Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep news from Allpar

New minivans: end of ’14

New minivans, described by Sergio Marchionne as having a completely new suspension architecture, are due for the 2015 model year; statements from the Chrysler CEO indicate that it will appear as either a Chrysler or a Dodge, with the other brand having a crossover based on the van. At this time, it appears that Chrysler will be the sole minivan brand, at least in the United States; in Canada it could be Dodge, since the Caravan has traditionally been a top seller in Canada, but it’s more likely that it will be Chrysler in both nations.

Earlier, we were told that Windsor Assembly would shut down  between the old and new minivans, and we can confirm that it is scheduled to shut for three full months at the end of summer 2014, after which 2015 minivan production will start. The company appears to be planning to run a high volume of minivans through, to keep dealers occupied while they wait for the new models, a strategy that nearly worked with the Liberty (where heavy discounting was used to take excess inventory off the lots, until there was nothing left to sell and the new Cherokee was still unavailable.)  Employees are reportedly being asked to reserve Saturdays for months in advance of the shutdown.

Chrysler’s minivan quandary is that by withdrawing one brand or the other, they risk losing sales; but by keeping both, they neatly divide the sales between brands so that Honda or Toyota will be the top seller.  In June, Honda and Toyota both beat Chrysler and Dodge, though if Chrysler and Dodge are combined, they easily hit the #1 spot. Likewise, if they keep both brands, it diffuses the Dodge brand, which is still aiming for sportiness, and may be focusing on the traditional American target of “muscle equals torque, preferably in the rear wheels.” A minivan-based Dodge Caravan crossover might be seen as more manly; though it wouldn’t fit in perfectly, regardless of styling, it would still be more compatible with what we believe will be Dodge’s future focus.

Years ago, there was talk of a lifestyle pickup based on the minivan platform, but this seems like an increasingly remote possibility, given sales of similar vehicles from other makers and the capacity of the sole remaining minivan plant. It is possible that the pickup was floated as a way to use extra capacity of minivan sales fell more quickly.

Ford’s towing claims: brag or bluff?


In today’s print edition of Automotive News, Larry Vellequette wrote about one more facet of the ongoing battle for bragging rights among pickup manufacturers. This time, Ram is engaged in a tussle with Ford over top towing rights. Ford claims the championship over the Ram 3500, saying its 4X4 crew cab heavy-duty pickup can tow 31,200 pounds, 1,200 more than the Ram 3500 regular cab 4X2, which Chrysler maintains has “best-in-class” towing....

Proxy service advises merger approval


San Francisco-based Glass, Lewis & Co. has recommended that its clients approve the Fiat Chrysler merger this Friday. Glass Lewis is one of the two leading proxy service companies in the world, the other being ISS which last week advised its clients to vote down the merger. According to a Reuters report, the company said the benefits of the merger outweigh concerns about voting rights....

Does Enders-Stevens strategy open the door for Johnson?


NHRA Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens didn’t race at Sonoma and she won’t be competing at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman two-event “holiday” at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver. Despite her very impressive racing resume, Enders-Stevens lacks a real sponsor and it’s likely this was a major consideration, especially since she had built up a 241-point lead over Allen Johnson, who is second in the point standings, at the end of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio....

Coughlin clinches Countdown berth in Sonoma


Jeg Coughlin Jr. became the second Mopar driver to clinch a spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship that will determine the Mello Yello NHRA Pro Stock world championship. Coughlin joined teammate Allen Johnson in the Countdown after making it to the Pro Stock semifinals in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals that ran this weekend at Sonoma Raceway....

Categories: Chrysler, Minivans.

Italian action could help Fiat-Chrysler
Charger squads: still 5-speeds?
Ford’s towing claims: brag or bluff?
Proxy service advises merger approval

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