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Chrysler to cut numerous model

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Chrysler set to ax models
Up to 5 that compete with other company vehicles are likely to go

October 17, 2007 | BY TIM HIGGINS | Link to Original Article @ Detroit Free Press


Chrysler LLC could cut as many as five nameplates within the month as part of its quick and dramatic makeover as a newly private company.

It's "highly likely" Chrysler's top brass will approve plans to kill vehicles this month, a person familiar with the situation told the Free Press. About five vehicles are being considered for elimination, but the source would not reveal which ones.

The boardroom drama could help explain why the UAW was unable to win the same sort of future-product guarantees in its tentative labor deal with the Auburn Hills automaker as it did in its deal with General Motors Corp.

The product review comes as the automaker is seeking to get its tentative agreement with the UAW ratified by rank-and-file union members.

GM has already won ratification of what analysts see as a potentially transformational contract that can give Detroit automakers nearly equal labor costs to Toyota Motor Corp.'s nonunionized U.S. factories.

But Chrysler union local leaders have complained that unlike the GM contract, the proposed Chrysler deal fails to reclassify lower-paid temporary workers as permanent hires and lacks the kind of plant-by-plant outline of possible future products listed in the union's description of the GM agreement.

Bob Nardelli, who became Chrysler's chief executive officer in August, shortly after Cerberus Capital Management took majority control, indicated in a September speech that the company could reduce its model offerings.

Once Chrysler's product evaluation committee makes its decision about eliminating nameplates, it's believed the decision will be sent to Cerberus management for approval.

Chrysler officials say the company has been meeting about the product lineup, assessing the vehicles sold by the company and contemplating what needs to be cut.

"We have models that overlap, where we have two or three vehicles that serve the same market segment and maybe the same customer and actually compete with each other to some extent," Chrysler President and Vice Chairman Jim Press told reporters last week. "We also have markets where we have insufficient coverage. Where we don't have enough product."

Press did not discuss specific model eliminations. A Chrysler spokesman declined to comment.

The likeliest models to go

Auto industry analysts predict the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Dakota, and Jeep Commander and Compass could face elimination. A company insider included those vehicles among a list of vehicles facing review. The source and another familiar with Chrysler's design pipeline also questioned the future of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Durango.

The Chrysler Sebring is being considered for a complete makeover, though if that is not feasible, the car will probably be eliminated, the company insider said.

Yet another person familiar with Cerberus' thinking said the private equity firm questions why Chrysler's lineup includes the Dodge Durango SUV, which has seen its U.S. sales slide 30% this year.

A Cerberus spokesman did not respond to an inquiry regarding this story.

The number of eliminations "could go higher in the sense that products as we know them today, but something will take their place, just not a direct next-generation replacement," analyst Catherine Madden of Global Insight said.

The Durango is built at the Newark, Del., assembly plant, which will be closed in 2009.

"I think the Durango is dead in the water. I won't order a Durango anymore. I told my guys don't ever order another Durango," said Carl Galeana of Galeana Automotive Group, which includes Van Dyke Dodge in Warren.

The UAW's summary of the tentative labor agreement with Chrysler says the automaker's next generation crossover will be built at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander are currently made.

The idea of fewer Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep nameplates in North America was first hinted at in February when then-CEO Tom LaSorda unveiled the company's plan to stop losses. The plan called for avoiding nameplate redundancies.

Looking for a new image

Chrysler lost $680 million last year and $2 billion in the first three months of this year. Its U.S. sales are down 3% so far this year while its market share has remained steady -- something its Detroit rivals can not claim. The automaker wants to recast its brands' images, Press said, making Chrysler seen as upscale; Jeep as rugged and off-road capable; and Dodge as high-volume cars and trucks.

"There are probably a lot of things being rethought at Chrysler right now," said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN Inc. "Just because you have a platform doesn't necessarily mean it has to go across all three divisions."

Upset at UAW

Several local UAW leaders are unhappy that the tentative agreement does not give specific future-product guarantees at many of the assembly plants -- including the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which makes the Sebring, and the Belivdere Assembly Plant in Illinois, which makes the Jeep Compass and Patriot. The UAW's summary of the agreement says only that vehicles at those plants will continue through the product lifecycle.

"Virtually no Chrysler plant received commitment beyond the scope of their current product," Bill Parker, president of Local 1700 and chairman of the union's Chrysler bargaining committee, wrote in an opinion against the deal.

The Chrysler Sebring was redesigned and launched last year. Its convertible sibling followed with a launch earlier this year. Both were widely panned by automotive critics.

The week Nardelli was made Chrysler's CEO, Los Angeles Times critic Dan Neil welcomed him with a review of the Sebring convertible, recommending that he drive a 2008 Limited model with a retractable hardtop. "See, Bob, that's a bad one.

"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."

Jim Hall, vice president for industry analysis in the Southfield office of consultant AutoPacific, said Chrysler could be looking to just recoup the expense of tooling for the Sebring -- something that takes three years from the vehicle's launch.

"If they are planning on integrating their retail outlets into a single Chrysler -- large C -- dealership, then they've got to trim the overlap in the product," Hall said.

Chrysler has already made one high profile change to the product plan this year.

In July, about two months after the Cerberus acquisition was announced, Chrysler pulled the plug on plans for the Chrysler Imperial, which was going to be a full-size luxury sedan built on the same platform as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Magnum.
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someone please tell me, other than Jeep, what Chrysler has in the pipe in the future to get excited about.

With GM you have the lambdas, the zetas, the next vette, camaro, and all sorts of things.

I think the Dodge Journey will do well, but otherwise, the new vans are lukewarm and there's not much else to get pumped about.

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Chrysler should cut the PT Cruiser, Sebring, 300 models other than the C, Aspen, Crossfire and Pacifica.

Dodge should cut the Caliber, Avenger, non 5.7 Magnum and Chargers, Durango, Dakota, Nitro, Sprinter and should redesign the Ram.

Jeep should cut the Compass, Liberty, Patriot and Commander

That will leave them with just their competitive vehicles.

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I can see the Commander going. The few that Jeep did sell only ate into Grand Cherokee sales. I think I read that Jeep plans on making the Grand Cherokee larger to offer 3 rows of seats in the next generation. If Jeep does this, the Commander would definitely be redundant in Jeep's lineup.

I also understand eliminating the Compass. It was redundant with the Patriot and didn't really fit in with Jeep's rugged, off-road capable brand image. I am not totally convinced that the Patriot fits in either, but I think Jeep gave it a package to make it more off-road capable than the Compass. The Patriot definitely looks more the part than the Compass. I think both vehicles kind of watered down Jeep's brand image.

I'm surprised the Durango is on the list, but the Aspen isn't. I thought the Aspen was also a sales flop. Why would the Durango be on the chopping block, but not the Aspen?

From what I understand, the compact/midsize pickup market is shrinking. It is still sad to see Dodge exit this segment and give it up to Toyota. If it is a losing game, I guess maybe the money needed to fix the Dakota's flaws could be better spent elsewhere. It's still kind of sad to see it go.

If the Pacifica could be redesigned to exceed the standard set by the Buick Enclave, it could provide Chrysler with a sales success. Crossovers are red hot right now. I can't see Chrysler giving up on the large crossover segment. I don't see customers heading to the company's minivans or the Aspen as alternatives; I see customers looking elsewhere. Chrysler needs to completely redesign the Pacifica to be competitive in the large crossover segment.

The Sebring is yet another example of Chrysler coming to a gunfight armed with a razor blade. The midsize sedan segment is still a hot segment, but it is also a very competitive one. The 2007 Sebring needed to exceed the standards in the segment to make an impact. Instead, it arrived with an awkward exterior design and an interior with poorly assembled, cheap materials (although it did offer some clever features).

I think Chrysler has two options for the Sebring:

1) Try to redesign it on its current front wheel drive platform (maybe with a longer wheelbase). It needs a beautiful exterior design, a class leading interior, and competitive engine/transmission combos. The Sebring name might be so damaged that a model name change might be required to get people to take a look at this car.

2) Go a completely different direction and design a rear wheel drive midsize sedan on a shortened 300 platform. This could take Chrysler upscale and offer something unique in the market; an affordable, rear drive, near luxury midsize sedan. If executed to a high level, it could make as big a splash in the market as the rear drive 300. A name change would definitely be in order; I would recommend Concorde, Cordoba, LeBaron, or New Yorker. A coupe-cabrio could also be spun off this vehicle. All wheel drive could be offered as an option for those who live in cold climates.

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Holy Hell.... Cutting the Sebring right after introducing it?!? :rotflmao:

I need popcorn.

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The last time I saw a Chrysler plan, there was no Chrysler Aspen in there. The next-generation Durango was planned to share much with the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Commander would be merged in as a 7-passenger version of the next Grand Cherokee. They screwed up the Sebring (both sedan and convertible) which was a nice car in its last generation and a terrible one in the current generation. I thought the Compass could have been some sort of rally-like vehicle (STI or Evolution), but they just made it this cheap "chick Jeep" instead.

Do something about the quality of all of the interiors, especially the front-wheel drive models. Merge the Magnum into the 300 and/or Charger. Replace (don't eliminate) the Pacifica with something a bit more competitive. And then they'll have a start.

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Everything else on that list I agree with, but the Pacifica I see a fair bit and the Sebring is just plain stupid to cut.

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CHRYSLER

300 - the sort of people who like it already bought one

Aspen - dump

Pacifica - worst in class

PT - see "300"

Sebring - worst in class

Sebring cabrio - always popular

T&C - will sell well, regardless of quality

Crossfire - see "300"

DODGE

Avenger - worst in class

Caliber - Thrifty, Dollar, National

Charger - see "300"

Grand Caravan - see T&C

Magnum - see "300"

Viper - low-volume

Challenger - niche

Dakota - not bad

Durango - outclassed

Nitro - outclassed

Journey - has hope

Ram - not bad

Sprinter - not bad

JEEP

Wrangler - cool

Patriot - not-so-cool

Compass - not-so-cool

Liberty - cool

Grand Gherokee - always sold OK

Commander - pointless

Being bold with design is OK, but being the outlier in a segment isn't. The Sebring is too small for a midsizer (Camry, Accord, Fusion), the Caliber isn't available as a sedan (Civic, Corolla, 3), the Patriot and Compass are too small (RAV4, CR-V, Escape), the Nitro is too trucky (RAV4, CR-V, Escape???), the Durango isn't a proper full-sizer (Tahoe, Expedition, Armada), the Aspen is too cheap (Escalade, Navigator, GL450)...

They have very few products that fit easily into segments, meaning very little will show up on the radar of comparison shoppers. It's okay for icons like the Wrangler and Viper, but hard for new products.

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I though the whole Chrysler lineup had been cut and thats why sales were in the $h!ter.

The Sebring vert has good sales numbers because they're fleeted like mad.

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Chrysler to cut numerous model? You no say! :P

Holy Hell.... Cutting the Sebring right after introducing it?!? :rotflmao:

I need popcorn.

For real.
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I thought the Commander was already getting axed?

The Durango? Oh yeah, those are the ugly things with a ridiculous name. I remember seeing a few of them on the road.

Sebring? Did they try with that one? It's like they had 2 innovative thoughts in the whole car and let the rest go out the window. A complete redesign? Yeah, that's what you should have said before you produced the current turd.

The Aspen is a joke.

Crossfire? Nice try.

What is Chrysler Corp's next ingenious move... to bring back the Neon?

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The crossfire is just lame, the Aspen is a joke and the PT Cruiser would be relevant & probably a strong

seller with all new & exciting skin. Drop the first two but do the PT Cruiser over in early-1930s retro skin.

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Auto industry analysts predict the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Dakota, and Jeep Commander and Compass could face elimination.

Why eliminate the Dakota? Unless they see it competing with the Ram.

If I were in charge, I would eliminate the Dakota and replace it with a more niche specific Jeep entry and then give Dodge a true compact pick up. I would kill the Commander and Compass, then if the market justified it, introduce an extended version of the Grand Cherokee to cover Commander ground. Or just build a bigger GC in the first place; the Liberty can cover GC ground.

A company insider included those vehicles among a list of vehicles facing review. The source and another familiar with Chrysler's design pipeline also questioned the future of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Durango.

The Durango is not a bad idea, just a bad execution... Same can be said for the Sebring. It's subpar and drags the entire Chrysler division down with it. They need a SERIOUS (not Avenger cloned) entry that is more luxurious, to compete where they eventually WANT to compete.

Yet another person familiar with Cerberus' thinking said the private equity firm questions why Chrysler's lineup includes the Dodge Durango SUV, which has seen its U.S. sales slide 30% this year.

Chrysler Corp. needs at least one large SUV... Durango is still larger than GC isn't it? Maybe Jeep could occupy that part of the line up with my affore mentioned GC.

It's funny though, because if in fact they are moving Chrysler up the ladder, an Imperial style sedan could work. (Especially if the LY 300 replacement loses some weight)

But I agree that the Imperial was a waste of time in the current iteration of the concept.

P.S. I completely forgot about the Aspen... LOL. That shows you how much it matters ;)

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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There's no way the Sebring can survive a typical 5+ year model cycle as it is.

Chrysler needs to take it back to the drawing board.

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Here's my take:

The Aspen/Durango plant was a goner long before the run-up in fuel prices. It was going to a GC platform anyway, with the production realities of the GC & the failure of the Commander, this just seals the deal.

The Pacifica has always been a flop--although I don't mind the vehicles themselves. The Crossfire was also doomed. So you've already got some planned consolidation.

The rest is easy. The Compass is likely gone (I think that plant will be sending spare capacity overseas.) The Sebring needs an emergency redo (or a shortened LY replacement, as mentioned somewhere else.) The PT will likely be supplanted by a Chrysler Journey-twin, so net-net. there's no loss of product.

If the Chinese send us a Dodge A/B segment car--you're still looking at mostly a similarly sized lineup, as the Viper may be finished.

I'm just not sure how many models will realistically get cut, as most mentioned above seem to be relatively recent intros.

Edited by enzl
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Chrysler sell Jeep to GM. GM keep the good Jeep models and merge Hummer and Jeep into one brand.

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Most of you people seem to have no idea how an automobile company runs. They need to produce as many vehicles or mix of vehicles that will keep a factory busy, for at least two shifts. They also have to produce something that will sell, while keeping those plants busy, to keep inventory from piling up. They can't just ax vehicles and leave factories running at half capacity.

You can't "get rid" of the Sebring, because Sterling Heights Assembly would only be producing the Avenger, and would not fill the plant's capacity. They just need to fix the Sebring, and make it competitive. This basically just means making the interior more upscale, and getting the new Phoenix engines done, and in the vehicle with 5 or 6 speed transmissions. Give the base 4cyl the 5 speed also.

The Nitro is selling slowly because it's a truck based SUV with poor fuel economy. Not much as far as interior upgrades will help the Nitro. The Nitro, however, is built along side the Liberty....so again, there is really no reason to "get rid of it".

The Compass helps fill the capacity at Belvidere. As long as it's selling and keeping Belvidere's capacity up, keep it, or replace it with something that will sell better.....but do not just get rid of it, and lose the capacity. Get a new PT Cruiser going to take it's place.

While the Commander is helping keep the Grand Cherokee plant running, it does not really accomplish what it was intended to be....which was a Grand Cherokee sized Jeep with a 3rd row. This doesn't work, as the GC platform doesn't allow enough room for a real 3rd row that adults can use. The Commander needs to be redesigned with a real 3rd row...which may mean moving to a new platform (next Durango or Ram)....or it should just be axed. I don't know what it's sales numbers are off hand, but the Toyota Land Cruiser only sold 3700 units last year....and I'm sure the Commander sold at least 10 times as many.

There is nothing "wrong" with the Durango. It's problems come from being a large gas guzzling SUV. It should actually go a bit larger, and compete with the Tahoe. If the Aspen were included from the beginning of the design, it could be more differentiated from the Durango, and play in between the Yukon and Escalade territory. This move would however make a smaller car based CUV a necessity, and I don't know if the Dodge Journey and it's Chrysler counterpart would successfully fill that gap.

The Dakota needs to be redesigned to be smaller, and get better fuel economy. Besides, it's too close to the Ram in size anyway. They need to go back and look at the M-80 concept. Build a Jeep pickup along side of it to keep capacity up.

The bottom line is that American automakers need to keep their plants running. If they are not running at near full capacity, they are wasting money. And if they are running at full capacity, but not selling the cars, they are also wasting money. The Japanese automakers have very few plants and employees in the US, but they have built flexible manufacturing into their plants, so that they can make many different vehicles in the same plant. If one of their models is not selling, they can just chose to build a different one. What the Big 3 really need to do is to close plants and consolidate manufacturing. This is not something that I'm hoping for, or looking forward to....but it's the only way they can compete with all of the unfair competition from the Asian countries. If there was not so much unfair competition from the Asians taking away loads of market share, then the Big 3 could keep all of their plants at capacity, be making money, and in turn be putting some of that profit back into R&D and nicer vehicles. The American automakers are in a downward spiral that will not end until the foreign automakers are put on a level playing field as the US automakers.

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Here's my input. Cerberus needs to make a profit first and that's it.

Volume is not a priority, but don't fool yourselves they want to succeed otherwise it's a bust. They've asembled quite the team to see this works.

Maybe one day sell it off for more than what they paid.

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Most of you people seem to have no idea how an automobile company runs. They need to produce as many vehicles or mix of vehicles that will keep a factory busy, for at least two shifts. They also have to produce something that will sell, while keeping those plants busy, to keep inventory from piling up. They can't just ax vehicles and leave factories running at half capacity.

Apparently, neither does Chrysler itself going by your words.
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First: Reg, shut it...I don't have the patience to spoon feed you answers.

Second...I see the need to cut models but I question some of the possible nominations.

Dakota? What product does that overlap exactly in the Chrysler lineup? It would be a move as stupid as Ford's or GM's to walk away from a segment.

Durango...there is a place for a traditional SUV...anyway why would you nominate it and not the Aspen? That makes no sense in Chrysler's lineup. It does need a redesign or something though.

Pacifica...it should be redesigned to better compete with the Lambdas...you don't just walk away from the fastest growing segment.

Commander...there is, unfortunately, no place for it...at least it was a real Jeep

Compass...get rid of it...it was a mistake from the beginning and whoever thought it up should be fired.

Sebring...extreme makeover yes...but don't walk away from the very competitive midsize segment...unless the actually place to move Chrysler upmarket.

Crossfire...it still looks good I think but is an underachiever everywhere else...it should be discontinued...redesign it why Chrysler is making profits again maybe

FYI: Chery is not going to be designing a B-segment car for Chrysler...they no longer want to have it made in or by China.

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Chrysler should cut the PT Cruiser, Sebring, 300 models other than the C, Aspen, Crossfire and Pacifica.

Dodge should cut the Caliber, Avenger, non 5.7 Magnum and Chargers, Durango, Dakota, Nitro, Sprinter and should redesign the Ram.

Jeep should cut the Compass, Liberty, Patriot and Commander

That will leave them with just their competitive vehicles.

Sounds like a sure-fire plan for disaster to me. Or is that what you were going for?

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Apparently, neither does Chrysler itself going by your words.

Well, I have a feeling Chrysler will be shutting down plants and consolidating into more flexible plants. A friend that works at SHAP said that they were supposed to be able to build any of the Belevidere cars on their line.....however, it didn't happen. I have a feeling that one of those plants will shut down, and production of both vehicles will combined on a flexible assembly line for the next generation. I'm sure this will happen to other plants as well.

So, unfortunately, I think Cerberus does know what to do, and it probably means downsizing and cutting jobs. Thanks Japan and the American government! :thumbsup:

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So, unfortunately, I think Cerberus does know what to do, and it probably means downsizing and cutting jobs. Thanks Japan and the American government! :thumbsup:

Well, in this case, I seriously think it's mostly due to the product and not Japan or the US Government.

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Sounds like a sure-fire plan for disaster to me. Or is that what you were going for?

I guess you didn't catch that my "plan" leaves Chrysler with the T&C and 300c, Dodge with Magnum/Charger, Ram, and Caravan, and Jeep with the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

Those are the only models Chrysler hasn't managed to F up.

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it only took like 7-10 years for DCX to mess up what they had.

they had the 300/concorde/intrepid/LHS which sold very well to mainstream buyers across the board.

their vans were top of class.

they a unique sized BOF SUV, the durango, that sold like hotcakes.

sebring coupe and stratus avenger coupe sold big.

sebring convertible was the unquestioned sales king.

the neon, cirrus, stratus all sold in big volume. the cirrus and stratus competed well.

The Dakota was raping sales from undersized Ford and Chevy and japan inc pickups.

Liberty and Grand Cherokee were sales stars.

fast forward to today. as Oldmoboi said, those wanted the extreme out of mainstream bling of the 300/magnum/charger, already had one. Now its on fumes because their look and persona is way too bling.

the avenger / sebring we get now is compromised on many fronts and is not large enough for the segment they are supposed to compete in.

The new vans are messed up. Not beyond repair, but they definitely lack what the prior gen had.

Caliber is nice, but has a severly compromised interior.

dodge's trucks are aging.

Nitro adds more out of the mainstream bling to go with a poor interior.

sebring convertible is under onslaught from superior power hardtop cars.

the new durango is caught in the crossfire of the crossover downsizing. Journey comes to market with a questionable interior despite other obvious good qualities.

Patriot and Compass and Commander are black marks on the jeep star even though the new Liberty and 4 dr wrangler offset that.

Key crossover segements like Pacifica and PT Cruiser are aging.

i sure hope Cerebus has a plan.

Edited by regfootball
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