Chrysler May Make Huge Brand Changes While Making Large Dealer Cuts

By Brendan Moore

11.16.2007

Chrysler LLC dealers have been briefed on a plan by Chrysler to cut as many as a thousand U.S. franchised dealers in tandem with new, earth-shaking branding changes, according to a just-published article in The Wall Street Journal. The branding changes would entail limiting all passenger car sales to the Chrysler brand only, with Dodge dealers having only light-duty trucks and commercial vehicles to sell and Jeep dealers having only Jeeps and SUVs to sell.

This would be change on a grand scale for Chrysler and it would address a couple of the many problems Chrysler has; namely, product overlap and too many dealers. Dealers would start dropping off like flies in many areas once they had fewer products to sell, and Chrysler LLC could certainly help that process along by making life miserable for weak dealers through cutbacks in sales incentive programs.

Additionally, dealers have stated that they have been told that the whole Chrysler PT Cruiser line will be gone in 2009.

The dealers said that Chrysler has not decided to definitely go through with the plan at this point, but will make a decision on whether to proceed with the changes by the end of the year.

Stay tuned as more news becomes available.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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24 Comments

  1. This is great! Exactly what they need to do! Cerberus is not afraid to make the tough decisions obviously.

  2. so i guess this means Jeep will never get another pickup truck again

  3. Ya know, if they still had Plymouth, this would make even more sense. Plymouth for the low-end cars (Chinese, anyone?) and Chrysler for the high-end stuff. Maybe they’ll bring back Plymouth like Ford brought back Taurus.

  4. Chrysler Challenger?

    Jeep Nitro?

  5. Chrysler gets the minivan, then? Since it’s not a truck?

  6. Hopefully this means the Jeep Compass will either go away or become the Chrysler Compass since it’s not really a Jeep anyway. It is killing Jeep’s brand and if Chrysler (the parent Chrysler) wants something like that in their line, then give it to Chrysler, the car line.

  7. I think it’s a great idea and they need to follow through with it. They definitely need less dealers and some coherence to their product branding. Go for it, Chrysler!

  8. It doesn’t matter what kind of shell game they play with the models within the brands if they don’t get some better product, and soon. Chrysler needs a product guru like Bob Lutz is for GM. This great maketing guy from Lexus si not going to be able to do much if they don’t get a lot more god or great product, I don’t care how talented he’s supposed to be.

  9. I’m surprised they’re killing the PT Cruiser. I thought it was going to get a daring style re-do and soldier on.

  10. Just when there seemed like hope for the company news like this comes out. This has got to be the stupidest move in the history of auto manufacturing. I hope like hell it’s not true.

    It’s even more retarded when you consider that 1.) The truck and SUV market is shrinking, so limiting Dodge to trucks is basically a death sentence. 2.) Dodge has a long history of selling cars, and the cars they make that are very good, like the Charger, sell very well. You can’t blame poor performance on the fact that they sell cars, you blame it on the fact that the cars weren’t good enough, you make world class cars, and they will sell.

    Dodge should be the sporty everyman brand, Jeep is Jeep, and Chrysler should be pushed upmarket. Why is this such a difficult concept for the guys in charge to comprehend?

    If the guys at Cerberus want to do something game changing, how about creating no excuse, world class vehicles in design, performance, and interior.

  11. They shoulda kept Plymouth

  12. SHoulda kept DeSoto

  13. It’s ironic that here in the UK Chrysler has just spent a fortune on reintroducing Dodge as a brand since the name has been absent for many years.

  14. They don’t have to bring back Plymouth if they just establish Imperial as the separate luxury brand like it used to be within Chrysler.

  15. The UAW Contract with Chrysler was barely ratified. Considering what’s happened since the ratification, I would bet that there is no way that contract would be ratified if a vote were taken today. The UAW got thrown under the bus on this one.

  16. I am also surprised they’re killing the PT Cruiser. Even if it became a brand-new vehicle, the name is pretty well-known.

  17. 1970Dart, the PT Cruiser name is well-known, but the cars themselves are not very good cars, so why continue with well-known below-average car?

  18. undulate, I’m with you. Plymouth needs to stay in the grave. Imperial would be the way to go if they want to sell some high-line cars. Even the name is perfect. Can you ask for a better brand name than Imperial if you’re going to sell a clss-leading luxury car?

  19. They tried this in Canada a few years ago.

    But Canada had a lot less dealers, and it didn’t work because they reintroduced the Neon to Dodge but called it the SX or something like that.

    It’s a stupid move. Dodge has become their volume brand.
    First they let their former volume brand, Plymouth, wither and die; now they want to kill off their current volume brand.

    I say bring back Plymouth. Let it sell only smaller cars. Give the Caliber to Plymouth. Better yet keep and update the PT and give it to Plymouth. It was supposed to be one anyway.
    Also give Plymouth a small city car to compete with the others that are coming from Chevy and the Imports.

    The small car project that Chrysler was working with the Chinese would be perfect for Plymouth. I can’t imagine something like that with the Chrysler badge on it in the same showroom right next to a 300.

    Move Chrysler upmarket. Get rid of Aspen as well as Pacifica. Separate the Sebring from Avenger even more and even replace Town & Country with a crossover.

    I don’t think this proposed plan will occur anyway because most states have laws protecting franchisees and they (Dodge dealers) will sue for lack of product.

  20. You can’t sue for lack of product if the manufacturer has no products. If you could every Isuzu dealer in the U.S. would be part of a class-action suit against Isuzu. They only have three models (Ascender, i290 and i370 pickups) and those are all GM clones. Some Isuzu dealers sell only one or two units per month, month after month after month.

    That is a ridiculous statement about suing for lack of product. The only way you could sue is if the manufacturer had, as an example, 10 models and only supplied your dealership with 3 of those models. If all they’ve got is three models and you get all the models they have, then you’re being treated fairly in the eyes of the law. You must not be familiar with the dealer franchise laws.

  21. This is the most blatant example of management STUPIDITY I’ve ever seen. Dodge is the volume brand now – take away the cars and it will die, since truck sales are declining anyways. I’m just so blown away by this insanity that I don’t know how to respond to it.
    Here’s how it’s always been (and it worked perfectly for so long!):
    Plymouth: value. Think Chevrolet.
    Dodge: a few more features, but at a reasonable price. Think Pontiac and less expensive Oldsmobiles.
    Chrysler: upscale and near luxury. Think Buick and more expensive Oldsmobiles.
    Imperial: luxury. Think Cadillac.

    Build a world class product and it will sell! Cutting divisions or totally destroying their product offerings won’t do ANYTHING to fix Chrysler!
    I just hope to high heaven that this isn’t true.

  22. Soon the vultures will be picking the carcass of Chrysler clean, mark my words.

  23. Another vote for the Imperial brand coming back, even if it’s only one or two cars. Even if they have to do it with someone else at first (hopefully Cadillac or one of the Germans).

  24. Now that Chrysler has announced that Chery will NOT have an acceptable car anytime soon to provide to Chrysler to sell under the Chrysler brand, where does that leave Chrysler in that segment?

    They have nothing in the works so does that mean they’ll try to strike up a deal for another small from someone else? They need something in that segment.

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