Dodge Grand Caravan construction at the Windsor plantEnlarge Photo
There's no denying that even with Fiat at the helm of the new Chrysler, there's still a marked lack of enthusiasm for the brand. Even the new Ram brand, which split Dodge's pickups into their own marque, is struggling to do much more than creep us out with their "My Tank Is Full" commercials.
So it makes sense that Chrysler has decided to extend its holiday shutdown at five plants to at least three weeks, more than doubling the previously planned 10-day hiatus. The move is being done explicitly to realign output with dealer inventory.
With no new products out lately to drive demand, unlike Ford and GM, Chrysler is understandably continuing to not just stagnate, but plummet--down a full 25% against November 2008. So what's the plan to turn sales around? It's not clear that there is one, short of replacing most of Chrysler's lineup with Fiat-sourced vehicles over the next several years.
Of course, to make it through the next several years, Chrysler will need to find a way to sell cars and become profitable. Sound like a Catch-22? It is.
Assuming Chrysler does manage to weather the next few months, however, there are some potentially interesting things in the pipeline, including the Fiat 500 and vehicles based on the Grande Punto and Panda, plus Alfa Romeo's MiTo, Milano and Evo sedan. Those vehicles will presumably help Chrysler meet its goal of rising "a notch above Cadillac."
But as racing drivers are fond of saying, "to finish first, one must first finish." What do you think Chrysler should do to turn sales around? Let us know in the comments below.