Acknowledging that a number of mistakes were made in the development and launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne vowed to learn from those mistakes and never repeat them.
“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it. We’re never going to take a plant down and be out of the market for over a year,” Marchionne told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday. In August of 2012, Chrysler shut down the body shop section of their Toledo assembly facility and spent a half billion dollars to prepare for Cherokee production. “We were just naked in 2013,” in the mid-sized SUV segment after production of the Jeep Liberty ended in 2012. The Liberty had been the Jeep brand’s third best seller at 75,483 units, about 5% of Chrysler’s total sales volume in 2012. (Read More…)
Automotive News is reporting from its sources that Chrysler will start shipping 2014 Jeep Cherokees to dealers within 10 days. Chrysler declined to comment but dealers report that status updates on their allotments indicate that they are on their way. About 23,000 of the all-new Cherokees have accumulated as Chrysler fine tuned and reinstalled drivetrain control software for smoother interaction between the engine, Chrysler’s new nine-speed automatic transmission licensed from ZF and a novel rear driveshaft that disconnects for better mileage.
Chrysler announced Thursday that it will restart the second shift of workers assembling the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee at the Toledo Assembly Complex next Monday after a week of downtime spent upgrading the software for the SUV’s powertrain. Chrysler had idled the 500 workers, it said, because it had built a sufficient number of vehicles to launch and that it didn’t want to overwhelm delivery logistics, but it was clear from the fact that none of the built Cherokees were being shipped and that some of the idled workers were conducting lengthy test drives that quality control was a factor in the shutdown. Chrysler software and drivetrain engineers have been working on patches to the engine and transmission mapping software and the company says that it has made progress on the upgrade. (Read More…)
There may not be a more important car launched this year than the Jeep Cherokee. A symbol of the union between Chrysler and Fiat, designed to lead Jeep’s push into the booming global crossover market, a bold new styling direction for the brand – these elements are all inextricably bound with the vehicle itself, with the Cherokee’s success in the marketplace vindicating all three. Predicting how well a vehicle will sell is always a crapshoot. I try to refrain from forming opinions of vehicles before driving them, but I couldn’t help but root for the Cherokee a little. It had sufficiently angered the Internet Product Planning division with its out-there styling, car-based platform and bold claims of off-road superiority. Charmed by the sheer gall of its contradictory mission (a CUV that can hang with true SUVs off-pavement), I wanted it to be a good vehicle on its own and succeed in the marketplace.