Chrysler to Kill Five Models This Month
Funeral arrangements are being made right now
By Brendan Moore
Chrysler LLC may pull the plug on as many as five models before the end of this month, the Detroit Free Press is reporting. That’s this month, as in approximately two weeks.
Chrysler won’t say which five are getting the boot this month, but here are the candidates:
Commander: The answer to the question no one’s asking anymore: Where can I buy a huge, square gas-swilling SUV? The Commander was supposed to evoke fond memories of the revered Grand Cherokee, but that was but a fevered dream by Chrysler’s marketing department. This isn’t a bad vehicle, but it never should have been made, and sales are tepid.
Aspen: Same as the Commander, but less square with more chrome.
Sebring: I’ll let Dan Neil of the L.A. Times describe the Sebring – “Not just bad, but a veritable chalice of wretchedness, a rattling, thumping, lolling tragedy of a car, a summary indictment of Chrysler’s recent management and its self-eradicating product planning, all cast in plastic worthy of a Chinese water pistol.” Our writer, Chris Haak, calls it a “chrome-plated turd”.
Crossfire: Great little car with love/hate looks, is expensive, very small interior and is merely sporty instead of being an actual sports car, which would make its shortcomings more bearable. Sales are very poor, and some months 70% of what they do sell goes to rental fleets. Most dealers wouldn’t even notice any change in their monthly sales totals if the Crossfire went away, and frankly, neither would Chrysler.
Magnum: Americans will buy European wagons, but they’re still not too crazy about a domestic wagon, even one as rakishly good-looking as the Magnum.
Liberty: Has been smacked with the same broom the rest of the SUVs got hit with in the market, and sales have really dropped compared to last year.
Nitro: Dodge’s version of the Liberty, which is more attractive, but it begs the question of whether there is too much Chrysler product in this segment. But, personally, I’d be surprised if either the Liberty or the Nitro get their pink slips this month.
Pacifica: Doing badly against the new crop of crossovers, and still searching for its identity from a brand perspective.
Compass: Derided and reviled by Jeep fans, not setting the world on fire from sales perspective, so what’s the point? If Jeep is going to keep a low-volume model around, why not a model that the Jeep enthusiasts will both love and pay sticker for, something along the lines of the Jeep Gladiator short bed pickup truck concept shown a few years ago?
Dakota: Mid-size trucks are taking their lumps in the market, and the Dakota is no exception.
Durango: Again, a situation where the Durango is the answer to the question that fewer and fewer people are asking – where can I buy a thirsty, ill-handling truck-based SUV?
Those are the candidates for elimination, and with Jim Press recently saying that Chrysler needs to be seen as upscale, Dodge as the mass-market “everyman” brand for cars and trucks, and Jeep as the rugged, off-road icon, you can see that some pruning needs to be done. You can also see that some gaps need to be filled, which means new product needs to show up.
The dynamic state of the product plan is probably one reason the UAW and Chrysler LLC had some problems in terms of the production guarantees the UAW wanted for their workers – Chrysler itself is not sure what is going to be produced in the U.S. within the next 24 or 36 months.
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