POSTED: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 6:40pm
UPDATED: Saturday, January 5, 2013 - 3:38pm
The Dodge Viper has become an automotive icon. And today we got to not only see the new 2013 model, but talk about the economy with the head of design for Chrysler.
His name is Ralph Gilles, and he is Vice President of Design at Chrysler, and heads up the SRT division, which makes all of Chryslers high performance models.
And he was in Arp today to visit with Wayne and D’Ann Rauh who happen to have the largest collection of Vipers in the world…59 in all with two more on the way.
And Gilles was driving the new 2013 model cross country to get a feel for its performance, and we caught up with him to talk about the car and the industry.
“The timing’s been great,” he said. The comeback story of Chrysler is not without struggles. We had some tough times. A lot of it was processing a lot of new product very quickly. We just ended our best year in a long, long time, since 2007. Sales were up 10% this month and 21% overall, so we’re having a very good year, closed off ’12 very well.”
And the economy seems to be turning around.
“The whole industry is doing very well with close to a 15-million sales this year which bodes well for the economy in general,” Gilles said. “What I like is that it’s a slow growth, not a spike. Decent credit scores are coming in so people can get financed. Every nameplate we have is selling better than last year, especially the Ram. Which is a good sign, particularly in Texas, Ram signifies housing starts and businesses. It’s true of all the automakers, the trucks are starting to do well, which is a really good sign for the economy.”
By the way, D’Ann Rauh talked Gilles into sending down a 2013 Viper for the annual Tyler Auto Show benefitting the Women's Crisis Center.