By on September 23, 2013

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We live in an era of instant gratification. We want everything, right nowdone perfectly, right away. A consequences of that is that delays, even when legitimate, are seen as a sign of incompetence, slow movement and an inability to get things done. In many cases, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean we should pillory Chrysler for delaying production of the Cherokee again.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Chrysler spokesperson Jodi Tinson outlined Chrysler’s plans for the new Jeep, the brand’s most important product in years

“We are taking this very slowly, and I think it has already been communicated that we are doing some recalibration on transmissions. We continue to do some quality verification. We will release the Cherokees at a time we are satisfied with their quality and not a day before.”

On the one hand, this is hardly the first time the Cherokee has been delayed. It’s an extraordinarily important product for Chrysler, a symbol of the tie-up with Fiat and the Jeep brand’s global expansion into a booming segment. The constant delays speak to troubling problems related to assembly and supplier quality issues.

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see Chrysler resist the temptation to release the car early and simply take the short term payoff (launch on time, avoiding press coverage of delays) in favor of the long term payoff of releasing a well made car, free of defects or major issues. Chrysler deserves to be applauded. Other OEMs would not take such a route.

Chrysler is sacrificing momentum, reputation, consumer consideration and huge sums of money in the name of getting things right. Meanwhile, workers at Toledo will be idle as engineers seek to fix the problem. One can only imagine the internal struggles that preceded this decision.  TTAC’s criticisms of the Cherokee’s quality issues were made with their best interests at heart, not in the name of yellow journalism or shock blogging in the name of “clicks”. It would be rather narcissistic to suggest that TTAC alone helped spur this action, but by the same token, I hope that Chrysler was listening, and that the Cherokee will emerge as a better vehicle, and a successful one at that.

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68 Comments on “Editorial: Cherokee Delays Deserve Praise...”


  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Ford learned from the Fusion and pushed back the Fiesta launch 7 weeks (6 months prior to retail the decision was made) to iron out supplier PPAP timing due to late design releases. Late design releases yield supplier quality issues and means you’re going to go into production essentially right after your tool is cut (rather than proving out said tooling). Ford did not take a last minute delay with the Fusion even though fit and finish issues were rampant at the eve of retail sale.

    Chrysler deserves the praise. This is only going to hurt them, not the consumer. That takes some big balls in the management hierarchy. Refreshing.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Only helps them in the long run by getting it right.

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        Good on Fiasler for recognizing that significant problems still existed with the Cherokee, and taking appropriate action to attempt to remedy them. If only the company had taken a similar approach a year ago, rather than releasing the lamentable 2013 Dart before it was fully cooked.

        Trouble is – and I’m sure I’m not the only one asking this – does anyone really think this mongrel company will be able to get the Cherokee “right” even after these repeated, protracted delays? So far, Fiasler’s track record with Americanized Fiats is less than stellar…

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          The Dart was fully cooked at release, people just didn’t like the recipe. The engine choices were underwhelming and this just isn’t a manual transmission country, and they came out first.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          I like my turbo Dart just fine. If you aren’t afraid to rev your engine beyond 2000 RPM, it moves along perfectly well. Mine is a manual and I’m always surprised at how well it accelerates in 6th gear even at middling speeds like 50-60mph…I only need to drop down a gear if I really am in a hurry.

          As a bonus it is dead quiet inside and strikes a nice balance between ride and handling. Everyone that gets in it comes away impressed by it.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            That’s the benefit of a small turbo on a small displacement engine. Pretty much all of those 2.0T engines have great low-end torque and will accelerate very well in 6th gear at highway speeds. With my Audi, there’s no reason to downshift while passing on the highway because there’s more than enough get-up-and-go by a long shot.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            One Ohio newspaper is reporting that workers are being temporarily idled not due to quality control re-inspections, but due to the fact that there are already enough JCs built & ready to be shipped that Fiatsler is worried about overwhelming logistics chain (i.e. shippers) & dealers.

            I’m not claiming to know what the real situation is:

            http://www.northwestohio.com/news/story.aspx?id=950222

          • 0 avatar

            DeadWeight, that report is Chrysler’s spin.
            Note the mention of “once containment is released”. If they haven’t released them yet, how can it put a strain on car transporters or dealers to build more? As for the idled shift not being due to QC reinspections, what do you think the two hour test drives are all about? Why would the second shift workers need additional training if there are no problems. YMMV but I think it’s spin.

            “”We have been producing vehicles since the end of June and have now built the critical number of vehicles we need to stock dealerships once containment is released,” said the company in a statement released Monday. ”We will temporarily idle the second shift (at Toledo North) so as not to put additional strain on our logistics partners to get these vehicles into the hands of customers as quickly and efficiently as possible upon release.”
            UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower tells WNWO during the temporary layoff period, some newer second shift workers will go through additional training, while others will do two hour test drives on the new model.”

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Yep, your interpretation makes more sense to me, especially given some reviews (including Derek’s) that made mention of what were objectively verifiable fit & finish issues.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            @Ronnie / DW:
            You don’t want to keep making rework. Their holding lots and leased space probably ran out. That and the cost of rework is probably to the point of bankrupting a supplier. Who knows what talks have been between Engineering, Manufacturing and the Suppliers. Someone is footing the bill for the retrofitting of whatever is holding up the launch.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      I wish Ford had taken the same care when it came to calibrating the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic in the Fiesta and Focus. It’s taken multiple updates and nearly two years of debugging to get it to a production-ready state. A friend with a Focus Titanium was very close to taking a loss on trade in to get something that could shift properly.

      • 0 avatar

        Anecdotal,but Ford looks like they still have issues.
        Customer came in yesterday and was b****ing about the Focus she’d recently bought. Says it’s constantly lurching when she drives it and she’s trying to Lemon Law it. Claims Ford and her local dealer haven’t been very helpful. Has it garaged and drives her sister’s car now.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That’s a tough go for a lemon law. I wish her luck if that’s what she chooses to do, but it’s an uphill battle. Ford will replace the clutch packs or entire transmission before it gets lemon lawed. Since their are a few TSBs out their, she should just try another dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Releasing half-baked products seems to be Ford’s defining characteristic since the first MyFord Touch came out. Hard to believe that a few years ago, they were tops in initial quality.

    • 0 avatar
      Skink

      Make that: “Cherokee Delays Deserve Faint Praise”.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Perhaps they’re restyling it?

    Oh, I’m sure it’s stunning in person and pictures don’t do it justice….

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    People will remember quality issues way longer than delays. It’s not like this is a highly anticipated release anyway.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I don’t think anyone was criticizing Chrysler because they’re in a hurry for the Cherokee and have to have it now, but I do question the developmental aspects of the Cherokee and why these issues were discovered so late in the cycle. Better now then after they’re on the road,I guess, as you discovered when you reviewed the Cherokee. I also hope this isn’t an indication that this may be a bad drive train set-up and are forcing it to work well enough to launch

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    The longer they delay it the more I’ll praise them.

    Not only is it invasive-species ugly, too may people today draw a blank when you show them the photos and then say:

    “Now go all snake-eyes, Jack… like this.”

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s nice that they’re fixing it.

    But the company’s handling of the media has been terrible. The launch dates keep changing, which makes it very obvious that something has been badly wrong. Showing the customer how this kind of sausage is made is not the wisest of decisions.

    And it’s a bit late in the game for this latest delay to be occurring. It makes it seem that the company is ill-prepared to handle engineering and assembly issues that should have been sorted out some months ago. It doesn’t inspire confidence, that’s for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Your mention of engineering makes me wonder if Fiat’s engineers are getting along with what Peter De Lorenzo calls Chrysler’s “true believers”. I seem to recall some rumblings about differences among the two groups not too long ago. If Fiat engineers are anything like Sergio, the bombast may be causing problems outside the engineering offices.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        There were earlier press reports about delays due to issues with the new nine-speed gearbox. If the media stories are correct, then it would seem that the transmission is a real trouble spot.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Hope they delay it till April 1.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Thanks to TTAC, they have a boatload of steering wheels to re-stitch.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    A colossal snafu deserves no praise. The proof is in the product. And producing a new vehicle is not like brewing coffee. They are pros, right?

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    “The constant delays speak to troubling problems related to assembly and supplier quality issues.”

    Derek, what makes these problems “troubling”? They sound typical and ordinary in the context of a mass production ramp up. (Its weaselly stuff like this that gets people screaming “Biased!”)

    It’s a bummer that Chrylser managers have done a not-so-great job of predicting when the line will be able to consistently produce a quality product using first-rate supplier components, but I’m willing to cut them a break. Over the last several decades “high quality” has never been regularly associated with either Chrysler or FIAT, so I’m pleased that Chrysler is showing real signs of brain activity on that issue.

    My friend bought his son a Kettler trike a couple of years ago that was engineered and made to higher levels of precision and quality than the Jeep Liberty that carried the trike home from the store. Hopefully Chrysler’s increasing quality will make it impossible for me to make a snide comment like that ever again.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      A 2003 Liberty owned by my brother in law was solid as a rock, though ChryCo managed to ruin that design post-2006.

      I do not have confidence that the mashup with Fiat is going to do anything but hurt the Jeep brand, unfortunately (but TRULY hope that I’m wrong).

      This new JC really looks like a Hyundai or Mitsubishi, which I find sad.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Apple has been known to delay a product if it isn’t to their specs. Don’t know why Chrysler should be any different.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Delay it, fire the designers, and bring back the original Cherokee, then I’ll be interested.

    As is I’m expecting the hipster type people around here to trade their grey Jukes in on grey Cherokees, grey totally stands out you know.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Just think—if they delay it until 2016, they might have enough bugs ironed out so that owners only have to bring it back to the dealership service department only once per month for repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      It might surprise you to know that in 85,000 miles the only repair my parent’s 300 has required was an electronic module that controls the adjustable pedals, covered under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      My wife’s 2003 Chrysler Town & Country was infinitely more reliable during the five years she owned it than the Mercedes Benz that (unfortunately) followed it. Only needed regular maintenance and a software upgrade. And, as opposed to a couple of friends of mine’s Honda Odysseys, it never euthanized its transmission.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Chrysler has a rich history of rushing incomplete designs into production going all the way back to the 1957 “Forward Look” cars – so it’s encouraging to see them taking their time to get things right this time.

    If they stick with it, and continue to take their time to work the quality problems out of their new products before ramping up production, their reputation will eventually improve and it will work out for them in the long run.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    Parking Lights? – Check!
    Turn Signals? – Check!
    Big-ass Grill? – Check!
    Headlights? – HEADLIGHTS? Uh! Oh! We forgot the headlights!

  • avatar
    noreaster

    I’m not sure why the choices have to be either “pillory” or “praise”. They could have done worse than delay it, certainly, but they could have done better too. Ideally this is just a “growing pain” as Fiat assimilates Chrysler, but if it’s not, it’s certainly a concern. As it is, I’d have to look very long and hard at a delayed car to make sure they really went back and made it right before I’d lay down any of my money.

  • avatar
    SteelyMoose

    You can have it fast, right, or cheap: pick any two.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Delaying the Cherokee in order to get things right is the correct decision. I wish Chrysler would have done that years ago:

    1. Do the 1957 models come to mind?
    2. Ditto the 1962 models.
    3. 1980 with the early K-Car problems.
    4. 1990 – Can you say “Ultradrive”?
    5. 1998 – How about “2.7L”?

    I was directly affected by the 1981 K-Car rust problems, but we kept ours for seven years because Chrysler took good care of us.

    I would not have such patience nowadays, nor would anyone else, so the Cherokee and all other new Chrysler products had better be right if ever their less-than-stellar reputation be put to rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      It’s pretty remarkable how you own a GM product yet you don’t waste any chance at bringing up past reliability issues that Chrysler had. What’s that they say about a glass ceiling?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        It’s only the last 9 years I have come back to GM after a hiatus since 1977. Why? Because I felt GM products had become either garbage, or for the B-bodies, beyond my financial reach at the time.

        What did I drive in the meantime? AMC, and from 1980, Chrysler products, which served us very well, and have sung the praises of out 1981 Reliant, once the rust issues were fixed, which I acknowledged above, our 1984 E-Class, bought used in 1986, kept for 8 years, and our wonderful 1990 Acclaim, kept for 10½ years!

        However, so many were affected by the Ultradrive and 2.7L issues that the company did not back, that left a bad taste in my mouth ever since. The earlier troubles didn’t affect me, but they are in the memories of many.

        I do believe Chrysler’s offerings have improved, for I have not heard any general outcry in the last several years, at least since 2008 or so.

        No glass ceiling here.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          I you spend some time and read the complaints on the 2.7L on NHTSAs website, a significant amount of the cars were on their second or 3rd owners and prior service history was unknown. Many people noted in their comments that the cars were former rentals or lease returns. The 2.7L was simply intolerant of improper maintenance. Properly maintained 2.7Ls can provide many many miles of reliable service. My brother in law had a 1997 Intrepid with a first-year 2.7L that never gave them a lick of trouble and I owned a 2003 Stratus with a 2.7L that I routinely zinged to redline for 10 years that never so much as hiccuped.

          Improvements in the PCV system and in motor oils themselves basically solved the “problem” with the 2.7L and made it a lot more forgiving of improper care. Toyota, another king of sludge, also benefitted from the improvements in motor oils that occured in the early 2000′s.

          Many engines got off to a rocky start. Early Ford 4.6L engines were sludge prone and I’ve seen them fail in as little as 50,000 miles even if people changed the oil every 5,000 miles. The initial “fix” was revising the maintenance schedule from 7500 miles for easy service/5,000 miles for severe service to 5,000 miles easy/3,000 miles severe, but that still didn’t fix the problem.

          Early small-block Cheverolet engines had problems with the camshafts walking back and forth in their bore, should GM have given up? And lest we forget the rear main seal/IMS debacle from the masters of engine building themselves, Porsche?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You left out lean burn.

  • avatar
    ash78

    knock knock
    Yes?
    Mr. Marchionrrr?
    Who?
    Mr. Sergio?
    Who is it? Chi sei?
    Uh, flowers.
    Flowers for whom?
    Plumber, sir.
    I don’t need a plumber. You’re that clever shark, aren’t you?
    Candygram.
    Candygram, my foot! You get out of here before I call the police! You’re the shark, and you know it!
    Wait. I-I’m only a dolphin, sir.
    A dolphin? Well… Okay.
    [opens door]

  • avatar
    shelvis

    Wobble, wobble, wobble……….

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I was getting routine service done on my 4Runner and wandered over to see the new RAV4, as well as a CX-5 at the next door Mazda place and a CR-V (also down the street) to look for a CUV once the wife has her baby…

    The Crossover market is strong, let’s be fair, this thing will be competing with the above vehicles and no one gives a damn if it can cross the Rubicon.

    The competition will simply thrash this ill conceived turd. Even the Forester is above and beyond…


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