Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If I Ran Project Genesis

Chrysler has undertaken Project Genesis, an ominous-sounding plan to merge all its brands into a single cohesive product line. It hopes to elminate rebadging and coerce all its dealers to become combined Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep dealerships.

This naturally leads to two questions:
  • what role and image should each brand take?
  • which models should be kept, and which should be killed?
Here is what I would do if I were Chrysler King for a day.

Chrysler: mainstream, volume cars and minivans.
  • 100: subcompact sedan/hatchback, built by Nissan instead of the Dodge Hornet
  • 200: midsize sedan; current Sebring, overhauled to resemble the 300 and actually be competitive. Keep the sedan and convertible and add a wagon trim.
  • 300: flagship large sedan, as is
  • PT Cruiser: compact crossover, based on current Caliber/Compass
  • Town & Country: minivan, as is.
Dodge: macho trucks and muscle cars.
  • Caliber: compact, economical unibody pickup, like the ones from the 1980s. Current Caliber transformed to a two-door with an open pickup bed.
  • Ram: full size pickup, as is
  • Charger: 4 door muscle car, as is
  • Challenger: 2 door muscle car, as is
Jeep: rugged SUVs, exclusively.
  • Wrangler: compact offroad SUV, as is
  • Liberty/Cherokee: midsize SUV, as is
  • Grand Cherokee: large SUV, as is
Retire: Avenger, current Caliber, Grand Caravan, Journey, Dakota, Durango, Nitro, Magnum, Sprinter, Sebring, current PT Cruiser, Pacifica, Aspen, Crossfire, Patriot, Compass, Commander.

Plymouth: revived to be exclusively fleet sales.
  • Initially, rename all the retired models to Plymouths and sell them as rental-only vehicles until it becomes more economical to retool their factories for the surviving models.
  • As the old models are phased out, replace them with a barebones Plymouth Aspen/Duster/Fury/Voyager corresponding to the Chrysler 100/200/300/T&C, still for fleet sales only.
  • keep the GEMA naturally aspirated 1.8L and 2.4L for smaller cars
  • keep the 2.4L high output turbo (285 hp) for an AWD SRT4, based on the Chrysler 200 and targeting the WRX and Evo
  • make a low pressure turbo I4, around 210 hp, to replace V6s in cars
  • standardize on the old 3.8L as the only truck/jeep/minivan V6.
  • keep the HEMI V8 in various tunes for the Ram, larger cars, and Grand Cherokee
  • Develop a 6 cylinder HEMI as a new truck/jeep/minivan V6. Then engine R&D can be focused on only two engine families, the GEMA I4s and HEMIs
This is a what I'd do with current and in-development products, which is substantially different from a dream lineup given limitless resources. Each market segment ends up with only one product which stands a fighting chance.

What would you do?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nardelli's long lost twin

Has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblance between Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and Mr. Twinkacetti, the boss of Larry and Balki on Perfect Strangers? Or for that matter, the similarities in their approach to retail management?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


BMW GINA Lightweight Visionary Model
If you haven't seen BMW's GINA Lightweight Visionary Model in motion, it is a must-see.
BMW's polarizing designer Chris Bangle is at it again. He has pushed his team to re-examine the purpose of the body of a car, and has come to the conclusion that it need not be structural. Thinking far outside the box, the BMW design team has developed a fabric body, stretched tight over a frame that can be shifted and adjusted according to the conditions. The doors appear to bend open, the spoiler grows out of the rear deck, eyelids open to reveal headlights, and the hood parts in the middle for access to the engine while suggesting strongly what a Terminator autopsy might look like.
Autoblog has an extensive writeup of the car, but to really appreciate how radical the fabric body is, you need to see it in motion.