Chrysler milking the Aspen name
October 3, 2006
“Best-in-class: Interior room.” “Best-in-class: Cargo space.” “Best-in-class: Horsepower & torque.” Fully powered by a “5.7l HEMI Magnum V8, 335 horsepower.” Estimated miles per gallon: 14 city/19 highway. Sounds like Aspen to us. After all, who can argue that the upsizing of homes in and around Aspen has made everything a lot roomier – and classier for that matter? And we no doubt have some of the largest and best-used garages in the state. As for horsepower and torque: What other resort community can boast the kind of high-power reputation needed to draw the president of Iraq into town for dinner? Actually, the specs above do belong to Aspen – the new Chrysler Aspen. They can be found on http://www.chrysler.com. The DaimlerChrysler Corp. appears to have pegged Aspen perfectly with its latest model: an SUV, of course, with lots of space and plenty of pull that needs a lot of energy to keep it powered.And the specs aren’t the only thing about Aspen the SUV that reminds us of Aspen the town. Chrysler’s pitch that Aspen the SUV offers a fuel savings method that echoes some of the claims that come from Aspen the community.Even in the face of remarkably unremarkable fuel efficiency, for instance, the company touts a “multiple displacement system” that allows it to switch from eight cylinders to four while cruising. Here in Aspen, we’ve gone so far as to hire a global warming manager and generously fund the Canary Initiative, a laudable effort to reduce this community’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet anyone walking through town on a the shorts-and-T-shirt warm day at the end of last week was presented with the city’s brand new warming hearth burning away.To its credit, Aspen the community actually is doing something locally about the global warming problem. The Canary Initiative has pushed Aspen’s institutions, businesses and at least some of its residents to curb energy usage and look for ways to reduce impacts on the environment. For the most part, Chrysler seems to have Aspen pegged. Hopefully, the city and its residents will continue to move away from the SUV image and strive to become something more like a Prius, where fuel efficiency is at the center of our lives. That means giving things up, like SUVs, heated driveways, 15,000-square-foot homes and commuting alone from home to work. Perhaps we should all thank Chrysler for reminding us that changing Aspen’s image from energy hog to energy angel takes more than words.