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Chrysler rolls new Jeep off assembly line

December 20, 2006

BELVIDERE, Ill.---- DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group on Wednesday launched production of the 2007 Jeep Patriot compact SUV, one of the new products it is counting on to boost sluggish sales.
The Jeep Patriot is the company's tenth all-new vehicle this year and the third introduced at the Belvidere assembly plant, following the Dodge Caliber hatchback and the Jeep Compass crossover.
It comes at a time when Chrysler sales are down from 2005 and inventories of unsold pickups and sport utility vehicles are high. In the first 11 months of this year, the group's sales were 5.9 percent lower than the same period last year.

Chrysler Group said the Belvidere plant, just east of Rockford and 70 miles northwest of Chicago, has become a flagship for its adoption of flexible manufacturing. The 41-year-old facility received $419 million in upgrades last year to give it the flexibility to make several different vehicles on the same line.

''Thanks to Belvidere's ability to build multiple models off one assembly line, we expect the production of three all-new models to cost significantly less than the initial investment we made in the plant to build one product,'' said Frank Ewasyshyn, executive vice president for manufacturing.
Belvidere is Chrysler's first assembly plant to use a body shop made up entirely of robotics. Only the robots' ''hands'' need to change to build the different models. The company said the tool change is done automatically, within the time it takes to cycle from one vehicle to the next.
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I was hoping to see "R/T" in this PR!

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Chrysler Group today announced that the U.S. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for its all-new 2007 Jeep(R) Patriot is $14,985 (including $560 destination). The Jeep Patriot is a classic-styled Jeep that delivers best-in-class capability, 30 miles per gallon (mpg) fuel economy, safety and interior flexibility.

"With Patriot, Jeep continues to expand globally by offering a fun-to- drive, fuel-efficient and affordably priced Jeep vehicle designed to appeal to youthful customers and people with active lifestyles who may have always wanted a Jeep vehicle but, until now, may not have been able to afford one," said George Murphy, Senior Vice President-Global Marketing, Chrysler Group. "Patriot has all the credibility and cachet of the Jeep brand at a very affordable price."

The 2007 Jeep Patriot will compete in the compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) segment, which is expected to grow considerably in the next decade, giving the Jeep brand the opportunity to grow with it. Annual compact SUV volume in the United States for the 2005 calendar year was 368,000 units, up from 297,000 units in 2004. The compact SUV segment is expected to almost double to approximately 600,000 units by 2010 and almost triple to more than 814,000 units by 2016.

The 2007 Jeep Patriot Sport and Jeep Patriot Limited models became available in U.S. dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2006 and will be available in global volume markets in both left- and right-hand drive starting in the first half of 2007.

Most Capable Vehicle in its Class

The 2007 Jeep Patriot is available in three drive-train configurations. In addition to the standard front-wheel-drive system, Jeep Patriot also is available with Freedom Drive I and the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package.

Freedom Drive I is an available full-time, active four-wheel-drive system with Lock mode designed to give drivers year-round assurance with the ability to handle rough weather and low-traction conditions. This active four-wheel- drive system is recommended for daily use, including slick conditions that come with rain and light snow. Freedom Drive I also features a lockable center coupling, giving drivers the ability to put the Jeep Patriot in four-wheel- drive Lock mode when navigating deep snow, sand and other low-traction surfaces.

The Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package is an available four-wheel-drive system that makes the 2007 Jeep Patriot a Trail Rated 4x4, creating the most capable vehicle in the crowded compact SUV class. The Freedom Drive II Off- Road Package includes a second-generation continuously variable transaxle with low range (CVT2L) that engages when the off-road mode is activated, 17-inch all-terrain tires and aluminum wheels, a full-size spare tire, skid plates, tow hooks, fog lamps and manual seat height adjuster. The available Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package is recommended for moderate off-road situations that include steep grades, occasional wheel lift and moderate rock or log climbing.

All-new Jeep technology includes the CVT2L's best-in-class 19.1:1 low ratio, which is ideal for crawling over obstacles. Off-road Brake Traction Control maintains forward mobility during heavy articulation or on split- friction surfaces where one wheel loses traction. Hill-descent Control modulates brake hydraulic pressure without driver intervention, providing downhill assistance at a safe and controlled rate of speed. Three-mode ESP and off-road anti-lock brakes (ABS) also add to the Patriot's inherent off-road capability.

The Trail Rated Jeep Patriot sits 1 inch higher than non-Trail Rated versions and meets Jeep off-road capability requirements for traction, water fording, articulation, maneuverability and ground clearance, including 9 inches of ground clearance, a 29.6-degree approach angle, a 34.2-degree departure angle and a 23.3-degree breakover angle. This version of the Patriot also has additional body sealing and high-mounted drivetrain vents to support 19-inch water fording capability. In fact, the body and chassis of the Jeep Patriot with the Freedom Drive II Off-road Group were developed and tested over numerous rugged off-road terrains to meet the requirements of the enthusiast Jeep customer.

All Jeep Patriot models available in the United States include standard Brake Traction Control, driver-controlled three-mode ESP, Brake Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation and anti-lock brakes with rough-road detection.

Expanding the Lineup

Jeep Patriot is the gateway to the Jeep brand globally, priced less than Jeep Compass, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty. The newest Jeep vehicle on the market is available in Jeep Patriot Sport and Jeep Patriot Limited models. Both are available in the United States with a 4x2 front-wheel drive system, a Freedom Drive I 4x4 system and a Freedom Drive II Off-road Package.

The Jeep Patriot Sport has a starting U.S. MSRP of $14,985. The U.S. MSRP for the Jeep Patriot Sport with the available Freedom Drive I 4x4 system is $16,735. The U.S. MSRP for the Jeep Patriot Sport equipped with the available Freedom Drive II Off-road Package is $19,175. All prices include $560 destination.

The Jeep Patriot Limited 4x2 model has a starting U.S. MSRP of $19,985. A Jeep Patriot Limited with the Freedom Drive I 4x4 system has a starting U.S. MSRP of $21,735. The Jeep Patriot Limited equipped with the Freedom Drive II Off-road Package has a starting U.S. MSRP of $23,530. All prices include $560 destination.

Jeep Patriot Sport

With a starting U.S. MSRP of $14,985, the Jeep Patriot Sport is a 4x2 model that includes a standard 172-horsepower 2.4-liter World Engine coupled with a five-speed manual transaxle. Other standard equipment includes side- curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Brake Traction Control, Electronic Roll Mitigation, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, Sentry Key theft-deterrent system, Vinyl Tech seats, rear 60/40 fold-flat seat, Ultra Floor vinyl load floor, fold-flat load floor storage, AM/FM single-disc CD radio with an auxiliary audio input jack, outdoor temperature display, rear defroster, variable intermittent windshield wipers, 12-volt power outlet, manual windows, locks and foldaway mirrors, tilt steering wheel, dome and cargo lights, rear window defroster and a center console sliding armrest that moves forward 3 inches to accommodate shorter drivers. The armrest lid features a unique flip pocket for storing a cell phone or an MP3 player.

On the exterior, the Jeep Patriot Sport features a standard body-color grille and fascias, accent-color bodyside molding, black door handles, accent- color liftgate applique, black side roof rails, 16-inch styled steel wheels and all-season tires.

Optional features on Jeep Patriot Sport include a second-generation continuously variable transmission (CVT2), four-wheel-drive capability, through either Freedom Drive I or the Freedom Drive II Off-road Package (which includes CVT2L with low range, a full-size spare tire, skid plates, tow hooks, fog lamps, cabin air filtration system and manual seat height adjuster), front-seat-mounted side air bags to supplement standard side-curtain air bags, premium cloth low-back bucket seats with YES Essentials(R) premium seat fabric, air conditioning, engine block heater, AM/FM radio with six-disc CD player and MP3 CD play capability, deep-tinted sunscreen glass, Tire and Wheel Group (which is required with Freedom Drive II and includes 17-inch all- terrain OWL tires and aluminum wheels), Power Equipment Group, (which includes power windows with driver one-touch down feature, power fold-away mirrors, remote keyless entry and speed-sensitive power locks) and a 458-watt nine- speaker Premium Sound Group (which includes six Boston Acoustics speakers with subwoofer and amplifier and two articulating speakers packaged in the liftgate.) When the liftgate is open, the speakers can swing down from the trim panel to face rearward for tailgating and other activities. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder World Engine coupled with CVT2 also is available on front-wheel- drive Jeep Patriot Sport models.

An available Special Equipment Group on the Jeep Patriot Sport model includes air conditioning, deep-tinted sunscreen glass, map and dome reading lamps, removable/rechargeable interior cargo lamp, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet and passenger assist handles, a recline features for standard 60/40 rear seats and a Power Equipment Group (which includes power windows with a driver's one-touch down feature, speed-sensitive power locks, power fold-away exterior mirrors and remote keyless entry). The U.S. MSRP for the Jeep Compass Sport 4x2 with this Special Equipment Group is $17,335. The Jeep Compass Sport 4x4 with this Special Equipment Group has a U.S. MSRP $19,085. Both prices include $560 destination.

Available options with Jeep Patriot Sport models with this Special Equipment Group, beyond those available on the Jeep Patriot Sport model, include a Premium Steering Wheel Group (which includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering-wheel audio controls and speed control), heated cloth seats, fog lamps, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, a Popular Equipment Group (which includes a soft tonneau cover, cross bars, automatic-dimming rear-view mirror, Electronic Vehicle Information Center, Universal Garage Door Opener, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and security alarm) and a Trailer Tow Prep Group (which includes engine oil cooler and trailer tow wiring harness).

Jeep Patriot Limited

With a starting U.S. MSRP of $19,985, the standard Jeep Patriot Limited is a 4x2 model that features a 172-horsepower 2.4-liter World Engine coupled with a standard five-speed manual transaxle. An optional CVT2 or an optional CVT2L also are available on the Jeep Patriot Limited. The U.S. MSRP for the Jeep Patriot Limited with the Freedom Drive I is $21,735. The U.S. MSRP for the Jeep Patriot Limited with the Freedom Drive II Off-road Package is $23,530. Both prices include $560 destination.

In addition to the standard equipment on the Jeep Patriot Sport model and the Jeep Sport model with the Special Equipment Group, the Jeep Patriot Limited model features premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, heated front seats, driver's seat manual lumbar adjuster, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, speed control, soft-tonneau cover, security alarm and roof rack with cross bars.

On the exterior, the Jeep Patriot Limited model has body-color fascias with bright silver appliqués, body-color bodyside moldings, fog lamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels and all-season touring tires.

Beyond the options offered on the Jeep Patriot Sport, additional options on the Limited model include a power express open/close sunroof, UConnect Hands-free Communication System, navigation system, removable ash tray and cigar lighter and a Driver Convenience Group (which includes an automatic- dimming rearview mirror, Electronic Vehicle Information Center, Universal Garage Door Opener and Tire Pressure Monitoring System).

Jeep Brand

The Jeep brand's 65-year history of legendary capability has made it synonymous with freedom, adventure, mastery and authenticity. In 2006, the Jeep brand continues to deliver on its promise to provide versatile, innovative four-wheel-drive vehicles with the introduction of the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Compass.

"The Jeep brand is on a product offensive and will continue to grow with new offerings that leverage Jeep's legendary 4x4 leadership," said John Plecha, Director-Jeep Marketing and Global Communications. "We're solidifying the Jeep brand's foundation with the bigger, more powerful all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler - the most capable off-road vehicle in the world - while stretching the brand to reach new customers with the all-new Jeep Patriot."

Sales of Jeep brand vehicles increased 12 percent in 2005 to their highest total since 2000 to 476,532 units compared with 2004 sales of 427,329 units. The positive sales momentum for the brand has continued this year. Jeep brand sales in November of this year were up 20 percent from November of 2005.

Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant

Production of the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot will begin at the Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant in the fourth quarter of 2006. Chrysler Group launched a second production shift at the Belvidere facility in March, which doubled the plant's production capacity, and began building all-new Jeep Compass models in May of this year. The addition of the second shift raised total employment at the facility from 1,650 to 2,650 employees.
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