Ralph Gilles

Ralph Gilles News

  • The SUV's Ride From Peak to Valley

    After soaring in the 1990s, the Grand Cherokee came crashing to earth in the new century. Car buyers began steering clear of SUVs as gasoline prices rose and Al Gore started sharing inconvenient truths about global warming. Making matters worse, the Grand Cherokee drew the flinty attention of Chrysler's finance people, who required each new model to be developed for 20 percent less than its predecessor to try to make money.

  • A New Jeep Every Minute

    Jason Ryska, the current plant manager at Jefferson North, keeps a baseball bat in his office to remind him of the first time he made contact with the Jeep Grand Cherokee under Fiat management. It was on stage in an amphitheater at Chrysler's design and engineering center in Auburn Hills, shortly after Fiat took control in 2009. Marchionne, the new chief executive officer, handed Louisville Sluggers to Ryska and a gang of Chrysler executives who had survived bankruptcy. He told them to start swinging at the Jeep that was once the pride of the fleet. This wasn't the hot new Grand Cherokee that Ryska builds now. It was the previous model that had been compromised and cost-cut until it was stripped of its dignity and reduced to an "also-ran," as designer Ralph Gilles said. Ryska grabbed the bat and began pounding. It was a corporate catharsis.

  • Five Scenes of a New Life

    Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne drove the first new Jeep Grand Cherokee off the line at a ceremony on May 21, 2010, echoing Bob Lutz's famous roll-off 18 years earlier. This time, the breakthrough did not come via a glass wall. Rather, it was what the boss had to say.

  • SRTs at 120 MPH Help Chrysler Buyers Find Inner Andretti

    Last May, Matt Newman bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, the muscle-car version of Chrysler’s hot- selling SUV. He was hooked at 470 horsepower and paddle shifters, so when the salesman went for the close with a free day of driving at a race track, it was almost overkill.

  • Porsche, Corvette Lovers May Be Lured to Next Dodge Viper, Designer Says

    Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker run by Fiat SpA , said the next Dodge Viper sports car is going to be “drop-dead beautiful” so it can take buyers from Porsche SE’s cars and General Motors Co.’s Corvette.

  • Best Car Design Since 1960s Drives U.S. Market Share Gain

    In the dark winter months before General Motors Co. filed for bankruptcy four years ago, its top designer, Ed Welburn, was growing increasingly frustrated with the negative news about his company.

  • Fiat's Chrysler Bets On Redesigned Dodge Models to Meet 2011 Sales Target

    Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker operated by Fiat SpA , is introducing six redesigned Dodge models as it seeks to help the company raise domestic sales by as much as 45 percent in 2011.

  • Chrysler Risks Fury of Faithful With New Jeep Cherokee

    Chrysler Group LLC is bringing back the Cherokee, the model that helped usher in the age of the sport-utility vehicle, with a design that’s testing the devotion of the Jeep faithful.

  • Monster Jeep Burns Gas as It Takes on Porsche, BMW SUVs

    Twelve miles per gallon. That’s all the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 4x4 gets around town. As a privileged, high-horsepower SUV, this special edition seems primed for a Hummer level of vilification.

  • Chrysler Introduces `Man Van' as Mommy-Mobiles Lose Market Share to SUVs

    Chrysler Group LLC wants to attract more men to its minivans as women eschew the segment’s unsexy image in favor of sport-utility vehicles.

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