Introducing the highly-anticipated 2014 Jeep Cherokee was a painful process to say the least. Production was pushed back to late June, and further delays prevented the Cherokee from reaching dealerships until just last week. The delays have caused Chrysler to remain without a vehicle in the competitive small crossover segment for over a year, as the Jeep Liberty was discontinued in 2012.
Speaking with Automotive News, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the company made mistakes in the way it handled the Cherokee launch.
“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it,” Marchionne said, adding that the he felt the company was “naked” without a small crossover offering for most of the year. The Liberty was Jeep’s third most- popular model.
Much of Chrysler’s trouble in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee introduction was centered on the car’s all-new technology, including new engines and a new transmission. The Cherokee includes the world’s first nine-speed gearbox, which Chrysler said needed further testing to make sure it worked properly with the disconnecting drivetrain. This decision resulted in Chrysler test-driving every Cherokee that came off the production line. Looking back, Marchionne said that worries regarding the Cherokee’s complexity were “probably exaggerated.”
We recently drove the Cherokee, and although we found it to have plenty of power and off-road prowess to make it deserving of the Jeep name, the transmission is still sluggish, particularly in high gears.
Chrysler also recently announced a third-quarter profit of $464 million. It predicted a strong fourth quarter that will help the automaker reach its yearly performance goals.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)