• Sep 25, 2009
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - click above for high-res image gallery

The new product picture at Chrysler appears to be mighty thin, as the only new products scheduled to come out of the Pentastar over the next year are redesigns of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Ram Heavy Duty and the Chrysler 300. As you may recall, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne recently said that he was surprised to see how little has been done in the way of product development over the past two years, which is hardly a ringing endorsement from the new boss.

Marchionnne and his management team are now putting the final touches on a new plan to reverse Chrysler's fortunes, and the key to the company's renaissance will be new product. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Marchionne's plan includes quick turnarounds on the refreshing of the Town & Country and Grand Caravan minivans, the Dodge Caliber, as well as the Jeep Patriot and Compass. According to company sources, the PT Cruiser is also scheduled to be redesigned in a compressed time frame, with the expectation of a mid-2011 arrival.

To execute the aggressive plan, Marchionne is reportedly calling for design and engineering workers to work overtime, and some workers who took packages or were separated involuntarily will be hired back on a contract basis. Beyond the refreshes already mentioned, Fiat has already committed to build the hot little 500 in Mexico by mid-2011, and the Pentastar will also complete the launch of its Phoenix V6 engine program.

Marchionne is scheduled to deliver his latest proposal to overhaul Chrysler to the Obama Administration's Auto Task Force by next Wednesday. It looks like there is finally going to be some serious action in Auburn Hills, MI, and we're hoping that Fiat and Chrysler can buy two years' time to bring the greatly-needed product to fruition.



[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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  • 41 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Simple fact.
      The money isn't there.
      Furthermore, Marchionne will not financially support Chrysler.

      What can Chrysler do? Plenty.

      JEEP
      Get rid of Compass and Patriot for starters. They are not real Jeeps by any standard. The line-up should only have Wrangler, Liberty, Cherokee and Commander. Refresh the Cherokee, yes. Take the Commander way upscale to compete with Land Rover.

      DODGE
      Cancel Caliber, Nitro, and Avenger. Continue to produce Charger, Challenger, Caravan and Journey. Hold onto Viper for another year or so. Replace the Sprinter with a Fiat Ducato. Add the Fiat Panda to the Dodge line-up. Redesign the Durango as a CUV. Add the Fiat Punto, Bravo and Linea to the Dodge line-up.

      CHRYSLER
      Cancel Sebring and T&C minivan. PT Cruiser should be redesigned as planned. Import Alfa Romeos to be sold by Chrysler.

      FIAT
      Fiat 500 is coming to a Chrysler dealer near you!

      This way Fiat makes a big splash and garners a much larger footprint in America. This is good for Chrysler; good for Fiat; and really good for Sergio's bank account.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jamie, I can't agree more with your comments. You're right on the money. FIAT needs to listen to people like you, and Chrysler needs to hire some new car designers with experience and proven success in product development from outside the company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. Chrysler/FIAT doesn't have the time or the money. GM has spent $5 billion (with a B) and 10 years trying to resurrect Cadillac and they are only part way there.

        Chrysler/FIAT doesn't have $5B and they certainly don't have 10 years.

        I hope they are able to find a way to success, but I'm very skeptical that they will make it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why? Aren't these the same idiots who cranked out the junk that nobody wanted before?
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, you're thinking of Daimler-Benz, AKA Mercedes-Benz. They were the former owner.

        Then some investment company that really didn't know what they were getting into before the economy tanked.

        I'm excited about the PT Cruiser news, but confused since I talked with one of the chief design guys a month ago and he said it was dead. Perhaps Marchionne's impetus on new product is resurrecting it. : )
        • 5 Years Ago
        Engineers and designers can only do so much with the money they're given and corporate directives they have to work within. Hopefully Fiat will be giving them the money and other resources they need to improve things.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you look at the big areas where Chrysler vehicles have fallen down, it's been in a couple key areas:

        1) materials- the programs only approve budget for the cheap-ass interior materials they use, skimping on sheet metal leading to the doors sounding tinny and flimsy.

        2) reliability. Cutting corners in validation testing leads to failure modes not being found in testing (things like the ABS connector corrosion causing Sebring/Avenger cars to shut down and not restart.)

        in most all cases like these, someone higher up the chain is making the decision to save money whether or not its advisable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Brilliant , just brilliant. ... Lay off all the white collars who have the experience, and product knowledge, and hire in new virgins who know nothing, with no experience....at a lowe rate....great! should lead to better product , on time gates, and less recalls.......
      • 5 Years Ago
      Whenever I think about this, it makes me wonder what the hell Chrysler was thinking all along. It seems like they just put their arms up in the air and quit - only 3 new models? that's incredible.

      I want Chrysler to succeed. This hard work may pay off and 2011 will be an interesting year for them. I really don't know why they're not green lighting the 200c concept for production. What a dumb move.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have to agree. It is pretty obvious that the folks who canned new product development knew they weren't going to be around to take the flak for it. It borders on criminal. A car company is only as good as their new product. It is going to be a long cold two years for Chrysler trying to survive on it's lineup of dogs. It is going to be fire sales and fleets just to keep the plants alive.

        I am impressed with this decision though. If Cerberus had done this when they walked in things might have been different. The PT news actually has me excited. It would be nice to see the poor old PT get a tiny bit of love. Maybe if the refresh works it might even live on with a modern Fiat platform underneath it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with the 200C
        I'm due in teh next few years to replace my '03 G35 adn that 200C looked hot in the concept form
        I want to stick with RWD, so the 200C timing would have been right no, but now I guess it may never happen, so there it goes
        the 300C is just too blocky for me adn the vew outwards from a driver stand point is way to annoyingly small
      • 5 Years Ago
      Root cause - Chrysler design standards are pretty low compared to any other automaker. Its not 'someone' mysterious who doesn't approve higher quality materials or better designs

      1. Their engineering standards and requirements are well below real manufacturers
      2. Product designs are not customer based (hence all the weird products)
      3. They lost their way about 30 years ago, still lost...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, you lost credibility for me at "They lost their way about 30 years ago, still lost..."

        1979 was 30 years ago. Since then, they rocketed back with the K-cars, which saved the company. They introduced the minivan, and turbocharged small engines in the '80s, too. In the mid-late '90s, they enjoyed wild success and profits due to their avant-garde "cab forward" designs and amazingly successful 2nd-Gen Ram. In fact, they were extremely profitable up until Daimler bought them.

        They got lost shortly after Daimler bought them. And while some of the decisions they're making show that they're still wandering, there are signs of life and hope within the company, too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the second you said "real manufacturers," you lost any credibility you might have had. Troll elsewhere.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "New product out fast" is a recipe for disaster. Take the new Camaro for instance.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good GRIEF!

        a) The Camaro wasn't a rush-job. It took 3 years from show car reveal to Job 1 to get to market. That's about average for the industry.

        b) Let's compare the Camaro's early teething troubles with the 2007 Camry's or 2008 Tundra's. Hell, even the recent 2009/10 Maxima/Altima recall had about 10x the number of vehicles recalled than the Camaro has had.

        Let's think a little before speaking, people...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with inline6 on this.

        People just seem so obsessed with the Camaro timeline, I presume just because it stands out. Had it been a mainstream car or a refresh of an existing car, no one would have noticed that it took just as long as any othe new car to be developed.

        Let's take a look at some of the facts:

        The Camaro Concept debuted at the 2006 NAIAS. That car was not even built on the Zeta chassis either, it was cobbled together from a Sigma(Cadillac STS) platform. Since it completley changed platforms prior to production, you can't even really count the concept towards the production timeline IMO.

        Secondly, GM announced their intent to produce the new Camaro in August of 2006.

        The cars were on sale to the public in April of '09.

        By my math, that's about 3yrs from concept to production. Real 2yr8mos if you want to go by when they actually announced that they were going to move ahead with producing the car.

        Please explain where you get 5+ years from that accurate timeline.

        By contrast, let's look at the gestation period of another stand out car, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

        Here's a link from May '07 on AB showing test mule photos of what would become the Genesis Coupe.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2007/05/10/spy-shots-hyundais-rwd-coupe/
        http://www.autoblog.com/gallery/2009-tiburon-spy-shots/

        You can be sure that by that point, a lot of work had already been done since the car looks fairly close to what we all know now as the Genesis Coupe, including the turbo engine and complete interior. This was still roughly 2yrs before it went into production.

        Considering that this test mule had a number of parts that already looked production-ready, I think we can easily say that there's at least another year of work that had gone into the car by that point.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you kidding? I'm certainly unimpressed with the Camaro, but its gestation was what... 3.5, 4 years? That's hardly "new product out fast". Hell, I was sick of it at least a year before even seeing one on the street.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tomac... Inline... Power loss, electrical problems, and brake weights (wtf?) falling off are only 3 problems out of a long list that plague the new Camaro... Maybe 3-4 years isn't enough time for GM to get a car right?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is beautiful and will probably sell fantastic. Jeep is the only worthwhile nameplate/product remaining of Chrysler. My only concern with this vehicle is the wide center console which is carved out so as not to interfere with the seat. As is the trend lately, these interior designers are puffing up the interiors of already large vehicles so there is no net gain in driver/passenger space. I suspect the driver will need to contort his right leg around that console to reach the accelerator pedal. What happened to the good old days when there was open space beneath the dashes with room for perhaps, say, the occupants legs?!?!

      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd like to see the penstar 3.6L MDS to be used in current vehicles now. Replacing the current 3.7L in SUV's and trucks, 3.8L in the wrangler, and 3.5L in the cars. I think it would be nice to have at times fuel mileage of a 1.8L when power isn't needed or is moderatly needed. I think this is the only way chrysler div will sell larger volumes of vehicles again. allpar.com/mopar/phoenix-engines.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      Really they're planning to sell more of the same, w/ updated skins and looks.
      In recent times, Chrysler hasn't been at the forefront of innovation and will be quick to jump back on the same ole path. Good luck indeed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      FIAT already made the Bravo in 18 months. Compare Fiat Stilo (early model) and Fiat Bravo... 18 months, it's quite impressive. Next generation Fiat Bravo with C-Evo platform would get on pair with Focus/Golf. Fiat it's recovering from bad managment, lets hope Chrysler has same chances of success.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why give face lifts to a bunch of crappy outdated vehicles when you have Fiat's line up to draw from? I know, the cost of retooling the plants. But still, updating the old product line doesn't seem like a big enough step forward.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You realize that the crappiest of their cars were all new for 2007 and 2008, right? How is that "outdated?"
      • 5 Years Ago
      "And you can't just go and "get the same parts." The suppliers might not legally own the design to the parts (rather they just manufacture/assemble them), and they no doubt have contracts with the various auto makers stipulating that they cannot just sell them to other automakers."

      typically the automaker pays the supplier's tooling costs, with the stipulation that the automaker then owns the tooling for the part. So yeah, if supplier X starts selling parts to Chrysler that they already supply to Ford, Ford is likely to pull their business and sue them for breach of contract.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry, but this rush-rush attitude and over working your employees does NOT instill any since of confidence in the quality to their products to come... not with my money!

      Go look at the "plan and process" Ford has for R&D of new vehicles and the testing they are doing to ensure quailty and durability... don't hear any of that from Crisisler.
        • 5 Years Ago
        On second thoughts, maybe this will work. Look at how successful we are becoming as the US Government "rush-rush"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed whole-heartedly Greg. Ford, O'Christ-ler is not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So they're failing because you're not up to speed with their plan details? I don't follow.
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