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Chrysler's Crisis Du Jour

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Old 14 Jun 2003, 11:00 pm
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Default Chrysler's Crisis Du Jour

Cross posted from

Backseat Driver
Chrysler's Crisis Du Jour
Jerry Flint, 06.13.03, 8:00 AM ET

NEW YORK - Chrysler is either soaring or floundering. Now it's
floundering. I can't remember a decade in the last half-century when
Chrysler wasn't in a crisis.

The problems this time are so serious that they could change the face
of Chrysler, the American arm of DaimlerChrysler. Let's look at the
negatives first.

Management predicts a $1.2 billion loss for the second quarter. Who
knows what will happen in the remainder of the year? The Germans
weren't prepared for the type of competition in the U.S. today, the
amounts of money they could lose or the enormous success of the
Japanese in this market. They don't see that in Europe.

The new Chrysler Pacifica, a crossover and the first product of the
new German management, is off to a slow start. The sales goal is
100,000 a year, or 8,400 a month. Last month sales were 2,471. What's
wrong? The price is high--$35,000 to $40,000--for a Chrysler, and
breaking into this competitive market is rough. And maybe the engine
needs more punch.

The Pacifica

Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicle sales are down 6% so far this year.
The sales manager, an American, has just been replaced with another
Daimler man.

The coming LX Chrysler sedans and "tourer" wagon look high priced,
especially when equipped with the well-publicized "hemi" V-8 engine.
They smell like $35,000-to-$40,000 vehicles to me. Chrysler is trying
to move its big cars upscale, but it risks losing old customers while
hunting for new ones.

Chrysler needs at least 200,000 LX sales a year to keep the plant
running near capacity. (In 2002 it sold 175,000 LH big cars from that
factory.) What if they sell only 120,000 new cars? Jurgen Schrempp,
the DaimlerChrysler chief executive, has a short fuse. I can imagine
him shutting the plant if the cars don't meet their goals.

The next generation of Chrysler's smaller cars is to go on a
Mitsubishi platform. Mitsubishi is not successful here; its U.S. sales
are down 23% so far this year. And this is the foundation upon which
they are going to base upcoming Chrysler cars?

Chrysler's only successful vehicles--the Ram pickup, the Jeep Liberty,
the PT Cruiser--are the products of the old American management, not
the Germans. If the coming LX cars and the coming Mitsubishi-based
small cars fail, Chrysler could well abandon cars and attempt to exist
with trucks, Jeeps and minivans. I don't think it would work because
dealers need the cars.

The Germans are slow in understanding the U.S. mass market and
releasing new products. Chrysler's minivan, its most successful
vehicle, is facing new competition from Toyota and Nissan. And the
Jeep Grand Cherokee, another key product, is slipping as more sport
utilities enter the market.

One other problem: that lawsuit by Kirk Kerkorian, who charges Daimler
won Chrysler in 1998 with lies and deception to Chrysler's directors,
stockholders and the public about a "merger of equals." Kerkorian
could win or settle out of court for a bundle. I'm not saying he will
win, but he's got a case.

The positives:

That Pacifica is too new to judge. It could catch on and sell 100,000
a year. Chrysler plans to rebalance its production plans and build
more models with less-expensive option packages.

Those LX vehicles are big bruisers and come with rear wheel drive--not
the more common front-wheel drive. And the other new and coming stuff
from Chrysler--the Crossfire, a $35,000 two-seat sports coupe and the
Pacifica--are all standouts. Chrysler often does well when it's
daring. Love them or hate them, Chrysler's new entries don't look like
everything else on the road. That counts with car buyers.

The Crossfire

It is the trucks that are crucial to Chrysler; cars account for only
30% of total sales. A new Dodge Durango sport utility is coming this
fall, which could revitalize its sales. The PT Cruiser line will be
expanded with a conve
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 17 Jun 2003, 12:20 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: NH.
Posts: 33

Crisis? Well, maybe. Sounds like one way or the other, however, Chrysler will come up big. Either the Pacifica and other new cars succeed (a good thing), or they sell back to Americans (an even better thing).

I'd personally be interested in seeing a new Jeep Wagoneer. Why they abandoned that model is beyond me, given that it left them without a three row SUV to market. If they're smart, they'll retro design it to look like the old Wagoneers, since retro sells. Look at the reaction Toyota got to the retro (60's look) Toyota Land Cruiser experiment (a 60's Land Cruiser body on a current Land Cruiser frame).

Gotta say Dalite that I'm glad I didn't look at this site with all of your negative posts up at once when I was shopping, or I wouldn't have bought my PTGT - I would have been scared off unnecessarily. FYI, I took my PTGT, loaded weight wise, around some twisties at speed and didn't have a problem.
Give me the blues anytime! Proud owner of a 2003 Patriot Blue PT GT.
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Old 17 Jun 2003, 12:46 pm
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Location: Brunswick, Georgia, USA.
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That is the wonderful thing about living in a free nation; everyone has a right to their opinion as well as their own decisions.

First time buyers of PT Cruisers still have the wonderful experience of owning and driving the most unique vehicle on the streets. However, haveing said that, it doesn't offset the void that previous owners feel for the items that were deleted from previous year's buid level that were taken for granted to be there on the new model.

Another aspect of my "negative posts" is the attention I try to give to detail in trying to help other forum members with questions that I feel I can make a beneficial contribution with my response.

Hopefully, another advantage of my negative posts gives the potential buyer a little edge when negotiating for purchase and bringing up topics like front license plate, rear stabilizer bar, warranty issues over add-on parts, chrome peeling, mismatched A/C vent knobs etc....

If I had done a little more homework, I feel like I would have been in a better position to take a more pro-active stance at the negotiatin table. As it is, I first went to place an order in June of 2002 for a GT, and went in 2 times to purchase after that at my local dealership, then drove 50 miles down the road to purchase the 5 speed that the locals said wasn't being made yet.

In spite of that, I still visit my local dealership and provide info to the sales and service managers, discuss potential trouble spots or hard to diagnose problems and my number is on file for all new customers interested in becoming involved in national or regional PT Cruiser Groups.

It is no-one's fault but mine that I let my desire for more power overcome my first response not to support Chrysler's deletions with my purchase money. It was a sacrifice in beliefs, and they made the calculated guess that many previous owners would likewise sacrifice their beliefs for the added performance of the turbo.
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Old 17 Jun 2003, 01:15 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: NH.
Posts: 33

Fair enough. I'm wondering, though, if there were early production issues of the GT that got worked out later, and that's why my car has been so trouble free (so far, knock on wood). My front plate fits fine; I'm up to 23mpg on the last tank of gas (which makes sense since I do a fair mix of local and highway driving); my car seems to handle loaded conditions just fine; no fit and finish issues. I don't TRUST Chrysler yet, enough to throw them - too many bad experiences with my last Chrysler product, see my post under the "historically Chrysler owners" thread - but so far, the car works as advertised.

But I agree, deleting items to save money sucks. I don't think they realized there'd be owners getting new PT's so soon after the originals went on sale, so they didn't think folks would notice. Add to this the stigma that American cars are known to have fewer standard features than foriegn makes (I had to buy the molded cargo floor cover; my Suby came with it standard, for example) and that can swing folks to other makes.

Ultimately the point I was trying to make is that I believe it could be made clearer that not everyone has had bad experiences with the car, so I'm making that point now.

I just greeted someone else in my condo this weekend who was driving their brand new PT GT in (so now mine isn't the new kid on the block). She seemed satisfied too. Funny thing about PT owners: for a lot of other cars, it's like a "keeping up with the Jones" competition, and when someone else gets the same car (or better), you're disappointed. But with PT owners, we're always happy to see a new member of the "club", and there was no exception here (she got the black one with a bunch of options on it, pretty cool, though I still love my Patriot Blue more). Hope she gets to the cruise nights we have here on Fridays!
Give me the blues anytime! Proud owner of a 2003 Patriot Blue PT GT.
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 17 Jun 2003, 10:19 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Brunswick, Georgia, USA.
Posts: 518

I can tell you honestly that I haven't had any real problems with my 2002 PT Touring edition (befor trading it in) or my 2003 PT GT. The 2002 depreciated more than I would have liked it to; in 15 months, it lost 13,000.00 in value. I gues that was market driven depreciation with the flood of used cars available due to low finance rates.

I like driving the GT, performance is satisfactory, paint has never been a problem other than being a little "soft" when it is new. The paint, fuel pump, clockspring issues are historical issues that Chrysler has had with past production (Most before the first PT was released) and were eventually addressed.

I had a new clutch put in at 1000 miles. It was a recall. It took a little time for me to get the info to the dealer so they could get the parts; I ended up getting the recall number from DCX Customer Service, and the part numbers from another dealer before my dealer could order the parts. That took a little time, but the car still drove fine (except 1 episode of clutch noise and car creeping when clutch was pushed in).

The 2002 had a recall for seal on the fuel tank/fuel pump, and it was taken care of promptly. No problem with either of these, and I don't consider them to be points of contention.

The only concern that I have about the front tag frame is that it blocks air from allowing the intercooler to do it's job as effectively as possible. Since my state doesn't require front license plates, I wasn't happy that the dealer torqued the plate holder on before delivery so they could get some free advertising. But, I accepted delivery, and that was my decision.

I still attend as many PT gatherings as I am able to, and I let the local dealer give out my name and number to contact for information about the various PT organizations.

Like you, I also have a Subaru. It is a Forrester, the wife's ride. It is her second Forrester, and the GT is my second PT. The Forrester and Subaru in general offer more "standard" items, but they are generally a higher priced car.

I guess what I am saying is that we aren't very far apart on the issue of liking our cars and enjoying the fellowship of other PT Owners. My only difference would be that I experienced the PT when the build level was apparently at it's apex, and I hate to see the PT killed off so early due to cutbacks. If I had never experienced the usefulness and comfort level of the items that were deleted, I would never miss them.
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 19 Jun 2003, 10:45 am
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: NH.
Posts: 33

I don't think we're far apart at all. I find that sometimes it's harder to get a point across clearly online versus face to face. I'll keep an eye on the place issue on my car, when my wife gives it back to me ... guess I never noticed it hanging low, my memory swears it's centered vertically on the bumper. Guess I'd better look again. Today my Mrs goes to DMV to apply for our vanity plates, I'll let ya know what we wind up with .. NH Vanity plates are only $25 a year, which explains why we see so many in our little state!

They'd be foolish to kill off the PT Cruiser, considering it's one of their top selling models. Daimler can't promote their way out of a paper bag, though, they have no conception of how the American market works; if they advertised the car more it'd sell more, they can't depend on buzz anymore. I read one reviewer who stated that the PT needed to compete among "regular" cars now, not just as a retro craze car. I think it competes very well against "regular" cars - that's why I bought it. But DC doesn't seem to realize that.

How can you go from a company that sells what's essentially a niche car for high income individuals to an entire line that sells at least 10 times what MB does and have a clue how to market to that market? They sometimes don't even seem to realize (or have forgotten) that the Japanese luxury marques have already eaten up a lot of their MB market share. Or if they did, did they think it would be different in lower priced markets where the margin is thinner per vehicle? Duh. This ain't Europe, folks.
Give me the blues anytime! Proud owner of a 2003 Patriot Blue PT GT.
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 19 Jun 2003, 12:59 pm
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Posts: 999

Interestingly enough, the PT is the best selling "car" (highest # of vehicles sold)that Chrysler makes, The PT - GT model is the fastest(top end), quickest (0-60), and best handling (until the "Misfire" is released).
Why not test the market to see how far they can go to piss off the new owners by nickle and diming them to the point of NOT recommending a great automobile value to their friends and family.

I can see it now!

"If they can just get them into the showroom, they can close them"

(dumkoff!! you vill sign zee peppers - smack - smack - sign zee peppers or vee kill zee hostage(Chrysler).
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 20 Jun 2003, 10:52 am
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: NH.
Posts: 33

Checked last night, my front plate is indeed centered vertically on the bumper, it hangs about an inch below and above the bumper line, not enough to affect airflow into the lower grill IMO. Did it used to be different?
Give me the blues anytime! Proud owner of a 2003 Patriot Blue PT GT.
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