FYI According to the Toledo Blade, Jeep has announced a new Hemi conversion kit from Mopar:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Sales of the Toledo-built Jeep Wrangler have surged since Chrysler Group LLC began installing a more powerful V-6 engine at the beginning of the 2012 model year, but for some hard-core Jeep fans that's still not enough moxie.
Although a factory-ordered Hemi isn't in the works, those folks can still rejoice. Mopar, Chrysler's in-house parts unit, unveiled a conversion kit Tuesday that will help enthusiasts place Chrysler's much more powerful 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter V-8 engines into the Wrangler.
"There's definitely been a growing demand," said Jim Sassorossi, director of Mopar parts sales operation.
The kit, to be available this summer for 2007-11 models and this fall for 2012 models, was on display at Jeep's annual preview of concept and specialty vehicles built for the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, where thousands of off-roaders meet in the Utah desert to test their driving and machines. Pricing on the conversion kit hasn't been set, but the swap won't be cheap. A new engine costs several thousand dollars.
Jeep executives said the Moab event is a way for them to connect with their brand's base, listen to customers' needs, and try new ideas.
"I get a zillon questions on Hemi, and our Mopar guys came up with a conversion kit to be able to do a Hemi conversion," said Mike Manley, chief executive officer of Jeep. "The passion for Jeep is not just with our engineers here, but with our customers. We get pushed all the time, whether it's a pickup truck, a diesel, can we get a bigger lift kit, what can we do in terms of accessories?" he said.
There was no new word on a Wrangler pickup, but Mr. Manley confirmed a new special-edition Wrangler would be rolled out before the end of the year and hinted it would be related to the off-road-packaged Rubicon model.
"At the end of this year, you're going to get the 10-year anniversary of the Rubicon. And the Rubicon is from a capability perspective clearly the icon of Wrangler," he said. "It would be a shame to let that go without celebrating it in one way or another."
Mr. Manley, responding to a reporter's question, said gas prices are a concern, but he's pleased with the start to this year. Through February, Jeep sales are up 30 percent over the same period last year.
"I think me and the team are focused on trying to keep the momentum going and balance the production we have. … " he said.
Other models on display Tuesday included a Wrangler-based interpretation of the Forward Control of the 1950s and '60s and a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk concept. Executives said they are considering building the Trailhawk, which was exhibited at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2007.
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Here is a link to the story from 03/28/12: