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Jeep Commander's Last Drive echoes Problems for Chrysler

By Automotive Staff | April 17, 2008
With the passage of another day comes word that another Chrysler/Jeep model is heading for the executioners axe, or possibly, the guillotine. Like the French Revolution before it, the Cerebrus takeover of Chrysler is starting to take on a “bloodlust” mentality when it comes to its executions. Adding to names like Dodge Magnum, Chrysler PT Cruiser and -- oh my gawd, they can't! -- Dodge Viper is the full-sized Jeep Commander, which debuted as a 2005 model. Wow! Most vehicles get more than just a three year model cycle in which to prove themselves. But then Marie Antoinette was just barely into her twenties when her head came off. Life in the auto industry, like history, can be quite harsh. Sales of the Commander peaked at 88,000 units during its first year on the market. Want to know how soft demand is now for full-sized SUVs like the Commander? Bloomberg reports that 2008 sales are looking like they may just barely top 36,000. That is of course an estimate assuming that vehicle sales will continue at their same level and not get any worse. Like the housing crisis before it, we are sure the auto sales slowdown has not yet gotten to its worst point. Not yet, at least. In addition, Chrysler stated that the Commander did not steal as many sales as it hoped from its competitors. So where did the sales come from? Apparently, sales were mostly from Jeep Grand Cherokee owners who wanted a third row of seats. Filling the gap in the Jeep lineup left by the Commander will be an all-new, third row-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee. Debuting next year, one can only hope that this new Jeep Grand Cherokee is a home run like the first one was for the company. With Jeep sales account for 23% of sales and as with any SUV heavy lineup, we are sure the profit margins are thicker than at, say, Dodge. Chrysler is battling more problems than just a softer SUV market. For the last two years, the company posted a nearly $2.2 billion operating loss and laid off over 25,000 employees. And those are the figures before it got really bad: you see, as Cerebrus/Chrysler is now a privately held company, they no longer need to post how much money they have lost each quarter. Rumor has it that the company is effectively bankrupt and surviving on the capital raised during its sale about a year ago. Chrysler will no doubt need even bigger cuts in its workforce, dealerships and models. Hopefully it'll have one final “Hail Mary” glamour model waiting in the wings to save it, like it did before with the minivan, K-car, and the 300. We just have yet to see any easy answers for Chrysler’s complicated and deep seated economic woes.
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3 comments
morty
morty

A major problem with the American auto industry has been trying to appease every possible consumer rather than just building a good solid stable of vehicles with good reliability and function. That is why Jeep has traditionally been successful all these 60+ years...and has a loyal following of people all over the world. Chrysler never needed the Commander or even the Compass when they already had vehicles to fill that market. Find what works and stick with it. It doesn't take an automotive genius to figure out why Jeeps are successful. Create and build on practical tradition...works every time! Larry http://www.4-the-love-of-jeeps.com

janet16
janet16

I hope they can come up with a better fuel efficient jeep. I love mine. Had mine since 98 and the only problem was the ac went out. Everything else has been perfect. By the way just wanted to say thanks to www.acparts.com for getting the girls and I back into a cool jeep.

stevekipper
stevekipper

I really doubt with the high gas prices that the commander will command these prices. They need to come up with something that uses less gas. www.free-jeep-classifieds.com

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