June 6, 2012 7:57 AM
Nearly 400 Chrysler Group LLC fleet customers, and many prospective
customers who now have Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck, and
FIAT brand models on their radar screen, are wrapping up the 2012
Chrysler Fleet Preview here in this historic and bustling Atlantic
Fleet managers representing municipalities, government agencies,
large and medium sized businesses, police and sheriff departments,
and rental car companies are grilling Chrysler Group designers,
engineers and brand specialists on the company’s product
They are driving Chrysler Group models – including the Dodge
Charger Pursuit police vehicle – on a closed race course,
Jeep Wranglers and Grand Cherokees on a trail with some
seemingly-insurmountable earthen obstacles, and on city streets in
the shadow of the towering Talmadge Memorial Bridge that spans the
Savannah River here.
The fleet managers are driving everything from the all-new 2013
Dodge Dart compact car to the Ram 2500 Compressed Natural Gas
pickup truck. Some already are unwavering Chrysler fleet customers
while others are considering Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and
FIAT models for the first time.
Take Celena Stone for example. As fleet manager at Cardno TBE, a
consulting, design, engineering and construction services firm
based in Clearwater, Fla., Stone is here to learn more about the
new 2013 Ram 1500, especially about its best-in-class fuel economy.
She’s already a staunch Ram Truck buyer. When Stone joined
Cardno TBE two years ago, the company had Ford pickups. But Stone,
impressed with the reliability and quality of the Ram 1500, offered
the company’s drivers the option of a new Ram or Ford. Only
one wanted a Ram. But one year later, she made the same offer
again. This time all her drivers opted for the Ram 1500.
“I haven’t had one complaint on the Ram,” Stone
said here. She has about 50 Ram pickups in the Cardno TBE fleet and
plans to add more.
Stone’s passion for Ram trucks was solidified when the
company’s only Ram 5500 – used for vacuum excavation to
locate subsurface utilities – developed an engine problem on
a job in Phoenix. The engine was quickly diagnosed and replaced by
a Phoenix dealer and the highly-specialized truck was back on the
job. As she shared her story with me over lunch, another fleet
manager listened intently, noting later that her passion and
excitement for the brand convinced him to take a closer look at the
Richard Evans is looking for new police cars, so his first order of
business here is to evaluate the Dodge Charger Pursuit police
vehicle. Evans, the Fleet Logistics Supervisor for the city of
Tampa, Fla., also is assessing how other Chrysler Group models
would fit into the city’s fleet for government officials.
“I’m very interested in the Dodge Dart,” Evans
said. “I’m excited about a compact car that is highly
fuel-efficient and is comfortable to drive.”
The Chrysler Fleet Preview also offers discussion forums and
advisory panels for customers to provide the fleet team with
feedback on its products.
Police Chief Jan Noble, of the Belvidere, Ill. police department,
is here advocating the ordering of Dodge Charger Pursuits with
factory-installed police equipment developed by Mopar and
industry-equipment leader Crown North America. It’s a
departure from the norm of sending police cruisers to upfitters to
install police equipment, Noble said.
“So the first time I ordered the Pursuit with the
factory-installed equipment it was a risk, because I’ve been
doing it differently for 18 years,” Noble said. “But I
found out it was the right decision. I save time and money and only
have to install local graphics on the car when it
This year’s event featured a keynote address from Chrysler
Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, who spoke of Chrysler Group’s
turnaround, thanked the fleet customers “for putting your
faith in us,” and emphasized that “fleet business is an
essential part of our plan going forward.”
“We value the connections we have built with you over the
years, and we are committed to nurture and grow these
relationships,” Marchionne said.