We Need New Models ASAP'

Chrysler Group LLC dealers are looking for resurgence in '10-model production from an auto maker grappling with a reorganization plan ordered by its new CEO, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne. We need new models ASAP, says Chrysler-Dodge dealer Bob Feeny, who has stores in Midland and Gaylord, MI. The well almost ran dry during the Cash for Clunkers program because of a raft of plant shutdowns, he says,

Chrysler Group LLC dealers are looking for resurgence in '10-model production from an auto maker grappling with a reorganization plan ordered by its new CEO, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne.

“We need new models ASAP,” says Chrysler-Dodge dealer Bob Feeny, who has stores in Midland and Gaylord, MI.

“The well almost ran dry during the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program because of a raft of plant shutdowns,” he says, referring to the auto maker closing factories because of its bankruptcy filing.

He adds: “Sales involving Clunkers picked up when the government agreed in the last 10 days of the program to allow delayed new-car deliveries, but we were short of inventory on the lot when only units in stock could be sold.”

Alan Helfman, vice-president of a Houston Chrysler-Jeep dealership, says his total new-vehicle inventory shrank to 40-50 units after the outset of the Clunkers program, well below his average stock in the 300 range.

“舖We haven't been this low in 40 years,” he says. “And the same can be said for nearly every Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge dealer.”

In late August, Chrysler managed to secure enough parts to ramp up production with third shifts at three key plants that make Dodge Rams in Warren, MI; minivans in Windsor, Ont., and Jeeps in Toledo, OH.

The Belvidere, IL, car plant responded to the shortfall by working two Saturdays and five 9-hour days in late August.

Under orders from Marchionne, however, Chrysler manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn advised dealers that 100-day supplies are a thing of the past.

The bankruptcy-induced plant closings slashed Chrysler's overall stockpile to 40 days as of Aug. 1 from 71 days on July 1.

Chrysler dealers are awaiting the effects of a 5-year product plan that Marchionne plans to unveil this fall.

He already has turned each of the three Chrysler brands into separate companies and has asked middle-managers to rate their bosses in the process of reorganizing the management team.

What dealers particularly are awaiting from the new product roster is deployment of Fiat and Alfa Romeo products. Marchionne has flatly ruled out “mediocre” vehicles, powertrains and marketing.

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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