Flybrian

Chrysler admits Sebring, Nitro are duds

98 posts in this topic

Chrysler rethinks design after duds
Automaker vows to overhaul its vehicle development after Nitro, Sebring miss mark
Posted Image
Link to Original Article @ The Detroit News


A top Chrysler Group executive said in a recent frank internal question-and-answer session with employees that the automaker seriously misjudged the market in developing the panned Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Nitro last year, and is swiftly moving to improve current and future vehicles.

Answering often pointed questions from employees on Chrysler's internal Internet system, Bob Lee, head of powertrain engineering, acknowledged that many people at Chrysler are "outraged" over the issues with the Sebring sedan and Nitro SUV, according to a copy of the Q&A obtained by The Detroit News. Both vehicles received highly critical evaluations from Consumer Reports, which is influential with car buyers.

Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda and Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour are "quite upset" and agree the company "missed where the market was to end up versus our projections," Lee wrote.

Chrysler underestimated competitors, set standards too low in some areas and was not where it needed to be in areas such as fuel economy, interior quality, and limiting noise and vibration.

"As a result of these embarrassing 'misses,' there are extremely aggressive actions being taken on many of the existing products -- and also the yet to be introduced products to get us at least to the middle of the competitive pack in very short order," Lee wrote.

Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau confirmed the authenticity of the employee Q&A -- posted in the past week -- and said it was meant to be seen by a relatively small group of employees.

While Lee said the issues surrounding the Sebring and Nitro -- two of 10 products Chrysler launched last year -- have sparked a series of deep dives into its processes and standards, the automaker had already started revamping its product development system.

In an interview Thursday, Frank Klegon, Chrysler's product development chief, outlined several actions being taken that should improve existing cars and trucks and new models that will be launched in the next couple of years.

"We're certainly not satisfied with where we are," Klegon said. "We have to get better."

Chrysler is counting on its new models to bolster sales and market share as the automaker restructures to restore profits. After losing $680 million last year, the soon-to-be-sold Chrysler reported $2 billion in red ink for the first quarter and doesn't expect to be back in the black until 2008. Through May, sales of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brand models are off 1.5 percent.

Chrysler began working with ASI Consulting Group in Livonia about 18 months ago. The firm, which previously worked closely with Hyundai Motor Co. to improve its vehicles, has helped Chrysler use a system called "Design for Six Sigma" to help engineers better determine upfront what features and qualities customers want in new vehicles.

The firm was hired to help "make a cultural change to move that needle to be proactive," Klegon said. "We're taking this on as an extreme change in the way we do predictive quality from the standpoint of customers. It's embedded in our vehicle teams and it's embedded in our components team."

As an example of Chrysler's proactive approach in responding to vehicle problems, Klegon mentioned noise, vibration and harshness complaints about the 2.4-liter world engine, built in Dundee.

The company found the problem existed only when the engine was cold. Once warmed up, performance matches the Toyota Camry, he said. Now, Chrysler is taking action on the engine and each vehicle that uses it.

Both Klegon and Lee, in his exchange with employees, acknowledged that Chrysler needs to do a better job of understanding where its rivals are headed.

"Our management has admitted that some of our competitors moved faster in some areas than we had anticipated and hence although we matched their previous position and added some improvements, we didn't set targets aggressive enough," Lee wrote. "One example is interior appointments."

Klegon said Chrysler needs to better predict the current benchmark and "where that benchmark might be in two to three years after you bring that vehicle out."

Interiors are particularly important because they are so linked to a consumer's vehicle experience.

"I don't know that the typical person is walking into a Dodge or Chrysler showroom, and saying that the interiors are horrible," said Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book. "(But) there's a strong trend to be very careful about interiors, to pay attention to interiors and to do the best job you possibly can to put the investment where the consumer can see it and feel it."

Klegon said Chrysler established a new design studio last year dedicated to vehicle interiors. And although Chrysler is pushing to cut costs by $1,000 per vehicle, interior design won't be compromised. "We're actually adding money into the interior," Klegon said.

To keep costs down, though, Chrysler could tap into its burgeoning supply base overseas for cheaper parts, Klegon said.

While Chrysler has had its share of recent hits with such vehicles as the Dodge Caliber hatchback and four-door Jeep Wrangler, the Sebring, Nitro and other vehicles have missed the mark, many critics say.

The new Sebring was rated 16th out of 16 family sedans recently by Consumer Reports, a particularly tough segment with established cars like the Toyota.

The Sebring and Nitro were both knocked for their interiors, noisy engines and poor handling.

Klegon defended the Sebring as a good car, noting it received no "black circles" from Consumer Reports, which indicate the poorest performance, but acknowledged the "bar is pretty high."

Sebring and Nitro are among several vehicles Chrysler is working to improve.

"We're not treating this any different than a thing that would break that you have to fix," Klegon said. "You have to fix an issue that's in the customer's hands either by design change or process improvements or other things."
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sebring is very cheap looking. I have seen a few in person now, and they look worse than they do in pictures. The styling is bad, and looks like something korean or chinese.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ouch.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sebring interior is fine. It's everything else about the car that's less than attractive / competitive.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sebring doesn't have much going for it. The interior is okay for a Chrysler, but still below par for the industry. All the Nitros must be going to fleet because I thought it was "selling" pretty well.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sebring interior is fine. It's everything else about the car that's less than attractive / competitive.

Well, beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, because I think the interior is downright UGLY.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I noticed lately is Ford and Chrysler are not sitting there blaming Toyota and Honda. They are admitting the design mistakes and trying to fix them. It is refreshing to see. GM still has not admitted to what it did in the past. I thought I was the only one who thought Sebring looked awkward. I have seen Nitros. I did not know it was a failure.

I guess the American car companies are realizing it is not just the quality that has to change. It is perception, and good design and some heritage thrown in that will make changes.

The first step to changing a behavior is to admit your mistakes

The second step is the change the behavior.

The culture inside Chrysler has to change. They must become over comers and achievers.

Something I noticed the other day when the initial quality survey came out, and seeing how poorly GM did, people were making excuses for it. That is how they have operated inside GM , Ford and Chrysler for years. There are no excuses.. GM needs to work on the initial quality in their cars period.

This is a society we live in now, it becomes excuse after to excuse or being politically correct.

Own up to what you did, change the behavior.

What happened to GM, Ford and Chrysler is they thought this is America our turf. We are entitled and they will buy whatever we sell them.

Oh really?

The game changed. Toyota and Honda showed buyers you can have better. Someone tapped the domestics on the shoulder and told them wake up. they ignored. It took losing so much for them to wake up.

The goal is to show they can change and win buyers back.

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the Sebring, TOP TRIM, inside and out... except maybe a little nitpick for the the butt.

The butt looks a bit too rounded, but it's ok.

The problem is that Chrysler strips all the interior trim pieces if you don't buy the top model.

So then it looks like unfinished junk.

Stolen, stripped vehicle recovered by the police.

I check out the Nitro. It made me run and never come back.

Edited by JT64
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sebring is fine to me. Everyone who has seen it loves it. And isn't it selling over 10k per month? Wheres the problem.

The problem is that the Camry is selling about 5 times that.

While I think the Sebring's interior design isn't bad, the materials could certainly use some work. All of Chrysler's interiors need a lot of work. It's a no brainer that they all need improvements, even those that are good still could use improvements.

Exterior styling is subjective, a lot of people seem to like it (it's OK, but not my thing), and the Nitro is definitely got the exterior styling down, but they both need better driving dynamics and refinement. Why is it so hard to put the Avenger R/t's suspension setup into the Sebring, and why is the R/T the only Avenger that has good handling?

The problem Chrysler as well Ford and GM have long had is aiming too low, either at the current competition or not even as good as them. they must aim at the future, to be better, not just as good.

This group that they hired seems promising, as Hyundai's interiors have improved immensely in only a few years. The integrated center stack, attractive designs and good materials are huge improvements over not so long ago. If they can do that for Hyundai, they should be able to do wonders for Chrysler.

Its nice to see Chrysler is at least admitting their mistakes, not making excuses for it. Now if they can act on it, we'll see some real progress.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those saying GM never admits mistakes: Lutz admits mistakes all the time.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that's pretty harsh. The Sebring is OK, but there's no reason to buy one over any of its competitors really. The Nitro, however, is getting absolutely awful reviews all around.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting that the Avenger is not even mentioned... since it is a twin under the skin to the Sebring, with Sebring being the comparatively ugly sister. The interiors are similarly executed, materials-wise. So essentially they're saying styling and suspension tuning make the difference? That seems shallow and beyond credibility.

I have a cousin with an '02 Liberty. She loves it, but misses her Cherokee she had before (seemed roomier, quicker with the 4.0L inline six, less complicated). She was looking at a black-bumper Nitro as her next vehicle. I went lot-cruising with her one Sunday, and we found a few unlocked vehicles, including a Nitro and a Wrangler 4 door. She forgot about the Nitro as soon as she sat in the Wrangler. She had entertained thoughts of a Torrent (she likes Pontiac's improvements to the Equinox), but she's been happy with her experiences with Chrysler products.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the Nitro was pretty good for what it is. I'd really considering buying one.

the look of the Sebring has kinda grown on me, which is just to say its meh and not ass ugly to me now

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It definetelly grows on you. You really just have to look at it closly and the styling makes sense. I do agree, certain angles aren't flattering but as a whole, I like it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nitro is disgusting, only something a jerk could like. I like the Sebring. I wouldn't say it's ugly, just beautifully-challenged. It's smooth enough, but it could have problems as it ages. The interior does look cheap and good at the same time, and those seats are SOLID! SOLID AS A ROCK!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nitro is disgusting, only something a jerk could like.

Textbook example of an inflammatory remark.

The Nitro sure as hell looks strange, but to say only a jerk could like it implies that all Nitro owners and aspirers are jerks.

Are you calling my wife a jerk?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sebring has to be up there with the most unattractive cars in history.

Terrible profile, shame-on-them fake blacked out area rear side window,

tailights that defy any logic or good taste....like two different designs slapped

together, distracting door cutouts into the roof, that don't relate, one could

go on and on...how does something like this make it through to production?!

Who actually greenlights such a car?,

there is no end to the ugliness of this vehicle.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Nitro and Sebring aren't the only cars in Chrysler Corp.'s line-up that need a time-out. The Compass, and all concepts of it, need to hit the road fast. The Caliber has ugly design quirks and a rather pathetic interior. The Durango has become a rather ugly, fat, bloated SUV. And the interiors of recent Dodges all look alike, all look like they were made from a huge vat of Legos. And then we wrestle with the Nitro and Sebring of course. Lower-end Nitros look horribly cheap -- the gray plastic bumpers need to die and fast. The Sebring looks marginally better in person, but there are obvious design deficiencies: the pointless black triangular piece on the C-pillar that clearly shows that the Corp. got cold feet over having one divison have a hatchback/wagon and the other have a sedan. These cars are abrasively cheap and half-assed. And I'm not a big fan of the Liberty, either.

Whatever MCE that Chrysler has planned for the cars I mentioned better either be a complete discontinuation of the model (Compass) or a severe re-skin and interior overhaul.

I mean, really. What happened to the promising Chrysler we saw with the LX twins? They were a refreshing change of pace with mainstream sedans and caught GM and Ford with their guard down. GM right now is still taking up the slack and Ford still has no clue what to do. Even the Charger had the same shining promise. Then, soon after, Trevor Creed was put in charge of design after Freeman Thomas resigned and everything was thrown into an utter $h!storm. (It's proof that Creed is better working under someone rather than taking charge.) Creed should step down, as recent designs from Chrysler prove he cannot do his job. It's a shame when most amateurs here at this board have a much better sense of design than a damn professional. There is no excuse for Creed and his lacking work.

Edited by YellowJacket894
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the Sebring/Nitro yuk-yuk aside, the real disconcerting fact here is the Chrysler needs to actually sit down and be told this by someone, whether it be employees or being assisted from an outside firm.

How long has Chrysler been in business?

How long has Chrysler been designing cars?

Didn't Chrysler design some decent cars at some point?

I swear to God that the more you read about how Chrysler plans to 'improve' its failings in styling, management, production, or craftsmanship, the more you realize they have no business producing automobiles. Some of you say, "Well, at least they admit their mistakes...and that's good." Is it? Is it really? Is it actually a positive thing than an 82 year-old corporation repeatedly apologizes and say that their own product is junk and they promise they'll do it better next time mommy? Is Chrysler really getting advice from a consulting group that worked with Hyundai...f@#king Hyundai?! Newsflash, people: Hyundai still makes lousy cars and Chrysler is saying that they can't do any better.

And, no, this is not the same as GM and Ford saying things are wrong. They're saying - correctly, mind you - that their products are competitive if not better and the problem is perception. They're taking their cars and trucks and SUVs out and proving their superiority. You see Chrysler doing that? Of course not...they'd get massacred. Chrysler isn't saying, "Consumer Reports says our new cars suck, and we have to work on that perception issue", they're saying "Our cars DO suck...and we should probably fix it so they don't suck quite so much." Their "extremely aggressive" corrections will - hopefully - take them to being in the MIDDLE of the pack?! What?! Are you kidding me? They're shooting for the same mediocrity and this is Chrysler's own people saying it! Its like standing in the middle of a hurricane and thinking you should probably go get some plywood now.

Look at Chrysler's problems - engine vibrations in cold weather, junk interiors. Didn't these same issues exist with the Valiant? I mean, c'mon. GM and Ford have moved beyond Chrysler's level and everyone else has, too. I don't even know what a convincing argument for Chrysler staying in the automobile business sounds like anymore. And I know alot of you are going to hate me and defend Chrysler because you like their cars and that's fine...but you cannot ignore that there is a deep, serious problem within Chrysler that the other two domestics don't suffer from. I call it 'We Just Don't Get It Anymore Nor Do We Care'-itis.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nitro is disgusting, only something a jerk could like. I like the Sebring. I wouldn't say it's ugly, just beautifully-challenged. It's smooth enough, but it could have problems as it ages. The interior does look cheap and good at the same time, and those seats are SOLID! SOLID AS A ROCK!

Textbook example of an inflammatory remark.

The Nitro sure as hell looks strange, but to say only a jerk could like it implies that all Nitro owners and aspirers are jerks.

The Nitro and Sebring aren't the only cars in Chrysler Corp.'s line-up that need a time-out. The Compass, and all concepts of it, need to hit the road fast. The Caliber has ugly design quirks and a rather pathetic interior. The Durango has become a rather ugly, fat, bloated SUV. And the interiors of recent Dodges all look alike, all look like they were made from a huge vat of Legos. And then we wrestle with the Nitro and Sebring of course. Lower-end Nitros look horribly cheap -- the gray plastic bumpers need to die and fast. The Sebring looks marginally better in person, but there are obvious design deficiencies: the pointless black triangular piece on the C-pillar that clearly shows that the Corp. got cold feet over having one division have a hatchback/wagon and the other have a sedan. These cars are abrasively cheap and half-assed.

Whatever MCE that Chrysler has planned for the cars I mentioned better either be a complete discontinuation of the model (Compass) or a severe re-skin and interior overhaul.

Styling is subjective. I personally think the Caliber looks great on the outside and looks fine on the inside. What it needs is a materials overall, a suspension tune-up and a real automatic..Ditch the CVT and give SE and SXT 4-speeds and give the R/T a 6-speed (there ya go, an easy way to have a class-leading powertrain).

The Patriot is fine, it just needs a materials update like the Caliber. But I agree, drop the Compass...it doesn't sell enough to justify it's existence.

I happen to love the post MCE look of the Durango...I've always liked the body just thought it needed a nose job..and that's what they gave it. It needs a new interior, that's it's main problem now.

The Nitro should be body color on all trim levels, and should get a returned suspension and new interior.

The Sebring...honestly the front could be left alone, juts make the roofline more graceful and fix the rear and it would look fine.

Interior designs could use improvement in a unch of vehicles, but I like the designs of the Sebring and Avenger. They're believably different and both look good IMO. Materials need to be improved.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the Sebring/Nitro yuk-yuk aside, the real disconcerting fact here is the Chrysler needs to actually sit down and be told this by someone, whether it be employees or being assisted from an outside firm.

How long has Chrysler been in business?

How long has Chrysler been designing cars?

Didn't Chrysler design some decent cars at some point?

I swear to God that the more you read about how Chrysler plans to 'improve' its failings in styling, management, production, or craftsmanship, the more you realize they have no business producing automobiles. Some of you say, "Well, at least they admit their mistakes...and that's good." Is it? Is it really? Is it actually a positive thing than an 82 year-old corporation repeatedly apologizes and say that their own product is junk and they promise they'll do it better next time mommy? Is Chrysler really getting advice from a consulting group that worked with Hyundai...f@#king Hyundai?! Newsflash, people: Hyundai still makes lousy cars and Chrysler is saying that they can't do any better.

And, no, this is not the same as GM and Ford saying things are wrong. They're saying - correctly, mind you - that their products are competitive if not better and the problem is perception. They're taking their cars and trucks and SUVs out and proving their superiority. You see Chrysler doing that? Of course not...they'd get massacred. Chrysler isn't saying, "Consumer Reports says our new cars suck, and we have to work on that perception issue", they're saying "Our cars DO suck...and we should probably fix it so they don't suck quite so much." Their "extremely aggressive" corrections will - hopefully - take them to being in the MIDDLE of the pack?! What?! Are you kidding me? They're shooting for the same mediocrity and this is Chrysler's own people saying it! Its like standing in the middle of a hurricane and thinking you should probably go get some plywood now.

Look at Chrysler's problems - engine vibrations in cold weather, junk interiors. Didn't these same issues exist with the Valiant? I mean, c'mon. GM and Ford have moved beyond Chrysler's level and everyone else has, too. I don't even know what a convincing argument for Chrysler staying in the automobile business sounds like anymore. And I know alot of you are going to hate me and defend Chrysler because you like their cars and that's fine...but you cannot ignore that there is a deep, serious problem within Chrysler that the other two domestics don't suffer from. I call it 'We Just Don't Get It Anymore Nor Do We Care'-itis.

There are valid points, they should be aiming for the top not the middle. However it's not like GM or Ford hadn't said their past efforts sucked. The differences that we're seeing progress from GM and Ford right now, while Chrysler's products that we see may have been too far down the pipeline to fix..does it excuse them? No.

But to say they have no business making cars isn't right either. They make some damn good cars, we'll mention the LX cars, the Ram (it only seems old now because it is), the minivans, the Pacifica, etc. They do know how to do it right, they've just lost there way lately. However, I'm not ready to call them down for the count until I see the new Ram, because from the information we've got so far and the images being resented, it should be very, very good.

As for the Hyundai knock...their exteriors still suck for the most part, but that's not what the firm helped them with...they helped them with interiors.

Posted Image

Posted Image

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly the Sebring isn't bad. The engine compared to other 4 cyl is only behind altima by 2 hp. It's a love it or hate it design, just as the PT Cruiser was when it debuted. It is excellent in the handleing department, it took every sharp turn I threw at it. Sure, some of the interior materials could be better, but there is far worse out there.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now