Chrysler has gotten its inventories under control again, after a lapse during which stocks of some vehicles became excessive.  Across the company, according to Automotive News, inventory was at 64 days on September 1, down from 78 days on August 1. By comparison, Ford went from 75 to 61 days, and GM from 75 to 72 days.

dealership.jpgThe change in inventory is largely due to high sales, which both reduced dealers’ supplies and increased the average sales per month (days’ inventory is measured by dividing stock by sales per day).

200s seem to be piling up, with 40,600 unsold models across the country — 101 days’ supply — though that may be partly due to reduced desire for older models or stockpiles of newer 200s in transit.  Stocks of 300s have fallen from 88 days to 70 days, with under 13,000 around.

The Town & Country minivan is in Japanese-style short supply, with just 41 days’ worth of the minivan — and 38 days’ worth of Caravans. That’s down from 62 and 54 days, respectively. Rumor has the Windsor plant slowing down for the moment, to boost production closer to a two-month changeover period, after which — in early 2015 — we will start seeing production of brand new Town & Country vans, possibly accompanied by continued production of current-generation Caravans.

Just 5,200 Avengers are sitting on lots, a 49-day supply at current rates. Dart supplies are down to 48 days, possibly due to the declining supply of Avengers. There are 71 days of Challengers, 65 days of Chargers on lots. The 600 Vipers should be cleared off by a recent $15,000 price cut.  As for SUVs, there are 63 days worth of Durangos and 59 days of Journeys.

The news at Ram is also good, with slow-selling cargo vans dropped from 71 days’ supply to just 42, ProMasters from an absurd 187 days’ supply to 128 (that’s under 8,000 vans), and pickups/chassis cabs dropping from 105 days’ supply to just 75. Normally, more pickups are kept in inventory due to the vast variation in powertrains, beds, bodies, and trims.

Jeep is fairly healthy, with all models running under 70 days except Compass at 74 (up from 56).  The Wrangler has dropped from a 48-day supply to 43 days.

Chrysler is still carrying more cars than most imports, even if it’s beating the other domestics.  The industry average is 56 days’ supply, with Japanese companies matching the average, Europeans at 40 days, and Korean companies at 45.  The largest stocks, ironically, are held by Fiat (136 days) and Volkswagen (107 days).

The stop-start system of the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, which helped boost combined mileage ratings of some models by 2 mpg, was developed by Chrysler itself, according to a company spokesman. “Chrysler Group powertrain engineering did all the integration and controls for this system.” The components are, since Chrysler has not made starters for some years, purchased from multiple suppliers.

While a belt starter-generator (BSG) stop-start setup is reportedly still being developed, since it is seen as the most efficient system, it remains in the future. The BSG setup was referenced in both public and private Chrysler materials.

The Jeep Cherokee uses an enhanced-starter system, whose main components are:

  • A stronger, 220-amp alternator
  • An absorbent glass mat (AGM) high-durability battery
  • A modified starter with hardened gears, reinforced castings,  higher-power motor, longer life brushes, and higher-precision bearings and shaft
  • An oversized Denso starter solenoid
  • An special relay and voltage stabilizing module that prevent voltage dips during cranking
  • A Bosch battery sensor which predicts voltage and capacity, also measuring alternator output and battery temperature
  • Special programming in the car computer

The future likely holds the belt-driven starter-generator (BSG) system, which apparently is still under development, being implemented on different cars or replacing the current setup.

Fuel mileage is a key concern for auto manufacturers partly because some customers consider it to be a key decision factor, partly because they do not want to be disregarded during the next fuel-price runup, and largely because of increasing corporate average fuel economy standards coupled with an increase in sales of larger crossovers and trucks.

A photo of the Fiat version of the Jeep Renegade has been posted by a forum member of an Italian newspaper, Quattroruote.  It appears to be a press photo rather than a spy shot.

The Fiat 500X is “more different” from the Renegade than originally planned, according to Allpar sources, with the Jeep version given a thorough going-over to make it more off-road friendly (though still apparently not capable of traversing the Rubicon Trail, which used to be a key test of whether a vehicle was worthy of the Jeep name.)

The two vehicles are both on the same basic Fiat platform, with different suspensions and other changes.

IndianAutosBlog wrote that the 500x has “roof rails, subtle body cladding, skid guards and a slightly increased ground clearance compared other members in the 500 clan.” That publication believes the 500X will be powered by MultiJet diesels and the TwinAir two-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine. FWD and AWD setups will be available. Thanks, Mike LaLouette, Jean Dominic, and Mario Vezzani.

AutoEdizione wrote that the engines would be a 105 hp 1.4, 140 hp 1.4, and 170 hp 1.4 for gasoline, and the 105 or 120 hp 1.6 diesel or 140 or 170 hp 2.0 diesel. The car has been spotted in the United States, where it is likely to supplement or replace the 500L.

The International Institute for Education (IIE) has presented its Opening Minds Corporate Leadership Award to Chrysler Group.

CEO Sergio Marchionne accepted the award last night during the group’s annual gala held this year at the Cipriani Wall Street restaurant in New York City.

According to the IIE, The award was made “in recognition of the company’s philanthropic leadership and commitment to empowering people and communities, as well as talent sustainability and job readiness. This includes focusing on IIE and Chrysler Group LLC’s shared commitments to supporting STEM education, as well as broader support for post-secondary level professional development scholarships, including business, design, engineering, finance, manufacturing and supply chain management programs.”

Founded in 1919, the IIE is a private non-profit organization that works with governments, foundations and other groups to develop programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals. IIE programs include the Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships.

The Opening Minds Award honors corporations that “promote international understanding and improve the lives of people in the communities in which they work.” Past honorees include top executives of companies like  ExxonMobil, Alcoa, Microsoft and General Electric.

On the sidelines of the event, Marchionne discussed the upcoming visit of Italian premier Matteo Renzi, who will tour Chrysler plants in Detroit next week.

Marchionne said he isn’t optimistic about the Italian economy and hopes to show Renzi how the experience of forming or reviving a company in America can provide insight into reviving an economy. Renzi will also visit Silicon Valley during his U.S. stay and Marchionne will urge the Italian leader to absorb what can be learned from the high technology industry, “…because, despite our rigidity in Italy, these lessons can be implemented.”

“He (Renzi) offered to come to Detroit when I saw him at the Festival of Trento,” said Marchionne. “You can see the reality of the American Fiat Chrysler, because traveling here in this country and seeing what we could do in five years is impressive.”

When Chrysler released its August sales numbers, Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales, said that last month’s results were “…our strongest August sales in 12 years.”

By 2003, in the DaimlerChrysler era, U.S. light vehicle sales had retreated from the record years of 2000-2001.  Chrysler’s August 2003 sales had fallen 12.2% from 2000, and January-August sales had dropped 16.2%. Compared to 2002, August 2003 sales were down 9.7%.

The 12 years from 2003 to 2014 saw decline, serial ownership, bankruptcy, and recovery, culminating in 53 months of continuous sales growth.

Jeeps, Chrysler cars and Dodge cars were key to achieving the milestone. In particular, the Wrangler, and the Chrysler 200 stand out, along with the Jeep Cherokee (which easily outsold the Liberty).

Jim Morrison with Grand Cherokee

What is especially gratifying is the fact Chrysler’s August 2014 numbers beat those 2003 figures with or without Fiat.

The comparison of the models offered in 2003 to those on sale now show just how much Chrysler has changed in the past dozen years.

One thing that hasn’t changed: Chrysler is still a truck company. In fact, Chrysler sold a higher percentage of cars last month than it did in 2003.

Brand & Model Aug ’03 Aug ’14 Change YTD 2003 YTD 2014 Change
Chrysler 200 0 10,810 0 64,147
Chrysler Sebring 7,107 0 69,762 0
Chrysler 300/300C 0 4,887 0 34,827
Chrysler 300M 1,716 0 19,007 0
Chrysler Concorde 1,311 0 23,229 0
Chrysler Crossfire 706 0 1,593 0
“Chrysler” Prowler 0 0 511 0
Total Chrysler Car 10,840 15,697 44.8% 114,102 98,974 -13.3%
Chrysler Pacifica 7,436 0 25,763 0
Chrysler PT Cruiser 6,745 0 77,629 0
Chrysler Town & Country 9,967 14,065 41.1% 90,311 95,311 5.5%
Chrysler Voyager 1,179 0 12,689 0
Total Chrysler Truck 25,327 14,065 -44.5% 206,392 95,311 -53.8%
Dodge Avenger 0 2,905 0 47,686
Dodge Stratus 5,578 0 71,662 0
Dodge Dart 0 8,390 0 53,840
Dodge Neon 9,681 0 83,637 0
Dodge Challenger 0 4,182 0 34,757
Dodge Charger 0 8,211 0 63,517
Dodge Intrepid 5,671 0 63,430 0
Dodge Viper 222 38 -82.9% 1,631 438 -73.1%
Total Dodge Car 21,152 23,726 12.2% 220,360 200,238 -9.1%
Caravan/Grand Caravan 21,194 11,257 -46.9% 172,525 92,796 -46.2%
Dodge Journey 0 9,147 0 63,456
Dodge/Ram Dakota 9,382 0 78,446 0
Dodge Durango 12,647 5,765 -54.4% 78,083 43,447 -44.4%
Dodge/Ram Pickup 43,824 43,775 -0.1% 302,480 283,256 -6.4%
Ram Cargo Van 0 1,161 0 6,812
Dodge Ram Van (B-series) 2,612 0 17,369 0
Dodge Sprinter 211 0 731 0
Ram ProMaster 0 1,658 0 8,582
Total Dodge/Ram Truck 89,870 72,763 -19.0% 649,634 498,349 -23.3%
Jeep Cherokee 0 18,674 0 113,933
Jeep Liberty 16,352 0 108,296 0
Jeep Compass 0 4,749 0 43,252
Jeep Grand Cherokee 20,050 18,235 -9.1% 128,340 123,017 -4.1%
Jeep Patriot 0 9,120 0 60,841
Jeep Wrangler 6,797 17,988 164.6% 46,908 120,113 156.1%
Total Jeep Truck 43,199 68,766 59.2% 283,544 461,156 62.6%
Total Chrysler Brand 36,167 29,762 -17.7% 320,494 194,285 -39.4%
Total Dodge/Ram 111,022 96,489 -13.1% 869,994 698,587 -19.7%
Total Jeep 43,199 68,766 59.2% 283,544 461,156 62.6%
Total Chrysler Domestic 190,388 195,017 2.4% 1,474,032 1,354,028 -8.1%
Fiat 500 / Total Fiat Cars 0 3,329 0 23,879
Fiat 500L / Total Fiat Truck 0 33 0 8,262
Total Fiat Brand 0 3,362 0 32,141
Total Chrysler Group
190,388 198,379 4.2% 1,474,032 1,386,169 -6.0%

Editor’s notes:  300/300C is roughly comparable to Concorde+300M. Some vehicles have been reordered to show their predecessors more closely, e.g. 200 is above Sebring, Avenger is above Stratus, Charger is above Intrepid.  Journey is comparable to Dodge Caravan.  Ram Van ceased production in 2003 but was roughly comparable in class to Sprinter and Promaster. Wrangler sales now include the four-door Unlimited which was not available in 2003.

Jeep Scrambler?

Allpar renderer JackRatchett took the liberty of experimenting with the Renegade style to create this new Jeep Scrambler, which could help use capacity and Fiat’s Italian factory while providing a moderately off-road-capable small pickup for worldwide sale.

The small pickup retains the Renegade styling, while adding the new Chrysler-patented dual tailgate; it would provide an alternative to the Fiat Strada pickup, a version of which is due to arrive in Mexico soon as a Ram 750.

There have been no rumors or insider information indicating that such a vehicle was under consideration, much less under active development, but it could be a handy addition to the product line in Brazil, India, Mexico, and other regions where small pickups are relatively popular.

While a Jeep Wrangler-based Scrambler is rumored to be coming around 2019, that is a long time for some buyers to wait. The original Scrambler was not a big seller, but in those days, no Jeep was.

The future Durango and Caravan

It has been years since Allpar first reported on the future launch of a new Jeep Wagoneer, and the dropping of the Dodge Caravan. With Wagoneer on the books, Chrysler planners may have had mixed feelings about the sudden success of the Dodge Durango. They wanted to drop the Durango for a more-profitable Wagoneer (essentially a Durango with the Grand Cherokee suspension design [...]

Ferrari engines: “Imported from Detroit”

Months after unconfirmed reports made it to Allpar’s pages, the power of Automotive News, in the person of reporter Larry Vellequette, pried a key fact from Chrysler executives — that they cast and build “Ferrari” engines for Maserati. As our sister site reported, the engines are actually cast in Kokomo, and machined in the Trenton Engine plant, using a mixture of [...]

New Alfa in ’15

Alfa Romeo will launch the second new car in its attempted comeback next year, on the brand’s 105th anniversary. Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (roughly, Lombarda car making company) — or ALFA — was born on June 24, 1910. Their next car will be unveiled on June 24, 2015. While Alfa Romeo’s leader, Harald Wester, has said that the company is creating all [...]

Hellcat: invoice and markup

The Challenger Hellcat is a hot image car for Dodge, and the brand’s leader has already said he wants to get as many out to the public as possible, suggesting to dealers that they not tack on $10,000 (or higher) surcharges as they did to hot cars in the past — from Vipers to PT Cruisers. While his calls may [...]

2015 Chrysler 300C revealed

The 2015 Chrysler 300C has been inadvertently revealed by Chrysler itself, in an optional image for its navigation systems. As Allpar sources predicted, the car has dropped the chrome underneath the headlamps and moved the Chrysler wings to the top of the grille, but otherwise is rather similar to the current model. The grille has grown to be Audi-oversized in this [...]

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