Dodge Caliber: Softer. . .But a Stronger Diesel
When the Dodge Caliber went into production at the Chrysler Belvedere Assembly Plant in 2006 as a MY 2007 vehicle, the angular five-door was replacing the Neon at the factory. The Neon, as you may recall, was a soft-shaped four-door. The Caliber is different. It has a two-box design, but it is more coupe-like than, say, the PT Cruiser. It has a certain Dodge aggro quality to it. And, as a five-door, which was rather radical at the time, it was said to be the kind of car that might make it in Europe. In 2008, the Caliber was the top-selling Chrysler product outside of North America. And when you look at numbers for this year, it seems as though the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Journey and Dodge Caliber switch around for the #1 spot. The point being, even though it is a matter of just several thousand vehicles, the Caliber is making some tracks on the Continent.
A freshened version of the Caliber will be displayed at the 2009 IAA in Frankfurt. One change will take place on the interior of the car: While its exterior is comparatively hard and angular, those attributes unfortunately could be used to describe the interior surfaces heretofore, That’s giving way to softer materials, and a new instrument panel design with bits of brightness.
The markets outside of North America will be getting a new common-rail diesel engine. This Euro 5-compliant 2.2-liter engine proves 163 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. What’s more, it is more fuel efficient, getting 5.8 liters/100 km.
Several years back, one of the authors visited a major North American assembly plant engaged in the launch of a new vehicle program. A "ramp-up" schedule was prominently displayed on a bulletin board deep in the heart of the plant. The schedule indicated that the day of the visit was the same day the plant was originally planned to achieve full capacity production of its new product. Yet the plant was actually producing only a few units an hour! The assembly plant's tardiness is certainly not uncommon, but did contribute to our interest in the wide range in vehicle launch performance across major vehicle firms.
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From the point of view of structural engineering and assembly, electric vehicles are a whole lot simpler than those with internal combustion engines, which probably goes a long way to explain why there are so many startups showing EVs.