Chrysler's last few years have been emblematic of the difficulty some of the older portions of the automobile industry are having adjusting to the increasingly mature, saturated and urban U.S. and global automobile markets. But Chrysler isn't counting itself out yet. Repackaging the Chrysler structure as a smaller, lighter company is going well, according to Chrysler's top executives, but it's not going to be quick - or painless.

Though they don't hold hope for a profitable 2008, and are doubtful about next year as well, the top brass at Chrysler think it will weather the reformulation of its business to emerge more fit for today's auto industry. The company is on plan or ahead of its goals to return to profitability, according to CEO Bob Nardelli. They are also proud of their ability to keep fighting despite the tough times.

"Lesser companies would have buckled," said Nardelli, speaking with the Detroit Free Press.

The company continues to streamline its dealer network, vehicle lineup and worker pay structure as it slims its business model to fit the times. But all of these initiatives are slow, careful maneuvers that will take five to seven years to complete.

The company is also taking some creative new steps to help ensure its changes keep it relevant to the people that will buy its cars. A design forum for the public that allows up to 5,000 people to give their input on videos, presentations and upcoming products will help guide Chrysler's future direction.

And although the Dodge Challenger - especially the potent SRT8 version - isn't slated for high-volume sales, the image of strength and performance it presents is something that's been missing from the brand's stable, with the notable exception of the Viper, for quite some time. The greater availability and therefore visibility of the new muscle car should help kick start the change in perception the company is seeking as it moves forward.

Dodge Challenger SRT8