly line!
So what did we see? What we saw was beyond words. We started off in the cab welding area. Here, robots take multiple sides of the cab and box, brings them all together automatically, and then welds them into one solid piece. Next up, doors and remaining sheet metal go on the body, then the body heads for paint.
Next stop was the frame assembly. The bare frame comes into the plant on railcars and is then placed onto the assembly line, where it is fitted with axles, suspension, brakes, fuel tank, wiring, steering components, and even the motor with transmission attached. Remember that body that went to paint? Well, once the chassis is complete, the body is dropped down from the ceiling by a special crane and lowered onto the truck frame.
From this point they install the interior, and any remaining body items like headlights, taillights, and under hood components are connected. By the end of the assembly line, the trucks are 100% finished and even have fuel filled into the tanks. Last stop for the trucks is a rolling chassis test to ensure that the truck accelerates smoothly and everything functions as it should. After the test, each truck goes out the door and is loaded onto a truck to head to your nearest dealer!
With the tour complete we went back into the auditorium and had a question and answer session with the Ram and Cummins engineers. Questions covered everything from body components to driveline changes – there were even a few relating to future product.
By this time the pizza had arrived, and dinner commenced with engineers, plant managers, Chrysler staff, and a few plant workers – all eating alongside the members of the TDR. With dinner coming to an end, the TDR expressed their thanks to the people of Ram for allowing this opportunity to take place. Before your author left, I made one last stop. My truck had come off the very assembly line that we toured, but on October 23, 1989. It had come home to its birthplace, so a few special photos were in order to commemorate the occasion!
June 27, 2011 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - This Week in Motorsports is a video recap of weekend motor sports events in NASCAR, the Nationwide series and other competitions under the Chrysler LLC banner.
In other News, since FIAT Brand North America released its “Get Ready by FIAT” to the public May 13, 2011, it has receive more than 500,000 views on YouTube.
The music video features owners getting ready to meet their Fiat 500, while the Fiat 500 gets ready to meet their owners. The music highlights Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major, Rv 228: Allegro remixed by an LA-based electronic band, The Glitch Mob.
Shot from the Toluca Assembly plant in Mexico, the video features brand new Fiat 500s on the assembly line “getting ready” to make its debut. The video captures mechanical cranes and robotic arms as an art form to mimic individuals’ bodies in the video. This modern, stylish video introduces the Fiat 500 to the U.S. in a unique way.
The video premiered at the 2011 New York International Auto Show.
June 25, 2011, Cannes, France - The Chrysler brand’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial, ‘Born of Fire,’ was honored today with five awards at the Cannes Lions 58th International Festival of Creativity held in Cannes, France. Four “Gold Lions” were awarded to the brand for Best Direction, Best Use of Music, Best Script, Best Automotive Commercial and Best Editing. The brand also took home a “Bronze Lion” for Best Editing. Cannes Lions is the world’s leading celebration of creativity in communications where over 24,000 entries from all over the world are showcased and judged. Chrysler brand’s national advertising campaign was created in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy of Portland, Ore.
“The Chrysler Brand is humbled to be awarded with such a prestigious honor at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The ‘Born of Fire’ commercial and the ‘Imported from Detroit’ campaign describes the comeback of the Chrysler brand and truly defines American luxury. The Chrysler brand team would like to thank all of our partners who helped us to create such an impactful campaign. However, the true honor should go to the hard-working and determined employees of Chrysler Group and the people of Detroit who served as the inspiration for this campaign and gave us the backdrop to create something truly amazing.”
“Born of Fire” debuted at the 2011 Super Bowl and was designed to generate a conversation about the Chrysler brand and the new 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan. The two-minute commercial, which was also a Super Bowl first, ignited a spark throughout the United States, as many felt a connection to the attitude and work ethic portrayed in the scenes and narration. The spot reflects where the brand is headed and pays tribute to its industrial roots. While the commercial focused on Detroit, in many ways, it encapsulated the spirit of the country and the comeback of the Chrysler brand and Chrysler Group.
The Chrysler brand chose internationally known Detroiter, Eminem and his song “Lose Yourself” because the lyrics speak to the ability to do anything we set our mind to and that failure is not an option. The Chrysler brand, the company and its employees have adopted the principle that failure is not an option.
Born of Fire also revealed the tagline for the brand, “Imported from Detroit,” created to convey the message that one does not have to cross an ocean to obtain luxury – it’s available right here and evident in the Chrysler brand product lineup.
Earlier this year, the Chrysler brand introduced “Imported from Detroit” merchandise on the brand’s website (http://www.chrysler.com). The collection features an array of products with the “Imported from Detroit” logo which represents the hardworking spirit captured and celebrated in the Chrysler brand’s Super Bowl commercial. In keeping with the spirit in which the logo was created, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of “Imported from Detroit” merchandise found on Chrysler.com will go to four Detroit-area charities.
Charities are as follows:
• The Marshall Mathers Foundation
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan – http://www.bgcsm.org
• Habitat for Humanity Detroit – http://www.habitatdetroit.org
• Think Detroit PAL – http://thinkdetroitpal.org/index.asp
There is only one true Born of Fire commercial and it was created by the Chrysler brand. To see more photos of Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Vehicles, simply click on any of the vehicles in this post. Thank again for checking out Chrysler Catchall!
“Under the Pentastar” is a quick video recap of significant events at Chrysler Group LLC over the past week. This week’s edition includes Sterling Heights Assembly Plant paint shop groundbreaking, Fiat 500 called best new car under $18,000 by kbb.com, Mopar tracking system honored and Consumer Reports rates eight Chrysler Group vehicles.
In other news, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and the 2011 Dodge Challenger ranked highest in their segments in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS).
Three other Chrysler Group vehicles were highlighted by J.D. Power and Associates for ranking among the top three vehicles of their competitive class: Dodge Durango in the mid-size crossover/SUV category, Dodge Grand Caravan in the minivan category and Ram Dakota in the mid-size pickup segment.
“Having five vehicles rank at or near the top of their segments is the result of a lot of hard work and long hours dedicated to updating our product line. Most automakers, including Chrysler Group, find it challenging to maintain quality levels when launching vehicles with a significant amount of new content. It’s a big accomplishment for our employees and supplier partners to achieve these initial quality results when so many of our 2011 model year launches coincided with the IQS survey period.”
Senior Vice President, Quality
J.D. Power and Associates surveyed owners of new 2011 model year vehicles that were registered between the months of November 2010 through February 2011. IQS measures new vehicle quality at 90 days of ownership.
In the past year, Chrysler Group has launched 16 new or significantly improved vehicles.
“We’ve made steady gains, improving reliability by 58 percent in the past four years, according to our internal warranty data,” Betts said. “We still have more work to do as we continue to improve the quality of all our products.”
June 6, 2011 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - In celebration of this milestone and to keep the Jeep® brand momentum alive, the full-line of Jeep 70th Anniversary Edition models – Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Compass, Patriot, Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited – were presented against the red rock and glistening waters of the Colorado River.
Showcasing the evolution and innovation of the legendary 4×4 leader, seven key historical models illustrated important milestones in the Jeep brand’s history – not in a museum, but in the rugged outdoors where they belong:
- 1944 Willys-Overland “Jeep” MB
- 1945 Willys-Overland Jeep CJ-2A
- 1949 Willys-Overland Jeep Station Wagon
- 1963 Jeep Wagoneer
- 1984 Jeep Cherokee
- 1987 Jeep Wrangler
- 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee
In addition, five customized Jeep vehicles fresh from the 45th annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari provided a taste of new potential Jeep production and customization ideas in a true Jeep setting. The Jeep “image” vehicles included were the Wrangler Pork Chop, Wrangler Renegade, Compass Canyon, Cherokee Overland and the Grand Cherokee Off-Road Edition. More than 30 percent of the people who are in the market for a new vehicle are influenced by the vast selection and availability of aftermarket Mopar® accessories, which fit a variety of lifestyles.
This international media event produced outstanding photography and b-roll that features Jeep brand vehicles with the breathtaking landscape in Moab. To see more photos from the event as well as photos of Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Vehicles, click on any of the images in the post. Thanks again for checking out Chrysler Catchall!