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Chrysler showcases 2 hybrids and a Challenger at September luncheon

By Juan G. Robbin

The September SAMA luncheon was hosted by Chrysler LLC in the grand and glorious Adrienne Arscht Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Miami and showcased three jewels in the automaker’s inventory – the 2009 Dodge Ram, a hybrid-powered Chrysler Aspen and the stunning Dodge Challenger SRT-8. The professional team from Prestige Auto did their usual magic, guiding members as they arrived through the lobby and then to the presentation area. Ron Beasley and Paul Borden handed out our new SAMA golf shirts, membership credential cards and individual re-usable name tags. With its towering windows and beautiful terrazzo floors, the lobby of the Performing Arts Center made for an exceptionally impressive venue for the SAMA lunch. 

Chrysler utilized one of the many studio rooms to present the three new vehicles to the South Florida automotive press in dramatic fashion. A dark floor and black-draped walls accented the display of the three vehicles, while strategically directed spotlights focused on the special subjects at hand. On display were the all-new-for-2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck, the new Dodge Challenger SRT-8 in a spectacular retro red-orange color and the new hybrid version of the Chrysler Aspen.

Approximately 45 SAMA members and guests were in attendance, including Mass Media Enterprises president and CEO Elena Carpenter and associate Elizabeth McGuffin, who became new corporate SAMA members. President Ron Beasley brought the meeting to order and told the group that October and November will be busy months for the organization. He said that important upcoming dates include the Nov. 1 “Rides and Smiles” event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway; the Oct. 30 SAMA luncheon sponsored by the South Florida Auto Dealers Association, and the second annual SAMA kick-off breakfast for the South Florida International Auto Show on Nov. 7, which will be sponsored this year by OnStar. 
A very big thank you and a tip of the hat to Teresa Bravo for once again stepping up to organize the breakfast, and thanks also to Alex Vitale from GM for his help in developing OnStar’s participation. The breakfast will launch the auto show’s press day on the morning of Nov. 7 at the Miami Beach Convention Center and SAMA members are urged to attend.

Also, please make plans to attend and cover the inaugural “Rides and Smiles” event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 1 at 9 a.m.

Teresa Bravo discusses auto show breakfast plans

Bryan Zvibleman addresses SAMA members

We need to generate heavy press coverage for this exciting event that will see Baptist Children’s Hospital bring 60 youngsters stricken with cancer to Homestead for a day at the track. The kids will be treated to lunch and given rides in such vehicles as a Dodge Viper, a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, a Ford Mustang and an Audi R8, to mention just a few of the vehicles slated to participate. SAMA member Bill Adam is coordinating the event and he says it is shaping up to be a wonderful day for the kids. Meanwhile, the Chrysler program at the SAMA lunch was highlighted by presentations from Joe Veltri, director of body-on-frame product planning and marketing; Abdullah Bazzi, manager, HEV core engineering; and Bryan Zvibleman, senior manager, car, minivan and truck communications.

We need to generate heavy press coverage for this exciting event that will see Baptist Children’s Hospital bring 60 youngsters stricken with cancer to Homestead for a day at the track. The kids will be treated to lunch and given rides in such vehicles as a Dodge Viper, a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, a Ford Mustang and an Audi R8, to mention just a few of the vehicles slated to participate.

 SAMA member Bill Adam is coordinating the event and he says it is shaping up to be a wonderful day for the kids. Meanwhile, the Chrysler program at the SAMA lunch was highlighted by presentations from Joe Veltri, director of body-on-frame product planning and marketing; Abdullah Bazzi, manager, HEV core engineering; and Bryan Zvibleman, senior manager, car, minivan and truck communications. East region communications manager Lisa Barrow coordinated the event. Veltri did an enthusiastic and detailed walk-around of both the Challenger and the new Ram pickup truck, and Bazzi discussed the features of the Aspen Hybrid. Veltri noted that the Challenger, a throwback to the Muscle Car days of the 1960s and early 1970s, represents “the rebirth of an American icon.” The Challenger actually was revived for the 2008 model year, but the 2009 adds milder engines than the top-of-the-line 6.1-liter HEMI V8 that Dodge estimates will account for about 10 percent of the Challengers sold. There’s also a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 in the Challenger R/T and a 3.5-liter V6 in the Challenger SE. Don’t scoff too much at the V6. It still produces 250 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque.
The 2009 Ram pickup is a big, bold truck that for the first time offers a Crew Cab. Also, a new coil spring, multilink rear suspension will provide a more comfortable ride, loaded or unloaded. The truck also has interesting features such as the Ram Box for storage in the sides of the beds that can accommodate sports equipment as well as work tools.
The Aspen and its companion vehicle, the Dodge Durango Hybrid, represent the company’s first production hybrids. The hybrid power train improves fuel economy by up to 40 percent in the city and 25 percent overall and has best-in-class cargo room -- and still is priced $8,000 below its competition.

Lunch was served on balcony overlooking mezzanine entrance to Performing Arts Center

Immediately after the presentation a delicious catered buffet lunch was served on the balcony overlooking the spectacular mezzanine entrance of the Performing Arts Center.
Thank you all for attending and we’ll see everyone again on Oct. 30 for the SAMA luncheon sponsored by the South Florida Auto Dealers Association.

Pepe Delfino waits as Paul Borden searches for his new SAMA shirt

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Abdullah Bazzi discusses hybrid power in Dodge Aspen.

Jorge Koechlin and Javier Mota enjoy a moment of conversation.

Enrique Kogan, Teresa Bravo, Marcello Serrato and Silvio Lavarell

Woodie and Tony Lesesne

Chrysler’s Bryan Zvibleman, Joe Veltri, Lisa Barrow and Abdullah Bazzi

Angelo Serrato, Martha Gomez and Jaime Gabaldoni

K.C. Cereceda and Luis Gonzalez

Juan Robbin, Phillippe Daix, Joe Castello and Jeffrey Ross dress up the Dodge Challenger SRT-8

 Elizabeth McGuffin, Elena Carpenter, Pepe Delfino, Paul Borden

Jorge Koechlin, Jaime Gabaldoni, Pepe Forte

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