Archive for the ‘commercial van’ Tag

Ram ProMaster City

With the 2015 ProMaster City, Ram will finally have a small cargo van designed for commercial use — something that’s been missing since the A-vans were dropped. Dodge and Ram have been selling a “cargo-ized” version of the minivans, but it was designed primarily for passengers and never took off among commercial buyers.

With power coming from a four-cylinder Chrysler engine, hooked up to a Chrysler-made, ZF nine-speed transmission, Ram claims best-in-class combined gas mileage, a 1,883 pound payload, and 132 cubic feet of cargo volume. The van is based on the new Fiat Doblò XL, an expanded version of the popular-in-Europe Doblò van.

Made in a two-seat cargo van or a five-passenger wagon (like the original Caravan), the ProMaster City has 48.4 inches of space between its wheel-wells, which, with an 87-inch cargo length, lets buyers easily load in pallets and such; the class-exclusive extra 0.4 inches help with loading and unloading.

Above the wheel wells, the ProMaster City has a best-in-class width of 60.4 inches and an interior roof height of 51.8 inches, for best-in-class volume of 131.7 cubic feet (cargo van). The sides are upfitter-friendly, to help buyers add shelves or storage racks. The roof is prepped for load rails or roof racks, with a weight capacity of 154 pounds.

The cargo van’s 87.2 inch long floor has six standard D-ring tie downs (the wagon has four) and an optional flush-fit, non-slip vinyl mat. The sliding doors latch in the open position, and have a 26-inch opening.

With the seats in place, the five-passenger ProMaster City Wagon has close to four feet of cargo length to the rear doors; with seats folded and tumbled, the wagon has nearly six feet of cargo length.

The rear has 60/40 split swing doors; the larger door swings open toward the traffic (driver) side of the van, making it easy to quickly access larger cargo items without blocking the path to the curb. Both rear doors swing open 90 degrees; with the press of a button, they can open to 180 degrees.



Powertrain: Tigershark Engine and 9-Speed Transmission

Ram claims that the 2015 Ram ProMaster City’s power, torque, fuel economy, and performance will “trump any competitor’s standard-equipment package.”

ram promaster engineThe ProMaster City is the first commercial van with a nine-speed automatic; the standard “948TE” has a wide gear ratio spread and 3.73:1 final-drive ratio. Its 4.70 first-gear ratio delivers 0-to-30 mph acceleration in 3.7 seconds and 0-to-60 mph in 9.8 seconds (estimated). Even without the wide range and nine gears, the fast-shifting nine-speed’s efficient design would make it a worthy choice.

The 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine generates best-in-class 178 horsepower at 6,250 rpm, with peak torque (174 lb.-ft. at 3,900 rpm) greater than any standard engine in the segment and close to Ford’s optional turbocharged engine.

For durability, the engine has a forged steel crankshaft with 53 mm pin diameters, two-bolt main bearing caps, a cast-iron bearing beam to reduce flexing, piston oil squirters to prevent hot spots, powder-forged steel rods, and the ability to cross 12 inches of standing water (slowly) to prevent damage during sudden downpours. To increase efficiency, the engine has MultiAir 2, an electro-hydraulic valve lift and timing system that adjusts each cylinder individually.

Both the ProMaster City and Ram 1500 have variable a/c compressors, “smart alternators,” and pulse-width modulated (PWM) fuel pumps that operate on demand, cutting parasitic demand. The 160-amp “smart alternators” use moments of deceleration or braking to run the alternator at capacity, cutting the load during acceleration and improving fuel mileage.

Using front wheel drive cuts weight and the number of parts, provides more predictable emergency and low-traction handling, and eliminates the prop-shaft tunnel to allow a low, flat floor.



Compact Van Engineering: Body and Brakes

Ram tested the best-selling Doblò for severe-duty use, from the blazing desert heat of Las Vegas to frigid Northern Michigan, from traffic in Los Angeles to mountain roads in Colorado. Key Ram changes include:

-Raising the ride height by 10 millimeters (0.4 inches), to manage the greater vertical loads of bad roads.
-Upgrading chassis components and anchor points for durability.
-Widening the engine box and front track to fit the bigger engine and the nine-speed transmission.
-Strengthening body structures to comply with safety rules.
-Using tires rated to handle higher weights.

The floor pan, cross members, side panels, and (fully boxed) frame rails are welded together for higher structural rigidity, cutting noise and vibration, and allowing better handling; unibody construction reduces weight.

The 12-inch front disc brakes include pad wear sensors; a larger pad-to-disc swept area, combined with thicker linings (compared with competitors) increase durability. The rear 10-inch drum brakes also have thicker long-wear linings.



ProMaster City suspension and steering

The Ram ProMaster City’s MacPherson strut suspension was retuned for rougher North American roads, includes large-diameter shock absorbers, steel springs and a solid stabilizer bar. Stamped steel clamshell control arms are strong and weight efficient. The front suspension components are specifically tuned to handle the ProMaster City’s class-leading payload capacity. An optional package provides a 2,000 pound towing capacity.

While most Class 1 vans including the old Ram C/V use rear leaf springs, Ram ProMaster City has an independent, bi-link rear suspension to increase comfort, stability, and safety under all loads, while enabling the van’s low 21.5-inch step-in height.

The hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion steering system is connected to a standard tilt and telescoping steering column.

Safety devices



A four-channel electronic stability control (ESC) is standard and includes antilock brakes. The setup uses the steering wheel angle sensor to minimize yaw, and has a brake-lock differential for side to side pressure control and sway control; integrated traction control; rollover prevention; and trailer sway control.

On low traction surfaces, there can be a difference in wheel speeds when the driver lifts off the throttle. Engine drag control senses that difference and sends more torque to the driven wheels to keep them at the same relative speed as the rear wheels to boost vehicle stability.

Using brake pedal sensing and the steering angle sensor, the ProMaster City also senses emergency braking and automatically lights and flashes the tail lamps to alert other drivers.

The van also has brake assist (to engage full braking earlier); and hill-start assist, which holds the van in place for up to two seconds after the brake is released on a hill.

Finally, an optional rear camera and backup alarm can prevent drivers from hitting pedestrians or other vehicles.

Design



Although the cargo area is carry-over from the Fiat Doblò, from the front door cut forward, the Ram ProMaster City is new. Badges are large, chrome-finished, and three-dimensional. The driver can easily see the front corners, while cladding on the side and rear protect the body from knee-level bumps. Doors are durable yet lightweight, with handles designed for easy gripping with gloves. Optional oversized power side mirrors have adjustable wide-angle sections; the standard, segment-exclusive marker lights light dark areas on the side of the van when working from either side.

Step-in heights at the side (18.8 inches) and rear of the vehicle are among the lowest in their class at 21.5 inches. Key fobs have three buttons, for locking all doors, unlocking all doors, or unlocking just the cargo doors.

On the Tradesman, the bumpers and grille are black, with molded-in color to look the same even after being scratched. The SLT Wagon has body-colored bumpers, fog lamps, lower black molded-in-color trim at potential contact locations, optional body-color exterior mirrors, and a silver grille.

To cover both commercial and personal transport, there are three different 16” wheels. Tradesman has “revolver-hole silver” or black with a silver full-face cover steel wheels; SLT has the latter, with an optional aluminum wheel.

Three different window options are available on both trim levels. One has sheet metal everywhere but the front doors and windshield; one adds glass to both rear doors; and the third adds two side windows for passengers.

Colors include white, bright red, black metallic, silver metallic, deep red metallic, “blue night” metallic, gray metallic, “broom yellow” (fleets only), and brown (fleets only).

The wind tunnel helped optimize the mirror design, underbody aero shields, and spoilers to cut wind resistance, reducing noise and raising efficiency. The tires have low rolling resistance; 215/55R16XL tires have higher inflation pressures to handle larger loads; wheels are steel, for impact resistance, on Tradesman and SLT, with optional aluminum wheels on SLT.

Ram ProMaster City interiors



Two seating insert materials are used, with different patterns and feels. The seats have ergonomic padding and many adjustments, including heat; the durable fabric is trench -seamed and designed to be easy to clean and long lasting. One interior is black with gray accents; a carpeted floor is standard.

There are nine forward storage compartments, including overhead storage. Available in urethane or optional leather-wrap, the standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel’s horizontal spokes can be fitted with optional controls for operating cruise and audio controls.

Ram claims to have made major gains in climate control and interior lighting; the elliptical main cluster, placed under an antiglare dome, is designed to reading under all lighting conditions. Amber backlighting prevents the loss of night vision. The gauge cluster includes temperature, speedometer, tachometer, and fuel gauges, with a trip computer including a clock, odometer, and trip odometer.

The shifter is in the center console; a secondary console contains two cupholders and two 12V power outlets.

The Ram ProMaster City HVAC system was retuned for the North Americans, with easily operated heat and air conditioning controls that were designed for use with gloves. The oversized handle on the driver-side door panel also enables easy opening with gloves; a large storage compartment at the forward base of the door.

The cargo compartment has acoustic-backed side wall and rear door moldings, and vertical mount locations for flexible up-fit capability. Optional partitions (with a window option) provide protection against load shifts. A high roof makes it easier to work in the cargo area. Wagons get four tie-down rings, a full length headliner and carpet, panel moldings over the rear of the cargo area, and more storage trays at seated shoulder level with retractable covers.

The base radio is a four-speaker AM/FM setup with a monochrome display; tweeters are in the pillars and mid-range speakers are in the front doors). The optional UConnect 5.0 system has a handsfree text-reply setup and hands-free calling, with a full-color five inch touch-screen aiding the navigation system and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. A USB port on the dash is for recharging, while a second port is used to play music from thumb drives. U.S. buyers can use the system as a mobile Internet hotspot.

Mopar claims to be selling towing accessories, roof racks and carriers, customizable graphics packages, theft tracking, a roadside safety kit, tool bags and totes, canvas seat-covers, cargo mats, standard floor mats, and slush mats.



Where ProMaster City Is Built

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City will be built by TOFAS in Bursa, Turkey, at a 3.6-million squar foot (84 acre) WCM Gold plant, alongside the Fiat Doblò.



How far off were we?

Before the ProMaster City’s official launch, we said that it would be imported from Turkey, with an American powerplant — this was correct. We implied there was a chance it might be built elsewhere, because the Turkish joint venture company said they could not make it with modifications for the US — we were wrong. We predicted fold and flip seats, and thought that the British “XL” model would be sold here either as the standard model (it is) or as an option.

Our rendering was pretty far from the mark, though some may find it more pleasing.

The dashboard seen in our spy shots (well, KGP’s spy shots) turned out to be different in appearance, though not in content, from what we got here.

As read on: https://www.allpar.com/trucks/ram/ProMaster-city.html

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Review: 2014 RAM ProMaster Cargo Van

I have driven more cars than I can count this year but strangely enough, none of them excited me as much as the Fiat Ducato we had in July. Why? Well, my snazzy new retaining wall that arrived pallet-by-pallet in the Ducato certainly helped, but the real reason is: the Ducato serves as the basis for the 2014 RAM ProMaster. Yes, I know I have an odd place in my heart for commercial cargo haulers, but hear me out. The ProMaster quite simply the biggest thing to happen in the commercial world in my lifetime. The only thing that could have surpassed the intrigue of a front-wheel-drive cargo hauler would be a front-wheel-drive BMW M5. I know Europeans have had these things for a while, but let’s revel in the American novelty as we click past the jump.

promaster cargo copy

First things first. The ProMaster isn’t a Ducato with a RAM stuck on the front. Instead, Fiat and Chrysler decided to do their most interesting joint venture project thus far: refresh/re-design the Ducato with the North American market in mind. Why bother? Because major changes needed to be made to meet US legislation so the team took the opportunity to tweak just about everything. If you’re a Ducato fan, keep reading because I suspect that many of the American market changes will trickle back to the EU over time.

Exterior

With cargo haulers, it’s important that form follow function. The “box-on-wheels” is eminently practical. Because of this not much has changed externally from the Euro version and shoppers still have three body choices: a cargo van with or without windows, a chassis cab or a cutaway. Up front we still have the utilitarian dark grey bumper covers in a three-piece arrangement. The logic is that if you’re in a minor scuff-up, you can replace just the portion of the bumper you need to instead of the whole thing. Since they are all the same color regardless of the color of the van, parts costs are kept low and you can afford to have one or two in inventory.

Breaking from American tradition, the rear bumper is thin and shallow. While this makes me wonder what kind of body damage happens when the van gets hit in the rear, it makes forklift loading easier and keeps the van’s dimensions down. When it comes to dimensions, the ProMaster breaks from the mold. Rather than having an identical bodies in 1500, 2500 and 3500 versions, RAM’s ”levels” dictate  which of the four bodies, three wheelbases and two roof heights you get. The 1500 is the only version available with a low roof in two different lengths. The 2500 and 3500 are high roof only and all that really changes is the wheelbase and body length. The shortest ProMaster is 29 inches shorter (body length) than a GM standard van while the longest is 26 inches longer than GM’s largest van. Regardless of body, you get 16-inch wheels wrapped in 225/75R16 rubber. The small tires and wheels are a result of the Euro roots and the contrast between the small wheels and enormous body make the ProMaster look a little like a pregnant roller skate.

Cargo Hauling

The slab sides mean we get a large square rear opening almost as large as the van’s cross-section. This is significant change from GM and Ford’s existing vans where the rear portal is notably smaller than the cargo area. At 62 inches wide and 60 inches tall, the rear opening in the low-roof ProMaster is 5-inches wider and 13-inches taller than a GM/Ford van. Similar to Mercedes’ Sprinter, the ProMaster’s side doors swing 260 degrees and latch nearly parallel to the side of the van. The ProMaster’s sliding door rolls on an external stainless track for easy maintenance and thanks to the 49-inch wide, 60-inch tall (low roof) opening it reveals, you can insert one pallet in the side and one in the rear, something you can’t do in an E-Series or Savana. You can add a driver’s side sliding door for a reasonable $575 or $650 with glass, but if you prefer the side “barn doors” in your cargo hauler, look elsewhere. The RAM is sliding only.

Once you get beyond the unorthodox looks, you begin to realize how enormous the ProMaster is. At 283 cubic feet, smallest ProMaster (1500 short wheelbase) swallows one cubic foot less than GM’s biggest factory van. Need more? RAM’s positively ginormous ProMaster 3500 will haul 530 cubes, nearly twice the capacity of GM and Ford’s largest factory option. In fact when you look at the numbers, the ProMaster 3500 extended body extended wheelbase will schlep more than the average 12-foot box truck and nearly as much as the elusive 14-foot box truck.

A unique offering (so far) in the ProMaster is the factory installation of a steel bulkhead between the cargo and passenger compartment. GM and Ford offer a few dealer installed options but the total cost is higher than the ProMaster’s reasonable $495 for the partition with a window (about a hundred bucks less if you don’t want to look behind you.) Adding the partition not only improves safety but because of the factory fit and seal, it reduces cabin noise and improves air-conditioning performance. (An important consideration when you operate a black fleet in Phoenix.)

Construction & Payload

Cargo volume without payload capacity is useless, and this is where the ProMaster’s Euro roots become obvious. The RAM doesn’t follow the American convention when it comes to payload scales. Not only can the 1500 haul as many widgets as an extended Ford or GM van, the payload capacity is just 111 lower than GM’s sturdiest cargo hauler and a full ton more than a Ford or GM 1500 series van. Scaling up to the 3500, payload increases to 5,290lbs. That is nearly 900lbs more than the highest payload Ford or GM. As a result it is more realistic to compare the base ProMaster to the GM 2500 series extended vans in terms of capability. Logically the ProMaster is also priced in this fashion starting about the same as that 2500 extended van.

How can a front wheel drive unibody cargo van haul that much stuff? Easy. It’s not really a unibody. Unibody haters can put down their pitchforks, the ProMaster is a hybrid, which explains how they can slice those enormous doors into the side of the van without it collapsing like a house of cards. Essentially bonded to the vehicle’s floor, is a heavy-duty rail system that stretches from bumper to bumper. For the US market this frame has been beefed up for higher payloads and rougher roads. You can see the FWD benefit in the picture above: by using a FWD drivetrain, the load floor doesn’t have to sit on-top of the transmission, driveshaft or differential allowing it to hug the ground. At 21 inches the ProMaster’s load floor is 7-inches lower than the closest competitor and even the forthcoming Ford T-Series won’t improve on this much because of the RWD layout.

Interior

American cargo vans have never been known for modernity, creature comforts or leg room. The ProMaster, like the Nissan NV breaks the mold but the two vans do it in different ways. The Nissan puts the engine under a long hood while the ProMaster’s mill is transverse mounted freeing up leg room. The difference is night and day and my right leg remained un-cooked even after a 2 hour drive.  The first thing you’ll notice about the interior is how utilitarian it is. Easy to clean plastics span the interior (read: hard plastic), there’s a clip board integrated into the dash and instead of carpet you get a hard plastic floor with some textured grips. The second thing you’ll notice is how high off the ground you are. The passenger floor is 6-7 inches higher than the cargo load floor because everything that the ProMaster needs to move is located in front of or beneath the passenger compartment. This has two benefits, it allows the load floor to be lower to the ground and it also makes chassis cab and cut-away up-fitting easier. There are two access panels in the floor, one allows access to the battery (it’s the large one you can see in the picture above) and the other allows access to the fuel sending unit. Anyone who has a fleet of GM vans will tell you that replacing a fuel pump is a royal pain because you have to drain and drop the tank to get to it. In the ProMaster you just pop the cover off and have at it.

Chrysler decided to upgrade the headrests to a car-like fabric design instead of the rubbery Euro versions but the rest of the seat design is the same. This means we have a spring-loaded driver’s seat that adjusts for height, tilt, recline and fore/aft. Sadly the steering wheel is not as adjustable as it telescopes but does not tilt. In an interesting twist, the three-across seating option has made it across the pond for a very reasonable $225. This isn’t a bench seat, it’s a two-person seat that replaces the single passenger seat so the driver retains the more comfortable throne. While I think the Nissan NV’s thickly padded seats are the most comfortable commercial seats ever designed, the ProMaster takes an easy second place. If you want a splash of luxury, you can heat the seats for $170 a pop, adjustable lumbar support for $50, and a leather wrapped tiller for $145. If you hate your employees, vinyl seats can be had for $100.

Drivetrain

The looks, front wheel drive layout and hybrid unibody aren’t the only things that set this van apart. The engines ans transmissions are unique to cargo vans as well. First off, there is no V8. Things start out with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 engine in every body style. Yes, even that enormous 3500 with 5,291lb in the back and a 5,100lb trailer attached. Sending the 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to the ground is a Chrysler 68TE six-speed automatic transaxle. This compact slushbox is the same transmission found in the Chrysler minivans except they swap in a much lower final gear ratio for ProMaster duty along with seriously upgraded cooling hardware.

For $4,000 you can toss in an Iveco/Fiat 3.0L four-cylinder turbo diesel. Before you laugh, this is the same engine found in certain medium duty Mitsubishi Fuso trucks, so it’s a solid heavy-duty contender. The oil burner cranks out 180 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, about the same amount of torque you get from GM’s 4.8L V8. This engine is mated to Fiat’s M40 transmission which is a 6-speed robotized manual transmission. Chrysler tell us that they have heavily revised the shift logic and control systems for the American market and as a result this will be a late availability option hitting around January of 2014. If you recall my review of the Ducato, my biggest complaint about the diesel drivetrain was the time it took to complete a 1-2 shift. Chrysler promises this has been corrected and they have also altered the torque pattern for American tastes.

The diesel has a few advantages over the gasoline V6. Oil change intervals stretch out to 18,000 miles, low-end torque is improved, first gear is lower (19:1 including final drive) to help you get off the line with heavy loads and the fuel economy is excellent (based on our Ducato experiences). Oddly enough, that M40 transmission is also a selling point. Because it doesn’t have a torque converter the fluid change intervals are lengthy and the cooling demands are reduced. Fiat tells us the single plate clutch kit for the Ducato is about $150 in Europe and I expect the parts to be about the same price on our shores. How easy is it to replace? That’s the wild card as I haven’t seen a repair manual yet.

Drive

Thanks to the new low final drive, the RAM is surprisingly quick off the line. The V6 model we tested scooted to 6o in 9.05 seconds, notably faster than the diesel Ducato we tested before. We didn’t get the opportunity to load the ProMaster as fully as the Ducato, but I expect the diesel to be the better hauler when full thanks to the better torque numbers.

Although not normally a consideration with a cargo van, the ProMaster delivers the most civilized ride in this segment. It’s also the easiest to parallel park thanks to an incredibly small 36.3-foot turning diameter in the short wheelbase model, smaller than many mid-size sedans. Even the long wheelbase, long body ProMaster 3500 impresses at 46.8. I know that sounds enormous, but in perspective, a long wheelbase Express needs a whopping 54.6 feet to do the same while carrying 50% less stuff. That’s the difference between accomplishing a U-turn or being the dude blocking all lanes of traffic while sea-sawing a multi-point turn.

Chrysler spent a decent amount of time lauding the Brembo front brakes which they claim gives the ProMaster the best fade resistance in the segment. Admittedly that’s a low bar to jump, but our informal tests around Malibu seemed to bear the claim out. One thing to note however is that with only 225 width rubber making contact with the ground, stopping times are no better than the competition.

Will the ProMaster be a success? I think it’s too early to tell. Fleet buyers are notoriously loyal to specific models because they have so much invested in uniformity. This alone accounts for the Ford E-Series sales leadership, despite being the thirstiest, oldest, and least desirable cargo van going. The largest unknown in the mix is: how reliable will the ProMaster be? Durability and total cost of ownership are extremely important in this segment and that’s an open-ended question. How will the 62TE stand up to a GVWR of 10,000lbs? Will it be as good as GM’s new 6L80 transmission they are finally putting in their vans? Rebuilt units are comparable in pricing so it will all come down to longevity. Chrysler is putting their 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty on the ProMaster to help entice shoppers. The combination of that small diesel and a long powertrain warranty to calm customer nerves could make a difference. However, if you option the ProMaster up with the diesel and a few options and you’re in Mercedes Sprinter territory and that is a dangerous place to be with the new Sprinter’s 7-speed auto and smooth diesel engine. Chrysler fights back with lower cost of service and ownership claims and a longer warranty.

The ProMaster is a compelling alternative to the Ford and GM 3/4 ton and 1 ton vans. delivering higher payloads and greater cargo capacity with low load floors, a more maneuverable chassis, a small diesel and excellent fuel economy. However, GM’s aggressive pricing and insane fleet purchase rebate program mean the less capable Chevy Express 1500 will likely be $2,000 (or more) cheaper than the least expensive ProMaster. Will the ProMaster’s ergonomic selling points and Euro charm win over commercial America? Or will the forthcoming rear-wheel-drive Ford T-Series (American Transit) win America’s hearts with its 5-cylinder diesel and twin-turbo V6? Stay Tuned.

As read on: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/review-2014-ram-promaster-cargo-van-with-video/

Behind the Numbers: Chrysler Group U.S. Sales

On the surface, numbers are just numbers.

But, if you dig a little deeper, you can get perspective.

And, that’s what we tried to do for Chrysler Group’s September 2013 U.S. sales, which grew 1% from September 2012 to 143,017. Read the below and then give us your perspective on our September U.S. sales.

With truck/SUV/crossover sales flat at 0% growth, and slightly down in raw numbers from September 2012, car sales grew 3% and accounted for a bit more than 30% of our total vehicle sales. Last September, car sales were 29% of our total vehicle sales.

While Jeep® brand sales were down 5% last month to 37,464 (from 39,245), you could make the case it was still a strong month given that the brand had to overcome the loss of Jeep Liberty sales of about 5,600 from September 2012. For September 2013, Jeep Grand Cherokee sales were up 19% to 14,906. Jeep Patriot sales were up 12% to 6,053. Jeep Compass sales were up 27% to 4,487. Jeep Wrangler sales were slightly down by less than 1%, to 11,984.

For those LX fans, it was a very strong month: Dodge Charger +49% to 8,713 sold, Chrysler 300 +6% to 5,036 sold and Dodge Challenger +22% to 3,932 sold. It was the best September ever for Dodge Challenger

For the plant* rivalry, Windsor, Ont., vehicles totaled 22,002, while Detroit’s JNAP vehicles sales were 19,870, followed closely by Belvidere, Ill., at 18,462.

Heading in to the final quarter of 2013, year-to-date sales are 82% of 2012 totals, and 99% of 2011 total sales.

As read on: http://blog.chryslerllc.com/blog.do?id=2174&p=entry