The WSJ Buries The Lede: Chrysler 300 "Un-Delayed," Retail Sales Goals In Jeopardy

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
the wsj buries the lede chrysler 300 un delayed retail sales goals in jeopardy

If you believed Chrysler’s bailout “viability plan” [paging Commissar Orwell…], you knew the new Chrysler 300 would be released in 2010. It’s a bit cut off at the top of the image above, but you can clearly see the words “…and the New Chrysler 300 in 2010.” And if you believed Chrysler’s five year plan, released last November, you knew the refreshed 300 would go on sale in 2010. That’s why there’s a little refresh icon by the 300 in 2010. But if you believe the latest word from the Wall Street Journal [sub], you now know that the 2011 Chrysler 300 will be released in… 2010. And that’s news how?

According to the WSJ:

In hopes of spurring sales later in the year, Chrysler also is making plans to move up the U.S. launch of the restyled Chrysler 300 sedan by three to four months, to November from the first quarter of 2011, these people said.

In other words, the headline should be “Chrysler 300 Delayed Months Ago, Chrysler Now Denying Delay.” But of course that misses the point of the exercise entirely. The WSJ couches the 300 announcement in terms of Chrysler’s sales problems, as in the launch is being pushed up to address Chrysler’s sliding sales. Let’s take a look:

Chrysler is making the moves as it nears the one-year anniversary of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on April 30. As part of a strategy worked out by the U.S. government, Chrysler formed an alliance with Italy’s Fiat. In November, Sergio Marchionne, who serves as chief executive of both auto makers, outlined a turnaround plan that envisions Chrysler breaking even this year and generating profits in 2011.

The plan is based on a forecast that Chrysler’s U.S. sales will rise 18% this year, from 931,402 cars and light trucks in 2009 to 1.1 million in 2010. But in the year’s first two months, sales fell 3.2%, and analysts expect another decline when March sales are reported Thursday.

Chrysler sales this year through February fell to 141,592 vehicles, the lowest for the company in 30 years, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.

To hit its target, Chrysler must now sell at least 95,000 vehicles per month for the rest of the year. It has reached that level only once in the last 14 months.

So, it turns out that the real headline is “Chrysler Must Sell 95k Units Per Month To Survive.” Way to bury the lede, WSJ. Meanwhile, there are sales and there are sales, and though the news couldn’t be any worse, the WSJ just keeps on soft-pedaling:

half or more of the vehicles Chrysler sold in January and February were purchased by rental-car companies and other fleet customers, said people familiar with the matter. That suggests Chrysler is having some trouble winning over individuals who buy cars through dealerships… Mr. Marchionne’s plan envisions such retail sales making up more than 70% of the total, and lower-margin fleet sales less than 30%… A Chrysler spokesman, Gualberto Ranieri, said the company is sticking with its U.S. sales target. “The goal is for 1.1 million and Mr. Marchionne has never missed a target,” he said.

Well then, everything must be ginger-peachy. Sales will go up, retail share will go up, and the new 300 will be released early. Because Marchionne says so, and because a bunch of Vice Presidents made Powerpoint presentations that say so. Don’t question it.

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  • Texlovera Texlovera on Mar 29, 2010

    OK, I understand that the 300 refresh "timeline" was established under Cereberus' watch. But did Fiat just take everything Cerberus said at face value when they bought Chrysler? If they did, well, then they deserve what they get. And the fleet sales percentage is devastating. I just don't see how they can keep the ship from sinking.

  • Wheeljack Wheeljack on Mar 29, 2010

    What are you guys going to do if they actually suceed? I predict a shortage of professional psychiatric services.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.