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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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9-Speed Transmission Likely for Liberty

9-speed transmission likely for Liberty Heir

03/21/2012


One of the charges critics and reviewers have leveled at the Jeep Liberty over the years has been its archaic four-speed transmission and poor fuel economy.

It appears Chrysler Group's development team was listening, as a new ultra-efficient nine-speed gearbox looks to be coming to the next generation. Chrysler will discontinue production of the Liberty later this year and replace it with another vehicle to be built in Toledo.

Jerry Price, vice president of United Auto Workers Local 685 in Kokomo, Ind., where the transmissions will be built, said Tuesday the Liberty replacement is one of the vehicles being considered for the new front-wheel-drive, nine-speed automatic transmission.

Yes, front-wheel drive.

Company officials haven't released technical specifics of the upcoming vehicle. However, analysts expected the Fiat-based Liberty replacement — Chrysler hasn't yet announced officially what the vehicle will be called — would be front-wheel-drive. Chrysler all but confirmed that in its annual SEC filing, which indicated the vehicle would be based off the same front-wheel-drive, Fiat-derived platform that underpins the upcoming Dodge Dart.

Further, the SEC filing said the automaker plans to use nine-speed transmissions in many of its C-segment and D-segment front-wheel-drive vehicles, starting next year. The Liberty and its replacement slot into the D-segment.

Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said Tuesday she could not comment on reports of a nine-speed transmission. The company does not typically talk about upcoming products.

The automaker has already begun equipping the full-size Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with eight-speed transmissions. It plans to eventually use those in all its rear-wheel drive vehicles except heavy-duty versions of its Ram pickups.

In the SEC filing, Chrysler said the eight-speed transmission reduces fuel consumption by up to 12 percent when compared with its five-speed transmission. The nine-speed, Chrysler said, cuts fuel consumption by up to 11 percent over the company's current six-speed transmission.

The current rear-wheel-drive Liberty, with its 3.7-liter V6 and four-speed automatic, gets a combined 18 miles per gallon, according to the U.S. EPA testers. The four-wheel drive gets 17 mpg. The new, more car-like version is expected to return much better results.

Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12, which represents the Toledo Assembly plant, told the Detroit-based Automotive News last week that, in addition to the nine-speed transmission, the next Liberty would get a smaller version of the much-acclaimed 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that currently powers several Chrysler Group vehicles, including the Toledo-built Wrangler.

Mr. Baumhower could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Though Jeep officials haven't said exactly how off-road-capable the next-generation model will be, they have promised it will retain what makes a Jeep a Jeep, including a go-anywhere reputation. ZF Friedrichshafen AG, the German company that developed the nine-speed transmission, said the gearbox is capable of all-wheel-drive applications.

The new vehicle is expected in showrooms next year.


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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-27-2012, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Jeep Liberty Replacement to Use Nine-Speed Transmission, UAW Local Says - chicagotribune.com
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Jeep Liberty Replacement to Use Nine-Speed Transmission, UAW Local Says

March 27, 2012


Jeep Liberty

More details are emerging about the Jeep Liberty replacement, including the addition of a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 3.2-liter engine, according to a union president who spoke to WTVG-TV, an ABC affiliate serving the Toledo, Ohio, area.

UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower described the new Liberty as having "mpg that will knock your socks off."


According to Chrysler's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the carmaker is expected to launch a Jeep Liberty replacement in 2013, and it is working on a newly developed nine-speed automatic transmission for its new midsize front-wheel-drive platform. It's designed for hybrid and all-wheel-drive systems, and the Jeep Liberty replacement will ride on this new platform. The 3.2-liter engine Baumhower mentioned is likely a modified version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told the Detroit Free Press that the new Liberty will "be a Trail-Rated, full-blooded Jeep that has its origins in the architecture of a sports car."

The Toledo Complex, which builds the 2012 Liberty, is undergoing a $500 million expansion for the new midsize SUV replacement. Upgrades include a 335,000-square-foot addition to the body shop.

Production of the current-generation Liberty will end in August, Baumhower says, as the plant undergoes the rest of its expansion. It will reopen for production in February. When the plant reopens, production capacity will be tripled to about 300,000 vehicles a year, Baumhower told WTVG. Chrysler will hire 1,100 workers to help build the Liberty, bringing total plant employment to over 2,800, Chrysler says.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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Jeep Liberty successor to be different, official says
But design will honor rugged heritage

03/30/2012

Like the Liberty, the new model will be built in Toledo. Chrysler has committed to pouring $500 million into the Toledo Assembly complex to expand and retool the plant for Liberty’s replacement.

Like the Liberty, the new model will be built in Toledo. Chrysler has committed to pouring $500 million into the Toledo Assembly complex to expand and retool the plant for Liberty’s replacement.


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jeep's design chief says the replacement for the Jeep Liberty will be much different from the current model and should attract new buyers, but he offered assurances Jeep isn't turning its back on its rugged heritage.

"It's definitely not the old Liberty," Mark Allen said Tuesday after a preview of Jeep concepts built for the upcoming Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. "It's a step in the right direction. It's a much more efficient Jeep, it's a much more efficient-looking Jeep, honestly. It's not what we have now."

Jeep launched the Liberty in 2001 to replace the aging Cherokee. The SUV was redesigned for the 2008 model year, with new styling that squared off the first generation's curves for a more boxy, masculine look. Since then, little has changed inside or outside the Liberty while Jeep has updated the majority of its lineup.

The new model, which like the Liberty will be built in Toledo, will use Chrysler Group's versatile front-wheel-drive platform that also will go under the upcoming Dodge Dart. A more efficient engine and transmission combination should greatly improve fuel mileage. Four-wheel drive is expected to be offered.

Mr. Allen said he was proud of the vehicle's design but declined to outline any specific clues or give size comparisons with the current model. So far, no images have leaked of the vehicle's sheet metal, though several automotive magazines and Internet blogs published spy photos said to be of a test car. However, that vehicle was clad in body panels from an Alfa Romeo Giulietta and offered no real hints at what the new SUV will look like.

Mike Manley, the brand's chief executive officer, said Jeep will unveil the new model early next year. That likely will come in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Michael Barchick, vice president and general manager at Charlie's Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Maumee, said dealers have been told little about the coming model, aside from being encouraged to build up inventories to hold them over from August until the new vehicle hits showrooms.

Unquestionably, the Wrangler sits alone atop Jeep's capability ladder. But many of the brand's buyers and enthusiasts believe all Jeep products should have the ability to go off-road.

That discussion, especially over the switch from a rear-wheel to front-wheel-drive platform, has raged online and offline as die-hard fans worry the replacement will be too car-like and not capable when the blacktop runs out.

Mr. Allen is aware of those concerns but promises there's nothing to be afraid of.

"Will it have off-road chops? It will," he said. "I'm impressed with what I've seen so far. It's not a Giulietta with a Jeep body on it. It's not. There's some real Jeep-specific hardware in it."

Mr. Barchick isn't concerned that basing the vehicle on a front-wheel-drive platform will turn away potential buyers.

"If there are, I think it'll probably be very few," he said. "It's a small SUV and the small SUV market is pretty strong. I don't think that'll be a turn-off."

The vehicle will bring with it a second shift and 1,100 new jobs. Chrysler has committed to pouring $500 million into the Toledo Assembly complex to expand and retool the plant for the Liberty replacement and eventually up to four additional vehicles.

Chrysler hasn't said when it intends to shut down the Liberty line for retooling, which will take four to five months, but union officials previously told The Blade production would end the first week of August.

In the meantime, construction continues on the expansion.

"Things are progressing," Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said Wednesday. "We've had good weather."

Even as one of the senior models in Jeep's lineup, the Liberty has been selling well. Chrysler Group reported sales of 14,194 in the year's first two months, a 43 percent increase over the same period last year. Jeep is currently offering a $3,000 incentive on the Liberty.

Chrysler officials haven't come right out and said what they intend to call the new vehicle, though it seems to be a choice between Liberty or Cherokee -- the name of the model Liberty replaced.

"The Cherokee has a huge amount of equity. Liberty, I think, has built up some equity as well," Mr. Manley said. "I don't think we're going to invent a name."

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