Grand Cherokee SRT Notes

Date 2005/10/20 8:47:23 | Topic: Grand Cherokee

Several journalists were recently invited to the mountains of California to take the new Grand Cherokee SRT for a test drive both off-road and on the Willow Springs International Raceway. Some of the engineers who had a hand in designing the SRT were on hand and had some comments. First up, John Cathcart, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 program manager:
It’s a natural fit to put a four-wheel drive vehicle in the SRT lineup. We wanted to see what we could put to the pavement. With the Grand Cherokee we took the next step, trying to use all the power we could. We certainly couldn’t fit a 6.1 liter engine in a Liberty. We weren’t looking at the concept of an off-road vehicle but to go as fast as we can (with the Grand Cherokee SRT-8). Drivers aren’t going to go the top speed, but they want to go fast from stoplight to stoplight. With towing capacity at 3,500 pounds, it’s not viewed as a tow vehicle, but a daily driver. Still we wanted to make sure it had some utility—we still have to validate it as a Jeep. Our main competitors are the Porsche Cayenne, Chevy TrailBlazer SS and Range Rover. It’s a growing segment.

Next, Dan Knott, Director, Street and Racing Technology, (SRT), Chrysler Group:
The SRT program gives us a fundamental competitive advantage. We have 11 vehicles, the other guys have one or two (high performance) cars. We do one after another as long as it makes business sense. You have to empower your cowboys—let ‘em run, let ‘em create ideas. Their leader has to have passion, but keep the business on a leash asking does it make sense, is it the right value? For performance enthusiasts, they do it no matter what the cost. For them, it’s all about going faster. [About SRT sales numbers] The 300C is sold out, the Viper is real strong and the Magnum and Charger are doing well.

Finally, Herb Helbig, Senior Manager of Vehicle Synthesis:
The SRX brand has a halo effect that we’ll look to exploit as new products come up. We’ll probably do some concept cars at upcoming auto shows. SRT may expand but that’s not to say there will be SRT versions of all our vehicles, like, say, a minivan. There’s always been a market for high performance. It’s ingrained in our culture, something we passed on to our kids. Some people think SRT is about putting in big engines. It’s anything BUT! It’s about blending all the subsystems, bringing performance to a new level that absolutely stuns people.

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