In the latest hiccup from Chrysler, production of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee has been halted at the Toledo Assembly Complex. Workers have been assigned lengthy test drives or have had their work stopped altogether.
Originally set for dealers a few months ago, the first delay was thanks to fit and finish, and then issues with the nine-speed transmission arose. Currently there is a backlog of over 1,000 vehicles with transmission issues, which has most recently set the launch date back even further, according to factory workers.
“We have been producing vehicles since the end of June and have now built the critical number of vehicles we need to stock dealerships once containment is released. We will temporarily idle the second shift so as not to put an additional strain on our logistics partners to get these vehicles into the hands of customers as quickly and efficiently as possible upon release,” said Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson in a statement earlier this week.
Because of the halt in production, Chrysler is temporarily laying off over 500 workers, completely cutting one shift. These layoffs are only supposed to last two weeks, but it could be longer if these issues are not worked out. Dealers are waiting for delivery to begin, but understand that it is better to wait for a solid vehicle than get something to the market as quickly as possible, knowing it might hinder quality.
When we drove the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, we thought that Jeep had nailed the compact crossover segment, but we did notice that the transmission could use some fine-tuning. This luxurious and capable crossover is one of the most fun-to-drive in its class, and although it may not be the most stylish, it may very well be the best SUVs on sale–if it ever reaches that point.
Chrysler has a lot riding on the new crossover, and the constant delays could mean problems down the line for other launches. With the addition of the all-new nine-speed transmission, it’s important for the company to get it right the first time, as to limit the possibility of a recall right after launch, which may lower the demand for the vehicle down the line.
Today, Chrysler announced that it will reinstate the second shift for the production of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee on Monday, September 30. Repairs to the software controlling the engine, transmission, and drivetrain have been fixed, but a delivery date is still up in the air. Currently, Chrysler is holding around 12,000 assembled Cherokees while the software fixes are made, which translated to more than $300 million in retail.
In a statement released earlier this week, Chrysler said, “This is the world’s first application of a highly technical nine-speed transmission’ on top of that, it is being mated to two new engines and three complex 4X4 systems. As our senior management has stated many times before, we will only introduce a vehicle tho consumers when we are completely satisfied.”
The company has resulted to test driving each new 2014 Jeep Cherokee before it is shipped to ensure that it functions properly and that all issues have been addressed and fixed. Although this step may be helpful, it is hindering the interest of the vehicle. Dealers aren’t getting flooded with customers wanting to buy the vehicle that was originally supposed to land in showrooms in August. Advertising has yet to start for the new Jeep Cherokee, and Chrysler expects that when the advertisements begin to circulate through the different media outlets, dealers will see the customers rolling in.