What was hinted at in February by then-CEO Tom Lasorda, then hinted at again in September by new CEO Bob Nardelli, is now simply waiting to happen: Chrysler LLC is going to reorganize its product line and probably start by axing around five models. No one will say exactly which models will return to dust, but it is suspected that the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Dakota, Jeep Commander and Compass could be headed to the guillotine, while the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Durango wait on Death Row for their final appeals to be decided.
The reasoning, as laid out by President and Vice Chairman Jim Press, is that Chrysler has "models that overlap, where we have two or three vehicles that serve the same market segment and maybe the same customer and actually compete with each other to some extent. We also have markets where we have insufficient coverage, where we don't have enough product." According to Press, the branding makeover aims to see Chrysler doing upscale, Jeep handling rugged and off-road, and Dodge putting out high-volume cars and trucks.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Word is that if Chrysler can completely remake the Sebring, the car could make it to the next round. If, however, a Sebring redesign turns into a financial mess, then it could be scrapped. As for the Durango, sales of the once trendy SUV have dropped 30% this year, and the factory where it's built is scheduled to close in 2009. The UAW didn't manage to win the same plant guarantees and lineup plans from Chrysler that it got from GM, so it doesn't have an exact idea of what it will be building, or where. Frankly, we think this is the kind of painful-yet-necessary restructuring needed to get domestic consumers' full attention. Hopefully Chrysler comes out with the kinds of new products that we know they're capable of.