Chrysler [Still] Refuses to Name Vehicles Slated for Execution

chrysler still refuses to name vehicles slated for execution

When a Chrysler PR flack called to ask about the source for the leaky-roofed Dodge Journey tested by TTAC reviewer Michael Karesh, I asked him why his employer would re-launch itself as the "New Chrysler" before it eliminated a third to a half of its tri-branded lineup. Surely they should make the cuts and then tell the world Chrysler's reborn; losing a bunch of models does nothing for a carmaker's rep (not to mention owners' residuals). A long silence followed. That was February. This is April. And we still don't know which models are going away. That said, ChryCo's executive vice president for North American sales is dropping hints. According to The Detroit Free Press, Steven Landry told students and alumni at a Northwood University event that "What we'll do in our business model is not build similar vehicles on the same platform that kind of look and act like they have the same DNA… To give you an example: Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, basically a similar vehicle with different skin and a little bit of different interior; Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, same platform; Sebring, Avenger, same platform. We're not going to have vehicles like that. We're not going to have twin vehicles, one for one brand and one for another." Does this mean the end for TTAC Ten Worst Autos winners Chrysler Aspen (9) and, more importantly, Jeep Compass (1)? Watch this space.

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  • Threeer Threeer on Apr 21, 2008

    Kill the Viper? Interesting idea. Maybe the owners of current Vipers would love that, as it'd make the existing versions worth that much more. Nah, best to keep it. Every manufacturer needs its "halo" car to bring interest to the marquee. There is enough low-hanging fruit in the Cerebus line-up (Compass, Magnum, PT Cruiser, Pacifica, etc...) to cull the herd. There are a few gems that are worth keeping (and more importantly, improving) such as the Wrangler and possibly the 300 and Charger (yes, I think there are enough potential differences in the two to keep them both. 300 should be the luxury variant, classic and elegant...Charger needs to keep it's bad-ass persona). And kill the Sprinter?? Are you kidding? Work that horse! It's a potential game-changer in medium-duty vehicles. It may be the RV manufacturers saving grace, with its (relatively) fuel-efficient five cylinder diesel. UPS would do well to change over to an all-Sprinter fleet. It'd be nice to pull into a Chrysler dealership and not see 45 of the same vehicle only wearing different badges.

  • Bunkie Bunkie on Apr 21, 2008

    I was thinking about Chrysler's problems over the weekend and it's pretty clear that Daimler guys have an awful lot of responsibility on their hands. This is not to excuse Cerberus in any way, but given the lead times for product development, the awful lineup Chrysler currently offers is a direct result of German mismanagement. How in hell could they have done such a thorough job of ruining the Caravan/T&C? It's a disaster. And given the circumstances, it's the one product in their lineup that just absolutely had to be right. Considering that it was Chrysler's positive cash flow that saved Daimler from disaster a few years back, it's a crying shame. Had Chrysler not been starved so, they might have had a better chance.

  • Windswords Windswords on Apr 21, 2008

    "...the only thing that separated a Dodge Neon from the Plymouth version was that one had a “Dodge” badge on the front and the other had a “Plymouth” badge. Other than that small badge, they were both exactly the same. Whatever Chrysler exec was responsible for that little faux pas was the one that doomed Plymouth." No faux pas.It was planned to make the Plymouth and Dodge versions exactly the same. Normally the grills and talilights would be different, as well as the name. Maybe one version might have an engine/tranny combo that the other one didn't. But the goal of the original Neon program was to have a PROFITABLE small car. Up to this time no domestic automaker had made a dime on their small cars. Despite selling millions of Escorts (remember the Focus had not come out yet) Ford lost money on every one. That's why so many small cars today by the domestics are built in Mexico or rebadged Korean cars. So to make the Neon profitable (it was built in Illinois by the UAW) they dispatched with visual differences between the Dodge and Pymouth versions and called it by the same name. This by itself save millions of dollars in developement and marketing costs. They installed only a 3 spd auto instead of a 4 spd. And some models didn't have window cranks for the back windows. Despite being a new design with a newly developed engine, the Neon made money. The other cars developed at this time did have different sheet metal (Stratus/Cirrus, Intrepid/Vision/Concorde/LHS), in the case of the original Intrepid, the interior was different than the other models, and the LHS was a streched platform that did not look remotely like the others. Now back to today - I agree they need to bring back Plymouth. The Chrysler brand is such a mess now because they don't have brand like Plymouth. The PT Cruiser was supposed to be a Plymouth, it had no reason to be a Chrysler. Chrylser should not have a minivan, that should be Dodge and Plymouth. And the Compass and Patriot would never have happened if Plymouth were around to sell a Caliber variant (or use the Neon model and make it exactly the same including the name). What they should do now is just make Plymouth a sub brand like Scion. If they made a Plymouth Barracuda and didn't even advertise it thousands of buyers would get it just on the exposure it would create in the blogasphere.

  • Rudiger Rudiger on Apr 22, 2008
    "This by itself save millions of dollars in developement and marketing costs."Maybe, but it was a short-term benefit which was a significant contributing factor to Plymouth losing its identity and, ultimately, cost Chrysler the entire brand. IOW, making the Neon virtually identical, whether it be a Dodge or Plymouth, may have won the short-term cost-cutting battle, but it definitely lost the war for Plymouth. Imagine how things would have turned out if Chrysler had made two of the stalwarts that kept them afloat in the sixties, the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart, as identical as the Plymouth and Dodge Neon. Now, Chrysler has no low-end marque to compete with Ford or Chevrolet, a faux pas for which they're now paying dearly. It's worth noting that Dodge was never intended to be a competitor to Ford or Chevrolet. Now, without Plymouth, Dodge has lost it's target demographic, too, as the 'mid-range' line from Chrysler. It's even tough for the Chrysler line, the so-called 'premium' brand when they slap the name on the lowly PT Cruiser. If Chrysler hadn't screwed up with the Plymouth Neon/Breeze/Voyager (the final Plymouths, aside from the Prowler), they might have had a chance of keeping the corporate delineation which had served them so well for decades, and maybe maintained a clear identity for consumers in each market segment.

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