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The HEMI makes this one interesting. What an angle!

Posted 10/14/2003 3:40 PM Updated 10/15/2003 1:37 AM

Size does matter in SUV ad

By Bill Vlasic, The Detroit News
DETROIT — Can bathroom humor help sell a new sport-utility vehicle?

The 2004 Dodge Durango will be available in dealerships across the country beginning Nov. 15.


Executives at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group think so, and apparently are willing to offend some consumers to promote the upcoming 2004 Dodge Durango.

In a television ad set to air next month, two men standing side-by-side at rest room urinals are overheard discussing how "size" matters — only the object of their attention is a Durango poster on the wall.

The spot is the latest in a series of risque Chrysler ads that have implied wife-swapping among minivan owners and sexual relations in the back seat of a Concorde sedan.

To be shown only on late-night television, the suggestive Durango ad is either a bold move to cut through the advertising clutter or a new barometer of questionable taste in automotive marketing.

A Chrysler spokesman said the ad, first reported in Automotive News, an industry trade magazine, is a tongue-in-cheek attempt to illustrate that the redesigned full-size Durango SUV is longer and wider than the model it replaces.

"The target market is primarily men and their interest in a bigger, all-new SUV," Chrysler spokesman James Kenyon said.

The intent is subversive, "wink-wink" humor, and Chrysler isn't concerned that some viewers might perceive that the company's ad strategy has gone into the toilet.

"I don't think we're worried about it," Kenyon said. "Nowadays, no matter what you do, someone is going to complain about a particular ad."

With its U.S. sales down 6% this year, Chrysler is banking on the Durango to rev up Dodge sales and prove that the automaker has exciting new products in the pipeline.

Large SUVs are one of the last bastions of profit for Detroit's automakers in the increasingly competitive U.S. market. Dodge, tempting buyers with rebates as high as $4,500, sold 85,308 Durangos through September, up 2% from last year.

But playing Durango for laughs in the men's room is hardly a conventional approach to launching a mainstream SUV.

"It's new, it's different, and it's definitely taking a risk," said Alan Beim, president of the Pacific, Calif.-based firm, Ads That Work. "The question is, will it get people talking about the car?"

Chrysler believes it will. The company has said the Chrysler Concorde spot that alluded to a child conceived in the car's back seat was successful in connecting with potential customers.

An auto dealer consultant said the stab at raunchy, sexually oriented humor underscores Chrysler's struggles in the marketplace.

"This is pee-pee humor at its worst," said Jim Ziegler, a columnist for Dealer Magazine. "It's a desperate move, and it's not really that funny a joke anyway."

Kenyon said the 30-second ad, one of four different TV spots for the Durango, will debut in November on late-night cable and network television.

"It's an ad that's more appropriate for an adult audience," he said. "We're going to put it in places where kids would be less likely to see it."

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Chrysler Launches New Dodge Durango SUV
just-sites.com - October 10, 2003

Motor Trend
Chrysler Group president and CEO Dieter Zetsche joined more than 2,000 employees at the Newark (Delaware) assembly plant on Thursday to launch the official production of the redesigned, larger 2004 Dodge Durango SUV.

Today marks the beginning of 10 new product launches for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge by the end of 2004 and our manufacturing operations play a critical role in the successful introduction of these vehicles, said Zetsche.

Approximately seven inches longer, three inches taller and three inches wider than its predecessor, the 2004 Dodge Durango is a large SUV with new, stand-alone platform and new hydro-formed and fully boxed frame for added stiffness and refinement.

It has a towing capacity of 8,950 pounds and features a 15% increase in cargo volume with 102.4 cubic feet of cargo space that with third-row seat folded, is claimed to beat rival large SUVs.

The vehicle features a new trio of 3.7-5.7-litre V6 and V8 engines that deliver a claimed 10% improvement in fuel efficiency. Sales start on November 15.

Chrysler Group invested approximately $US180 million to prepare Newark for production of the new model. Through flexible manufacturing strategies and reusing existing plant equipment, the company has been able to reduce initial capital expenditures by 30%.

The new Durango will offer more vehicle options than its predecessor, and will be produced more efficiently, requiring fewer production hours per vehicle, said Chrysler manufacturing head Tom LaSorda. We are demonstrating through the launch of this vehicle that flexibility can be applied to an existing, and quite mature, manufacturing operation.

The Newark facility was originally built in 1950 to assemble tanks for the military and built its first car, a Plymouth, in 1957.

From the outset, Chryslers engineering, procurement and supply and manufacturing organisations worked together to develop the new vehicle in a design for manufacturing, approach involving a comprehensive review of the previous Durango development and production processes.

Designers and engineers were joined in a common effort to produce a vehicle that meets the customers highest quality standards the first time it rolls off the line, said Zetsche.

Plant employees were engaged early in the development process and their input prompted engineers to reconsider aspects of the vehicles design and assembly process. It also led to the introduction of new ergonomic approaches, thereby creating a safer work environment for employees.

This broad approach to vehicle development also involved various partners, ranging from plant tooling and equipment producers to vehicle parts suppliers. As a result, the assembly process has been streamlined, despite the addition of more options on the vehicle.

Newark Assembly also instituted an extensive quality programme that integrates over 125 quality checks throughout the production process, from the body shop to final assembly and pre-shipment to dealers. The basis for the programme was customer feedback and assembly benchmarking both within and outside the company.

The new quality verification processes enable employees at all levels to identify and resolve quality issues during production. It is expected that these actions will help lower future warranty costs.

The facility underwent a conversion to re-tool existing equipment and processes, enabling both the new Durango and its predecessor to be built simultaneously on the same production lines. The plant also minimised the amount of time required to change over plant equipment from the previous production model to the new one.

Nearly 300 robots were installed for production of the new Durango, most of them in the new body shop which was created in pre-existing, unused space at the plant. Tooling from the old shop was utilised, thus furthering cost efficiency.

Within the paint shop, two new processes and technology have been added to the line to give Durango a smooth, quiet ride in all types of road conditions: PUR foam application and Liquid Applied Sound Deadener system (LASD). PUR foam is a patented noise suppression adhesive that is injected into the body of the vehicle to minimise noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

The second technology, LASD, is an underbody system that applies a liquid compound to the vehicles floor pan. This sound deadening fluid is applied in a highly precise motion by robots and helps reduce noise inside the vehicle.

Newark Assembly is one of the few automotive paint shops in the world that uses a patented Super Solids clear coat technology for improved scratch and mar resistance, while reducing paint emissions by 25%.

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I just hope it's better than the current Durango

Did I say better? Maybe I should have said MUCH better! :(

My bent and battered MO is being fixed and I won't have it back until mid-December at the earliest. (The insurance company refuses to total it and two lawyers have told me to give-up trying.) So in the interim, I'm driving a 2003 Durango. While the seats and power are far better than the GMC Envoy I first rented, the rest of the truck is terrible. I call it a truck intentionally because it rides harshly like a truck and rattles are everywhere. Visibility is poor, though the Durango surprisingly is moderately athletic... though nothing like the MO.

I'd say the new Durango better be 500% better than the example I'm driving now. But then again, I can't wait to get my MO back and give back this rental truck. BTW, I'm averaging 11.5 mpg in mixed driving with the Durango. I doubt the Hemi in the new Durango will be much better... if at all.

Bob K.
 

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Durango is a truck (that is ladder frame not unibody) based SUV and designed for a slightly different purpose than the MO. I'm not defending the quality of products coming out of Chrysler, just that it'd be fairer to compare the ride of the Durango to, say, an XTERA.

We all know that even truck based SUVs rarely get used for towing or true off-road use, but to some extent, they are engineered with those uses in mind.
 
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