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2008 Challengers officially sold out

APRIL 25, 2008

Chrysler reported that all 6,400 2008-model-year Dodge Challenger SRT8s have been sold. The 2009 models will arrive this fall. Production began last Monday.

43rd 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 to be painted "Petty blue" and auctioned
APRIL 8th, 2008
While the rights to the first 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 brought $400K at Barrett-Jackson, we'd rather have the 43rd car built, which will go up on eBay's virtual auction block. Chrysler is working the numerology angle, linking the 43rd Challenger to living legend Richard Petty and the #43 he made famous while driving Mopar stock cars to victory over his long racing career. Pre-qualified bidders will have the opportunity to take home the 43rd Challenger built, which will be the only one finished in B5 Blue in a nod to the Petty Blue (or Corporate Blue) finish that adorned The King's racers. Carbon fiber-look hood stripes, a chrome fuel filler lid and a numbered dash plaque finish this particular one-off appearance package, and the auction winner also gets a VIP Package to this May's Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR race at Darlington. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Petty family's  Victory Junction Gang Camp.

First Challenger goes for $400,000

JANUARY 22, 2008

Dodge raised $400,000 for the notMYkid charity organization on January 19 when it auctioned the first production 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 at the 37th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Phoenix, Arizona.

Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., placed the winning bid without even seeing the real car. The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 won’t make its worldwide debut until February 6 when it is unveiled the Chicago Auto Show.

“Dodge is ecstatic that the sale of the first production 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 to roll of the assembly line raised $400,000 for such a worthy cause,” Mike Accavitti, Director of Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing, said. “The introduction of an all-new, modern Dodge Challenger has generated a lot of excitement, and the enthusiasm for the new car was evident on the auction block.”

Kerkorian bids for Chrysler
APRIL 5, 2007
Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who lost out in Chrysler’s 1998 merger with Daimler-Benz, wants to buy the troubled automaker back from its now-unhappy German owners.

Kerkorian’s wholly owned investment company, Tracinda Corp., on Thursday made a $4.5 billion (U.S.) cash offer for DaimlerChrysler AG’s U.S.-based Chrysler unit.

A deal would put Kerkorian in charge of Chrysler a decade after he claims he was tricked out of potentially billions of dollars in the 1998 deal in which Germany’s Daimler-Benz joined with Chrysler in the so-called "merger of equals."

Long an active investor in automakers, the 89-year-old former movie mogul once offered $22.8 billion for Chrysler in an unsuccessful 1995 takeover bid.

Kerkorian’s bid, about one-fifth of what he offered in 1995, reflects the falling fortunes of Chrysler Group, which lost $1.5 billion last year and has announced 13,000 job cuts in North America and reduced production.

The offer disclosed Thursday from Tracinda is slightly lower than at least one competing bid from Canadian auto-parts supplier Magna International Inc., worth a reported $4.7 billion.

Tracing said it would place a $100 million deposit for the right to exclusive bargaining rights.

Tracinda in a statement said it wants “to build and strengthen” the troubled automaker and “will offer the UAW and Chrysler management the opportunity to participate as equity partners in the transaction."

DaimlerChrysler shares climbed $3.81, or 4.7 per cent, to close at $84.80 on the New York Stock Exchange after rising to a new 52-week high of $84.90 earlier in the session.

California-based Tracinda said its offer is subject to Chrysler reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers as well as a deal with DaimlerChrysler on sharing the estimated $22 billion unfunded pension liabilities and health care costs of Chrysler retirees.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday with a UAW spokesman.

Russell Phillips, union steward for UAW Local 1700, said word of a possible sale began filtering through the Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant Thursday afternoon. Phillips, a 20-year Chrysler employee, said he thinks the UAW would be interested in listening to such an offer from Tracinda.

“It would be very interesting if we can get something like that so we can help our members,” Phillips said. “A lot will depend on how open they are going to be with the UAW and if they really are willing to sit down and talk with us."

Analysts said the deal would be difficult for Kerkorian to pull off because of his turbulent history with Chrysler and the size of the company’s large legacy costs.

“I’m not sure what Kirk brings to the party except he can’t help himself when it comes to playing with Chrysler,” said David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities.

But David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said any deal would require an arrangement with labour on the legacy costs and noted that Tracinda adviser Jerome York has a long history of working with the UAW.

Tracinda said it’s ready to start a more extensive review of Chrysler’s financial books right away and believes it could complete it within 60 days.

Han Tjan, head of corporate communications for DaimlerChrysler in New York, said the German-American automaker is talking with partners about a sale and that the chairman is satisfied with the process.

“All of our options are still open. For us to talk about (Tracinda) is speculation,” Tjan said.

At least two groups in addition to Tracinda and Magna reportedly have expressed interest in Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler. Cerberus Capital Management LLC and a consortium of investors led by Blackstone Group each have reviewed Chrysler’s finances and are expected to make bids.

“As a matter of policy, we can offer no confirmation on any bid submission by Cerberus,” said Cerberus spokeswoman J.J. Rissi. John Ford, a spokesman for Blackstone, said he could not comment on Tracinda’s bid.

A message seeking comment was also left with officials from Magna.

In a letter to DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche, Tracinda said it has been following the developments at Chrysler closely and has been studying available materials about the automaker.

“Having been a major shareholder for over a decade we are very familiar with both Chrysler and the automotive industry, and have come to believe, all factors considered, that a private ownership approach is in the best interests of all Chrysler constituencies,’’ said the letter, signed by York, a former Chrysler Corp. executive.

The letter said it would be easier for a privately owned company to take a long-term approach “to build Chrysler into a robust and lasting, stand-alone entity."

Kerkorian long has had interest in automotive companies.

Late last year he dumped the last block of what once was a nearly 10 per cent share of General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automaker.

He had Kerkorian pushed an alliance between GM, Nissan and Renault SA. GM’s board voted to explore the idea of an alliance, but after three months of discussion the idea was scrapped. York served as Tracinda’s representative on the GM board but stepped down after the alliance talks fell apart.

Kerkorian, whose Tracinda was Chrysler’s largest shareholder at the time of its 1998 merger with DaimlerBenz, sued the combined company in 2000. He claimed that Daimler-Benz engineered a takeover of Chrysler, then cheated him out of billions by casting the deal as a merger of equals. A federal judge rejected his claim.

Tracinda, which is named after Kerkorian’s daughters, Tracy and Linda, has the majority stake in the casino and hotel operator MGM Mirage Inc.


Chrysler Recalls 500,000 Jeep Liberty, Dodge Durango Vehicles
MARCH 9, 2007
        After dozens of reports of fires in Dodge Durango and Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicles, DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group recalled nearly 500,000 vehicles Friday.

Chrysler said it had received 66 reports of fires in Dodge Durango SUVs from the 2004-2006 model years because of electrical overloads in the driver's side instrument panel below the dashboard. The automaker said it was recalling 328,424 Durangos.

The automaker was also recalling 149,605 Jeep Liberty SUVs from the 2006-2007 model years to fix the heating-ventilation-air conditioning blower motor. Chrysler had received a dozen reports of fires from Liberty owners.

In a third move, Chrysler said it was recalling nearly 11,000 Dodge Avenger passenger cars from the 2008 model year to fix problems with the front driver and passenger side door latches.

There were no crashes or injuries reported in connection to the recalls, Chrysler said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened defect investigations involving the Durango and Liberty.

In the Durango, Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said an integrated circuit in the instrument panel could get overloaded and lead to overheating and affect the interior lighting.

Owners will be notified about the Durango recall in April. The vehicles will be inspected and those SUVs with instrument panels that fail the review will get replacement parts.

The company said if drivers notice problems with the interior lights, they should take their vehicles to a dealer for inspection. In some cases, the interior lights will not properly dim after the doors are closed.

In the Liberty recall, Gates said the blower motors could fail if the air conditioning is being used on high during hot weather.

Drivers who smell an odor such as overheated plastic should keep their blower motor below the highest setting until they bring their vehicle in for service, Chrysler said. Liberty owners are expected to receive notices about the recall in May.

In the Avenger recall, Chrysler said owners will be notified when enough parts are available. The front door latches will be changed to make sure they work properly.