Aspen the namesake for new hybrid SUV |

Aspen the namesake for new hybrid SUV

Chrysler is making a hybrid version of its Aspen SUV, but city officials want the name to grace a greener vehicle. (Courtesy DaimlerChrysler)

ASPEN Chrysler executives are joining the city of Aspen’s Canary Initiative – kind of.The next edition of the Chrysler Aspen will be a hybrid, but it will gain only a slight increase in efficiency.”Any step in that direction is positive as far as I’m concerned,” outgoing Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said of the new Aspen Hybrid.But Klanderud said the Aspen name deserves an even more fuel-efficient vehicle.In 2007 Chrysler released the new Aspen, an eight-passenger SUV with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that shuts down cylinders when cruising on highways.

And April 30 Chrysler executives unveiled plans for a 2008 Aspen Hybrid to run on the same motor, but the vehicle will rely on additional electric motors to take the strain off the gas engine.The system will appear on another Colorado-themed vehicle, the Dodge Durango, also by DaimlerChrysler.The new technology will bump the Aspen from 15 miles per gallon to 19 mpg in the new hybrid version, according to a report on”We’re constantly looking for more applications for fuel-efficient technology,” said Dan Bodene, a representative from product communications at DaimlerChrysler.The Aspen Hybrid is designed to have the same amount of room and towing capacity, but will run more efficiently, Bodene said.

“You’re going to get all the oomph you need,” Bodene said.”The whole name Aspen kind of evokes a lot of different things: outdoors, freedom,” Bodene said, and that works well with the company’s vision for the vehicle: “It kind of fits.”Not quite, according to Klanderud.”We basically asked them to make it a car that represented our environmental values,” Klanderud said. She wrote the company a letter before the Chrysler Aspen first came on the market in 2006.”Our community is strongly committed to fostering the creative spirit through environmental efficiency,” Klanderud wrote to Chrysler’s CEO in June 2005. “The name Aspen would be more suited for a more fuel-efficient vehicle.”

Klanderud, who as mayor represented Aspen at a number of environmental conferences, said hybrid technology is good, but it’s not always the best, or as good as other fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.”I would certainly like to see it get more mileage,” Klanderud said, but she is pleased that market forces are driving a trend toward efficiency.”Corporations are market-driven … and when the demand is there, the industry starts to change,” Klanderud said. That has been her environmental policy as mayor, she said: to create a desire to recycle and make energy efficient choices.Klanderud was happy to hear it’s happening at Chrysler, too.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is

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