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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 04-23-2008, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Chrysler won't produce more twins, exec says

From the Detroit Free Press:

Chrysler won't produce more twins, exec says
Having similar vehicles for different brands will be a thing of the past for automaker
BY TIM HIGGINS FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER April 19, 2008


Fresh comments by a top Chrysler LLC executive seem to shed new light on which models the Auburn Hills automaker is considering for elimination or change.

In February, Chrysler announced plans to cut dramatically its vehicle lineup and warned dealers that if they do not consolidate all three of its brands -- Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep -- under one roof that they likely will lack enough future product within the next five years to be profitable.

But no new model cuts were announced then. Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales, gave a group of students and alumni at a Northwood University event some hints late Thursday, though he said no final decisions had been made.

"What we'll do in our business model is not build similar vehicles on the same platform that kind of look and act like they have the same DNA," Landry said. "To give you an example: Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, basically a similar vehicle with different skin and a little bit of different interior; Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, same platform; Sebring, Avenger, same platform. We're not going to have vehicles like that. We're not going to have twin vehicles, one for one brand and one for another."

In a separate interview this week, Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president for product development, seemed to indicate that the Dodge Durango was safe -- a possible indication that the Chrysler Aspen's days are limited. "The Durango is a great name," Klegon said.

After Landry's talk, a Chrysler spokesman said the executive was not saying those specific vehicles are being eliminated. Rather, Landry was merely providing examples to students about the kind of thinking the company has toward the issue.

"I would say the entire product lineup for the future is being reviewed to ensure we have a lineup that meets distinct customer needs and fits under one tri-branded roof," spokesman Stuart Schorr said in an e-mail.

This is not the first time Landry has shared internal company business with college students. In late November, he told a group of Halifax, Nova Scotia, students that the automaker was on track to lose $1 billion in 2007 and that the automaker's lineup needed to be cut by about a third.

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli would later say the company lost $1.6 billion -- internal numbers would suggest the company also lost $1.3 billion in restructuring costs.

In early November, Chrysler announced plans to eliminate four products, including the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler Pacifica.

Dealers have said they have the understanding that the automaker will cut its lineup of 30 vehicles by one-third to one-half.

Jim Press, a Chrysler president and vice chairman, has said the automaker needs to reduce its lineup of 11 SUVs, potentially by half. He also has questioned the need for two minivans, though he also suggested the company might have a van that appeals to the traditional consumers and yet another to go after a younger crowd.

More than just cutting vehicle models, Chrysler executives are working to ensure that each of the automaker's vehicles goes after a distinct customer.
"You don't duplicate if you're going after the same customer, which is the problem with the Nitro and Liberty. They are really going after the same buyer with those products," said Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics, a Birmingham forecasting and consulting company. "But if you can do a vehicle with limited differentiation and hit two parts of the market, you're a fool not to do it."

The automaker is also looking to add vehicles in areas where it doesn't compete. A deal announced this week with Nissan Motor Co. allows Chrysler to get a small car of its design built by Nissan for sale in North America and elsewhere.
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