At Allpar, we traditionally do an end-of-year reader survey; for 2013, we broke with our own tradition and used Google Insights to present surveys randomly to readers, asking just six questions. The number of answers ranged from 250 to 286, a tiny proportion of our readers but statistically valid for picking winners in most cases.
We were expecting a much more even mix of answers for the question of “most significant Mopar of 2013,” but by far, the winner was the 2014 Ram pickup line, garnering 48% of answers. The #2 choice was the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, with 21% of replies. Dodge Dart 2.4 came in third place with 16%.
We accidentally biased the results by leaving the 2014 Jeep Cherokee out of the list; it did well even as a write-in candidate.
Again, Viper barely made the list, perhaps because the TA model was not seen as being “different enough” to be significant, but most likely because of the strength of the diesels and various other Ram upgrades.
Even when the large-car changes are added together, they don’t match the impact of the new Chrysler 200. Allpar readers seem to understand the markets — midsize front wheel drive sedans sell far better than large rear-wheel drive cars do. Jeepster garnered few votes, to be expected given its expected sales in Chrysler’s primary markets.
The lack of votes for an upgraded Viper could imply that few think one is coming, or that readers are focusing on the high volume cars over the image leaders. Or, perhaps, many think that Chrysler’s image will be boosted more by a class-leading car in the heart of the market than by a low-production SRT bound for more magazine covers than garages.
With fewer votes for the Cummins diesel than we’d expect, the Hemi engines took first place in voting. The Pentastar V6 was a close second, and when the survey started, was in first place by a good margin. The new 3-liter VM diesel, used in Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500, was a surprise pick with 12% of the votes; the 2.4 saw little love. (“Other” is being left out since there were just three, non-matching choices.)
We had one question which was problematic because Google only allows for five choices to be shown to each person, and we had 12 candidates: “Who should run Chrysler when Sergio leaves?” If we just look at the answers “straight,” Ralph Gilles and “other” each took 26% of the votes, but that’s not fair, because many of the “other” votes were also Mr. Gilles.
We ended up with a clear majority for Ralph Gilles in both standard and write-in form; the most visible leader at Chrysler other than Sergio Marchionne himself, the most-seen-in-person, and the most Twitter-friendly Chrysler employee, Mr. Gilles is noted for his charisma and enthusiasm.
Coming in at #2 was Reid Bigland, who rose through Chrysler Canada and now heads the Dodge brand as well.
Two surprises were the showings for quality chief Doug Betts (originally from Toyota, hired by Cerberus) and Jeep’s Mike Manley — credited with pushing for the Trail Rated Compass, and for demanding that the KL Cherokee and BU Jeepster have off-road credentials. Mr. Manley has also been lambasted by Jeepers for, among other things, the KL suspension architecture and for permitting the sight-unseen Jeepster to be created.
Bob Lee (powertrain), Mark Chernoby (product planning), and Olivier Francois (marketing, former Chrysler brand chief) each gained 5% of the votes. Purchasing/Operations leader Scott Gaberding garnered some votes almost immediately but never got more; his name is likely unfamiliar to most readers who do not work in a Chrysler plant.
We had two open-ended questions, both asking for the best of the year — one from Allpar, one from Chrysler. In both cases, we asked our friends at Toolpack Consulting to do a quick content analysis of the results.
Looking at the best thing Allpar did over the year, using very general categories, we came up with this chart, showing the dominance of news (especially if reporting on future cars and spy shots are thrown in). This is a major change over past years, when Allpar was much more clearly focused on the past; unfortunately, as the news has come into prominence, other parts of the site have lost viewership.
The “All” category includes items like “Everything.” “Community” was mainly references to the Members in Need fund and friendly nature of the forums. “Future” included various rumors and spoilers on upcoming products; technically this could be added to news, along with spy shots and renderings. “Bob Sheaves” refers to the return of a celebrated engineer/personality to the forums after an absence.
If we look at more specifics, we see that news as a catch-all category falls to 40% of answers, and “content-miscellaneous” can be broken down into history, reviews, coverage of specific cars or components, and, well, miscellaneous content. There was also a category of “keeping things up to date or correct.”
Moving on to Chrysler’s best moves for 2013, there was less agreement. Coming out on top, at first glance, was Jeep Cherokee, making our oversight in leaving it out of the survey options for best launch more egregious. 15% of readers wrote in “Cherokee” as the top move for 2013 — not including 3% more who cited delaying the Cherokee until the quality glitches could be addressed.
Cherokee, though, was eclipsed by the combined weight of the diesels. Ram 1500 diesel came out with 11% of votes; diesels in general at 8%; and Grand Cherokee diesel at 1%. Together, that’s one fifth of readers citing diesels... none mentioning the Cummins in particular, but some citing the VM or Fiats. Clearly, diesels for lighter-duty vehicles are an idea with an enthusiastic following.
The eight and nine speed automatics (most often, both were mentioned) came in with 9% of the votes, a high showing. Other top items were Ram pickups (6%), better quality (5%), the Dart 2.4 (4.26%) and Dart in general (3.83%), general improvements to the cars and trucks (4%), staying alive (3%), and marketing (2%). Coming in with fewer votes were HellCat, Viper, Grand Cherokee, paying off loans, hiring, sales, and the new Durango.
If you took the survey — thank you. If you didn’t — next year is just 12 months away.
All Mopar Car and Truck News