AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The Chrysler Sebring is one of America’s least liked cars, and the convertible has the ignominious honor of being lampooned on The Office as the official car of Michael Scott, the incompetent, ostentatious company boss.
Chrysler is hoping that the Sebring droptop will get a fresh start when it adopts the new nameplate and look of the Chrysler 200 sedan. We’re fairly confident that the 200 convertible will still drive like a wet towel stretched stretched over a pipe-cleaner, but the Sebring-err-200 will have a built-in audience among rental car companies looking for a low-cost convertible for their fleets. That alone is reason enough to keep the car in production.
The Chrysler Sebring convertible is possibly one of the most maligned cars on sale today. Known for its less than stellar driving dynamics, build quality, styling and, well, just about everything else, the Sebring convertible really only has price going for it – and that’s exactly what its place in Chrysler’s lineup is guaranteed for the foreseeable future, at least in fleet sales.
Apparently, rental fleets made up a big portion of Sebring droptop customers (hardly a surprise) and the low transaction price makes them a favorite of rental fleets across the Sun Belt states. Fortunately, the Sebring will see improvements like refreshed styling, chassis tweaks, an all-new V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic gearbox, though we have to say, the current car has left an indelible impression on us to the point where we’re skeptical of anything called “Sebring”, even the race track.
Chrysler‘s Sebring is the butt of jokes in the automotive world, but its nameplate, (ironically derived from the historic Sebring race track) will apparently live on even after the current car is euthanized re-designed in the coming years. The cost of launching a new nameplate is apparently $100 million dollars, a princely sum for the financially fragile automaker, and money that could be put towards the all important task of making a good car.
Having a “damaged” nameplate isn’t necessarily the kiss of death. Just ask Hyundai.
UPDATE: Since posting this article Chrysler has announced that the three vehicles slated for elimination are the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango – all three of which the company had already announced were doomed. Feel free to read our exercise in creative writing/wishful thinking anyway.
When Chrysler announced yesterday in its Viability Plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury that it would reduce its workforce by 3,000 jobs and eliminate three vehicles from its lineup they didn’t mention which models would get the axe.
Not prepared to wait and find out, we’ve gone over the sales numbers and the recent reports from Chrysler to come up with a short list of models that have the best chance of being canned. And then we’ll choose our top three dead-pool picks.
For starters, Chrysler currently sells a total of 27 vehicles: 7 Chrysler models, 13 Dodge models (if you list all the Rams as one), and 7 Jeep models.
From the list we can already eliminate the PT Cruiser, Aspen, Aspen Hybrid, Durango and Magnum because all of those models have already been slated for the history books. So now we have just 22 models.
The Viper can also be eliminated fro the list because Chrysler has continuously announced that it wants to sell the brand and is currently in talks to do just that.
Based on the fact that both the Chrysler 300C and the Jeep Grand Cherokee appeared in Chrysler’s Viability Plan, we can assume these models are safe. And considering the Charger shares the same platform as the 300C and actually suffered only an 18 percent loss in sales versus the 300C’s 48 percent decline, we can’t see Chrysler eliminating that model either.
Now we’re down to 18.
Other keepers are sure to be the Ram and the Dakota, which despite a 49 percent drop in sales for 2008 is a necessary vehicle in the Dodge lineup. The Sprinter commercial truck is also a necessity. Also safe are both minivans, the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan.
The Jeep lineup continues to be cluttered but on the whole it does very well and with the Wrangler listed as Jeep’s top seller, we can’t see Chrysler cut it or the Wrangler Unlimited from the list.
All of a sudden, we’re down to 11.
Some other simple eliminations from our list would include any brand new platforms and any compact crossover-type vehicles that are most popular right now. That being said the new Challenger and Journey are keepers. The Caliber is also likely to stay as it is essentially the Chrysler brand’s entry level vehicle.
Naturally we’d say the Nitro and Liberty are safe, but rumors have already surfaced that Chrysler plans to axe one of the two vehicles – likely the poorly selling Nitro.
And there you have it.. one of the three in Chrysler’s dead-pool. But we still have six vehicles to go. For the record, they are: the Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Dodge Avenger, Jeep Commander, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.
Shockingly this short list of potential vehicles-to-be-cut includes both the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger. The fact that they are high volume vehicles and mid-sized sedans should put them out of harm’s way. Then again, they are terrible. We’ll say they’re safe for now though. As for the Sebring Convertible, well, nobody needs a convertible and in this economic climate needs certainly outweigh wants, and so it’s a definite candidate for elimination.
Our remaining three vehicles to discuss are the Jeep Commander, Compass and Patriot, three similar SUVs (especially the Compass and Patriot). And while the redundancy does seem to put either the Compass or Patriot up on the chopping block, the Commander is our dead-pool pick considering it’s sales decline of 56 percent from last year.
So there you have it, our list of the most likely three vehicles to be eliminated from the Chrysler family are:
Chrysler Sebring Convertible
Official Chrysler 2008 sales figures afte the jump: