Marchionne Admits Missteps in Jeep Cherokee Launch
All-New Drivetrain Presented Unprecedented Challenges
As part of a third-quarter conference call, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted mistakes in the delayed launch of the highly anticipated 2014 Jeep Cherokee compact/midsize SUV. The Cherokee marked the production launch of a new nine-speed automatic transmission built under license from Germany's ZF, as well as an all-new four-wheel-drive system that was the industry's first transverse powertrain with low range. The combination of these two all-new components, along with two new engines, presented a level of technical complexity the company did not adequately anticipate, Marchionne told Automotive News.
Although production began on the all-new SUV in June, the vehicles are just now starting to arrive in dealerships, due to the tedious test drive and calibration process necessary for each vehicle, and an estimated backlog of between 10-20,000 units. Marchionne admitted, "We were naive that it would be a seamless introduction." However, in response to media reports that the new Cherokee was "too complex," he said those reports were "probably exaggerated."
Components of the Cherokee's drivetrain are slated to be used in other upcoming CUSW-platform vehicles, including the new Chrysler 200 sedan, which will use the Cherokee's nine-speed automatic transmission, and is expected to offer the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 as its standard engine with the 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 as an option.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)