First shown in April at the New York Auto Show, the Jeep Cherokee was set to be in dealers at about this time. It was pushed back at least once, and now it appears that, due to at least two heat dispersion issues, the mid-sized SUV will start production around August. This will at least give Chrysler’s transmission plants time to ramp up nine-speed automatic transmission production, though it will most likely mean that Land Rover will get the world’s first nine-speed automatic in a standard production vehicle. Chrysler remains likely to hold the title for first nine-speed in a minivan.
Karl wrote that Jeep’s web site seems to confirm the change; clicking on the Cherokee photo now brings the title, “Coming Fall 2013.”
In the past, Chrysler has had problems with releasing vehicles that were not quite ready or fully field tested; historians can bring up the disastrous 1957 line, which erased a long-standing, well-earned reputation for solid engineering, while others can choose between the 1976 Volare/Aspen, 1989 UltraDrive, and 1995 Neon for their examples. Since Sergio Marchionne took over, however, the watchword has been “quality first” even if it causes delays or cost; allpar has reported an example in the past, where already-assembled vehicles with unsatisfactory parts were stopped in their tracks for in-house repair, and the number of “pre-complaint” recalls has increased. This most recent delay highlights both the company’s recognition that a late start is better than a botched launch, and the problem of overly aggressive launch schedules.