DAILY EDITION: Oct. 9, 2003

October 8, 2003


Chrysler Unveils Production 300C/Magnum

2005 Chrysler 300C

2005 Chrysler 300C

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The production versions of the Chrysler 300C sedan and Dodge Magnum sports tourer concepts were quietly introduced in New York October 7, with marketing execs proclaiming this the most significant model rollout for Chrysler since the LH platform buried the K-car in 1992.

Very little has changed since the concepts were introduced. The 300C was shod with 18-inch tires, as opposed to the 20-inchers sported by the concept, and both cars wore a little less chrome trim.

Both cars will hit dealer showrooms next spring and are based on the new LX rear-wheel drive platform. Engines will range from a 200-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 through a refined version of the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that produces 340 hp at 5200 rpm and 365 ft/lbs of torque at 4000 rpm, which should provide zero-to-sixty times of 6.5 seconds and a top speed in excess of 150 mph.

The transmission is a five-speed electronic AutoStick with a gated shifter, and ABS, all-speed traction control, and DC’s Electronic Stability Program will be standard. A full-time AWD system will be an option on the Magnum.

2005 Dodge Magnum R/T

2005 Dodge Magnum R/T

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Interiors of both cars feature watch-face instrumentation, adjustable pedals, four-spoke tilt-and-telescoping steering wheels, and, in the case of the 300C, elegant faux-tortoiseshell trim on the steering wheel, shift knob, and door pull handles.

In addition, approximately 20 percent of the LX platform shares componentry with Mercedes, particularly in drivetrain hardware, suspension modules, electrical systems, and seat modules.

Packaging and pricing details still need to be worked out with the dealer network, execs said, although they expect the 300C to compete at the low end with Toyota’s Avalon, up through the Acura model line. —Paul W. Cockerham

Fall is Cutback Season in Detroit by Joseph Szczesny (10/6/2003)
Dank jobs outlook mirrors the weather; when will Big Three spring back?

Fiat Taps Demel, Officially

Italian industrial group Fiat named former Volkswagen manager Herbert Demel as the new CEO of its car unit on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation on who would lead Fiat Auto through its worst-ever crisis.
Demel will start at Fiat Auto on Nov. 15, taking the reins from Giancarlo Boschetti who was due to retire next year, when he turns 65. Boschetti has been Fiat Auto CEO since January 2002. Demel, 49, is currently president and CEO of Magna Steyr, in Graz, Austria, the European arm of auto parts and assembler Magna International. Fiat was courting former Ford Europe head Martin Leach, who resigned from Ford in August, but gave up hope that Ford would release Leach from a two-year non-compete clause in his contract. Giuseppe Morchio, Fiat Group CEO since the end of February, has been searching for an experienced car-company manager to replace Boschetti, who will retire in November 2004. Fiat is expected to make Demel’s hiring official within the week. Demel was president of Audi in the mid 1990s. He left VW AG for Magna in 2002 after Bernd Pischetsrieder was named chairman. Morchio, who took over from Paolo Fresco earlier this year, says the company should post a breakeven operating result by 2005. Hanging over Fiat’s recovery, though, is the belief that the Agnelli Family, Fiat’s largest shareholder, may want to spin off the auto business to protect the value of the rest of Fiat. General Motors owns 20 percent of Fiat Auto, and Fiat has an option it may try to exercise, forcing GM to buy the rest of Fiat Auto. —Jim Burt

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