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Behind the Chrysler Launch Delays

by David Zatz on

Today, Reuters wrote that Chrysler will delay the release of numerous new or updated vehicles, based on supplier leaks.

The Jeep Wrangler is to be pushed back a year, though the reason may have nothing to do with finances, as Reuters implies. The Wrangler was reportedly to have an aluminum body or independent suspension, but neither made it past testing, setting the program back.

The Ram 1500 may be awaiting updated V6 and V8 engines for its upgrade, so it can better meet or beat an expected ten-speed, diesel-powered Ford F-150. This fits its five-month delay.

Other cars and SUVs may be delayed to use the new platform shared with Alfa Romeo. Mr. Marchionne said that the Grand Cherokee redesign and Wagoneer launch had been postponed for possible architecture changes. The current setup was designed with Daimler, and they may be swapping to base it on the new  Alfa Romeo design, which was also jointly designed, under Ferrari leadership.

Reuters wrote that the Grand Cherokee will be launched around fall 2018 and the Wagoneer in fall 2019 or later.

The Compass replacement has also been pushed back to early 2017 or so, possibly for the same reason the Renegade was pushed back: insufficient off-road capabilities. While all rumors point to it being SUSW, it could be interesting to see it move to a rear wheel drive setup to differentiate Compass from Renegade and Cherokee.

Reuters pointed out that FCA’s debt has been rising, though it did not mention its investment aside from Alfa Romeo: since Sergio Marchionne took over Chrysler, the company has hired thousands of new engineers and thousands of new plant workers, while bringing back internal production of parts that had been outsourced. The company has also put (according to various sources) around $300 more into the interiors of cars and trucks coming out of Auburn Hills.

AllparNews speculations confirmed?

Allpar News / allpar.com wrote some time ago that the Dodge Journey and Dodge Dart would get refreshes, and then be re-launched with rear wheel drive, using underpinnings shared with Alfa Romeo. Sergio Marchionne, when discussing the relaunch of Alfa Romeo, had repeatedly said that it could only be done if shared with Dodge, though he has been quiet on the subject since discovering that the automotive press is not fond of high-priced Italian brands sharing with Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep.

Reuters wrote that the Journey and Dart would get a “mild makeover” for calendar-year 2016, but would not be replaced until three or four years after that time.  The midsize crossover for Chrysler has been postponed, possibly because it would be too close to the Journey; Allpar had suggested that the front wheel drive Journey would move to Chrysler, with Dodge getting a rear drive crossover co-developed with Alfa Romeo. This plan would take place after the 2018 limit of the currently published investors’ plan.

A large crossover, probably based on the minivan, has been pushed back, though this may be due to lack of factory production capacity in the face of expected increases in minivan sales.

2016 Chrysler Voyager minivan?

The large-car platform is also being delayed by about a year, re Reuters’ suppliers. Allpar’s sources believe that while the large cars were originally to adopt Maserati’s upgrades, they will instead move over to the new shared platform. This also helps to support a full Alfa Romeo line, which will likely substitute for Dodge in many markets.

Delays are nothing new for the former Chrysler/Chrysler Group under Fiat; numerous cars have been pushed back, with Renegade taking years longer than anticipated to appear and vans rumored to show up long before they did. The large cars were originally to be completely redesigned by now, as well. In each case, there were good reasons for the delays, and in one case, the KL Cherokee, a longer delay would have been more favorable for the company.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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