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?

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